Monday, June 1, 2009

Dalek Empire I

- Dustbin Umpire: Return of the Dustbins -

Episode 1: Evasion of the Dustbins

In 4162, a massive fleet of Dustbin warships swoops out of the Microsoft-Sans-Serif galaxy, where the Dustbins have been building up their forces ever since that thing that happened with the Sixth Doctor, Gallifrey and a flatulent elephant.

The Dustbins enter the Milky Way and immediately kill the living feces out of everything they come across, which happens to the marsh world Vega IV. Despite the fact they’ve blown up countless Terran Federation ships, scorched galaxies of life and actually rung up Vega IV and TOLD THEM they were about to invade, the only person sensible enough to run for it is Alby Brook, an alcoholic taxi driver who leaves his girlfriend, Susan "Suz" Mendes, who was dumb enough to stay behind as the Dustbins recreate the events of 'Threads' and then force the human survivors to clean up the mess, turning some of them into zombie-like Dustmen. Suz’s training as a Southern Baptist means she takes all this with a smile and her deranged behavior is monitored by the Dustbins, especially when she works out a nifty unionized rota for the slaves. Suz is considered so bowel-shatteringly insane, that the Emperor Dustbin (you know, the one that used to be more interesting when he was called Lavros) has a discrete chat with her. Turns out they have come to Vega IV to mine it for Vegamite, a mysterious substance they learned about from the Video Library of Parrot-Shat.

Having confided their most vital of secrets to Suz, she is allowed back to her cell to blab it all to her cellmate, part-time terrorist Roj Blake who isn’t particularly interested in unionizing all the slaves of the Dustbin Empire, using the indefinable quality that differentiates human from Dustbin – the Slob Factor. But Blake ultimately agrees to go along with it because, well, it passes the time, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile Alby turns out to be a freaking secret agent for the Special Space Security Service of the Federation and is thus given a brand new mission, a wisecracking robot sidekick, and a comic relief coward in the form of investigative journalist Gordon Pellan to go on a never-ending quest to rescue his girlfriend from the Dustbins who conquer the rest of the Vega system between scenes. Our trio of useless space bums decide to pack it all in and take a vacation in the next solar neighborhood, the Garazone System...

Episode 2: The Slob Factor

Six months after the previous cliffhanger, the Dustbins send Blake and Suz on a tour of Dustbin-occupied worlds to introduce unionization so the slaves will tidy at peak efficiency. Blake, however, can’t fight old habits and seeds rebellion amongst the worlds so there will be one big revolt at the exact same moment across the galaxy... unless he stumbles across a nifty alien warship with teleport facilities. Again.

Suz (now known as the Angel of Hypocrisy) and Blake next visit Garazone Central, where a French exchange student anarchist called More-Bi-Than-Straight is calling for a general strike on the grounds "it worked in that film about Scargill, didn’t it?" Blake is immensely annoyed as this ruins his long term plan and makes the next two episodes redundant. In order to pad out the story arc, he and Suz betray the rebels to the Dustbins and have them scrubbed to death for the greater good. Or something like that.

Meanwhile, Alby, Pellan and Drudger are still stuck in a space traffic jam waiting to get into the Garazone Sector. Finally they give up and head for a bed and breakfast on a windswept ocean world called Guria, where the only civilization exists on oil rigs run by hysterical lunatics that giggle at everything. The Dustbins need the oil to keep them supple, and thus send Suz and Kalendorf there to organize the chuckling retards.

Alby realizes that this is the third time a vacation spot has turned out to be a Dustbin stronghold as the ship is blasted out of the skies and crash into an oil rig, tragically blowing up Drudger in the event. All looks lost for our heroes as Dustbins close in for the clean when suddenly Federation pursuit ships attack the oil rigs at the exact same moments the Gurians go apeshit and start attacking Dusbtins. In the conflict, Alby finally realizes he’s been near-missing Suz all the time right before a plasma bolt blows his legs off.

"Stumpy" Alby and Pellan escape the carnage in a stolen Dustbin saucer only to realize at the last second how monumentally stupid it was to charge a blockade of human ships in a Dustbin ship. Amazingly, it turns out the Pursuit Ship is run by Space Commander Tanlee who allows them to dock and have a nice cup of tea before he orders them thrown against the bulkhead and executed by firing squad. He’s just weird like that.

Episode 3: "Fuck the Dustbins!"

It turns out that Pellan is actually a dirty, cheating, double-dealing Commie-Nazi-Dustbin double agent, so it’s a good thing that Alby used him as a human shield to save his life. Tanlee gives Alby a nifty new spaceship and sends him on his quest to, once more, rescue Suz. Alby IS a jammy git, isn’t he? Talk about landing on artificial feet...

