Saturday, September 19, 2009

5th Doctor - Plague of the Daleks

Serial 6C/P – Village of the Darned: Resident Evil of the Dustbins
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Zombies!

Serial 6C/P – Village of the Darned: Resident Evil of the Dustbins -

Cast adrift in time by the collapse of the previous story’s less-than-water-tight plotline, the Doctor and Nyssa are flung into a temporal whirlpool but eventually manage to anchor themselves to another event in space and time. Unfortunately, they’re STILL stuck in that self-styled Village of the Darned – STOCKBRIDGE!!!

The time travelers have arrived in the aftermath of the artificial T-Virus which is not only highly contagious and incurable, it also has the endearing tendency of turning its victims into crazy mixed-up things which have stopped living and become zombies!

The undead armies have ravaged and devastated the Earth within hours, but it will take more than the zombie apocalypse to make a dent in the routine of the sleepy Gloucestershire hamlet. As such, the Doctor and Nyssa are completely unaware of the contagion spreading across the globe as they wander around Stockbridge, do a runner from the Green Dragon Inn without paying, hurl sledge-abuse at the cricketers on the village green and generally act like uncouth hooligans.

However, there are the odd signs of the encroaching end-times – the increasing damage to the environment has caused the weather to go haywire, the verdant English countryside is turning into desert wastelands, and hundreds of infected zombie crows circling the sky above the town eager to peck out the eyes of unwitting yokels.

Finally the gathering storm clouds rumble with thunder and shower Stockbridge with T-Virus-contaminated rainwater – and immediately the inbred yokel cricketers turn into flesh-eating zombie bastards of death. And they are NOT impressed by the Doctor’s sledging.

The Doctor and Nyssa are forced to take shelter with the Stockbridge Village Green Preservation Society and, as is traditional in these situations, they split up and hide in ridiculously-well-fortified locales where they can hide under siege until the zombies inevitably overwhelm them in the final reel.

The Doctor and villager Isaac Barclay-Card hide in the post office as the zombies scratch and claw at the windows. Can they somehow sense fresh meat on display? Or are they just desperate to get some stamps? Either way, it’s time for the Doctor to get out his cricket bat and dish out some serious Shaun of the Dead style zombie-culling!

Donning a handy T-Virus-proof biohazard outfit which was cunningly recycled from the previous story, the Doctor is able to emerge into the boiling rain and start kicking some serious undead arse in scenes of such uncompromising violence and savagery that they can only be classified as "disturbingly stimulating".

Meanwhile, Nyssa and the other zombie-fodder have retreated to Saint Justinian’s church which has enormous historical and sentimental value if you’re one of the sad-acts who’ve read The Tides of Time. For everyone else, it’s just a set to smash to pieces in as gratuitous manner as possible.

In short order her companions are either turned into zombies by rain, turned into zombies by being bitten by zombies, or exterminated in a cheap negative effect by the squadron of Dustbins hiding in the crypt of the church – the logical hiding place for a race of alien cyborgs with no legs, don’t you think? No, me neither.

The Dustbins, lead by their sarcastic, hair-trigger psychotic leader in his distinctive red casing, have been hiding out under Stockbridge for 46 centuries on the off-chance that the Doctor might pop by – and in a series of staggering coincidences managed to completely miss him every single time!

Left alone from aeons, the Dustbins have gone a bit peculiar and set up the dot com company called Umbrella Corporation. They intend to become rich by making umbrellas the most valuable thing on the planet, which is why they have contaminated the atmosphere with the T-Virus. Admittedly, sales of umbrellas are rather poor since no one survives long enough to buy them... but by now the Dustbins have gone so weird they cannot see the flaw in this plan.

Back in his own mediocre B-plot, the Doctor has managed to escape into Wells Wood where conveniently there happens to be a lift shaft leading straight down to the Dustbins’ secret underground hideout. After spending 25 minutes fighting zombie crows, zombie sheep and trading some lame-but-memorable one liners, the Doctor realizes he’s actually got some of the poisonous rain on his skin and the entire things has been a complete waste of time.

As he begins to turn into a raging hate-fueled flesh-gnawing Time Zombie, the Doctor storms into the Dustbin base determined to smash up everything his blood-spattered cricket bat can reach. Soon he has smashed up the evil technology that created the poison rain, coordinates the zombies hoards throughout Stockbridge and also makes that charming electric heartbeat noise patented by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop circa 1963.

The Dustbins, of course, don’t take this lying down. They don’t take anything lying down. They are physically incapable of lying down. I don’t even know where I’m going with this to tell you the honest truth, but the nasty little alien bastards are seriously pissed off.

