Monday, June 1, 2009

Dalek Empire II

- Dustbin Umpire: Warzone -

Episode 1: Lubrication

The Dustbins of doom – you know, the big golden bling models with big lightbulbs, rotating midriffs and personalized number plates – have made the latest in a long line of a hell of a lot of big mistakes. They have opened a gateway to a hell dimension where Dustbins are liberal, friendly and rule the entire universe. These alt-Dustbins – or Dulleks – immediately decided that the Dustbins were pure evil and had to be destroyed ASAP.

This comes as a great relief to career terrorist Roj Blake, career drunkard Alby Brook, and career feminist Mirana all of whom were being taken to be mutated into Dustbins at the time. The Dulleks easily rescue our heroes and bring them before their leader – the Mentos – a supermodel sitting in a gold, gem-encrusted cyberloo talking about peace and order and lots of stuff like that. The three instantly agree to aid the Mentos and her pacifist Dulleks in "nuking the Dustbins out of this reality altogether" with no suspicions whatsoever.

Since the Dustbin forces in the Milky Way consists of three flying saucers and an ice cream truck (since the Emperor Dustbin had that brilliant idea of allowing humanity to destroy all the rest of the army in what at the time seemed a cool psychological ploy), it only takes Blake and the Dulleks six minutes to cut off the Dustbin retreat to the Microsoft-Sans-Serif galaxy. The Emperor Dustbin is captured and starts sulking when it becomes obvious how bloody stupid he’s been. After considering using the Emperor as a novelty hatstand, the Mentos has the Emperor posted second class to a secret location.

But Blake is getting suspicious at the high number of planets found devastated by "friendly neutron fire" by the Dulleks and begins to wonder if the Mentos is any better than the Lavros of this reality. Well, she’s not as stupid or ugly or constipated, for a start, but she’s got a creepy suicide bomber kind of zeal to her – which upsets Alby because it reminds him so much of his lost love, Susan Mendes, who he thought was dead but was actually kept alive to be turned into a Dustbin but is now dead. Or something. Alby being Alby, he doesn’t so much as check this information, but wander off to get drunk.

Mirana, luckily, is not as pathetic as Alby and in about five minutes easily works out how to rescue Suz from the cryo-pod she was stuck in, with the aide of some passing redshirts. Suz is partially-amnesiac, paranoid and quite possibly possessed by the mind of the Emperor Dustbin, but apart from that she’s not the woman she was.

Back in the Solar System, Blake’s Dullek forces close in on the Dustbins for a final confrontation using the suicidal-but-entertaining tactics which got him where he is today. The remaining Dustbins – now lead by a quartet of Supreme Controllers known as Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, Venus de Milo and Raphael – decide that they are all officially stuffed unless they get the Emperor back.

The Emperor is actually on an abandoned space station, and the distress signal he’s been sending out patiently all day is picked up by none other than Alby who is pissed out of his skull and on a joyride with another Drudger sidekick as they discuss love, life and liquor. Alby stumbles into the station full of corpses and ruined Dustbin shells and assumes a wild party has occurred, and is soon trying to cop off with the sole survivor – a brash, Northern lass called Morli.

The duo then notice that the Emperor Dustbin is just a cardboard cutout – the real one has been stolen by the Dustbins who are, believe it or not, still aboard the station and immediately take Alby and Morli prisoners! The Dustbins have been sent to collect their Emperor but for some reason (maybe because she contains the mind of said Emperor?) they want Suz as well. The Dustbins board Alby’s ship with Alby and Morli and head off to meet up with Mirana and Suz on Mirana’s own spaceship, the SS Difficult, for one hell of a show-down...

Episode 2: Obscuration

Alby and Morli allow the Dustbins to storm Mirana’s ship and demand they hand over Suz and no one gets scrubbed. But Suz, well past midnight on the crazy clock, threatens to turn herself into a root vegetable and thus deny the Dustbins the mind of her Emperor. The now thoroughly-pussy-whipped Dustbins back down in the sense of capturing everyone and setting course for Earth where the Emperor’s trashcan casing is or something logical like that.

Suz and Alby have finally been reunited after so long apart, but under extremely awkward circumstances and in the realization that they don’t really fancy each other any more and, thus, this entire wartime love story has been a complete waste of freaking time!