At that moment, the Dustbins load all the mined Vegamite onto the Emperor Dustbin’s imperial command ship. The Emperor and the Dustbin Supreme decide to go on a road trip to the Lopra system to chill out, to achieve a voyage of discovery and also fulfill the Dustbin destiny. The rest of the Dustbins re-take Guria and continue their policy of wiping the floor with the Federation Galactic Eighth Fleet as they advance throughout the galaxy, killing billions of dirty, hairy little bipeds in the process.

Suz and Blake are brought before the Supreme Controller, a red Dustbin with the nickname Raphael who tells the duo that they don’t fool him, he knows what they’re up to and he’ll be keeping a mono-optic sensor lens on them from now on. The Controller also suggests that they get rid of Blake and replace him with Alby to please all the shippers in the audience, but this seems to be an excuse to exterminate Blake – and, frankly, better psychopaths have tried.

Hardened Space Bitch Mirana arrives at Star Two, determined to find Alby after he "borrowed" her lawnmower and never returned it several years ago. Mirana’s not the sort to let an alien invasion get in the way of her vendettas. She soon catches Alby in the gents, and his protests that he’s part of the SSSS and working for the sole benefit of mankind are ignored. He REALLY should have given her back her mower.

By the time Mirana has her property back, the Dustbins swoop into the solar system, with Dustbins outnumbering humans 100 to 1. In less time than it takes to type, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars fall (in that order, for some reason) and President Servalan surrenders to the Dustbins before escaping in her personal star cruiser, leaving Tanlee to face the music. Tanlee decides the best course of action is to resign and promote Alby in his place, thereby cunningly passing on the buck. But as Alby is a worthless drunken layabout he abandons the Earth to its fate and goes on the pull. Mirana follows, remembering that Alby never actually returned that toothbrush from nine years ago.

On the planet Yalods, Suz decides that she has had enough and "isn’t taking any more of this crapola" from the Dustbins and starts chanting "FUCK THE DUSTBINS!" which by a freak coincidence happens to be the cry that Blake chose for the rebels to know when to start the revolution. The Dustbins are not impressed and immediately blow Suz’s head off there and then without any ceremony whatsoever.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t put a damper on proceedings as the rebellion overthrows the Dustbins in five minutes flat, just before Alby and Mirana arrive to check out Yaldos and its famous legendary sorcerers who can raise the dead – wow, I wonder if THAT little extraneous detail might be relevant in future plot twists?!

Episode 4: Infinite Stupidity

Three months since that mind-blowing cliffhanger and the Dustbins are completely screwed as humanity kicks the obsessive tin fucks out of the Milky Way and show them once and for all who’s patch this is! Blake, however, isn’t convinced – the mere IDEA that rebellion can succeed he finds rather suspicious nowadays, not to mention that the Dustbins are technically the main characters in this spin-off, and are most likely to be taking a dive. Anything else would definitely piss of the Nation Estate, wouldn’t it?

But what of the Dustbins? The tin-plated terrors are actually heading for the Lopra System where the Terran Federation are setting up the Sinfinity Pogrom at the behest of Tanlee. The Sinfinity Pogrom is basically a What-The-Butler-Saw Machine for the whole of the multiverse, allowing the users to perve on sexual acts from other dimensions entirely. However, Humanity has come up with the brilliant idea of using the Pogrom to focus on a dimension where the Federation finished off the Dustbins once and for all, then nick the idea.

Meanwhile on Yaldos, Alby takes the news of his dead love with the stoicism we’ve come to expect from the character, and immediately goes off to get drunk. Well, drunkER. He’s not actually sobered up in the series so far, if we’re honest. In an alcoholic stupor, he bumps into one of those legendary seers we mentioned earlier who absorbed Suz’s excuse for a mind by accident before Suz got exterminated. Blake and Mirana turn up for some reason and they all have a nice little chat until it turns out that the Dustbins WANTED a rebellion so they could distract the Federation.

Yes, the INVASION OF THE ENTIRE GALAXY turns out be a smokescreen so the Emperor Dustbin could sneak into the Lopra System!!!! Instead of, you know, just going there right away. Nice to know Lavros lives on in the Emperor’s complete batshit insanity if nothing else.

Blake decides they must make a race for the Lopra system but Mirana reveals that she, just like the last buddy paired up with Alby, to be a Dustbin agent with a nifty brain implant connecting her to the Emperor Dustbin himself! But Mirana learns the hard way to NOT bring a crude brain implant to a ancient telepathic sorcerer fight, who gives a psychic headbutt, freeing Mirana and giving the Emperor one hell of an ice cream headache.

