Serial – Key 2 Chicken: The Pool of Closure
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Epic FAIL
Serial – Key 2 Chicken: The Pool of Closure -
When we last saw the Atrian Princess and part-time Antichrist Astra, it turned out that her pure evil nature was the final ingredient of the eleven secret herbs and spices. However, according to an unmade 1990s TV movie starring Pierce Brosnan as the Ninth-and-Possibly-Never-Was-Since-Hartnell-Wasn’t-The-First-Apparrently Doctor, at great personal risk the Time Lords reconstituted Astra back into humanoid form for some reason that temporarily escapes me.
But it’s not exactly plain sailing being the Antichrist and 11th Secret Herb and Spice for Astra, as she has been left completely and utterly immortal... which is a bit of downer, especially as the people of Atrios have twigged they are living in the dying days of the cosmos as galaxies collapse, whole species die and space charts get a whole lot easier to make as there’s less and less to draw. However, they get more expensive as there are less and less people to buy them.
With the corruption and cynicism that plagues the immortal, especially if they’re pure evil to start with, Astra creates an army of Astra-Zombies!!!! that resemble green Power Rangers with comedy vampire fangs. With the Astra-Zombies!!!! at her command, Astra totally conquered the planet she was already actually ruling. In her youth, she was forced to work for KFC for years and now wants vengeance. Building a space fleet out of washing up squeezie bottles and sticky-back plastic, Astra and her army of the cybernetic undead set off to discover the power behind the throne of Colonel Sanders: the mysterious "Grace Bros".
As they travel across the contracting and dying universe, Astra’s war fleet encounter a broken-down spaceship of helpless space slugs desperate for help... so she blows them up with photon torpedoes, cackling insanely and the fleet continues its rather odd quest of flying randomly through space until they stumble across the legendary home of the Grace Pros – a municipal bathhouse known as the Kiddie Pool. All they seem to find, however, are lots of space slugs in crippled ships sending out distress calls, but undaunted Astra orders them all nuked as they continue their implausible mission.
On the latest slug ship facing certain doom, the TARDIS arrives with the Doctor and Vince searching for the final ingredient of the ALL-NEW KFC RECIPE to store in Vince’s value bucket of time. Emerging from the police box, they see one of the space slugs, scream hysterically and hide in a broom cupboard.
Inside the cupboard, the Doctor finds a fire-safety-instruction sign that reveals that this ship belongs to the Teuthodians, the first slugs to ever develop warp-manifold-propulsion before mastering the art of opposable digits. Thus, the Doctor concludes confidently, they must have traveled back to the dawn of time where such tacky alien monsters roamed the cosmos and not the cool, nihilistic end of all things he saw last week with Turlough and Kamelion.
Unfortunately, while he and Vince cower in a closet, the Teuthodians find the TARDIS and jettison it into hyperspace where it will never be found. "Not AGAIN!" the Doctor complains. "That’s twice in two days! Are you jinxed or something, Vince?"
With their funky time machine lost, the time travelers are trapped on a ship about to get blown to smithereens by the trigger-happy Atrian war-fleet. But how, wonders the Doctor, could two races from either end of history bump into each other in such a random way? Vince suggests that as all reality itself is breaking down, some contrivances are bound to be expected sooner or later.
No sooner has Vince said this than his rival Howard Moon appears, chloroforms him and hides his body in the KFC value bucket. Howard then removes his moustache which somehow makes everyone utterly convinced that he is, in fact, really Vince.
The Doctor never suspects a thing, despite Howard looking completely different, dressing completely different, making baffling and implausible claims like how he convinced Russell T Davies to get that baffling middle initial, and also requiring some time out for "jazz trance" sessions.
The Doctor is far more interested when Princess Astra contacts the Teuthodian ship to mock their imminent doom – due to some fucked-up casting decisions in 1979, everyone thinks that Lalla Ward and Carol Cleveland are somehow one and the same, so let’s roll with it as the Doctor assumes that somehow his ex-wife Romana has returned to the N-Space universe and declared herself Madam President Dictator For Life and is now passing the time blowing up harmless slugs.
Contacting Princess Astra, the Doctor tries to sweet-talk who he assumes to be Romana – but the reconstituted ingredient had no memory of her participation in a certain Season 16 season finale and has no idea what he’s talking about, why he’s claiming to be a guy with curly brown hair and a long scarf, who the mysterious tin dog he’s asking about or when he apparently dumped her in another universe as part of the truly-epic midlife crisis.