Mirana and some redshirt decide to cut their losses and escape in an escape pod, swearing that will return to exclaim all the CDs Alby borrowed and never returned. Unfortunately, they "escape" into deep space with nowhere to go and runs out of fuel and oxygen almost immediately, so the occupants choke to death realizing that they’ve become almost as stupid as the Dustbins.

Back on the war front, the Dustbins have managed to blow up a quarter of the Dullek fleet via some insidious technobabble and Roj Blake ain’t happy and the Mentos is busy being an evil genius working out what’s happening in the A-plot. Both however are gobsmacked to discover that the Dustbins have somehow terraformed gas giant Jupiter into a really, really big version of the New Forrest!

Curious, Blake orders half of his remaining fleet to land on Jupiter to stop, revive, and survive, have a nice cup of tea and relax. The Mentos points out this is moronic as Dustbins don’t modify planets into perfect holiday destinations for fun, but Blake is confident his indestructible charisma will sort everything out in due course.

Back aboard the Difficult, the Dustbins wave a pocket watch in front of Suz’s eyes for fifteen minutes until she starts to speak with the voice of Nicholas Briggs and starts screaming, "I AM THE EMPEROR OF THE DUSTBINS!!"

Episode 3: Non-Confrontation

On Jupiter, Blake’s cunning plan starts to look less cunning in retrospect as the Dustbins attack the ships in orbit while the poor suckers on the world below are attacked by giant green scrub pads – the Vulgar Plants, whose thorny surface turns its victims into homicidal dusting maniacs before mutating into Vulgar Plants themselves. Thus, Blake’s entire force on Jupiter is wiped out and then wiped up in short order, before the mutating soldiers attack the remainder of Blake’s army as well! It WAS a Dustbin trap after all.

"Oh yeah, I hadn’t thought of that!" mocks the Mentos and fires Blake and has him taken away to be mentally-reprogrammed to become a useful citizen – but better benevolent dictatorships than the Mentos have tried and Blake easily escapes.

The Dustbins named after the Ninja Turtles laugh at the wacky hi-jinks on Jupiter, but are still impatient for the Emperor and bitch he could have downloaded his consciousness into someone a little less difficult to find with less personal emotional baggage.

Back on the Difficult, Morli decides that this story arc is stuffed and they might as well kill the evil cow Suz and save them all some bother, so a Dustbin exterminates Morli. Just in case you were getting to know and like the character, you understand, nothing personal.

The Dustbins explain for the benefit of anyone not paying attention that the Dullek fleet has been completely buggered – thanks to Blake, who has once again joined forces with his mortal enemy against a greater foe, and deliberately lured the Dulleks into a trap. What a guy! The Dustbins leave the Difficult to prepare to fight the second wave of Dulleks while Blake reveals he has decided to adapt a former strategy of his own, called simply "Smash Everything!"

Blake tells Suz to send a viral youtube message across the galaxy telling everyone that the Dustbins have brought the Angel of Hypocrisy back to life and that the Dulleks are nothing but pure evil. Alby isn’t sober enough to understand how the hell this can be a good plan, and threatens to shoot Blake.

"Better emotional wrecks than you have tried," Blake notes, and shoots Alby thrice with a plasma rifle.

Episode 4: Nihilism

As Suz has gone right off Alby, she doesn’t even bother to watch him die and gets on with her message - the beginning of a terrible and devastating war. Well, a DIFFERENT terrible and devastating war, as the last two wars were pretty damn terrible and devastating when all is said and done.

The Dustbins take Suz hostage on Earth to finally get round to the fiddly brain extraction business while Blake leads the incalculably devastating war, which drags on for hours. With the aide of his new acerbic computer tech, Godwin (who keeps noting how similar this all is to fighting the Nazis) they find a message from Marina. Those of you particularly perceptive today will have noticed Marina is dead and this is quite likely to be a trap.

Blake investigates and is immediately sucked into a parallel universe where the Doctor is played by Geoffrey Bayldon and the Mentos rules the Dulleks. Rather hurt at the rejection, the Mentos demands to know why Blake turned on her – does he think she’s pretentious? Is he just scared of commitment? Or is he seeing someone?