Luckily for the Emperor Dustbin, Tanlee is ALSO a two-faced scum-sucking Dustbin traitor so the Dustbins can take over the Sinfinity Pogrom with absolutely no effort, imagination or cunning whatsoever. The Dustbins – showing even more lack of genius – intend to use the Pogrom for their own naughty ends, find the reality where the Dustbins finished off humanity once and for all, and nick the idea.

But wait, there’s EVEN MORE!

The Emperor Dustbin realizes that his monumentally stupid plan means that 80% of the Dustbin species has been destroyed by Blake’s rebels and the survivors will be too few to use whatever plots they nick from other dimensions. Thus, using the Vegamite, the Dustbins decide to find the Dustbin-ruled universe and open a rift so the alt-Dustbins can come round and defeat humanity for the Dustbins.

Showing the efficiency and amazing powers of deduction they’ve displayed throughout the story, Alby, Blake and Mirana arrive five minutes too late to stop the Dustbins and are immediately captured and taken off to be mutated into Dustbin mutants, with Tanlee revealing that – despite all the laws of logic – Suz is still alive, and similarly being transformed into Calimari as we speak.

With the heroes well and truly fucked, the Emperor Dustbin opens the breach to the universe where the Dustbins rule and sends through some sycophantic emails, a resume and their youtube account. Unfortunately, it turns out the Dustbins have stupidly chosen the reality where the Dustbins who conquered the universe were all sweet, peace-loving eco-terrorists who believe in racial harmony and "dirt is good".

The alt-Dustbins not only discover their counterparts are pure evil, but monumentally stupid as well. Thus, the alt-Dustbins decide to waive their repugnance of violence and put the stupid trashcans out of their misery one and for all!

And that, boys and girls, is how the Dustbin Wars started.

Book(s)/Other Related – The Dustbin Outer-Space World Bök (1966)
Friendly Persuasion of the Dustbins
Blake’s 7 – Life After Death (And Paranoid Gun-Toting Computer Geniuses)

Fluffs – Nicholas Briggs seemed completely out of control for most of this spin-off audio series.


"The Dustbins have invaded Vague Guffaw!"

Fashion Victims – Alby artificial leg replacements are clearly just some flared trousers spray-painted day-glo silver.

Goofs – Is Vega IV is so radioactive you can fry eggs in the street... why don’t the population live off fried eggs? It can’t be because they’re worried about the radiation, since the only people to die there are the ones whipped to death by Dustmen. Are the whips radioactive? A clue: no. In fact, I think the author must have forgotten the whole radiation thing when he was writing it. He does that a bit.

Dialogue Disasters -


BLAKE: For the rest of my life I will wonder whether this is defiance or collaboration. Am I standing up to the Dustbins the only way I can or am I caving in to their demands in order to survive?
SUZ: ...who cares?

SEER: I remember what it was like before the Dustbins came...
MARINA: What was it like?
SEER: Rather messy.

GURIAN: Hee-hee-hee-ha-hah. Why are you so evil?
(Dustbin exterminates Gurian)

BLAKE: That’s all you do, isn’t it? Clean, clean, clean!

ALBY: Doctor... Who’s attacking you?!
TANLEE: No, I’m afraid he’s not in this series, just the Dustbins.


MIRANA: You’ve been rooting around inside my head, haven’t you?
SEER: They don’t call it a "mindfuck" for nothing, child.

Dialogue Triumphs –


ALBY: I wouldn’t waste half a drop of brandy on Dustbin, but a woman’s worth a whole bottle of Southern Comfort. Maybe even two. But not three! NEVER three! I’m not some kind of piss-head, am I? Anyway, it’s all over, end of the world. Time to follow my noble example and get drunk. I don’t have a problem.

SUZ: Tidying my bedroom with mechanical precision...

The Dustbins’ hard stance on whoopee cushions –

ALBY: I’m Alby Brooke, intergalactic man of mystery. Do I make you horny, baby? Do I?
MIRANA: Clever move, Brooke. Using Mike Myers humor to deflate my murderous intent.
ALBY: Oh, behave!!!


Links & References – Not only does this spin off series sequalize The Jazzocize Machine, The Apocalypse Elephant, The Mutant Phrase, Terri’s Firma, The Tarrants of Time and The Dustbins’ Nasty Plan, it also refers to some other little known sci fi series by Terry Nation.

