Monday, June 1, 2009

Return of the Krotons

Serial CP4 – Charley’s Odyssey: Hellbound to Nuclei!
Another Entry in the EC Unauthorized Guide O' Space Traps!!

In the 151st Century, the Third Great and Bountiful Human Empire was ruined from within by the rise of the anarchic Pirate Kings and their supreme leader, Mad Larry. So disappointed were the Pirate Kings with the BBC they ordered the entire British film industry to load themselves into space arks and sod off, not coming back until they had some worthwhile material to show the populace like in the good old days of the mid-to-late 1970s.

The cunning insectoid BBC Executives then ensured all its most embarrassing actors would be placed aboard a B Ark which would be thrown down a black hole and cause a rise to the original excellence, but ironically while the Ark Fleet was away an asteroid struck the Earth, knocking it into a new orbit and wiping out all life on its surface. The washed-up actors and thespians were, even more ironically, fully equipped to re-colonize the desolate and windswept planet – as most of them appeared in Matthew Graham’s award-losing "The Last Train" which the Pirate Kings had dismissed out of hand.

Oh, sweet vengeance...

Nevertheless the landscape was untamed with acid rain and wild dogs and only the most ruthless of the TV industry survived and prospered. And now the schedule is made up of only sure-fire ratings grabbers like "Ray Martin Wrestles A Pig", "The Comedic Strippers Present Their Naughty Bits" and "Obscene Phone Calls With Satan’s Sluts!" All high-quality entertainment is dying out, despite the best efforts of the curiously-named Executive Producer Den Dragons – despite being on for a year now, his quiz show "Totally Random Shit What You Should Know" is languishing in the ratings cellar.

In desperation Den Dragons and his quiz show host pal Lyle Dandruff muse that maybe if they had some decent prizes the show might be entertaining and look through some artifacts found in the lava pits of Milton Keynes. One of which is a funky set of earphones that give you an amazing high if you can solve Sudoku problems in your head, and Den Dragons immediately becomes addicted, totally unaware that this is having a strange supply on the showbiz communal supply of crystal meth amphetamines which start to glow purple and transform!!

Anyway, that’s all the all-in-all rather irrelevant back-story, so let’s get on with the plot!

The TARDIS brings Charley and the Sixth Doctor to a run down, rusty refinery inhabited by wild pigs and the occasional panther, and our heroes wander around totally oblivious to this or the fact they’re being observed by shadowy ex-celebrity Daniel Homily, who in turn is being stalked by gun-totting former weatherman N. V. Gillespie – who turns out to be Nigel Verkoff being caught in a wacky time travel misadventure of his own while trying to impress a girl called Eve.

Both Charley and the Doctor know Verkoff of old (in the biblical sense, too) and the depressed Aborigine explains where and when they are and how immensely screwed up it all is. Now he and Eve are on the run from civilization when it became clear they were not paid-up equity members and just incredibly egocentric time tourists.

Unfortunately, while Nigel was explaining that bit of back-story I forgot to mention, a bunch of guards descended from the bouncers in The Jerry Springer Show emerge from the shadows and arrest them all, even
Daniel Homily, despite his claims that he was just minding his own business and his hilarious non-sequitur catchphrases.

The guards contact Den Dragons since they like annoying him and reveal they caught the male and female time travelers of dubious sexuality – but Den Dragons is lost in artificial telepathic ecstasy and after pointing out that the Doctor and Charley are not the time travelers wanted, hangs up rather rudely. The Doctor thinks he recognizes the strange look in the man’s eyes, but the memory bores him rigid so he decides to think about something more interesting.

The bouncers lead the prisoners to the ruins of the London BBC Television Centre for a messy, backdoor execution to be televised as a Comic Relief stunt for charity – but the order to fire never comes as Den Dragons is ripped off his tits with telepathic nirvana, and his daily ration of Class-A drugs starts to break out of its plastic wrap and assume a new form. Den Dragons finds this incredibly funny and laughs uncontrollably until he wets himself.

The drug supply transforms into a huge crystalline figure with sideburns who forces Lyle Dandruff to take the headphones from the now brain-dead Den Dragons and continue the process. Lyle Dandruff bitches mightily as his mental energy is drained by the evil and exotically-accented Protons! No, I’m not scared either. Odd that.

As they stand around the studio waiting to be killed, the Doctor notices a strange alien spaceship which happens to be the source of the TV studio’s amphetamines with which the executives, actors, quiz show hosts and entire audience consume to take the edge off the Post-Apocalyptic existence they must endure. The ship also contains funky telepathic headphones the Doctor finds boring, reminding him of an incredibly tedious adventure with Jamie and Zoe.

The Doctor realizes that the supplies of drugs are, in fact, an incredibly vast army of subatomic crystalline life forms in flux that feed off hydrogen – and/or the brainpower of anyone stupid enough to wear the headphones! Dragons’ brainwaves have been drained to cause the packets of crystal meths to boil and transform into a tidal wave that consumes Homily and the guards. On the bright side, this leave Charley, the Doctor, Nigel and Eve free. On the down side, it also leaves them at the total mercy of the Proton Horde!!!

Yeah, it doesn’t look any better on paper, does it?

The Doctor notes that the last time he encountered the Protons, they were teeny-tiny itsby-bitsy microscopic particles that were totally helpless so he wiped them all out just for something to do. But the Protons have somehow survived and decided "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and become a highly aggressive bio-mechanical crystalline entities and they view all sentient life as nothing more than a source of energy to be used up and discarded as waste matter.

"A bit like the Conservative Party really," the Doctor surmises.

Climbing up into the lighting gantries to escape the crystalline sea, the Doctor rings up the office of "Totally Random Shit What You Should Know" to tell Dragons to take the bloody headphones off and stop dooming humanity, but when the Proton answers the phone and puts him on hold, it looks like it might be too late...

For yes, the Protons have decided they don’t like being incredibly vulnerable and thus made themselves totally indestructible bodies – they could be stepped on by elephants, dropped off the Empire State Building, or caught when the universe implodes and they STILL wouldn’t so much as crumple.

So while the Proton at the "Totally Random Shit What You Should Know" studio goes on a rampage gassing puny humans with lethal amounts of hairspray, the flood below the lighting gantries reforms into an army of identical indestructible inscrutable invaders who make it quite clear they don’t take shit from no one!

The Protons immediately rename "Totally Random Shit What You Should Know" as "The Teaching Machine" where the object of the game is for contestants to take part in the Proton Brainwave Extraction Panel and die in agony before the show is over. As the Protons have destroyed all the other shows on TV, "The Teaching Machine" becomes a top ratings-winner and compulsive viewing to see who’s dead yet.

The Doctor is brought before the Proton Potentate by an armed escort of one thousand Protons, intending to use the Time Lord’s superior knowledge of Sudoku to speed up their alien invasion plans which have been on the backburner for the last three millennia ever since they crashed on Earth in the form of a meteorite – huh? You see? See how it all fits together? If Moffat wrote this you jerks would be applauding!

A hideous half-Proton half-human hybrid who used to be Homily takes the Doctor, Eve, Nigel and Charley into the "Teaching Machine" studio and Homily reveals that good old indomitable spirit and showbiz survival instinct allow him to retain free will and his gift for annoying one-liners.

Homily tells them that the Sudoku they will solve is a really special apocalyptic number puzzle that will destroy the Protons once and for all by causing the City’s nuclear reactor to explode and kill them all. The Doctor and Charley would prefer a slightly less terminal option and the Proton Potentate who has been watching the studio and comes down for an ass-kicking.

Homily and all the Protons shoot each other with hairspray, the Doctor and Charley debate the ethics of staying and trying to repair the sabotage to the nuclear reactor or if they should flee to the TARDIS, as either course could rather efficiently save the human race as long as the others die.

Unfortunately they both have passively inhaled so much hairspray and everyone gets incredibly high and giggly. The conversation becomes hysterical and Charley, Nigel and Eve laugh uncontrollably. The Protons realise there’s a problem and the humans assume it’s because their minds are simply too powerful for them. The power levels start to fluctuate and the heads of the Protons begin spinning faster and faster until they eventually explode.

Before long, all the Protons are dead.

Finally, the Doctor and Charley snap out of their daze to find themselves stark naked, sitting in the TARDIS control room and watching a whole season of "Scrubs" on the scanner screen and eating cinema hot dogs. More disturbingly they are surrounded by the similarly naked bodies of the entire human colony with evidence of a whipped cream orgy having taken place.

Unsure as to what the hell just happened, the TARDIS travelers agree to pretend this never happened and go on with their lives.

Incredibly awkward, the duo go to Al’s Café on Earth in 1982 and have breakfast. In order to break the ice, the Doctor pulls out a gun and tells Charley to stop pissing him about and tell him the truth about who the hell she is and why she is in his life.

At that moment however, they both notice a discarded newspaper with a headline featuring the words "GENE HUNT" and realize they must immediately away to Manchester...

To be continued!!!!!!

Book(s)/Other Related -
Charley Pollard & The Return of the Protons
Double or Quits: How To Survive Game Shows That Kill People
Matthew Graham’s "The Last Train II – This Time It’s Personal"

Fluffs – India Fisher seemed to be high-brained in this story.

Goofs –
So the Protons who, for the sake of argument, we’ll accept are a vile, evil, fiendish, monstrous race even worse than the Dustbins, CHOOSE to take the form of small cardboard boxes with arms and legs. Now, while this might allow the Protons to infiltrate Sainsbury’s with ease, surely it leaves them susceptible any 1970s police detectives in a fast car? Now, why the hell is Gene Hunt in the NEXT story when he should be in THIS one, drag-racing his way through the Proton Army?!

Technobabble -
"Soon my nuclear powered mustard dispenser will be complete, and then they’ll all pay for their insolence!!"

Links and References -
"Doctor... C’Rizz..."
"Mmm? Who’s C’Rizz?"
"It was so funny... he died and you couldn’t stop laughing..."
"*I* couldn’t?"
"Trust me, it’ll make sense one day. God it’s worth the wait."

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor admits he might have had more than one previous encounter with the Protons, but if so it was so mind-blowingly dull he was forced to forget it to stop his brain exploding with tedium.

Dialogue Disasters –

Nigel: So... Charley Pollard. The Sixth Doctor. Fighting Protons. Well. THIS is just plain fucked up.

Eve: Look at the colors... All the colours... Well. Beige.
Charley: Look at my locker. I want my locker to have a name.
Nigel: Like... "Michael"?
Charley: No. Michael is the bear.
Nigel: You’re stoned.
Charley: So are you!
Nigel: Am I? This is true.
Eve: Ahhh! The moon’s exploded! Look!
Charley: Wait... that’s the sun.
Nigel: The sun’s exploded! That’s why it’s so light out there!
Eve: Or... it’s day time.
Nigel: You’re insane.
Eve: No. No. No I’m not. No.
Charley: It’s a conspiracy.
Nigel: Is it? Yes, it is! I knew that. You’re a genius, Charley. All thirteen of you. The government is behind this.
Eve: It could be right behind us right now!
Charley: Huh? Let me at 'em!
Nigel: That would involve moving.
Eve: Hardcore.
(They turn around)
Charley: Argh! Creepy! He was there all the time!
Eve: Look at him. He’s ugly. Damn! He is one ugly bastard.
Charley: He’s real skinny. I think he's gorgeous. I like his dreadlocks.
Nigel: Ya know, ten out of the eleven voices in my head are saying that that might be a mop.
Eve: He’s right. We’re sitting in a TV studio surrounded by Protons, stoned out of our heads, checking out a mop.
Charley: We fricken rock!
All: YEAH!

Dialogue Triumphs -


Doctor: Hello? Yes? Yes, I’d like to be transferred to the office of "Totally Random Shit What You Should Know". Nature of the call? Why do you want to know that? Look, if you must know, I’m ringing to expose Executive Producer Den Dragons as a despot and a murderer. No, I do NOT want to be put through to Marketing! The Executive Producer is illegally using an alien machine that will destroy the Human Race if he isn’t stopped! No, this ISN’T a matter for the HR Department, put me through to Den Dragons! Are you putting me on hold?! Oh. Nope. Just in a queue. Oh well. Mmm. Foo-Fighters’ cover of Baker Street. Marvelous.

Viewer Quotes -

"This is slander! It was nothing like this in real life!"
– Eve Markson (2009)

"Is it just me - or do the Protons sound Nick Briggs doing a Brummie accent into a ring modulator? Cause, it could have been South African. And it might not have been a ring modulator but a pitch-shift feeding a compressor, feeding a ring modulator, feeding an EQ and impulse response taken from a hollow metal object. And it might have been Jewish instead of South African. Some of his vowel sounds get very mixed up." – Duane Dibbley (2398)

"Oh, wow. Body horror half-human hybrids! What a new idea! That instantly raises the Protons to the upper echelons like Dustbins, Cybermen, Krynoids and even fricken Afronauts! You see this? This is me being underwhelmed, that’s what this is! Written by Nicholas Briggs, Directed by Nicholas Briggs and Starring Nicholas Briggs as The Protons. Now WHAT part of that is supposed to make me want to listen to it? Got an answer for that?" – Dave Restal (2008)

"I couldn’t be bothered to finish listening to it, it was THAT rubbish. It was very underwhelming, especially after having read Alien Baddies which makes much greater use of the Protons than THIS story. The most terrifying thing about Hellbound to Nuclei! is that it might inspire MORE Proton stories." – Lawrence Miles (2009)

"A diverting Xmas Eve’s entertainment, nothing more. Now, The Michaelmas Imposter the next day, THAT is going to be something worth your time!" – BBC Press Statement (2008)

"You know how much a copy of this disc sold on e-Bay for? £29.67!! That’s CRAZY! I’ll never own a copy at those prices! In fact, at those prices it’d be worth getting the subscription from Big Finish - even if you would normally buy the monthly CDs at some off-shore, tax-evading price it would work out cheaper than paying almost £30 for the free subscriber special. And then when I have this disc, I can sell it for £55 AND then I can subscribe to the McGann series!"
– CheapBastard9784 on the DWF (2009)

India Fisher Speaks!
"I thought Gene Hunt was a superb character and it’s brilliant that he’s back for... oh, wait, wrong story. No, I have nothing to say about Hellbound to Nuclei."

Colin Baker Speaks!
"Good grief, this has to be one of the most brain-damaged stories Old Sixxie has ever had to suffer – and that’s up against some incredibly stiff competition. Protons? Protons?! PROTONS?!? No one likes the Protons! I couldn’t wait to get out of this mess. This series works best without Nicholas Briggs. In fact, so do most things. MY GOD, WHAT HAS HE DONE TO THE CARPET?!"

Eddie Hitler Speaks!
"I had nothing to do with one, which is something I’m glad about in a way as it totally divorces me from any kind of responsibility. Not that I take much responsibility in the first place, but I know a bloody awful script when I see it. When is that billiard-ball-headed twat going to realize his fan audios were crap in the eighties and they’re crap now? No, don’t tell me, it’ll give the impression I care..."

Rumors & Facts -

Nicholas Briggs was determined to do whatever was necessary to ruin Big Finish’s reputation and destroy any faith their customers may have had – yet his efforts were undermined at every turn by bad luck, outside factors that Briggs could not possibly have anticipated, and also the fact he was completely mad and not a little stupid.

Since getting rid of Charley Pollard and India Fisher had simply lead to both getting their own, far superior and incredibly popular spin-off series, Briggs decided that he would have to finish the job and annihilate both once and for all.

Continuing his campaign of appearing for all intents and purposes to be trying to make the best stories possible, Briggs chose to make 2008’s subscriber-only-the-rest-of-you-can-get-stuffed-unless-you-can-rip-it-off-bit-torrent release, "Hellbound To Notable Planet From The Classic Series!", following such successes as Hellbound to Fargo! and Hellbound to Vortis!, would feature the Sixth Doctor and Charley facing a mighty and oft-remembered foe created by none other than Robert "Sherlock" Holmes himself!

Ah, Holmesy! The man who single-handedly invented Liz Shaw, the Third Doctor, Time Lord biology, Autons, Nestles, the Bastard, Jo Grant, Mike Yates, Meetmeinbedin 3, Sarah Jane Smith, the Snotarans, the Ru-tans, all the good bits of the Fourth Doctor, all the good bits of Lavros, the vaguely tolerable bits of Return of the Cybermen, Q-tip the Destroyer, Moby, the society of the Time Lords, Rassilon, the bits of Robots With Breasts everyone thinks were done by Chris Butcher, the origin of New Coke, Romana, the Key to Chicken, Sharaz Jek, Season 6b, the Valeyard and the Time Lords being intense fans of Charles Dickens. Truly, Holmes was the architect of so much of Doctor Who we take it for granted, his name being a watchword for quality (or a fictional 19th Century detective if you’re not paying attention).

But Briggs was smart and brought back the most pathetic and contemptible of Holmes’ creations – and, thanks to Holmes’ high standards, they were the most pathetic and contemptible of Doctor Who monsters anywhere, anyhow, anytime.

The Protons!

Such cruel manipulation and donkey-like stupidity in resurrecting the Protons and totally wasting the subscriber freebie story was bound to convince said subscribers to abandon Big Finish FOREVER! Was not the 1969 story The Protons one of the most arse-numbingly tedious stories Doctor Who had ever produced? Was the design of the monsters not stolen from a Blue Peter reject? Were the Protons the only villains from Doctor Who to never, ever, under any circumstances be brought back in books, comics or TV because they were so awful, with the one exception being Alien Baddies by Mad Larry The Pirate King who, after all, only used the Protons as a 200-page joke that the Dustbins were so utterly rubbish as a concept ANY alien menace could easily replace them?

For added spite, Briggs decided to set the story against the backdrop of another of Holmes’ most famous and popular settings, the nuked future Earth of Season 12’s Lark in Space and then cast incredibly famous and popular U-boat captain Philip Madoc in the story for no other reason than he’d also been in the original Proton story to his deep personal shame. Wasting time, concepts and brilliant actors, Briggs was confident that Hellbound to Nuclei! would so unutterably awful it would turn subscribers not only off Big Finish but Doctor Who itself – this would a story given free to people because they’d be likely to PAY YOU to take it away from them!

Alas, Briggs had made one fatal flaw – the fans of Charley’s Odyssey weren’t remotely interested in quality Doctor Who, just quality bonking from the series’ cutest nymphomaniac. They found the Protons with their Brummie accents and tendency to inspire hilarity in their visual impairedness "charming" and were quite happy for a free extra story of hot steamy Charley action to round out what, for them, had been the perfect year.

Briggs’ sixty-eight minutes of slow-moving nostalgia for the bad old days of Christmas 1968 had simply been another stepping stone in the renaissance for old Sixxy and Edwardian Adulteress alike as the is released directly with the next story of the Odyssey, Eddie Hitler’s The Raincloud Charley.

Briggs could be heard shouting "Curses, foiled again!" from the rooftops as the year quietly drew towards a close...

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