Blake rolls his eyes and explains that she is freaking Servalan from another dimension! No way is he going to join forces with her, no matter what freaking reality she comes from or how damn peaceful, happy and lobotomized her followers are!

Deciding that Blake is on the rebound, the Mentos orders the Dulleks to withdraw from this universe and leave Blake to his doomed battle against the Dustbin Umpire. As they leave, Blake muses that in retrospect he may have made a wee bit of a cock up.

Blake heads straight to Earth to speak with the Dustbins to parlay with the Supreme Controllers who have now started calling themselves the Cult of Fargo. Blake discovers that the Dustbins haven’t taken the Emperor out of Suz, but taken the Suz out of the Emperor, allowing the leader of the Dustbins child-bearing hips and the ability to climb stairs plus the face of the Angel of Hypocrisy all humanity blindly trusts. Couldn’t have worked out better for them, really.

Blake however knows all about betrayal from the years Chris Butcher was scriptwriting his life, and has planned right from scene one how to defeat the Dustbins once and for all – Y3k, a destructive impulse that scrambles the circuitry of every computer chip in the cosmos, causing every Dustbin and Dustbin technology to blow itself to smithereens [bar the Cult of Fargo who teleport away in an obvious bit of sequel-fodder]. However, Y3k affects the technology of humanity as well, and the devastation is unimaginable, destroying whole star systems and countless lives – killing Suz and the Emperor as well.

Blake looks out upon the ruined galaxy and decides to retire and write his memoirs to big his reputation up as much as possible, secure in the knowledge the Dustbins are extinct for good.

200 years later, the Milky Way has recovered from the great catastrophe and embraced steampunk technology, a Galactic Union has sprung up while everyone tries to work out how to travel faster than light like in the good old days.

Sally-Anne Hardew – a bitter and discredited historian – has set up camp on Gauda Prime where she researches the life of Roj Blake and concludes he was a lying bastard and did not, in reality, kill the Dustbins by biting their heads off one at a time.

Suddenly a star yacht lands with an envoy from the Galactic Union – Si Tarkov who thinks Sally-Anne might be the only person who can identify a new youtube vid that has been uploaded from outside the Milky Way. It turns out the vid is of Dustbin Leo quoting some of the more awful lines of dialogue from Mighty Midget TV Comic 21 strips.

Yes, it seems the Cult of Fargo have survived and the entire narrative have been a complete waste of time. That’s what I call a satisfying ending. Actually, hang on, no I don’t.

Book(s)/Other Related – Blake’s 7-Year-War With the Dustbins
The Dustbin Creed: War is Swell
Pink Floyd’s "The Dark Side of Fargo"

Fluffs – Nicholas Briggs seemed in two minds for most of this spin-off audio series.


"Marina, my dear, I prefer to make my own hootch. Hootcher. Future. Damn, I need a drink!"

Fashion Victims – The Mentos’ lycra gym slip and fishbone earrings.

Goofs – Mass is not counted in cubic kilometers. What the fuck was up with terraforming Jupiter? What, they suddenly ran out of moons to work on or something?
If the Dustbins are so worried about Suz killing herself, why did they keep supplying her with loaded shotguns, nooses and cyanide tablets?
Why don’t the Cult of Fargo explode? Why is Raph the only one to stay red while all the others paint themselves different colours? Is Raph the leader? Why is Leo in charge? Did Raph lose some kind of bet? And what sort of name is Venus de Milo for a Dustbin, for fuck’s sake?!

Dialogue Disasters -

MENTOS: They are not keeping tidy. We must MAKE them keep tidy. Release the pamphlets!

SUZ: What good has our love has done if it’s only given the Dustbins another weapon to use against them?
MORLI: Oh lighten up ya miserable old tart!

Dustbin Leo on Blake’s final victory:

BLAKE: You know why I want this, so just give it to me and do it, do it fast for all our sakes! They want to touch it, don’t they? Well, we knew they weren’t going to give it up without a fight, so we’re going to give the Dustbins a good pounding until they beg for mercy. Does that idea excite you?
GODWIN: No. I’d prefer breakfast, actually.


SALLY-ANNE: Never trust a man of noble birth. They’ll sell you all down the river just for the sake of honor! Um, apparently.

