[The main cast are sitting in rehearsals, flipping through scripts. A4 pages lie everywhere, crumpled pages overflowing from waste paper bins.]
Doctor: So. If we cut out all the moralistic speeching, the self-pitying monologues, the sexual political discussion and stick only the really important plot points, what will actually happen in this episode?
[Everyone starts tearing pages out of their scripts.]
Doctor: Come on, there's got to be something about the Time War! Surely!
Narvin: Um... there's bit here where you spit on the Dalek Supreme.
Doctor: Let me guess, the Dalek Supreme winds me up, I bite, she threatens to kill me afterwards? These are more predictable than Little Britain punchlines! Is there an action scene?
Charley: You listen to some records off the author's iPod playlist...
Doctor: Keep looking!
Romana: And then you read out really lengthy and verbose entries from your 500 year diary reflecting the author's belief everything went wrong with JNT.
Doctor: For fuck's sake!
Susan: Apparently you're "a little touched by the poignance of the writing."
Doctor: It's "poignancy", r-tard! And there's no such word as "inedgible". God damn it, I never used to require all these emotional pep talks - I used to be able to do stuff and I had more interests than sitting around wallowing in nostalgia.
Susan: Don't blame me, Grandfather. I didn't write this. You think I'd be so bloody passive in this plot if the writer had listened to Lucie Miller/To the Death. Now that, that actually was a story worth telling.
Doctor: Look, find the first bit of the script where the plot actually progresses from where we were in the last episode.
Dalek 3: Why do we get all the hard stuff to do?
Romana: Um... Oooh! Look, a bit where I beg the Monan Host to help me!
Monk: Didn't we already do that one?
Romana: No, it's a completely different scene! Well, apart from them telling me the Time Lords can go fuck themselves and they're not helping. Just like last time.
Doctor: We'll skip it.
Romana: But this time I'm asking for people to take the Sisters off our hands but oddly enough their bitch factor means no one else in the entire universe wants to put up with them.
Doctor: Yeah, I think that was already implied. Skip it.
Monk: You know, TARDISes can travel in time. We could dump them on Karn in the past...
Selestru: Nope, apparently that won't work. Neither will dumping them on Jago and Litefoot.
Davros: Good. I like them. They don't deserve those daft bints.
Reldaf: But it turns out there's an anti-Dalek conflict in the Cyclops Nebula!
Susan: Are we invited?
Reldaf: No. Apparently it's on Archetryx.
Monan Host: So it'd basically just be a remake of The Apocalypse Element again?
Reldaf: Pretty much. Actually this is practically a sequel... there's a mention of it on every page, you read a diary entry about it calling it "vivid, unrelenting furious midnight vitriol so palpable it makes you internally quake a little, even now."
Drax: That's a minority view.
Rani: In fact, that whole thing about exterminating the slaves is basically them torching Seriphia again? The bluff calling, the mindless slaughter...
Samara: Rani, please, if we look for originality as well as something not being introspective wank we're going to be here for months!
Selestru: It says here that "the breakdown of human society right now is inevitable. When humans endure hopeless times for long enough they have a terrible tendency to turn on each other like Russian dogs." So saving the human race from the Daleks was a total waste of time. Wonderful. Why are we even bothering?
Drax: Russian dogs? That sounds pretty racist.
Nebrin: Hang on! There's something, 587 pages in...
Doctor: Yes! An actual plot development! What is it?
Nebrin: Wait, false alarm.
Nebrin: Yeah, you dropped the sisters back on Karn but they changed their mind for some reason. You also took time out to read 226 pages of The Brothers Karamazov.
Keelia: And apparently the Rani really likes Avril Lavigne's "Bad Reputation."
Rani: [incredulous] Who writes this drivel?
Dalek 2: Hang on, you get attacked by a Weeping Angel... no, wait, you don't. Just grabs your ankle but you escape easily.
Monk: And apparently the pilot fish are going to turn up at some point. Off-screen. Five days in the future.
Charley: And the Sisters want to heal the Dalek Supreme with homeopathic medicine.
Narvin: Of course there's another thirty pages of arguing to get through before they do.
Davros: That's pretty much the best on offer.
[Dalek cell. The Doctor zaps the Dalek Supreme with the sonic screwdriver. The lid pops open and the Sisters empty a kettle inside, then add some onions, celery and some garlic cloves.]
Dalek Supreme: How is this going to help me again?
Keelia: Let us cushion your pain with Pythia’s love.
Dalek Supreme: Do you have any medical qualifications whatsoever?
Mescaline: Hang on, this ceremony is just a recipe for gazpacho soup!
Samara: Whoops. We always get those two mixed up.
[Romana storms in waving a script.]
Romana: Look at this, the last line is "And with that Romana turned about and strided out in a tizzy." Strided? STRIDED?!
Doctor: There's nothing else for it. We'll have to skip to the next episode.
- to be continued in Chronic Conflict XII: No Guarantee Of Quality