As such, the Dustbins immediately take their frustrations out on their zombie slaves and exterminate each and every last one of the undead gits until the countryside is covered in a thick carpet of microwaved yokel corpses. The Doctor is left dazed and confused by the Dustbins’ decision to destroy their own army, little realizing this is cunning ploy to make the Time Lord so bewildered he becomes an unwitting slave to the Dustbin Umpire. Yep, that Red Dustbin can come up with cunning plans like the best of them, can’t he?

No longer entirely certain which side he is on, the Doctor decides to join the Dustbins in the fight against the bigoted attitudes of Stockbridge’s quintessential Englishness. On the bright side, only a few of the villagers are still alive so the Doctor decides it’ll be best to take the rest of the afternoon off and goes for a walk whereupon he stumbles across the TARDIS, which is precisely where he left it some seventeen centuries and two BF releases ago.

The Dustbins politely ask their ally to allow them inside, perhaps do some slight redecoration, re-phase the temporal regulators, maybe use the TARDIS to change the pattern of history and ensure total Dustbin victory across the universe through all timelines...?

Alas, the broken machinery back at the base causes it to rain toxic chemicals which, by a staggering fluke that in no way has anything to do with the fact it’s very near the end of the final episode, manages to restore the Doctor’s health and kill the Dustbins in their shells.

Invigorated, the Doctor travels back to the Dustbin base by the TARDIS and meets Nyssa, who has spent the rest of the story walking very slowly down a corridor being all grim and forebode-y. By now, the extensive damage from the Doctor’s cricket bat and crappy English construction means the entire base is going to collapse!

The Red Dustbin reviews its options. Its comrades are dead, its plans are in ruins and the Doctor has a worrying gleam in his eye and an even-more-worrying cricket bat in his hand.

"SCREW THIS, I’M GETTING OUT OF HERE!" it shouts, before setting the base generator to overload and vanishing in an emergency temporal shift. As red lights flash and klaxons wail, the Doctor and Nyssa retreat into the TARDIS and escape in the nick of time!

The resulting nuclear destruction not only sanitizes the Earth and destroys the T-Virus infection, it ALSO blows up that beyond-boring little shithole known as Stockbridge! Forever! RESULT!

Book(s)/Other Related –
Dr Who & The Pox of the Dustbins
The Dawn of the Day of the Land of the Dustbins of the Dead
The Night of the Living Trashcans (Canada Only)

Goofs -
Well, not having Mila Jovovich playing Alice Withers for starters!

Fashion Victims –
Nyssa: Much as I hate to complain, the snow’s blowing into my eyes, and I’m not exactly dressed for blizzard conditions. I know how fond you are of taking me to Alaskan climates so my nipples get erect, but the sooner you stop cutting holes in my bra the better!

Technobabble –
"It’s quite simple really: I’ve re-routed the electromagnetic resonance recorder, and fed it back through the atmospheric motion sensors. Put simply, I’ve convinced this weather machine of yours that it’s a pop-up toaster, so all I have to do is slot the pop-tarts into here, and..."

Links and References -
See Fashion Victims and Nyssa’s lampshade-hanging of that running gag about Alaska and Trakenite nipples.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor took lessons in beating the shit out of people with a cricket bat from "the Great Omar Sharif".

Groovy DVD Extras -
The abandoned special end credits where the entire cast and crew do a tribute to Michael "Whacko" Jackson’s "Thriller Video". It’s as camp and awful as it sounds but Sarah Sutton does do a brilliant Vincent Price impression, it must be said.

Dialogue Disasters -


Nyssa: I’ve been in more perilous situations than this and survived!
Doctor: No, you haven’t. Try again.
Nyssa: All right. I’ve been in situations ALMOST as perilous?
Doctor: Better.

Isaac Barclay-Card: We are the Village Green Preservation Society! God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety! Preserving the old ways from being abused, protecting the new ways for me and for you! What more can we do? GOD SAVE THE VILLAGE GREEN!

Doctor: We need some sort of weapon to use against the Dustbins!
Nyssa: This is an electrostatic induction rod, Doctor. It carries a three million volt charge hot enough to fuse sand into glass.
Doctor: I know what it is. I put it here.
Nyssa: In my bedroom?
Doctor: Too subtle, you think? What about the galvanized rubber underwear I left on your bed?
Nyssa: Oh, that was YOU! I thought it was just another one of Tegan’s naughty marital aids...
Doctor: Once we’ve defeated the Dustbins, I expect a full and detailed discussion of this matter, you realize?

Mrs. Linfoot on working at Big Finish:
"I’ve never endured such a tortuous – or torturous – experience - my poor back feels as though it’s been forced through a fusion grinder, plus the aircon howled like a banshee, and the food was appalling; my linguine tasted like the floor scrapings of a pigsty!"

