24 March 2014

AFT: Trumped!

Trumped! is a comic made for April Fool's Day back in 2012, for the Outpost Doctor Who Forum. It consists of a single scene, and is much more light-hearted than last year's epic battles. It also features many bluffs and twists, one of which I've chosen for the cover image above. I don't think it's harsh to say that there is little plot in this, and that's not meant as a criticism; it was the way it was conceived and intended. And it works very well in its primary function.

Often thought of as the most comedic of Doctors, Tom Baker's incarnation was the logical choice for this story. In the beginning, it seems that the Doctor has turned up at the Top Trump headquarters. It's established that in the future, all of the Doctor's adversaries are rated on defined categories and played off against each other in whatever the equivalent of cards is. The Fourth Doctor has arrived to add a fearsome new foe to the list - the Trods! You may remember them from the '60s comics, or more recently from The Trodos Conundrum and The Enemy of the Cybermen (both AFT stories). They're overall pretty ineffectual robots with delusions of controlling the universe, but no real inclination or ability to do the work necessary. An obvious inclusion here then.

The Trods are included on the Top Trump system already, but languish at the bottom of the rankings, just above the Bandrils. The Doctor is quite insistent that they should be upgraded, arguing that they merely want the universe to believ they are useless so that they can stage a massive, surprise attack. He says he's uncovered such a plan and needs everyone to prepare. He tells the director that they have quashed even the Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans, but still he refuses. The Doctor asks the director if he's ever come face to face with a Trod, to which he replies he hasn't. The figure we thought was the Doctor then morphs into a Trod.

A conversation follows where it's established that the director isn't remotely frightened of the Trods, they once gave a Zygon spaceship wrong directions, and their grand plan is unveiled. They want the fear factor raised so that they can invade the universe without a single shot being fired, controlling merely with threats. It's a very amusing plan. The director then morphs into the Doctor, who tells the Trod that their entire conversation has been beamed out across the solar system, to all worlds. The Trod realises it's failed and slinks off sheepishly, before the Doctor reduces their score to below that of the Bandrils. There's another turn of events when the Doctor turns out to be a Zygon in disguise, getting revenge for the wrong directions. If you were taking this at face value, you might ask why they have the Doctor; they must have him in order to replicate his genetic print. But that's not recommended.

As a comedy short, this is perfect. It's really witty and enjoyable. It could quite easily be a Comic Relief or Children in Need scene, thanks to its light-hearted nature and its wealth of cameos, references and deceptions. It made me laugh, and the Trod is really well characterised. You can tell instantly from the director's attitude to the Trod that he's unimpressed rather than anything it says. It's a strong script, and the direction's really good too. The 'morphing' effects look great, and it's hard to describe this without you seeing them. Basically, I enjoyed it all. It was lovely to have this reposted as I hadn't seen it before, and loved it.

You may or may not be aware, but the AFT will be taking an indefinite break for now. I will of course keep up to date should stories resume, but neither I nor Phil know when that will be. It's entirely possible that I'll go back into the archives (there's over a decade's worth after all!) once a month and do an old story instead. I do have a story for the AFT in development myself, with a portion of shooting completed. When that'll come to fruition though, I don't know. It'll likely be June earliest, I should think.

In a Nutshell: A really fun aside, one of the best Who parodies I've seen.

You can read Trumped! here, like the AFT on Facebook here, or follow Phil on Twitter here.

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