Dialogue Triumphs –

DULLEK: You wanna feel me muscles?
MIRANA: No, but I have express permission to your ugly nuts off!
DULLEK: Don’t flirt.

BLAKE: There was once a great Knight of Vaseline named Sarcoff, who never feared his enemies but always dreaded betrayal by those he trusted. Rather like a leather-clad computer geek I once knew. Anyway, at the ceremony of Victory or Better Luck Next Time, when a knight was promoted into high office, he would look into their minds to see if their thoughts were pure. They never were, of course, indeed there was an incredible amount of Vaseline-abusing filth going on, but only one knight ever actually betrayed Sarcoff, one he loved as his own daughter. Which was rather embarrassing for the knight who was a young man, and for Sarcoff’s daughter, who was standing right there at the time. But when Sarcoff learned the knight was plotting against him, he invited him to his palace to speak to him alone with some red wine and Barry White music. Nobody ever learned what Sancroff said to him, but when their meeting was over, the knight returned to his fortress, slaughtered his co-conspirators and then killed himself.
GODWIN: So what, exactly, is the moral of the story?
BLAKE: I was kind of hoping you’d tell me that.

MENTOS: The route to victory and peace will not be an easy one.
BLAKE: No shit, Sherlock.

MIRANA: Sometimes caution can lose you the battle, even the war. So stop hiding behind the damn sofa and help me!

SUZ: That’s the way the Mentos wants us all to be one day – simple, obedient and murderous on cue. Is that what we want to be like?
MENTOS: You never USED to complain!

MORLI: Don’t shoot us!
ALBY: What? There’s more of you?
MORLI: Oh, that’s right, mock me accent ya Lanchashire halfwit!

BLAKE: Victory! Or Better Luck Next Time!

Viewer’s Quotes –

"Who’d have guessed that a new character would turn out to be a double agent for the Dustbins just like the last fourteen characters to do? Who would have guessed, huh? That’s right. Bloody everyone." - Dave Restal (2002)

"So the Dustbins can turn Jupiter into the Garden of Eden in four minutes flat but they can’t defeat an army of wussy Dulleks without the help of some curly-haired rebel leader? This is just arse!" - Father James O’Malley (2003)

"The whole tone is that of bleakness and a sense of futility that Briggs brings to everything he does. You think it might be trying to tell you something, Nicky? Do ya?" - Andrew Beeblebrox (2003)

"Dustbin versus Dustbin. What, AGAIN?! Yawn!" - Jahan Redsen (2008)

"Poor Lavros. He goes nuts, then his body is blown up and the asshole part of his personality gets uploaded into a Southern Baptist who then blows up! Just goes to show, there’s always someone else more worse off than yourself. Thank goodness." - Ross Noble (2009)

"What part of 'end on a bang, not a whimper' does Nicholas Briggs so singularly FAIL to wrap his frontal lobes about? The Pulp Fiction stuff didn’t work with Teachers of Footy and it sure as hell doesn’t work now! And if you think we’ll buy for one second there isn’t ANOTHER sequel, your madder than your own toothbrush!" - Nigel Verkoff (2002)

"There’s a real feeling of Blake’s 7 style bleakness to the ending, what with Blake being involved and everything. Story arcs are all the range these days, practically unheard of ten years ago until the despicable Babylon 5 showed up and now there’s not a single show that doesn’t get bogged down in storylines! Thank goodness nothing like that will happen to Doctor Who!" - Joe Ford (2003)

Gareth Thomas Speaks!
"The character of Blake fits very well into the Dustbin Umpire series, but I’m still not sure what the hell Blake thought he was doing towards the end. I wasn’t entirely sure what the hell Nick Briggs thought he was doing towards the end, either. Or indeed at the start. It’d be nice if Blake came back from the dead... again... because there’s an awful lot more to do with that character than just fighting totalitarian regimes. He’s quite into white water rafting, for example. I’m trying to persuade Nick to do a story about Blake white water rafting, but I’ll settle for persuading him to let me out of the studio."

Sarah Mowat Speaks!
"I based my portrayal of the Emperor Dustbin on the Borg Queen, since I prefer Star Trek to Doctor Who. Nick Briggs wrote the part for me, which is a relief since I hated being cast as Blake by accident, and it’s very flattering he was sane enough to remember who I was playing, unlike last time. I’d certainly be up for another series, since trilogies are great things to put on your resume – and to see if Briggs could remember who I was playing and if he remembered that character was dead. I’m mainly in this for Briggsy. He’s silly."