Nyssa: Don’t Time Lords have an instinct for sexual abnormalities?
Doctor: Whatever gave you that idea? This particular Time Lord prefers to form his conclusions the old-fashioned way – by assessing the available evidence. Or, better still, by asking someone if they’re interested in Baby Oil Twister.

Lysette: Stockbridge is the perfect place for a trilogy of exciting sci-fi/fantasy adventures!
Nyssa: Tell the Doctor that and he’d laugh in your face.

Dialogue Triumphs -

Dustbin: SILENCE!
Doctor: Or what? You’ll exterminate me?
Doctor: Don’t like feeling helpless, do you, Dustbin? Don’t like having to constrain that itchy trigger-tentacle of yours. Because at the end of the day that’s all you really are. A gun. Without that you’re nothing. Oooh, I bet the little blue pills don’t help...
Doctor: Only because you don’t have any genitalia!

The chilling sequence where the Red Dustbin cold-bloodedly exterminates one of its brethren when it emerges from cryogenic hibernation with a speech impediment.

Nyssa: Are we in Alaska? AGAIN?!?
Doctor: Mind over matter, Nyssa. Think warm thoughts...

Doctor: My word, you are a wretched bunch. I almost feel sorry for you. Forgotten, abandoned, skulking in the dark...
Doctor: Your race is long gone. Where there used to be a glorious Dustbin Empire, there’s now just a big, empty nothing.
Doctor: The combined forces of over one hundred planets can – and did.
Dustbin: YOU LIE!
Doctor: Do I? If you don’t believe me, listen to the latest series of Dustbin Umpire available at $49.99 from all good retailers like JB Hi-Fi, Sanity, HMV and of course Forbidden Planet...

Isaac Barclay-Card: This is bloomin’ suicide!
Doctor: Quite possibly. But at least if you’re right you’ll have the satisfaction of saying "I told you so." And I’ll have the satisfaction of not being able to hear you. HAH!

Nyssa: Doctor, we won’t increase our chances of survival by refusing to get involved with the main storyline.

Lysette: Your friend’s looking at me rather strangely, Nyssa. It’s... well, it’s creepy.
Doctor: I’ve never been one to rely on other people. "Incorrigibly pro-active". That’s what they always said about me at the Academy. Well, the graffiti in the Panopticon toilets, anyway...

Doctor: Face it, Dustbins. You’re obsolete. You’re like soldiers in
the Far East who think the War’s still going on...
(Cut to "Family Guy" style flashback to DWM comic strip 'Lunar Lagoon')
Fuji: You are now prisoner of Imperial Japanese army!
Doctor: I think you might be wrong there. The war has ended.
Fuji: You say war over? Then who win?
Doctor: Hmmm. If I tell you the truth, you might shoot me. Then again, if I lie, you STILL might shoot me.
(End flashback)
Doctor: So. Yeah. I thought that might be more relevant. My bad.

The Doctor observes the destruction of Stockbridge itself:
"It’s gone. Swept away. All those lives. All that history. All those god-awful clichéd reactionary stereotypes..."

Viewer Quotes -

"If you don’t like them, don’t buy them! And don’t whatever you do, EVER, offer an opinion on something you will probably not buy!!"
- Rupert Murdoch (2011)

"This story is yet another example of the inherent foolishness of the Big Finish franchise as you continually fail to learn the lessons of your past. You lurch from one narratorial calamity to another. Your writing is unnecessarily emotional which is typical of Stellian Galaxy dwellers, with your species’ predilection for unproductive activity and pointless discourse. That is a waste of resources. On Luceria we re-absorb our dead plotlines rather than resurrect them repeatedly!"
- Professor Rinxo Jabbery (4657)

"Wow, this one was pretty dull. Big Finish have reached a new low. It was a tired retreads of other stories like The Eternal Bummer and The Jazzocize Machine. But, on the other hand, I really, REALLY enjoyed this, and felt it was the best of the Stockbridge Trilogy!"
- Contradictory Reviews Weekly (2010)

"As for the Dustbins - frankly, I felt this might have been better if they had been left well out of it - I'm getting severe boredom from
seeing them crop up all the time. I mean THREE TIMES A YEAR?!? My barely-adequate psychological defenses are crumbling!"
- the Hashish Addict (2008)

"I liked it,but im a sucker for a new Dustbin story anytime,its the Doctor,with the Dustbins,with Zombies,on audio........Bring it on!....there are always stories which shine and stories that are only sub-par,but i actually enjoy something like 95% of what i have heard so far in all DW ranges fom BF.Cheers"
- a text found on Shane Warne’s mobile (2009)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"What a complete waste of money. The guy who bought this should get his money back, and probably would have if I hadn’t stabbed him and buried him in a shallow grave on the edge of the haunted pet cemetery! Oh yeah, speaking of that, you wanna buy a second-hand dog? It’s only slightly decomposing and barely even possessed..."

