Serial 6C/I – Nostalgia of the Dustbins
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Attack On Point Zero!
Serial 6C/I – Nostalgia of the Dustbins -
The Doctor is deeply disturbed when Nyssa announces that she can hear voices in her head, whispering of pockets of space time, great peace and novelty Dustbin action figures at incredibly low retail prices.
Either Nyssa’s somehow picking up blurry, indistinct echoes of a concurrent timeline out of phase with reality... or she’s just gone completely nuts.
The Doctor decides the latter is most likely. He lands the time machine in 13th century Rhodes during the Crusades and when Nyssa claims she can hear the voices even more clearly, the Doctor bundles her out the doors and takes off with the immortal words: "Phew, what a loony!"
Nyssa wanders towards the nearby castle, and the voices get louder and louder. After avoiding the carousing knights who are enjoying their afternoon off by getting drunk and indulging in homoerotic arm wrestling, Nyssa heads up to the parapet and activates her pocket inter-rossiter, a device she built into a mobile pone to allow her to ring and text people across the time space continuum.
A drunken knight called Mulberry barges out of the castle, spots Nyssa, and assumes she is a stripper nicking treasures from the Knights of Simon Templar. Suddenly Nyssa starts screaming that she’s not afraid to die and prepares to jump off the parapet if he takes one step closer. "BRING IT ON, YOU ARMORED THUG!" she screams, but at that moment the parapet crumbles under her weight and she plummets hundreds of feet to the stone courtyard below...
... and lands on the top of the hill in broad daylight. It appears that Nyssa managed to fall through a traversable topological anomaly in space-time connecting Rhodes in 1320 to Petersburg 1864. "A wormhole saved my life at the last second," Nyssa muses. "Damn it, I’m good!"
Meanwhile, the TARDIS's chronometer goes haywire so the Doctor is forced to make a random landing at Black Friar’s Bridge in London in the heady future of the 21st century.
For want of something to do the Doctor goes to the Savoy Hotel tea room and order the finest wines known to humanity, when an American military officer joins the Doctor and generally starts acting like they’re best friends and he knows all about the Whoniverse. The Doctor calls him "a sad fanboy geek" who should go forth and multiply elsewhere, but the American guy explains he actually works for Global Warning: Earth Defense and is really a general called Tillington.
The Doctor throws some hot tea in Tillington’s face and stalks out, so Tillington shouts "Plan B!" and MIBs burst out of the pot plants and tasteful drapes, grab the Time Lord and chloroform him unconscious.
The Doctor awakes stripped naked and dangling upside down from the top of a padded cell – which is apparently standard procedure in GWED ‘relocations’. Tillington arrives and explains that his ever-so-secret black ops organization is trying to develop time technology using some 1980s lightning balls, a lava lamp, two psychics and laptop computer.
This lash-up then shows a perpetually looped screensaver of Dustbins announcing they will take their vacation on Earth in the year 2157. This is quite surreal, especially as it is now 2158 and the Dustbins never took up their actual vacation in this part of Mutter’s Spiral, especially after the Great Canon Reset of 1975 where Terry Nation and Sherlock Holmes decided to retcon all previous Dustbin stories.
The Doctor finally realizes he has changed the events of his own life in ways he cannot even begin to imagine and all those Peter Haining reference books with their obligatory reference guides are TEN TIMES more pointless than before!
Tillington explains that it was through this home-made Time Line Televisual Visualizer that he was able to learn all this stuff about the Doctor, TARDISes, Nyssa, Dustbins and Time Lords, rather than say, look up the Doctor’s wikipedia entry or send an email to the Touchwood Three website. The Doctor however, isn’t interested in this messed-up youth training scheme for time sensitives, and more worried about the fact that – if the Earth ISN’T a defeated, occupied planet enslaved by the Dustbins, then where the hell did he ditch Susan?!
Tillington can’t answer that. He can’t answer a lot of things. He is, to be blunt, a complete moron but he knows a mystery when confronted with one and the fact that London is in the grip of Dustbinmania, and Dapol Toys are releasing thousands of toy Dustbins! How do the
manufacturers know about the Dustbins? And even if there has been a
security breach, why would anyone start making toys in that image? Surely the Ninja Turtles can’t have fallen THAT far from the public’s affections over the last five decades?!