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:

"Dustbin Umpire: Warzone with its complex, nonlinear, cryptic narrative made me cream my pants! It’s like rough sex in a way, finding such beauty in its violence, such warm intimacy in its shithouse characterization and such orgasms in its pain, its ugliness soothing as much as it excites and leaves me breathless. Not enough stories feature mental rape, so living and breathing and vibrant and GOD I’M HORNY!

The saga is epic, yet claustrophobic, overwhelming and relentless – I would honestly give my two front teeth to be able to be gung-ho fearless warrior in the face of death, knowing my life isn’t important when the fate of the galaxy! Oh, how I yearn for death worthy of a computer game or RPG military indoctrination! See how mankind bites the hand that offers us slavery and certain doom, as our honor and freedom are not worth the price of survival. How I love the angelic, tragic Mentos, without doubt the main character of the series, and I wish she could kill everyone who stands in her way, like Romana with the PMT of the Gods – if this was on TV instead of that RTD vomit, the Mentos would be more famous than Lara Croft or that chick from The Matrix.

This primal, raw, swirling, disturbing, furious vortex of cliches is better than The Mutant Phrase, better than Terri’s Firmer, better than anything else Big Finish will EVER do! It says something about our own society and human nature – no idea what that something it, but it’s more powerful, challenging, diverse, strange than pap like Doctor Who ever managed!

This is an ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE! It deserves to be on screen and everyone FORCED AT GUNPOINT to watch it! Any teenager who didn’t fall in love with it is A FREAK WHO MUST DIE! It outclasses EVERYTHING ELSE in human fiction! It’s more mature than that utterly superfluous kiddies show no SANE person should look at twice.


Rumors –

Nicholas Briggs dreaded doing a second (or technically third, when you think about it) series of Dustbin Umpire. Briggs was haunted by the ghosts of future bad reviews, yet somehow totally missed the spectre of bad reviews present which was there for everyone to see. Briggs was of the firm opinion that sequels never do well – with the possible exception of Toy Story 2 which was just as crap as the original. Briggs was so convinced the critics would instantly hate a sequel and began posting scathing reviews to himself of work he hadn’t even written.

"What a shame that Briggs has squandered the potential!" these abusive critiques did say. "What in the name of God’s arse does this toothbrush-wielding nutter think he’s doing now?" "Some of the glitches on the disc were funny." "You call that cover art?! What is that supposed to be? A Dustbin or a Palm Tree!" "Almost as bad as The Logic of Umpire as sequels to Blake’s 7 go!" "You have killed my childhood, Briggs, I’ll never forgive you for this!"

Luckily – or unluckily, depending on your point of view – Briggs short-circuited this paranoia with the conclusion that if he changed the sombre, doom-laden Waorld-at-War-esque theme tune to the first series which no one, not even Briggs, had liked, it would somehow instantly cancel out any adverse comment.

Another idea to improve the show was to let someone OTHER than Briggs get hold of the ring modulator for a while, meaning Dustbins voices could be recorded when the bald maniac was busy writing, editing or escaping from psychiatric confinement. This lead to four distinctive Dustbin voices that Briggs was compelled to retcon as Weird Super Dustbins of the Cult of Fargo, with Briggs himself as Raph who had already appeared in the previous series. I’m sure you needed to know that info since RTD’s ripped off the Cult of Fargo and had them appear on TV three times by the time you might be bothered to read this.

Yet another brilliant strategy was to record the whole series in one recording block when all the actors were available rather than the moronically expensive approach of yesteryear which was to catch a taxi to each actor’s home, record their dialogue and then pay them not to call the police and complain.

But the stress of completing the series was, it seemed, too much for Briggs who announced that Warzone would be the last story of the Dustbin Umpire franchise. "Don’t you just HATE things that go on and on forever?" he complained. "I do! Which is why this is definitely the end of Dustbin Umpire and the story that started with Evasion of Dustbins! That’s it! NO MORE!"

Big Finish commissioned a new Dustbin Umpire season two hours later.

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