Sunday, September 20, 2009

5th Doctor - The Judgement of Isskar

Serial 6Q/K2C1 – Key 2 Chicken: The Ice Cream of Judgement
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Office Duties

Serial 6Q/K2C1 – Key 2 Chicken: The Ice Cream of Judgement -

After what could possibly be their most boring and uneventful adventure in the history of everything ever, the Doctor and Peri are walking across a Martian quarry to return to the TARDIS. At first glance this all appears to be an incredibly cheap-ass reuse of stock recordings from "Red China", but actually is evidence that the very flow of cause and effect is about to be torn asunder and the Fifth Doctor’s life is going to be diverted completely off course.


Suddenly time stops and a strange man in a silver jumpsuit and white moon boots appears from nowhere. This is Vince Noir, an irritatingly chirpy and optimistic fellow who has been selected by the powers that be and who, for the purposes of clarity, shall be referred to as Grace Bros for the rest of the adventure. The Doctor admits he has heard of Graces Bros but always assumed they were a shoddy retail chain rather than huge pan-dimensional super beings. Vince notes that a lot of people make that mistake, so they’ve gotten used to it.

Vince has been sent by Graces Bros to track down six ingredients of the 11 Secret Herbs and Spices of KFC, also known as "the Key to Chicken". The Doctor, rather bored, tells Vince he’s done all this before – it’s just salt, pepper, garlic, sage, sugar, dillweed, tumeric, coriander, cinnamon, parsley and pure evil.

Vince wearily explains that EVERYONE knows that ever since the Fourth Doctor got completely drunk and started telling absolutely anyone he met at parties the truth. Grace Bros are the ones who entrusted the original recipe with Colonel Sanders AKA the White Guardian, and now they have come up with a completely brand new eleven ingredients that must be tracked down throughout time and space, disguised as contemporary British TV comedian.

Proving his point, Vince drop-kicks one of the Chinese Midgets wandering the Martian surface – a midget actually played by none other than Martin Freeman kneeling on shoes, so he LOOKS like a midget. Immediately Freeman shimmers and transforms into a jar of mango chutney and a Scotch egg. Vince stuffs these into his value bucket of time, confident that there are only nine more to go.

The Doctor considers his options and admits his chat with Vince is about three million times more entertaining than what he’d been up to all day, and agrees to join Vince in his quest. The duo set off towards the Martian Ice Cream Store to search for more ingredients, leaving Peri frozen in time, her bosom in mid-heave.

Entering a condiment shop called The Green Man’s Burden, the Doctor and Vince decide to try the ice creams on offer and see if one of them could be used for the new KFC recipe. At first it appears that the Ice Cream Vendors are wild party animals from all the litter and toppled shelves, but actually it turns out that it’s a Mars-quake! Which is like an Earth-quake, only redder and with spookier music!

Vince decides that the tub of "Peri Melon Sorbet" at the top of a huge pyramid of buckets of ice cream is the next segment of the Key to Chicken – only for a dodgy-looking 40-year-old man in a Hawaiian shirt and porkpie hat to run in and try and climb the pyramid. Vince recognizes the bloke as Howard Moon, an old pal of his, and for him to suddenly be after Chicken ingredients on Mars means that Howard’s been chosen by Grace Bros as well for the exact same mission!

Thus, the Doctor and Vince wander off, leaving Howard to do all the hard work for them. On his own, Howard manages to cause the pyramid to collapse, destroying the parlor and killing all the characters who survived the previous story in the carnage.

This, unsurprisingly, pisses off the surviving Ice Cream Vendors who immediately vow vengeance on all mammalian life for misuse of their frozen confectioneries. Worse, it turns out that the ice cream tub WASN’T the segment after all, but actually the Ice Lord Sally who was played by Lucy Davis all along.

Transforming her into a jar of mothballs, a week-old toffee apple and a tube of Bonjella Gum Ointment, Howard scoops up the three ingredients and escapes Mars via his time-travelling friendship bracelet before the elderly Martian shopkeeper Esky is able to kill him with custard.

Leaving Mars, the Ice Cream Vendors and Peri behind, the Doctor and Vince travel in the TARDIS for the search of the sixth and seventh ingredients to the Key to Chicken. Vince warns the Doctor that all across the universe, desperate KFC customers are eating holes in time itself waiting for new meal packs! There’s only one hour and eleven minutes before reality collapses from all the famished customers!

The Doctor tells Vince to "pull the other one" and lands the TARDIS on the alien world of SafeWays in what appears to be a giant shopping centre in the space year 18,005! The duo search for the next segment, only to be immediately arrested by the store detective as shoplifters. The store detective takes them to his office and prepares to torture them with a metal ruler and an oxyacetylene torch.

Luckily, just as the kinky bondage stuff is about to begin, a hoard of Ice Cream Vendors barge into SafeWays and start using their lethal flavors to kill the cashiers and force the customers to surrender – and they’re lead by none other than Ice Lord Esky. Is Esky immortal? Has time broken, preventing cause from triggering effect? Is history in free fall? Is it very poor visual continuity caused by a lack of enough actors to play different characters?

All that matters is that Esky is back and he is in a MEAAAAN mood!

Of course all this mystery is completely undone the second the cliffhanger reprise is over as Howard turns up and reveals he took Esky and pals through time to be here. Of course, this means Esky has stupidly allied himself with the very person who destroyed his shop, and even more stupidly forgotten that SafeWays store security guards are ridiculously-well armed and soon the Ice Cream Vendors are being gunned down from all sides by Uzi submachine rifles.

The Ice Cream Vendors bring out the heavy topping artillery, but the guards use electric fires to melt the Martian’s lethal ice creams of certain death, forcing Esky to withdraw, rather embarrassed.

Howard cunningly reveals he is a regular customer of SafeWays and his loyalty voucher allows him a discount on the next segment of the Key to Chicken: the store detective, who is played by none other than Mackenzie Crook.

In a flash of light, Howard transforms Mackenzie Crook into a tin of curry powder and bottle of medicinal alcohol – but for some reason the Doctor and Esky are shrunk and floating inside the bottle! Neither Howard nor Vince know exactly what to make of this development and stand around arguing for a bit about why they both got hired to save the universe.

Finally, after his claims that he was once offered a job as a pen-sorter by Walt Disney are mocked, Howard uses his time bracelet to flip away until the plot requires his return. Stupidly, he forgets to take the latest two ingredients which Vince idly pops into the bucket.

Somehow, the Doctor and Esky manage to drink enough of the alcohol and break their way out of the bottle and return to normal size very, VERY drunk and babbling incomprehensible nonsense and, for reasons best known to themselves, load the TARDIS aboard the Ice Cream Vendor’s ship and take off, leaving SafeWays behind forever.

Vince tags along, slightly puzzled, and watches as they pilot the ship into the depths of space and then activate the self-destruct. The Doctor finally sobers enough to realize that this course of action is stupendously idiotic, but the still-tipsy Esky jettisons the TARDIS into hyperspace for a laugh, trapping them all aboard the spaceship which is now about to explode.

The Ice Cream Vendors then steal the only escape pod, leaving the Doctor and Vince to face absolutely certain doom at the heart the Laboon Constellation with no possible chance of escape.

Then suddenly a guy with a duck on his head doing a Valentine Dyall impersonation appears in the cockpit and uses his mighty powers to stop the ship exploding. Still mildly pissed, the Doctor isn’t remotely surprised that the Black Guardian has turned up and saved them.

"Hang on," he adds. "That doesn’t make any sense... does it?

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who Judges Neapolitan Ice Cream
Dr Boosh & The Mighty Who
Mars Attacks SafeWays!

Goofs –
An all-out war... between bees and tortoises... on audio is really a thought to reject. Unless peyote is involved.
Why doesn’t the Doctor give a rat’s arse about Peri being left behind? Or that he was about to die? Or, you know... anything? Was Peter Davison feeling a tad depressed during this story? Or was he edited in from footage from Fear, Stress & Anger?
So the safety of the entire universe was given to the two freaks from the Mighty Boosh, and not even the competent ones who DON’T have homosexual tension between them? Surely Bob Fossil and Naboo would have been a far better bet to save all of creation?
And how exactly are they intended to actually go about gathering the pieces? What kind of plan is this? A race that can create powerful beings out of thin air and the very Key to Chicken itself leaves its two champions to hitchhike? WHAT IN THE NAME OF TRITOVORE FELLATIO WERE THEY THINKING?!?!

Fashion Victims –
Hoo-boy. How DOES Vince do it?! He changes from a silver business suit with purple feather boa, bare chested with a coyboy hat and sunglasses and a fur coat, a translucent Goth dress, a blue cloak over a red tuxedo and jodhpurs, a leopard-skin coat with matching hat and scarf... ALL IN ONE SCENE! He must have numerous friction burns from all the clothes changes... but he’s never out of fashion, it must be said.

Technobabble –
Vince notes that diverting the Fifth Doctor predetermined history is allowable via "Timey-wimey, Erimemy-Shmerimemy, Charlie-Warlie particle activity stuff, you know?"

Links and References -
Apparently this has some shared element with a Tom Baker season, but I honestly couldn’t be bothered to confirm or deny it. Just assume they’re telling the truth just this once.

Untelevised Misadventures -
Nyssa once did something unspeakable with a novelty chocolate and, it is implied, did whatever-it-was to Tegan. In the privacy of their own bedroom. No matter how much effort the Doctor and Adric put into picking the lock on their door. And if the Doctor possessed the power of the Key to Chicken, he’d go back in time and join in.

Groovy DVD Extras -
That Companion Chronicle where New Ace meets Howard Moon and find out that the first two new ingredients are caramel-flavored chewing gum and pink sherbert.

Dialogue Disasters -

Doctor: Vince, stop it! This won’t do any good! He’s trying but lying and frying while not to hurt you! Is that clear?!
Vince: Not really, no.
Doctor: ...well. Tough.

Howard: This is how the universe really works, you see? Not blind luck, but a delicate balance of fate and free will. Time and space want to be saved and makes sure the necessary people are there at the appropriate points to reach that end. And I am the cosmic counterbalance to you and the Doctor, as above, so as below.
Vince: Oh very deep, Howard.
Howard: Hey, I’m deep, Ok? I’m so deep, I can’t see my bottom!

SafeWays Store Manager: If might be a good idea if aliens attacked more often – it really does justify the armament budget for the financial year...

Doctor: That’s the problem with novelty fried chicken - it’s always easier to use it to sell tacky merchandise rather than actually be eaten and digested!

The Black Guardian manifesting in his Desi Arnez form:
"Doctor, you gotta some 'splaining to do!"

Dialogue Triumphs -

Vince: The Key to Chicken is a perfect batter which maintains the equilibrium of KFC itself. When its eleven secret herbs and spices are assembled...
Doctor: can stop and start the Universe, re-write matter, change the states of quanta to restore balance and comes with a special gravy to dunk in, yadda, yadda, yadda. Unless the celery on my lapel is one of those ingredients, I’m not interested.
Vince: Oh, go on! It’ll be fun!
Doctor: Is there something WRONG with you?
Vince: Come on! Nothing can be wrong with you when you’re wearing a poncho! Am I right?!
Doctor: No.
Vince: Brilliant!

Doctor: The have a gift economy here; people don’t pay for things, they’re given them free under a strict code of honour that requires the receiver to offer something in return. So when you get that 99 you should offer them your wristwatch or something in return.
Vince: You think my watch is really valuable on this planet?
Doctor: No, it’s just a damn tacky design and the sooner you’re rid of it, the better.

Viewer Quotes -

"Oh, for season 4 with Vince instead of Donna!"
- someone immediately lynched by the Disciples of Donna (2009)

"Vince has the makings of a great companion to the morose Peter Davison, whose sense of miserable despair was very moving. This is a Doctor ready for his regeneration. That’s the beauty of the audios – they’ve taken a Doctor all fresh and vibrant on screen and worn him out, ground his spirit into the dirt and left him ready for death! I laugh at his pain! MWAHAHAHAHAH!!" - Eric Saward (2009)

"This has restored my faith in Big Finish!"
- Eve Markson after trying some cocaine (2009)

"This story suffers from the audio equivalent of people in unconvincing rubber suits: people putting on ridiculous voices and then modulated. Eeeeet dddoeeeeesss not ssssound conveeenceeeng and eeeeees juuussssst irrritatatatatating. Have 'em talk normally! SPEAK AMERICAN!"
- James B. Nimble (2010)

"Whoa, this is kinda like Lord of the Rings, isn’t it? Tolkien rules!"
- Peter Jackson (2009)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"This is the greatest Ice Cream Vendor story in any medium! Not once do they seem like Klingons with cornettos! Balancing the many threads to their history is a very impressive accomplishment. But not compared to what I’m going to do to that busload of old-age pensioners who have broken down beyond the woods. Oh yeah. Plus, I can loot medication off the corpses and give them to squirrels... just to see what happens, you know?"

Peter Davison Speaks!
"I’m dabbling with the primal forces of KFC, which is not something my Doctor knows very much about. It was more the vulgar stuff my predecessor got up to, and I haven’t a clue what’s going on. But it doesn’t show, does it? No, thanks to my continual stretching of my acting talents, there’s this sort of blanket of bland indifference that drops between the Doctor and my own ignorance of what all these fanboys are on about. Lalla Ward uses something similar, you know."

Noel Fielding Speaks!
"It’s been a bit of a challenge. A bit. Not much. We do much crazier shit than this down in the Zooniverse, but points for effort with the ice-cream-obsessed Martians. Chris Eccleston was pretty good as the Doctor, wasn’t he? Pity we couldn’t get him for this one and just got the vet from All Creatures Great And Small instead. And before you ask, I’m not related to Janet."

Julian Barratt Speaks!
"I’ve always loathed KFC. Finding out that it is endangering the entirety of time and space really just confirms what I’ve always suspected, if I’m honest. I once auditioned to be Doctor Who’s companion, but they cast Bonnie Langford instead. Shameful."

Rumors & Facts -

For the simple reason that it was thirty years since the original Key to Chicken season starring Tom Baker on television, Big Finish decided to do a sequel. There was no real deeper justification than that, since Doctor Who fans take any excuse for a milestone anniversary booze-up. Though the fact such a sequel would allow the fanboys Jason Haigh-Ellery and David Richardson to fill up three stories while Nicholas Briggs was found (following his brief and humiliating cameo in the 2008 season finale of RTD’s Welsh Doctor Who, Briggs had oh-so-mysteriously disappeared without a trace).

Although strongly tempted to simply replay the original Key to Chicken season, it was clear that the audiences might get suspicious, especially after the whole season was released as a DVD boxset and now everyone and their parrot would know it was being ripped off. Thus 'Key 2 Chicken' (as it was so wittily called) would have to avoid re-treading old ground. After three minutes of thought, they decided to just make it a Fifth Doctor series and hope no one would notice.

But they did notice, though luckily Big Finish had already realized what a monumental loser they were onto and had already made massive changes: so instead of locating the all important 11 secret herbs and spices in six stories, half the recipe would be already found and this would be race for the last few ingredients for the New KFC before the fried chicken franchise across the universe unravels!!

Plus, there would be Ice Cream Vendors in the story as there hadn’t been an Ice Cream Vendor story for at least six months. But since RTD refused to resurrect the green reptile gits from the red planet on the Welsh TV show, Big Finish were going to damn well use them as much as it was humanly possible and fuck the consequences!

Chosen to write the opening installment of Key 2 Chicken was Simon Guerrier for the simple reason he was dumb enough to volunteer for thing but NOT dumb enough to volunteer for writing the concluding story to the saga. Unlike Jonathon Morris. Guerrier meanwhile decided on a Flash-Gordon-esque wide screen sci-fi epic charging around space and time: so at least if a given scenario turned out to be total crap, at least the story didn’t linger there for long.

The mini-season required the creation of another new companion character for the audio adventures since they couldn’t get Nicola Bryant or Caroline Morris to turn up for work any more. Originally there was the idea of a Pinocchio type character who would become more and more human as the stories went on, but this meant that the companion would be a personality-free gullible twat for most of the stories – and they’d just got RID on Conrad Westmaas, so rather than give the world C’Rizz the Second, it was decided to do a Mighty Boosh crossover instead. I know, the logic sort of escapes me as well.

Gurrier’s first idea was for a story featuring the return of Peter Purves as Steven Taylor, who initially assumed the Doctor was an earlier version of the mad old git he’d travelled through time with in the 1960s – but this idea was scrapped as neither organized fandom nor the police trusted Big Finish with old companions following the black and unspeakable events of The One That Fandom Forgets.

Alas, without the deranged menace known as Briggos the Destroyer organizing Big Finish, anarchy quickly broke out and everyone was too busy reveling in their freedom to work under the sadistic whim of an insane dictator. Thus, some people decided they would prefer if the Key 2 Chicken season was set in the New Adventures universe with the Seventh Doctor, Ace, Benny, Chris, Roz, Wolsey and Kadiatu. This turned into a kind of civil war and soon the first story was recorded, The Dilemma of Imprisonment, where Howard Moon and Ace spend a story locked up in a Japanese prisoner of war camp with the meddling Doctor doing a grand scheme with events earlier in his life.

JHE decided to sell off The Dilemma of Imprisonment as a Companion Chronicle DVD extra to the main Key 2 Chicken season, seemingly unaware that his trilogy now consisted of four stories. And, unless you’re Douglas Adams, a thing like that just makes you look stupid.

Another disturbing sign that Big Finish was lost without Nick Briggs came when the Key 2 Chicken season was recorded backwards, not only with the stories in reverse, but also with dialogues spoken the wrong way round for weeks. Luckily, this merely meant the finished plays just had to be inverted before put on CDs, but it sure as hell was difficult for the actors to speak backwards English. You thought Hartnell fluffed his lines? He’s word perfect compared to this lot...


Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Sorry, is that how zarking crazy the actual story is? And do the cast of The Office and The Mighty Boosh have anything to do with it at all?

Ewen said...

In strict order of answering:

No. It's actually very boring and easily-distracted from.

No. In the CDverse, the original segments of the Key to Time were Monty Python members, so I was trying to do something more edgy. I chose Vince and Howard because they were more interesting than the female equivalent of the Sylvest Twins pretenidng to be C'Rizz.

In brighter news, I've uploaded the sequel to this onto the blog already.