The Doctor bases on some completely spurious speculation that the very concept of the Dustbins is somehow permeating through time and getting into people's consciousness. However, this theory makes no sense whatsoever, so it is ignored. Tillington wonders if this could be some incredibly screwed up invasion plan, and to his horror, the Doctor agrees that would be perfect, and thus lead to the devastated planet he eventually dumps his granddaughter on, so the most basic of continuities is maintained!
Tillington orders the Doctor to help GWED prevent the Dustbin vacation of doom, and the Doctor laughs in his face. The General orders him to
be arrested and strip-searched, then placed in a segregated maximum
security cell on Level 5. The Doctor, affronted at this, bugs out his eyes and stares at Tillington for a long moment before ripping the celery off his lapel, ramming it down the General’s throat and choking him unconscious, before running away as fast as he can.
The Doctor steals a sky-scooting flying machine and escapes the compound despite accidentally flying it backwards and smashing through lots of windows as it hurtles down parallel to the Thames and finally crashes into the wharf near where the TARDIS landed. Pausing only to compliment himself on that Blues-Brothers-style bit of aeronautical automobile piloting, the Doctor notices people with machine guns are firing at him, so he screams and runs inside the TARDIS.
The Doctor decides this is getting very strange and demented so he best return for Nyssa.
Meanwhile, Nyssa is rapidly coming to the conclusion that she managed to arrive on a hill in the middle of the middle of the American Civil War. Using her super-mobile, Nyssa gets in contact with the Doctor and though he is happy to pick her up in the TARDIS, he asks her to be a tad more specific. "Come on, Nyssa, I mean, the fighting in Petersberg went on for ten months! Can’t you narrow it down a little more?"
Nyssa sighs, snatches a gun off a passing dark-skinned man called Floyd and shoots him in the leg. She then pistol whips him until he reveals they are on Elliott’s Salient, the time’s 3.14 am on July the 30th and tells the Doctor to hurry up.
The TARDIS lands in a verdant field in peaceful countryside and the Doctor rings up to complain to Nyssa that her interrogation techniques before it turns out he’s arrived in the WRONG Petersberg! He’s in West Virginia! The Doctor runs back into the TARDIS, complaining that this happens all the time – like when he wanted to see Paris, France and arrived instead in Paris, Texas...
As the Doctor sets the time machine in motion, he asks Nyssa if she is actually ON Elliott’s Salient or just in the immediate vicinity, since there’s a rather large explosion due in Confederate mineshaft underneath the hill which goes off at 3.15 am...
The screaming abuse from the mobile suggests this is not good news.
Nyssa screams at the Doctor to use his time machine to rescue her, but the Doctor points out that revisiting the same space-time location more than once leads to recursion, paradoxes, giant chronovores reaping the Earth, cats and dogs living together... and basically that is why all working TARDISes have circuits to prevent such action.
Nyssa points out that the Doctor’s TARDIS is a broken, run-down jalopy held together with sticky tape, old pairs of tights and some odd stocking fillers like the bones of the Roswell Alien, the White Stone of Mecca, and the brain of Genghis Kahn, and thus that circuit is busted and he can easily rescue her.
Awkwardly, the Doctor climbs underneath the console, checks, and quietly programs the TARDIS to rescue Nyssa. He lands the ship beside her and they scramble inside before the hill explodes, this whole damn thing a confused excuse for a cliffhanger.
However, the TARDIS is now hurtling out of control through time and space since thanks to some Schrodiger’s Cat type bollocks, now they KNOW the fixed time track crossing protection protocol is broken, it MUST be broken and not in some curious quantum flux that it has been for the last five hundred years. The Doctor reveals they are plunging to their doom and nothing can stop it... and then offers to make a cup of tea with Scotch finger biscuits.
Just then there is the chilling voice of the Dustbins declaring themselves to be the supreme beings in the Universe – and the Doctor and Nyssa turn to see two Dapol Dustbins emerging from a shoebox in the corner of the control room.
They laugh uproarishly like only fools who HAVEN’T seen that movie “Trilogy of Terror” with the cursed Tiki doll can ever do, and ignore the toys as the TARDIS reappears in a steamy jungle.