Bored, Astra orders her Astra-Zombies!!!! to fire on the slug ship and blow it to smithereens. Which they do. You don’t make Astra-Zombies!!!! if they’re not going to do what they’re damn told, do you?
Luckily, Howard and the Doctor escaped using Howard’s funky time-travelling friendship bracelet and blatantly obvious clue to his true identity. But, this is the Fifth Doctor, who has big mental problems with returning villains and never once suspects anything.
Howard, learning the true nature of Astra as previous secret ingredient, tries to convert her right away – but it doesn’t work and his repeated attempts to snap Astra’s neck just make things awkward and embarrassing. Soon, Howard is captured by Astra-Zombies!!!! and dragged off to the brig while, still stuffed in the value bucket, Vince hears a husky woman’s voice detailing the truly disgusting things she intends to do with the Key to Chicken when it is finally complete.
Meanwhile, the Doctor realizes that thanks to the universe falling apart, a Teuthoidian slug ship has been photocopied in time and dumped here – Astra has been blowing up a temporal echo of the SAME ship over and over and over again. Astra is horrified as this revelation really takes the fun out of it.
Things get more serious as the duplication stuff gets worse and soon an entire battle fleet of slug ships appears ahead of Astra’s puny warships – OK, it might be the same slug ship copied 4231 times, but they’re still going to blow the crap out of the mad bitch and her Astra-Zombies!!!! right here, right now!
Astra decides to fight to death... just, you know, not HERS, and orders her legions of Astra-Zombies!!!! to turn the space slugs into garlic-fried hors d’oeuvres! Unsurprisingly, all the non-Astra-Zombies!!!! immediately decide to abandon ship, lead by Pargrave – a snotty little red-shirt ensign who says the husky voices inside his head say they have arrived at the Kiddie Pool!
The Doctor and Howard join the evacuation and, after 251 of her Astra-Zombies!!!! are torn limb from limb in front of her by the pissed-off Teuthoidians, Astra decides to follow them to the life-rafts. Meanwhile, the space slugs encounter versions of themselves from a split second forward and/or backwards in time and, after an awkward pause, begin one massive mucus-covered Teuthoidian orgy. And if that doesn’t scare you into running away, you’re a sick freak.
The survivors arrive at the Kiddie Pool, surrounded by countless abandoned novelty toys given out to fast-food franchises that never quite caught on like folding pens, do-it-yourself-vivisection kits and of course Chris Lilley Potato Head dolls. The Doctor is still completely unaware that Vince is stuffed in the value bucket, even though he’s HOLDING the bucket and Vince can be quite clearly heard telling the disembodied female voice to shut the hell up.
This is particularly galling since the Doctor has finally twigged Howard is an imposter and is demanding to know where the hell Vince is. Thankfully at this point Vince gets HIMSELF out of the bucket and demands to know what the hell is wrong with the Time Lord?!
Oh, and the value bucket is starting to dissolve as all the previous ingredients start to go bad. Which may be important.
Everyone follows the little twerp Pargrave as he runs towards the public baths, ranting that he is the sixth son of the sixth generation of his family and this is important for some reason. Inside the baths they find a pool-party underway while the life saver in a creepy carnivale mask loiters in a godlike fashion. It is HER spooky voice that has been pestering Vince all day, in case you were interested.
The life saver reveals all the people in the pool are resistance fighters from across the cosmos devoted to defeating the power of KFC once and for all, and also that one of the red-shirt ensigns I never bothered to mention what with him being completely irrelevant until now is actually the White Guardian... AKA Colonel Sanders himself!
Howard rescued the White Guardian from the end of the previous story to help hunt for the Kiddie Pool and get hold of the new KFC recipe to remove disorder, free will and constipation from the universe. It finally strikes the Doctor that the White Guardian is a colossal prick and doesn’t deserve the Key to Chicken!
Just then the hoards of the Teuthoidians arrive wanting to wash off the vile slimes they’ve covered themselves in with their cross-temporal wank-orgy and then the TARDIS materializes in the corner and out steps the Black Guardian and the REAL Romana. It turns out in the future she actually DOES return to Gallifrey and become President, and when she found the Doctor’s time machine sold on eBay feared he had returned to the physical universe to unleash the mighty power of Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass.
"What in God’s arse are you talking about?" the Doctor boggles.
The Black Guardian explains that he managed to contact Romana through the bidding forums and discovered that the final ingredient of the Key to Chicken isn’t Astra... it’s Romana!
The Doctor lets out a deep sigh, collects a deck-chair, sits down in it, folds his arms and challenges the pair of them to somehow make this Jerry Springer revelation make the slightest bit of sense.
Needless to say, it doesn’t.
Romana reveals that she transformed into a "perfect copy of Carol Cleveland" because she was the 11th Secret Herb and Spice of Pure Evil. The fact she was also at the time possessed by an ancient Time Lady Warlord intent on conquering the universe that could only be defeated by a random regeneration was pure coincidence. Alas, like all the ingredients, Romana is rapidly going past her sellby date which means she’s not going to regenerate into Helen Baxendale any time soon. Which is a shame.
The Black Guardian refuses to allow the New KFC recipe to be completed and explains all the dudes in the pool party are his homies and they will fight to the death to stop it. The White Guardian laughs and reveals the Teuthodians are his own private army who are here to make sure the ingredients are combined and spread through KFC restaurants throughout all of time and space!
Howard and Vince are completely bloody sick of this endless and very boring argument over fried chicken batter recipes and decide to play a game of bridge instead to decide who wins and who loses, sucks it up and gets on with their damn life. The Guardians agree, Howard and Vince call them "suckers!" and immediately prepare to destroy the KFC recipe as it is the main cause of the problem in the first place and, in their words, "fuck Grace Bros!"
Romana is a bit put out this means she’s going to get wiped out for the crime of looking/not looking like Carol Cleveland, which is a pretty ignoble way to go out by anyone’s standards. Thinking quickly, she snogs Astra which somehow passes the essence of pure evil back into the original vessel. The Doctor is disturbed at the realization that for Romana must have been lezzing it up with Astra back in 1979 while he was trading witticisms with Drax and K9.
Vince and Howard turn Astra back into a salt cellar of pure evil and then throw the value bucket of time into the Kiddie Pool and polluting the water forever – no amount of chlorine will defeat the spicy taste!
This causes the Guardians to vanish off into the narratorial ether while the furious Grace Bros take their vengeance by casting Vince and Howard back into a surreal and insane temporal hell... which is pretty much The Mighty Boosh in a nutshell. They’re about to unleash their wrath on the Doctor before they realize they have lost their foothold in the fast food industry and must retreat to the higher dimensions, and swear revenge in an incredibly puny and no-fist manner.
Romana reappears back on Gallifrey and decides to open a galactic university to celebrate her new, non-chicken-flavored self, unaware she’s STILL possessed by an ancient evil and that the events of the Gallifrey 90210 saga will make her wish she HAD died horribly in this otherwise mediocre four-parter.
The Doctor reappears via cheap editing trick back on Mars and he and Peri return to the TARDIS, having completely forgotten all about this mess what with Mars being such a boring hellhole of tedium. They continue on their soon-to-be-un-canonical adventures with Xtroids, Pharoahs, Mickey Mouse and other such phantasmagoria and this whole miniseries might as well never have happened.
...why the hell did I buy this CD again?!
Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who Paddles In The Kiddie Pool
Doctor Who Controls Us All... So Eat More Chicken!!
Romana and Astra Get It On – the sex tape video by Nigel Verkoff
The author thought this a better ending to the Key to Chicken saga than The Armadillo Fucker? It doesn’t even have a better title! And where was the last member of The Office cast? What did that have to do with anything? What happened to all the Astra-Zombies!!!!, the Teuthoidians and the dudes at the pool party? Why has Astra forgotten her love affair with Dante Hicks? Why has the Doctor forgotten Romana infringed biogenetic copyright when she regenerated? Who was the life saver at the pool? Why did she wear that mask? How the hell do KFC recipes get forged in a swimming pool when no one knows what the ingredients are in the first place? Surely the destruction of KFC means that McDonalds will now reign supreme – surely universal tyranny is a small price to pay in comparison! Did the Doctor learn nothing last time he went to hell and found it full of Starbucks cafes?!
Fashion Victims –
Howard attempts to impersonate Vince by wearing a red PVC cowboy outfit and bitching shades. It’s just embarrassing.
The Kiddie Pool "irons hyperspace fold flat with no starch or wrinkles" but what this means... or even has to do with the plot... I have no idea. Astra just says this at one point to break a rather awkward silence when
Links and References -
The immortal Astra has had a threesome with Captain Jack and some dudes from Highlander as they patiently awaited the end of everything.
Untelevised Misadventures -
I dunno and I don’t care.
Groovy DVD Extras -
The web comic of the Thirteenth Doctor, Eleanor of Acquitane and her husband as they find the REAL Key to Chicken in the magical world of action figures and cliched situations. Incredibly more enjoyable than any of the crap Big Finish produced on the same subject.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: Destiny is an illusion! Nothing is predetermined! You must look for your own goal in life.