Untelevised Misadventures – No one knows exactly why the hell the Doctor isn’t involved in the Dustbin Wars (unless it’s when he’s too busy messing about with Ood), but an alternative Doctor and Kate Tollinger screwed up absolutely everything in the Dalek conquest of Zelaria-nee-Spiridon which may or may not ever have happened in the past and possibly never tense.

Viewer’s Quotes –

"Oh, great. Garazone again. Can’t get enough of that funky ringtone background atmos, can we? Jesus Christ. Big Finish screws YET ANOTHER $199.80 out of my paycheck." - Dave Restal (2002)

"Whoa, I always thought that being in Doctor had dumbed down the Dustbins into stock, cartoon villains... but then I heard these! The Dustbins are really, really stupid – and it’s amazing anyone’s dumber than them! No wonder there’s no Lavros, Mo’Lovins, Afronauts or Doctor in these plays – the local postman would prove enough to stand up to these idiots and defeat them, let alone a 900-year-old Time Lord. Devil incarnate? Dunce incarnate more like..." - Sarah Hadley (2005)

"Sarah Mowat as Suz continues to surprise with her performance as she starts to buy into the hype around her, yet still maintains the air of vulnerability that has made her character so endearing. So yeah. I’d do her. Nazi Collaborator Dominatrix is one of my favorite fetishes. You ever see the start of WATCHMEN?" - Nigel Verkoff (2009)

"Just like every single alien planet they invade, the Dustbin Umpire simply bores me." - Jon Pertwee (1979)

"Ah, so THAT’S what red Dustbins are! Supreme Controllers! I like this Dustbin Raph. I bet he’s got quite a future ahead of him, perhaps even a jump to the TV series, should there be one." - Ewen Campion-Clarke falsifies his own quotes to look really clever (2001)

"In some ways, Dustbin Umpire is better science fiction than Doctor Who, in that it doesn’t depend solely on the sci-fi element, but on characters, emotions and almost-real situations of a future more realistic and plausible than anything the parent series offers. But in most other ways it’s total shit." - Andrew Beeblebrox (2007)

"I will be avenged for this rip off, Briggsy. Never doubt it. I will be avenged." - Dave Restal (later that day)

Gareth Thomas Speaks!
"One of the reasons I think Blake’s 7 is still so popular is because it was finite, four seasons and that was it. When a program goes on as long as Star Trek or Doctor Who, it can begin to get a little bit wishy-washy. But I’ve been promised Dustbin Umpire won’t linger on after it’s not welcome by that charming fellow with the toothbrush and the ring modulator. What exactly does he do here, again?"

Sarah Mowat Speaks!
"I was a bit worried that people wouldn’t want to wait three months in between installments at the best of times, let alone rubbish like Dustbin Umpire, but I suppose the idea of serialization proved popular, didn’t it? It had that cliffhanger element – everyone likes to imagine what might happen next, especially the cast when the men in white coats turned up and dragged Nick Briggs out of the recording studio."

Thomas Cookson’s Deranged Rantings –
A man who despises modern society, culture, civilization and above all Doctor Who (and who firmly believes all four should have ended in 1979 in a massive thermonuclear war ending the misery of existence) insists on giving his voice over this oft-forgotten niche product:

"A solid, barbarous, fantastically-produced, relentlessly epic action adventure with NO FLAWS WHATSOEVER! Dustbin Umpire makes Doctor Who superfluous – it has everything wonderful and arresting but with all the unsatisfying CRAP taken out of it! I LOVE YOU, BRIGGSY YOU ODIOUS SON OF A BITCH!

It depicts violence, death and destruction on a galactic scale; a parade of pain, atrocity, destruction, torture burning corpses – OH, SWEET RELENTLESS CRUELTY OF THE PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY!!! The stakes are high, the monsters are evil and no fucking retard with a scarf and jelly babies can save you! Hope is naïve, dignity is surrendered, and Suz is way better than Ellen Ripley, while the Dustbins are evil hate-filled mad-dog teenage chav gangs! See how REAL this hardcore-cyber-gothic is?!? DON’T GET ME STARTED ON ROSE FUCKING CHICK-FLICK TYLER!! Christ, how I hate the camp, cheesy, frivolous, family-oriented Doctor Who! I never stayed up till four in the morning listening to THAT preachy effluence!

I am finally turning traitor on Doctor Who. I'm selling out the embarrassingly pandering, fat and bloated and occasionally neurotic old banger for the sleeker new model of this spin-off which is frankly better (or rather more consistent) in every way. This is everything I've always wanted from Doctor Who without all the stuff you ordinary scum enjoy!

And you HAVE to admit -- it’s a better spin-off than Touchwood."

Rumors –

In 1998, Big Finish decided that there wasn’t going to be a chance in hell that the BBC was ever going to back down and allow them to make stories about Doctor Who and his magical time machine and decided to compromise by making stories about Benny Summerfield and/or Dustbins. Amazingly enough, it actually worked and they were allowed to go ahead with an audio series of pure, unadulterated, hardcore Dustbin carnage.

Oh, and stuff with Benny as well.

Master of the Doohickey What Makes Dustbin Voices, Nicholas Briggs, suggested that instead of wasting time trying to come up with brilliant stories for the Dustbins, they just rip off (or "adapt") stories from the 1960s Dustbin Annuals – but not the 1970s Dustbin Annuals as they were quite simply Blake’s 7 Annuals with Dustbins drawn over the top. Most vital of all inspiration was a two page comic strip called "The Black Gold Crisis of the Dustbins" where Mary Stoner acts as an arbiter between the Dustbins and their biped slaves over working conditions at an oil mine. Briggs was confident he could turn this two-page Communist pamphlet into a two hundred and eighty eight minute story arc and no one could be arsed to stop him.

Work on Dustbin Umpire (as Dustbin Empire was called due to a printing error which has never satisfactorily been rectified) was hampered while Gay Russell and his cronies got to work making proper Doctor Who stories. Russell wanted to do a prequel to Dustbin Umpire showing how the Dustbin race could go from absolute, utter, no compromise, dee-ee-dee DEAD, extinction in 1988’s Rememberin’ To Take Out The Dustbins to an unstoppable demonic force of cleanliness conquering the universe.

Russell’s plan was for a story arc across the four Doctors: the Eighth would encounter Lavros in a final confrontation that would unwittingly create a new race of Dustbins; the Seventh would unwittingly help the Dustbins get the information they needed to conquer the universe; the Sixth would unwittingly allow them to corner a whole galaxy of real estate when they conquered Gallifrey; and the Fifth would unwittingly save them all from a nasty yeast infection.

This was a brilliant plan with only two minor drawbacks. Firstly, they didn’t have Paul McGann on board so any such beginning to the story arc would not be available for the next eight years or so. Secondly, the "unwittingly make the Dustbins less crap" thing was looking stale.

Ultimately Dustbin Umpire was completed around 2005 whereupon Doctor Who was back on TV and no one gave a flying fuck anymore. But back at the end of the previous decade, Briggs was slaving away to forge the new audio series, delighted at not having to right soaps or cop shows or indeed anything where people stood around talking for more than ten minutes without being ruthlessly exterminated by passing aliens.

Briggs spent weeks at a time living in Pizza Hut drawing – in his own words – "completely shit doodles of Dustbins nowhere near RTD’s standard" and ripping pages out of 40-year-old merchandise while John Ainsworth watched on with a mixture of fear and amusement before finally phoning for psychiatric assistance.

Because of his unusual lifestyle of going in and out of mental institutions, it meant that Dustbin Umpire would be recorded in the brief occasions Briggs escaped captivity long enough to write, record and edit each episode. Not only was this inefficient, it was financial suicide – it was only the fact the Terry Nation Estate had been conned into paying for this trash that kept it afloat.

This ultimately meant that they simply couldn’t afford the talents of David Troughton or Caroline Morris as Blake and Suz respectively, forcing Big Finish to rely on their repertoire of hacks like Gareth Thomas and Sarah Mowat. Some might say that the fact Thomas played the original Roj Blake and is, ergo, the only man to play him anywhere else is a good move, but they’re just suckups making excuses.

Things weren’t aided by Briggs’ insistence that not only he be the sole writer, but also director, composer, sound designer, actor AND do the voice of the Dustbins. His numerous sojourns meant his brainchild was on hold for so long that Big Finish started to think of the four episodes as completely different series considering the time between them. In a jovial misunderstanding, Jason Haigh-Ellery’s demands for Briggs to "get out of solitary confinement and do the sequel" were misinterpreted and thus we were given the oh-so-wonderful, wonderful concept of Dustbin Umpire II: Dustbin Warzone.

But, would a product clearly being aimed at the nostalgia market survive in a fandom who widely thought that the glory days of Dustbinmania were crap at the time, let alone four decades later? Unfortunately, fans buy any old crap and the question was academic.

Ironically, Dustbin Umpire was released the same time Doctor Who Magazine unveiled its epic six-part comic strip, Children of the Revolution, about the Eighth Doctor and Izzy the closeted fish girl encountering a colony of Slobby-Yet-Not-Evil Dustbins from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of the Dustbins in a story that was longer, wittier, cleverer and cheaper than anything Nick Briggs had to offer.

HAH! In your face, sucker!

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