The Doctor confidently declares that the despite the rice plants and the signs of Agent Orange, gunfire, American troops and Viet Cong, that this is no mere visit of the Vietnam War and they are actually on the planet Vapuron, the World of Mists.
On the scanner, they watch jets shoot down helicopters that explode and shouts of "YANKEE GO HOME!" can be heard through the trees as more gas tanks explode. Finally the Doctor admits they’re in Vietnam and takes off again, and when Nyssa starts hearing faint whispering once more she is told to 'shut the hell up about the bloody voice already!'
Suddenly the toy Dustbins stop screaming catchphrases and open fire with laser beams and take charge of the TARDIS. The Doctor laughs his head off as the tiny Dustbins set coordinates on the console and, furious at his mockery, swear bloody vengeance on the Time Lord.
The Doctor picks up his cricket bat and smashes the toys to pieces, laughing like madman as he does so. The Dustbins scream that they will electrocute him, but can’t conduct electricity through the cricket bat and its rubberized handle, and so are pulverized.
No sooner has this ridiculously pathetic alien menace been defeated, Nyssa discovers the toy Dustbins have sent the TARDIS travelling sideways through time with gathering speed... but nothing at all seems to happen and soon the Doctor and Nyssa decide it’s clearly not worth worrying about and start playing cards instead.
Nyssa explains that she managed to tape the voices she keeps hearing on the voicemail message of her mobile – but it’s just a babble of confused voices talking about the causal nexus, fundamental truths, natural justice, the absolutes of time and space, the fight for freedom, and a merchandising deal on Dustbin royalties.
The TARDIS finally grinds to a halt on a bleak, white landscape that glows under the overwhelming light of hundreds of suns – the point where all timelines converge in a strange blue mountainous city of shiny iridescence and stuff.
The Doctor and Nyssa put on sunblock and tasteful shades, before emerging from the TARDIS out into the blinding light, where they are immediately attacked by more tiny Dapol Dustbins, who order them to go straight to the city. Nyssa points out that they were already doing that, and kicks the nearest Dustbin to pieces.
As they reach the city, the Doctor and Nyssa start to laugh out loud as they realize the towers are made of full-size Dustbins, millions and millions of them stacked up together and bonded like molecules until they reach the sky! Whether this is evidence of the Dustbins' slave mentality, a cheap and easy way to create large building structures, or just there to justify the CD’s prog rock album cover is unknown...
The 'dirty and filthy' Doctor and Nyssa are thrown into a decontamination cell which, like everything else, is constructed from hundreds of interlocked Dustbin shells, but it's not possible to be sure whether there are creatures inside or whether they're just photographic blow up stand ins.
In the cell they find a strange shimmering humanoid who looks and sounds uncannily like Nicholas Briggs wrapped in tinfoil and taking with a mouthful of grapes.
It introduces itself as the Gaylord, who already has met the Doctor because this is the place where all time tracks meet, so to come here once is to come here always and other such headache-creating cosmic bollocks, and that this world is an island of time carved out of the dimensional nullity.
This is the Millennium Dome of Time, the Pan-Temporal Ambience,
a vantage point from which he can see the whole chronology of folly and the Gaylord has allowed the Dustbins to make themselves at home for a laugh. True, this gives the Dustbins a battle base with the ultimate power over all of history, but they do keep all their models, diagrams and even battle plans neat and tidy, don’t make a mess or play Yamaha organs in the middle of the night – they may be irredeemable evil, but they’re good tenants.
Millions of trillions of Dustbins are communing with each other, creating a telepathic mind-share that is conditioning humanity throughout the whole of history. They encourage and inspire the humans to become receptive to thoughts of cleanliness, concepts of tidyness and the importance of collecting exclusive Dustbin tie-in merchandise.
The Gaylord reveals that humanity has now produced millions of empty toy Dustbins, and the real Dustbins intend to create an army of nano-Dustbins, Dustbins smaller than atoms, and beam them through the Dustbin merchandise to emerge into reality, where they can reprogram the brains of all the human toy collectors and the vacation of Earth can happen bloodlessly as human become willingly, contended and tidy slaves of their supreme alien overlords.
The Doctor asks the Gaylord exactly why he is telling the ultimate enemy of the Dustbins their evil battle plans in such detail, and the Gaylord reveals that he just wanted to check if the Doctor thought it was incredibly bat-shit crazy as well.
The Dustbins realize that they actually haven’t really thought this through and it will take approximately 816 years to fully "download" the virus into the toy Dustbins and Nyssa shrieks with laughter at the fact a bunch of mobile litter bins who don’t even understand the concept of "broadband" think they can conquer the universe.
The Doctor and Nyssa, still laughing uncontrollably, return to the TARDIS, confident that this invasion is so incredibly stupid that even General Tillington can defeat it on his own.
Left alone, the Gaylord muses on his own existence and comes to the very complicated conclusion that since this has always been his domain yet the Dustbins have always been here, HE must be a Dustbin, a Dustbin entirely indifferent to the evil that Dustbins do, who saw himself as impartial, but no different to the rest of them. Ergo, the Gaylord concludes, he is a construct created by the Dustbin mind-share and willed the Pan-Temporal Ambience into existence out of dimensional nullity, and SWEET GOD, THIS IS CONFUSING!
Basically, the Gaylord questions his own existence and thus vanishes, and the new Dustbin homeworld ceases ever to have existed.
The TARDIS reappears on Earth in 2157 and the Doctor and Nyssa emerge expecting to see the Dustbin occupation begin. After half an hour, absolutely nothing happens and, bored, they leave.
The Doctor is certain he ditched Susan on a post-Dustbin-apocalypse Earth, but can’t imagine how such a disaster can occur since he retconned the Dustbins into a bunch of cyber-sex addicts incapable of three-dimensional thought.
As the Doctor and Nyssa dematerialize, another TARDIS arrives on the wharf. From it emerge the Olsen Twins and a giant roll-on deodorant device emerges. The hood on the device slides back to reveal the face of Lavros, evil creator of the Dustbins:
"So, the Doctor thought he had outsmarted me! He may have survived this encounter, but that was all part of my plan – and when I am ready he will see the might of the Dustbin Renaissance! We shall transform his beloved planet into the new Dustbin homeworld and its people into a new Dustbin army! Beating the crap out of him, stealing his time machine and brainwashing his companions was just a test of my power and I will show that non-conformist hippie git once and for all THAT THE DUSTBINS MEAN BUSINESS!! THE DUSTBIN VACATION OF EARTH STARTS NOW!"
Lavros starts laughing hysterically as the Olsen twins exchange worried looks and mime "nutter" in various ways.
Book(s)/Other Related –
Dr Who Versus The Dustbin Vacation That Never Was
NOT! The Official Doctor Who & The Dustbins Book by Terry Nation & Orange Peel
Dustbins – The "Checking The Ring Modulator Works For RTD" Years
If the Dustbins can alter the brains of all humanity, why not just brainwash them right away instead of making them build toy Dustbins to do the exact same thing?! If the mini-toy-Dustbins can pilot the TARDIS, why not use them rather than pathetically begging the Doctor to help them? Don’t they have their own time machines? If they want to enjoy their vacation by changing history just put a Dustbin where the TARDIS will arrive and exterminate the Doctor and co as they leave the ship! Why do the Dustbins have to be so damn complicated and use a scheme with more twists, convolutions and contrivances than the whole of Twin Peaks, Lost and 24 thrown in to a two hour slot JUST TO TAKE OVER THE EARTH AND ENSLAVE MANKIND?!?! Dear god, the MAGNITUDE of this SIMPLITUDE overwhelms me!
On Disc 2, Chapters 42 to 45 to be precise, just as the Dustbin is about to open fire on the TARDIS as it materializes, the story seems to jump around a bit suggesting the authoring of the CD failed. Or was it another plot twist that went horribly wrong?
Fashion Victims –
22nd century chic involves everyone wearing rayban mirrored shades, eye shadow, plaid kilts and stripy socks. This is clearly so we have no pity for humanity as Lavros arrives to blow the stupid apes back into the primordial slime...
The Doctor’s super mobile works by "quantum entanglement", because if you split two quarks you end up with two sub-particles that behave as if they're in communication, even if they're separated across time and space... and OK, this is a philosophical impossibility based on having dozed off halfway through "This Island Earth" three times, but what do you expect of a writer who honestly believes he can do whatever the damn hell he wants as long as there is a flashing box with "TACHYON-TYPE STUFF" written on it?
Links and References -
The finale scene is crudely edited from the flashbacks in the Eighth Doctor adventure "Dustbin Umpire 0: Terri’s Firmer", so don’t think they actually brought in Terry Molloy to record it or anything.
Nyssa marvels that this is the first adventure in a long time she hasn’t been in a cold bleak wasteland calculated to remind her of Alaska in the traditional "Band of the Dead" reference.
The Doctor compares the structure of the Dalek Hive to Logopolis, then marvels at the creative genius behind the idea of a planet of mathematicians who sat in rows of caves carved into the rock, their incantations were computations, passed from one to another down the line. He then breaks the fourth wall completely by advising everyone to stop listening, get up, go out and buy the New Beginnings three-disc DVD boxset so the creator of that brilliant concept gets the money he so rightly deserves.
Untelevised Misadventures -
There is a truly disturbing suggestion that while Nyssa was running around listening to voices, she became known as "Joan d’Arc".
Groovy DVD Extras -
The missing scene where the Doctor picks up one of the toy Dustbins and notes that its battery compartment has a notice requiring "time suspended actinide", a radioactive metal impossible to discover in our realm of ordinary matter – an astonishingly cruel variation on the "batteries sold separately" trick of all toy manufacturers.
Dialogue Disasters -
Gaylord: The Dustbins have always been here. You have always been here, Doctor, and you and I know one another very well. To come here once is to come here always. This is the place where all time tracks meet.
Doctor: A sort of... Axis of Banality then?
Gaylord: No, this completely different to the Axis. This is an Island of Time carved out of Dimensional Nullity.
Doctor: It SOUNDS like the Axis.
Gaylord: WELL, IT ISN’T! It’s not a BIT like the Axis of Banality!
Doctor: You sure?
Gaylord: BY ALL THE PLANETS, DOCTOR, YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE AXIS FOR ANOTHER TWO SEASONS!
Doctor: I thought we were outside time and continuity here?
Gaylord: SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!
Doctor: Temper, temper!
Gaylord: SOD OFF BACK TO YOUR BLOODY AXIS OF BLOODY BANALITY IF IT’S SO DAMN GOOD THEN! SEE IF I CARE!
Nyssa: Lay one finger on me and you'll find yourself accelerating towards the flagstones at thirty two metres per second per second, and you’ll be jam sponge before you even realize what I did to you! And if you try and bring me down with you, well, I’M NOT AFRAID TO DIE!
Narrator: We would just like to remind listeners that while Nyssa of Traken is indestructible, you are not. Do not attempt to copy her death-defying stunts wrestling with armored knights on castle roofs. To do so by the untrained may cause injury and even death. Big Finish Productions accepts no responsibility for absolutely anything whatsoever. We now return you to "Nostalgia of the Dustbins".
Doctor: Who are you?
Tillington: My organization is outside the government, beyond the police, above the United Zone Government. We fight for the future on behalf of the human race. The 22nd century is when it all changes and we are ready for it.
Doctor: That’s... nice. So, er, who exactly are you again? UNIT? ICIS? FHD? Touchwood? The Porlock Foundation? The MIB?
Tillington: No, Doctor. I represent... GLOBAL WARNING!!
Tillington: I’m afraid you heard correctly the first time.
Doctor: "Global... Warning".
Tillington: The very same.
Doctor: Dear God.
Nyssa: A place of philosophical impossibilities where the clouds are solid and the walls are made of Dustbins.
Doctor: Mmm. Looks like Cromer.
Dialogue Triumphs -
A Dustbin tries to comprehend the plot:
"MY CONSCIOUSNESS IS IMPAIRED – I CANNOT THINK!"
Gaylord: You are an outsider, meddling in the shape of the Time Tracks.
Doctor: I think he means you, Nyssa.
Gaylord: I am merely the rising tide that floats all boats. I have no views. I am the impartial moderator here. Yet, at the centre of the Time Tracks I saw the Pan-Temporal Ambience existing in all of time at once and since I merely allowed the Dustbins to come here, I must therefore know of a time BEFORE the Dustbins arrived. Word echo in my head. Dustbins have always been here, so why do I think this is my domain? I realize now that I am also a construct sustained the Dustbin-structured mind share, devised by Dustbin thought and in turn creating the Pan-Temporal Ambience. It’s mine, I willed it into being, so I have always been there, but the Dustbins haven’t. Yet they have. But they can’t. So they are Dogs have four legs. Tables have four legs. So all tables are dogs. Nullity beckons. Christ, I need a DRINK!!
Gaylord: This air stream will remove contaminants from your bodies.
Doctor: Oh, yes, because unlike the Dustbins we are less than pristine.
Dustbin: YOU UNDERSTAND US WELL, DOCTOR. WE DUSTBINS ARE UN-IMPROVE-ABLE!
Doctor: How very modest of you.
Dustbin: BUT IN THE COURSE OF OUR HISTORY, WE HAVE LEARNT TO EXTEND OUR INHERENT CAPABILITIES.
Doctor: Yes, you’ve managed carpet deodorizer.
Nyssa: And don’t forget window cleaner.
Doctor: Oh, yes, I never forget that. No actual evolution of the Dustbin itself though – just that Dustbin brain at the core of an electro-mechanical trash can devising ever more anal retentive plans to keep their surroundings free from litter. So what’s new? You’re not going to say you’ve decided to actually get lives, are you?
Dustbin: OUR DESIGN HAS PROVED EQUAL TO ALL SANITARY CHALLENGES! NOW WE HAVE AUGMENTED IT – IT IS ALL A MATTER OF SCALE!
Doctor: Ah hah. It’s not size that counts, is it?
Dustbin: YOU ARE CORRECT, DOCTOR!
Nyssa: Ooh, he said that quickly. You think he’s feeling a bit inadequate?
Doctor: A production line of tiny particles? A virus?
Dustbin: INCREASE MAGNIFICATION!
Doctor: Oh fuck.
Dustbin: THE RESIZING MATRIX CREATES A MINIATURIZED DUSTBIN CREATURE, PROTECTED FROM THE ENVIRONMENT BY ITS RESIZED TRASH CAN!
Doctor: Why are you doing this? What possible reason can there be for this? Look at what you’re doing! YOU’RE CREATING DUST! You’re making things messy! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
Viewer Quotes -
"The Dustbins are breaking into our universe! Shops filled wall to wall with Dustbin merchandise!! Act now before they tidy us all to death!!!!!!" - Cameron Mason before the operation (2007)
"Nostalgia of the Dustbins is truly amazing – the more you listen, the more turgid it gets! Inept, cumbersome and overall... just a horrible experience on the listener, and on the Who-fan and on whatever animals are just on the edge of earshot. I can see why Bidmead wanted his name off this stinky-dog-turd-that-gets-mashed-in-the-shoes-of-your-ears-and-twice-as-sticky-and-orange of a story."
- Bill Codeine (2008)
"This story in no way enhances the experience of watching Erection of the Dustbins, when the Doctor first sees a Dustbin appear in the warehouse at the end of part one and runs off screaming in terror. And when a story fails at that, well, what point does it have?"
- Tom Cookson (2008)
(Ed. Note: To be fair, Mr. Cookson has said this on in reference to every single episode of the series, even those featuring sequences enhancing the cliffhanger of Erection of the Dustbins 1, so I just thought I'd quote it here totally at random.)
"I wash my hands of all of this! First they cook up one barely-comprehensible plot strand, then another, and neither of them make sense and both are masterpieces of incompetence. NO ONE enjoyed this release and DO YOU KNOW WHY? Because – besides being evident garbage – the stories lack the tiniest vestige of humanity! There’s no warmth, there’s no laughter, there’s no pain! For God’s sake, show a human heart beyond the sordid tangle of fanwank you have left in your wake. Before it is too late, give the public something to believe in!"
- A passing maniac looking suspiciously like Dario Fo (2007)
"Out of over one hundred Big Finish plays, only Seaside Suicide is worse than this blatant garbage and the margin is VERY close!"
- Robert Ross (2008)
"Initially, I wondered if the Gaylord was going to be some sort of enigmatic Face of Bond-type character, but more amoral - but what does the name 'Gaylord' mean? Sounds like a typical DW alien name, I suppose, especially one played by one of those BF fairies..."
- Nigel Verkoff (2008)
"The repetition of the Doctor visiting different time zones was, well, repetitious. The thing about repetition, I mean, the repetitious quality of repetition, the essence of repeatability is that... for all purposes... this IS... repetitive!"
- Arnold Rimmer (Sad Fanboy Magazine, Winter 2172)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"This story is an interesting mess. Like one of Jack the Ripper’s victims is an interesting mess. Come back Gay Russell - all is forgiven! ...or is that just what those whispering voices WANT me to think? Huh? Is that it?!"
Peter Davison Speaks!
"Working with Nick Briggs is an experience. And I’d be a lot more inclined to enjoy that experience or even consider it bearable if he stopped with the stupid Dustbin voice. Seriously, someone needs to take that damn gizmo out of his hands once in a while."
Rumors & Facts -
The news that former script editor Christopher H. Bidmead would join the small number of television writers to pen a Big Finish Doctor Who monthly release produced much anticipation, especially given that the story in question would provide Bidmead with the chance to write for the Dustbins. True ANYONE writing for the Dustbins would have caused much anticipation, as long as it wasn’t Nicholas Briggs, now Executive Producer and Supreme High Overlord of BF Productions.
Bidmead, script editor for Season 18 and author of Death Comes To Tom, Convex & Concave and AFRONTIOS, was originally a RADA-trained actor who was placed in a padded cell for a few years when he revealed he was instrumental in creating one of the Doctor’s companions – the one they know only as "Adric" – and after creating a successful Australian soap opera based on the lives and loves of Tractators starring Richard Wilson ("One Foot In The Gravis"), found his career as a freelance journalist flourishing. This was due in part because he was the only ever contributor to New Scientist and Wired Magazines to trash RTD’s revived Doctor Who series as "unworthy of the neon logo" and bragged about how clever he was and how he disapproved of undergraduates, humor and indeed undergraduate humor in general.
It was thanks to this background in science journalism means that Bidmead had gained a reputation for bringing real, "hard" science to the series despite the fact he simply swaps the word 'magic' for 'tachyons' and hoping no one would notice. Bidmead was thus responsible for the most preteniously bonkers material ever known – from the fact a teenage bedroom can block out synaptic interference to the fact that giant woodlice are born with a desire to remove planetary magnetic cores, all of which described with no self-awareness whatsoever.
Indeed, Douglas Adams was once hospitalized for laughing himself into a brief coma after listening to Bidmead’s treaties on thermodynamics in Death Comes to Tom, which was basically the expression "shit happens" with incredible amounts of technobabble.
Bidmead approached Big Finish in the mistaken belief it would be slightly better than Oddly Visuals audios that he had critiqued for their "incredibly biased few of germanium circuitry" in Omni Magazine. Briggs still remembered that review and despised Bidmead with a burning passion for not noticing the strong "pro-fibre-optic" agenda throughout the series, and took his revenge by making it clear that if Bidmead wanted a job he’d have to make an Oddly Visual story.
Thus, Bidmead agreed to the abrupt opening in mid-story leaving the audience to piece the bits together, the presence of a nebulous being who is in some way connected with time travel, a Doctor who is continually acting like a fish out of water, and the poor execution of secondary characters. Briggs was also ridiculously pleased by his first BF Dustbin story, The Mutant Phrase, and decided the world needed ANOTHER Davison audio that dealt with a time paradox built around the Dustbin vacation of Earth. With this fan-wank exorcised out of his system, Briggs allowed Bidmead to actually have some control over what he was ostensibly being paid to write.
Therefore, it was decided that Bidmead would pen a story not only for the TARDIS crew he knew best – the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa – but would also create a story for the Dustbins quite unlike any Dustbin story we’ve seen or heard before, even Rob Shearman’s D'You Believe This? which was about cancelled timelines, Dustbin merchandise, invasions that never happened and... actually, Bidmead totally ripped Shearman off! HAH! How’s it feel when someone does it to YOU, Robby? I laugh at your misery!
Bidmead immediately pitched an idea about a weird temporal anomaly that is probably the single most impressive technological achievement the Dustbins have ever managed, but which they use largely as a glorified bus terminus, thus keeping the deadly cleaning machines out of the main story for as long as possible.
Bidmead provisionally entitled the story "Logopolis II: Eclectic Boogaloo!" but it later changed to "Reapportionment Of The Dustbins" to "Retention Of The Dustbins" to "Refraction Of The Dustbins" to "Rumination Of The Dustbins" to "Roll That Chaise Lounge Over Here It's On Castors Of The Dustbins" to "Slightly Pathetic B-Grade Plot Of The Dustbins" after the rest of the production team finally worked out what the hell the plot was about.
Said plot concerned the Dustbins infiltrate Earth society by disguising themselves as innocent garbage bins and – by using a temporal feedback of massive proportions - they manage to place a single Dustbin on the table of every happy eater in 1980s Britain and every highway cafe in the USA! This invokes a huge ripple in the time vortex that prevents Lavros from frying Fargo, and also has the mutant getting a sex change to become a perfect genetic duplicate of Jordan, to the point Lavros starts calling hirself Jordan. Jordan then joins forces with the Dustbins and prepares to engage a Temporal Difference of Opinion on the Time Lords when the Doctor closes down all the Happy Eaters and Little Chefs in the UK, and persuading Americans to recycle. Thus the Dustbins are completely and utterly destroyed forever.
"Not far short of insane," was how Jason Haigh-Ellory – appointed as co-producer by Nick Briggs so he can delegate absolute everything to on a whim - described Bidmead’s plot, while script editor Alan Barnes summed up his own ambivalence over the storyline with "PLEASE GOD NO! STOP THE MADNESS!"
Briggs thought the finished product was "surprisingly tame" and was unsure whether the mysterious be voices be defined as an unfortunate side-effect of the Dustbins in their nexus, or a deliberate attempt to "breed" humanity to be susceptible to the presence of Nano-Dustbins (rather than just subtly brainwashing them into being good little Dustmen). Ultimately, the voices were decided to be a cloying attempt to sound all spooky and ethereal on the CDs and Bidmead was allowed to go ahead with writing the story.
Like his previous work, Bidmead’s script had the first two episodes set almost entirely within the TARDIS, next-to-nothing happened to further the plot until the third episode and the script is over-flowing with whatever was in that month's feature article in 'New Scientist.'
However, remembering the utter disaster of The Credo of the Moron by Philip Martin, the last time a TV author penned an audio play, Briggs decided to actually live up to his job as script editor and actually edit it rather than assume it was automatically perfect and required no improvement.
Thus, like so many other stories, Nostalgia of the Dustbins was subjected to script editing, rewriting and re-editing. There were minor dialogue changes and there were quite major rewrites of the whole plot. After reading the first few pages of episode one of the script-edited version, Bidmead discovered that Briggs had invented a strange extra-dimensional cross dresser known only as the Gaylord, who would rewrite history and cause the Fifth Doctor to regenerate into Nicholas Briggs in the very first scene of the story. This sequence was predictably cut as Briggs was reminded YET AGAIN that Davison was under contract and they couldn’t recast until 2010.
Bidmead amicably requested his name be taken off the finished product as not only did he feel he could no longer lay claim to it as his work, he also wanted to distance himself from the further megalomania of Briggos the Berserker. Ultimately, Nostalgia would be described as "from a story by the H of Bidmead".
Ultimately, it is impossible to tell who is responsible for gaffs like cliched and annoying guest characters, the idea that the TARDIS gets confused by two places having similar names, the over-blown nonsense of a Dustbin plot, the fundamentally flawed, over-complex and illogical plot, with characters you can't bring yourself to like.
Cause literally EVERYONE writes stories like that!
Nostalgia of the Dustbins would be the vanguard of the massive relaunch of Big Finish by Briggs – in one fell swoop changing ABSOLUTELY everything that he was able to, from the colour of the CD casing spines to the new rule (enforceable on pain of death) that every single episode be no longer nor shorter than 25 minutes. Every story would have its spare CD space crammed to bursting will of star interviews, behind-the-scene material, trailers, and subliminal messages telling the listener that Nick Briggs was a canonical Doctor.
The covers were completely redesigned with a blurry, unimaginative CG montage with a stock photo of the relevant Doctor stamped on the side, removing any trace of creativity or joy. The booklets would also be dominated with more crude CG artwork of whichever character Briggs was playing staring out from the double-page spread.
Most of these changed had been heralded by the Eighth Doctor BBC7 spin off series, but this ultimately did little to dull the agonizing pain of these decidedly bland, eye-pleasing photoshop monstrosities that are already dated more than Lindsey Lohan’s defense plea...
What? Too soon?