Howard: OK. So what’s your’s then?
Howard: What are you looking for out of life?
Doctor: Mind your own business, you nosy bastard.
Black Guardian: Doctor, you shall die for this!
Doctor: I’ve heard that before!
Black Guardian: Yeah, you think it could be a clue that everyone hates your guts?! I HOPE YOU DIE FROM FOOD POISONING!
Doctor: Oh, what are the odds of that happening?
Romana: (clears throat) Rather high.
Dialogue Triumphs -
Spooky Voice: The disciples of chaos are gathering from the furthest reaches of the universe to face the final confrontation together! All things will converge here and then chaos will reign forever!
Vince: ...that’s nice. Can I get out of this bucket now?
Spooky Voice: NO!
Vince: OK, OK, no need to bite my head off.
White Guardian: Give me the recipe and I shall cook chicken!
Doctor: NO! If you have the Key to Chicken there will be no other varieties of battered poultry in the universe!
Vince: That’s good, isn’t it?
Doctor: It means no free will! No choice in how chicken is eaten! Colonel Sanders here isn’t a Guardian of virtue! He’s a Guardian of control and domination and deep-fried giblets!
White Guardian: KFC shall cater for the physical and temporal...
Doctor: The letter of the recipe but not the spirit of it! You know very well that they’re more like guidelines, we’ve all seen The Pirates of the Caribbean enough times to get that reference!
White Guardian: Do you want chaos, Doctor? No boundaries? No order? No complimentary tubs of coleslaw and gravy? To work from first principles for the slightest decision about what to have for lunch?! At every meal, would you calculate, 'should I have beef or chicken'? Takeaway or deli? Shall I supersize? Shall I just have a salad wrap? Shall I skip lunch altogether and live off my own body fat for three weeks?
Doctor: Autonomous processes that have nothing to do with avoiding obesity! What about shall I share? Shall I have second helpings? Shall I chew the food enough to realize I’m eating the container by mistake?
White Guardian: You can’t just make it up as you go along!
Doctor: That’s precisely what I do! Especially when I look like Tom Baker! Complete certainty about the menu s just another form of pre-destined tyranny!
White Guardian: I market structure, order and French fries!
Doctor: You market helplessness, despair and poor skin hygiene! You’re a dictator who lives off the suffering of poor, helpless chickens!
White Guardian: ...I do look good in a white suit, though.
Doctor: I’ve seen the KFC zombies you use as staff!
White Guardian: If they had free will, who the hell would cook the fucking chicken in the first place, Doctor? Everything should be pre-heated, battered, and fried with nothing but logical reasoning and quantitative advertising campaigns! YEEEEE-HAAWW!
Howard: For fuck’s sake...
Viewer Quotes -
"The K2 Chicken season overall missed the mark and impaled a passing bystander, with all the really essential plot points lost under the screams and the ambulance sirens, while the lack of consistent character developments were taken into police custody while the superfluous two stories plea-bargained and eventually achieved immunity from prosecution while Romana’s cameo was, quite rightly, charged with first degree murder and improper use of a javelin. With the cheapened Guardians of Time as character witnesses and the over-egged plotting as the prosecutor, not only was the story found guilty of being a bit silly but the incidental music was left off on a caution."
- random Newstopia monologue by Shaun McCallif (2009)
"Everyone (Peter Davison in particular) seemed to constantly be going
'This is so urgent!!!!!! Everyone’s going to die!!!' but I didn’t
really care about the situation. I don’t care about anything, really."
- Moopy Poster (2009)
"Another month, another race of comedy aliens from Big Finish – though, admittedly, this lot were from near the start of the universe, so maybe they came from a time before the evolution of rounded characterization and genuinely funny humour. I am not funny."
- Eddie Kavalee (2010)
"All that build up, all that tension, all that 'the universe and time itself is at stake'... and what do we get? Astra bonks Romana and becomes a part of the key again... eh? Astra sacrifices herself. The all-powerful Grace gets rid of the Guardians but is stuck in the key, the Doc jumps in the pool and that sorts everything out. That’s the biggest cop out since OJ got let off. Oh yeah, bitches, I went there."
- Dave Restal (2010)
"Constants that aren’t constant and variables that don’t vary. The Key to Chicken... well, it was a bad idea 30 years ago... and this trilogy proves we should learn lessons from the past! PLEASE!!!! NO MORE!!!"
- RTD (2009)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Hmm. Yeah. Well, that is. Um. That was alright, I guess. If you’ll excuse me, I have some Semtex to smuggle into Iraq."
Peter Davison Speaks!
"Utterly, utterly confusing, but it’s a matter of making things you understand sound like you understand totally. It’s the trick of sounding like you say these things every day, and cover any kind of panic or confusion with a kind of bland indifference. I sounded totally convincing, didn’t I? It’s all these years of my roots as an actor."
Lalla Ward Speaks!
"I love doing audio stuff, it’s so much more fun than television. You don’t have to wear clothes, for example. I don’t often turn up to work nude, but it is very nice to be given the CHOICE, like you do in real life. It’s a pity we couldn’t do a bit more of Gallifrey 90210. Damn that stupid Welsh bastard and his BBC embargoes... I wonder what Louise Jameson is up to nowadays? What, are you still here? Sod off!"
Noel Fielding Speaks!
"Yeah, what the lady said: sod off, you hairy thug!"
Julian Barratt Speaks!
"I liked how the giant slugs were attacking a spaceship called The SS Escargot. Absolutely nothing else in the entire script merited an iota of my attention. I’m not even sure what we’re talking about here. Doctor Who right? Or was it for Heat Magazine? Or Prime Suspect? I can’t confirm or deny if I can confirm or deny that. Can I?"
Rumors & Facts -
Caught between writing Companion Chronicles, a Tenth Doctor novel and the epic conclusion to the Key 2 Time miniseries, Peter Anghelides was desperate not to produce a story that was total crap.
OK, he failed utterly, but it wasn’t for want of trying.
Anghelides was first approached to write for Big Finish some ten years previously (that’s 1999 for the numerically illiterate amongst you) when the company was first beginning. Anghelides laughed in Gay Russell’s face, confident that the company would go bust long before they got Tom Baker, Paul McGann or Janet Fielding to appear. In fact, the idea of the audios lasting long enough to get the rights to the Dustbins was, in Anghelides’ opinion, thoroughly unlikely.
Russell immediately placed a jihad on Anghelides’ head and...
...god damn, you have any idea how difficult it is to type out "Anghelides"? I’m just going to call him "Pete" from now on. It’s my guide, so like it or lump it!
When Russell resigned and Nicholas Briggs mysteriously vanished, Pete knew the time was right to get involved with this fabulously-successful audio drama series with a magnum opus entitled "If *I* Had Written The Finale to The Key to Chicken Season", which some say prompted the overconfident Jason Haigh-Ellory and David Richardson to recklessly start the whole Key 2 Chicken business in the first place.
Pete vowed to bring this new ongoing trilogy of large-scale challenges to a fresh conclusion. He did this by harnessing his truly massive ignorance of absolutely everything Big Finish had done over the last ten years. So he wanted to give the Fifth Doctor a new companion while he was travelling with Peri, explain why Romana regenerated, retcon innumerable TV stories, bring in comedy slug aliens and generally suck the sweet flesh from the warm young bones of the RTD era.
Thus, a huge amount of rewrites were needed and, frankly, if Pete works for Big Finish AGAIN within the next decade, he can count himself damn lucky. A lot luckier than the poor sods who sat through it...
Closure my ass!
The Key 2 Chicken Round-Up –
Did it work? Was it enjoyable it? Was it better overall than the sum of
its parts? If you answered "yes" to any one of the above questions, please curl up and die. No, I’m serious. As serious as a malignant tumor. I DON’T WANT YOU IDIOTS NEAR ME!
The quality of this series deteriorated as it went on – much like the 11 new secret herbs and spices themselves. Perhaps if these stories were all written by the same author it might have been less crap, or at least more consistent in crapnocity.
With the global financial crises, finances are too tight for poor sods like myself buy stories that are basically retreads of old stories using other peoples concepts and ideas. Why do you think the SCADs never charge? They may be insane, but they’re not stupid!
Each story in this season has been better than the one before, which leaves The Kiddie Pool sloshing in JUST short of abysmal. That’s a witty way of saying 'these are three of the most disappointing Doctor Who stories encountered in any medium and it’s a shame that after last year’s relatively-high-quality output, this year should begin so poorly with toss suffering from poor plotting, poor characterization and, would you Adam and Eve it, pretty poor acting and production?'
I could have just said that, but I would hate to come across as negative or biased. I know I am RATHER negative and COMPLETELY biased, but at least I don’t go round bragging about it. Apart from just now. But that was a one-off typing error designed to prove a point.