Peter Davison Speaks!
"We make Doctor Who stories in a haze of confusion, coloured by experiences you have while making them can put you off them. For example, I said during the recording of this one that I thought Stockbridge was where they filmed Midsomer Murders. I didn’t even know about the comic books until Alan Barnes threw a paperback copy in my face screaming I should do some damn research for once in my misbegotten life and how he much prefers working with Colin Baker. Amazing. You wouldn’t think he was criminally insane, would you?"

Sarah Sutton Speaks!
"Am I a fan of the Dustbins? Can you be a fan of the Dustbins and still be classified as having any kind of life? Does that answer your question you strange, long-haired bespectacled freak? Thought so."

Rumors & Facts -

The final chapter of the Stockbridge Trilogy is, as one would expect, by far the least-original and least-gripping story of the three.

Mark Morris had spectacularly failed to do anything memorable with ONE episode in the Seventh Doctor anthology Twenty-Four, so surely giving him an extra three to work with could only pay dividends! And, after the last two stories, it was decided it would make a nice change if the Stockbridge setting was entirely irrelevant to the plot which should be totally disconnected from the rest of the trilogy. (This sort of thinking could really have saved George Lucas a lot of hassle.)

The epic conclusion to the trilogy would be set during the apocalypse as ravening, plague-ridden zombies storm the sun-scorched Earth. However, Mark Morris was terrified of being associated with zombies for fear their undead evil might spread to him. Although it was pointed out repeatedly that George A Romero was still completely zed-word-free after years in the industry, Mark Morris would not be dissuaded and thus he insisted that something else be added to the plot.

Nicholas Briggs, rather unsurprisingly, suggested that certain elusive "something" be Dustbins. The initial plan of twelve linked stories entitled January of the Dustbins, February of the Dustbins, March of the Dustbins, etc., did not ultimately pan out. However, after the intense psychological drama of Enmity of the Dustbins and Charley –vs- Dustbin –vs- Viyran it was decided the best thing to do would be an unoriginal runaround roughly entitled Dustbin Fatigue.

By the time the story was being produced, Nicholas Briggs had been hideously transformed into a benevolent form of anti-life called David Sax who was pretty mellow about the whole thing – though he agreed with Mark Morris that zombie cricketers and evil crows were not enough to support a plot. That Sax would be paid a fortune to do the Dustbin voices was completely incidental and no way a contributory factor.

As 2009 drew to a close, it was decided that rather waste all their time and effort trying to make the bestest and most epic of stories ever, Big Finish should instead aim for a new low. Not only would this be very relaxing for them, it would also make the following year’s output look even greater in comparison.

Thus, all efforts were made to undermine the story. A retarded crossover with the Resident Evil franchise was crow-barred into the narrative, which in turn was riddled with countless moments of actors were describing in detail what was going on. Every line of Nyssa’s dialogue was triple-checked so they were just asking the Doctor stupid questions. Months were spent ensuring the zombie sequences were as generic as possible, while writers from Rob Shearman to, um, Rob Shearman were consulted on the most run-of-the-mill of Dustbin plots. Narrative drive and surprises were surgically removed, with a whole hour of hackneyed scenes featuring characters fighting mind control were added. Anything that could have possibly prevented the story being a total washout collage of needless monsters, clunky dialogue and very dull set pieces was removed with the surgical precision of Jack the Ripper high on cocaine.

Yes, siree. Stockbridge preserved in metaphorical formaldehyde on a burned world, zombie cricketers on the green, evil robot crows, a horror in the very rain, and the Doctor witnessing the end of his home-from-home. This could have been epic – but Big Finish made damn sure it was anything but. Of course, this took more time and effort than if they’d actually tried to make it in any way good, but try to explain the irony to any involved and they kick your teeth in...

In fairness, it’s not like the other stories in Stockbridge had much in the way of atmosphere, interesting or memorable guest characters or anything beyond the Doctor fighting bog-standard mind-control scenarios in formulaic runarounds saying nothing in a very boring way.

True, this so-called "Stockbridge trilogy" is steaming pile of mundane, predictable, boring and hackneyed run-of-the-mill shit which makes the entire trilogy seem clumsy and indistinct and confused...

...but by god it boosted sales of The Tides of Time graphic novel!

And, in the end, wasn’t that the WHOLE DAMN POINT?

No comments: