Monday, November 2, 2009

7th Doctor - Nocturne

Serial 7W/F - Nicotine
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' John Players Mild


Serial 7W/F - Nicotine

Part One

On a BBC sound stage somewhere in the swamps of Venice, a bunch of performance artists realize that the increasing clouds of smoke are ruining their lighting rigs and start screaming criticism and scorn at each other, wondering whose stupid idea was it to do a benefit concert without telling anyone just because it will be "an artistic triumph"?

Sending out one of the robotic groupies to get more rijola, it turns out that the performance art has actually extended to floor crew – they had no idea how to assemble a sound stage, but just acted really convincing to prove a point to the art critics – thus the mime artists silently scream as the sound stage comes crashing to the ground...

The Doctor decides that they are spending far too much time sitting around watching non-canonical adventures on the Transdimensional Sony Trinatron Total Image Screen and suggests that he, Ace and Hex go somewhere to restore their faith in their own ability of time travelling trouble-shooting.

Thus, he pilots the TARDIS to Venice in the year 2811 – a canal-ridden town that stinks of rising damp during a terrible, seven-decade-long, soul-destroying, futile and stalemated war against a species called the Fondue. Rather disturbingly, the Doctor explains he has brought them here simply because it's one of his all-time favorite places.

Hex and Ace idly hope that maybe the Doctor is keeping them in the dark and drip-feed them bits of information on a need-to-know basis, in order to make himself look clever and them look stupid, but the Doctor insists that making the grand "reveal" is unutterably camp, and besides, there’s nothing to reveal in 27th Century Italy.

Despite the last seventy years of human suffering and loss, the Venetians simply switch channels and get drunk on cheap wine as they produce poetry, fiction, painting, music and art all in a stubborn effort to take their minds off current events, to the point they have become the greatest concentration of human artists and thinkers in known history itself!

Even though by some freak of public transport that soldiers pass through Venice on their way to the front line and back again, the locals absolutely refuse to accept this for some strange reason while they focus on flourishing art.

"Probably just because they’re Italian," Ace shrugs.

The chain-smoking Renaissance men are responsible for the billowing clouds of cigarette smoke wafting over Venice – of course, by now technology has reached the point humans can grow organs that pump nicotine through their bodies, but that sort of GM-drug abuse isn’t as romantic and interest.

The Doctor decides to visit a pole dancing nightclub run by an old friend of his, Riffraff, a rather rubbish poet who will become vaguely fashionable amongst the intellectual snobs of the period and is even now trying to pull his high school crush and accomplished nude photographer, Lilly. Luckily, the TARDIS crew arrive in time to stop Lilly from throttling Riffraff to death with his own cravat after he attempts to seduce her with his poetry.

Ace and Hex meanwhile are put out to see that the pole dancers are actually robots with very unconvincing breasts, and the Doctor advises them not to get too close. How many times have people created prostitute androids people find so comfortable they are totally taken unprepared when said droids turn evil, their eyes glow red and they start slaughtering their filthy organic enslavers?

Hex finds this robo-striptease terribly chauvinistic, but it turns out he’s just trying to sound interesting and intellectual and actually hasn’t the faintest idea what the hell he’s saying.

Elsewhere, a remix composer known only as Instant Messenger is trying to improve "Stairway to Heaven" using doorbell chimes as his personal sex robot does unspeakable things to his toes. Just then, his flat mate, an arts student called Billy who has been slobbing around the place waiting for inspiration to strike for 18 months and who escaped conscription because of his "athlete’s hand", uses up all the hot water. What this has to do with anything is still unconfirmed.

After being bored rigid by the artists renouncing post-pigmentism in the artistic enclave and bitching about the city curfews by a bunch of fascists lead by a woman called the Overwitch presumably for her own existential satisfaction. On the bright side, these new restrictions means everyone has an excuse to leave early and not put up with any more of Riffraff’s poetry.

As the group leaves the party, Hex pairs up with Lilly and suggests they both check out a private rave party – the Doctor has told him dark legends of Venice’s marijuana crops, and Hex wants to check out "the fumes" before they leave.

Lilly and Hex pop down some steps to a sub-street speakeasy filled with strange exotic smoke so potent Hex immediate has a paranoid fit and screams hysterically that he can sense there's something else inside the cigarette smoke with them...

This was deemed good enough place to call it cliffhanger.

Part Two

Hex runs through the smoke wailing he can smell fire and shouting at passers by that the whole house of cards is going to collapse, what’s more he can hear strange sounds that are identical to the sirens of the emergency services arriving.

It isn’t long before he runs head-first into the lucanol-plated bosom of a sexbot and concusses himself, and the dazed ex-paramedic is soon being frog-marched away by the android legions of the Overwitch!

The Overwitch herself is shocked when Hex has no papers, permits, curfew passes, civilian warrants, any means of identification, or appear anywhere on immigration lists, census, or the military police database. Therefore, she decides that Hex is some kind of hallucination from the dark side of her own id and beats him up.

Things get worse as, no sooner does Hex finally convince the Overwitch he is a separate entity, she dubs him a deserter from the vicious Fondue war and offers to become his "special friend"...

The Doctor and Ace decide to pester another of his old friends, Instant Messenger, and Riffraff follows, desperately trying to be cool by association. However, despite the nicotine fog, they cannot lose the git no matter where they go.

Messenger, meanwhile, is feeling low and claiming he has been cursed with divine retribution for his upteenth remix youtube clip of "Let’s Do The Time Warp Again!", but the Doctor's seen the artist like this before and believes he always gets like this when he hasn’t had enough roughage and too much robot fellatio.

Ace and Billy flirt outrageously in an attempt to keep Riffraff from talking at them, only for their discourse to turn sour as she assumes Billy’s injured wrist is down to excessive wanking and not, as it happens, "athlete’s hand".

Just then, Riffraff trips over a power cord and plunges the apartment into darkness, and that robot from scene 1 turns up and starts to steal all the booze it can lay its autonomous hands on before the humans can switch the light back on. Messenger accuses the robot of theft, but it insists it is merely following orders and providing booze for a public festival so exclusive no one has been invited to.

This of course makes everyone incredibly eager to visit and see what the hell is going on down there at this exclusive function, but at that moment Hex uses his one phone call to beg the Doctor to get him out of jail before the filth set him up for possession!

The Doctor and Ace immediate go to rescue him – since they know he hasn’t done anything and this is all a mistake, it will be no fun trying to get him off legally, so they decide to use a plan involving a lot of explosives, armed sieges, hostage taking and other such Jay and Silent Bob charm to free their companion.

One musical segue later, the soot-stained, battered and bloody TARDIS crew are free to cause as much chaos, panic and confusion as they wish and return to Messenger’s place to finish the nibbles to find that he has kicked Billy out and thrown his possessions into the canal.

On absolutely no evidence of any sort whatsoever, the Doctor decides that Hex’s paranoid fantasies herald the oncoming of an Evil From Beyond The Dawn Of Time and a particularly nasty one at that.

There isn't even the slightest sign of surprise on Ace's face.

The trio turn up to Riffraff’s strip club and meet up with the rest of the cast, who also happen to be there for some reason despite hating the place, its owner, and also there being a curfew punishable by death. But these are Italians and they do as they bloody well please, so you can take all your contradictions to Switzerland if you want any kind of attention paid to them.

The Doctor and Riffraff follow the robot back to the exclusive festival, while Hex and Lilly check the city archive for any suspiciously-named avatars living in the city like Mr Graham Oldone or Dominic Horsemanoftheapocalupse or anything like that, while Ace and Bill will stay at the club, sulk and make tea until the author can work out a suitable plot thread for them. On such thread occurs, and they decide for a romantic walk through the mists of Venice for the tourism and the contact highs.

The Doctor and Riffraff find the remains of the sound stage eerily deserted, and suspicions start to rise – was this all a prank? Has some unknown disaster befallen the mime artists? Are they just unfashionably early and the real festivities not due to start for another two hours?

After brooding in the mist for a minute, a bunch of insane robots with breasts attack them, completely surrounding our heroes on all sides!

Who saw THAT coming?!?

Part Three

With psychotic DD-breasted robots of death all around, there is no conceivable way that the Doctor and Riffraff can POSSIBLY survive this no-options kill-a-thon!

Then, the Overwitch appears with a couple of chain-guns and opens fire, destroyed the androids one by one in gratuitous slow motion carnage and as the dust settles we are left with a poignant reminder about the futility of war, the pointlessness of God, and realizing that machine-gunning sex-droids is now a fetish in and of itself. Oh yeah.

The Doctor and Riffraff are so shaken and turned on by this display, they immediately congratulate her on her excellent timing, ask what brought her to this neck of the woods, and whether she’s in a steady relationship at all?

The Overwitch decides to blame her prisoners for the complete robot apocalypse going on, and the Doctor and Riffraff are wrongfully imprisoned in one of Doctor Who’s oldest and most predictable methods of padding out a story to four episodes.

In similar traditions, the Doctor is not simply thrown into a cell but allowed to investigate the scene of the crime and finds the remains of the sound stage. This is apparently all the proof the Doctor needs of an unstoppable city-destroying force has been released by dabbling in barely-understood arts – but as the Overwitch points out, it’s just some dodgy carpentry accident. There’s no reason to think that Death Itself now stalks the canals of Venice.

Then again, stranger things have happened, so she lets them go.

Meanwhile, Ace and Billy go for a gondola ride through Venice, now twitching violently and requiring gas masks to breathe the choking clouds of cigarette ash from all these Renaissance Men who seem to be evolving to the point they no longer need oxygen.

Idly they pass the time telling each crib notes about their own lives which turn out to be rather dull, enlivened only by their gondolier, Pietro, who screams that one day, one day, his sword and sorcery RPGs will be respected – and one that day huge marijuana crops will be set alight to celebrate a century of decadence.

"Yeah, whatever," says Ace dismissively and she and Billy immediately disembark this incredibly crap attempt to sequelize this story to the first one Paul McGann recorded back in 2000.

After admiring a statue called "Man, Triumphant Over The Rigors Of Space, Has A Threesome With A Twelve Year Old Girl And A Donkey" by an artist called Shmuck, Billy tries again unsuccessfully to seduce Ace with a cocktail olive. Unsuccessful because they are at a canal-side café with indoor smoking and Ace’s lungs finally start to implode.

Without explaining further, Ace leaps to her feet and races out of
the café, leaving Billy alone and confused in the coiling smoke.

Hex and Lilly, in case you forgot, are in the city archive looking for information, but soon get bored and start making out in reference section away from the prying eyes of the librarians.

No sooner do they finish and leave the library to get some food for the incredible munchies they are suffering, then they bump into the Doctor and Riffraff. The Doctor cheerfully announces that Death Incarnate stalks the streets around them, and decides to murder the latest boy Ace has taken a fancy to since they usually turn out to be the harbinger of absolute and eternal damnation.

Thus, the gang sets off to lynch Billy for no real reason.

Ace meanwhile is wandering through the back alleys where she stumbles across some strange alien scripts marked "Rose Tyler: Earth Defense" and decides to throw them into a canal for a laugh. Billy finally catches up with her as something blows a terrific wind, causing the cigarette smoke to transform into a giant blurry skeletal shape that screams with a voice of infinite sadness, of unknowable depth, of Nick Briggs gargling into a ring modulator.

Just then, the Doctor, Hex and the others arrive and see the giant grim reaper looming over Ace’s latest boyfriend. "Never fails," the Doctor grimaces. "FIVE ROUNDS RAPID!"

Ace shouts at the Doctor, but the Time Lord insists this is the greater good and Venice can only be saved by the annihilation of the monster’s host body before it gets a chance to fully manifest!

The monster inhales Billy and turns him to ash.

"Oh," says the Doctor lamely as the giant skeleton swings to face him. "One of THOSE Evils From Beyond The Dawn of Time..."

Part Four

As the embodiment of mortality reached forward, the Doctor has a temper tantrum and demands to know why the hell isn’t he allowed to just chill out at places without alien invasions, time manipulation or giant smog monsters trying to kill him!

The Doctor manages to inhale so much of the smoke in his rant that Death Incarnate starts to dissolve and then desperately swims away at the last minute, leaving them more or less unharmed.

Returning to Riffraff’s strip club, the Doctor concludes that Death Incarnate is as his name implies Death Incarnate – the Grim Reaper has come to Venice to claim all those dying from lung cancer from smoking toxic substances all day and night with no thought that an Evil From Beyond The Dawn of Time might turn up and demand their asses.

Hex runs over to Ace and snogs her. For some reason.

The Doctor turns to Riffraff and Lilly for support, but you know what these artistic types are like – they’re already being inspired about unleashing pain, fear and darkness on society; giving the Venice’s nicotine a voice to cry out with. They rush off to their respective anvils of creation and prove to be no help at all.

It looks like it will just be up to the Doctor, Ace and Hex left to save civilization as established by the three previous episodes. The question of course is: should they bother? Is it worth it? Do poodles deserve to live, let alone these chain-smoking Venetian scum?

Hex comes up with a bait that only a hardcore stoner like him could ever possibly think would be suitable to deal with a phenomenon embodying all definitions of decay and destruction:

They simply stand around singing along with his iPod until the monster comes back and then improvise madly from thereon in!

The Doctor admits that this idea is so batshit insane it might just work and so they just start singing along to the random collection of songs Hex managed to download into his mp3 player one long, lonely night when they were fighting Oliver Cromwell.

No sooner have they reached the crescendo of "Virgin State of Mind" by K’s Choice, a massive storm hits the city, a storm of such intensity that the Doctor is sure it can't be natural. Plus, you know, Death Incarnate happens to be visiting, so the chances that the local climate patterns are being disturbed by the gathering power of the thing are really quite high.

Just then Lilly turns up insisting that Death Incarnate should be saved for artistic reasons – after all, what is art? Should the Grim Reaper be considered an independent life form or merely an artwork? Should they destroy something just before it kills lots of people? How do they know that it can’t be installed into a museum without slaughtering all the visitors? It’s not like life should be valued over a perfect artistic masterpiece, is it?

At that moment, Death Incarnate swallows Lilly, annihilating her so perfectly she might as well be in another dimension, an alternate reality where this story is actually interesting and thought provoking and not the utter dross I am forced to transcribe here and now.

Luckily, Riffraff starts reciting his truly awful poetry and the abominable blank verse devastates Death Incarnate long enough for Ace to come up with another plan:

They’ll set fire to the private marijuana stocks of Duke Insanity IV, mingling the dope smoke with cigarette smoke, diluting the manifestation of Death to such a degree that it will be forces to de-corporealize and retreat back into the dark void between realities.

Hex agrees wholeheartedly with this plan, believing it is their moral duty to do so – and even if it DOESN’T work, they’ll all be so stoned they won’t care when it kills them!

The Doctor agrees and no sooner has Ace indulged her pyromania, they manage to blame the fires on Duke Insanity’s bit on the side, some tart with the curious name of Bestseller, and scarper.

Death Incarnate slaughters all the supporting cast before getting incredibly wasted, stumbling around the city, then falling over and dispersing into the mist once more. When asked as to where Death has been banished to, the Doctor can only shrug:

"Wales, probably."

It starts to rain and the trio head back to the TARDIS, musing that the great Venetian Renaissance has been violently cut short – works celebrated as masterpieces for as long as humanity exists will now never be completed... and good.

They were all a bunch of pretentious wankers, anyway.

Book(s)/Other Related –
Dr Who: Death In Venice
Doctor Who Refuses To Give Up The Fags (Canada Only)
Doctor Who Visits The Loony Lagoon
Vendetta for V: Vulgar Venice Vetoed Vicariously!!

Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed addicted in this story.
"Professor, that means Death can just turn up anywhere at anytime!"
"Oh, let Touchwood deal with it, they can hardly make things worse..."

Goofs -
Despite being in the most imaginative depths of the 29th century, artists are clearly shown to have been unable to expand their talents beyond poetry, artwork and music composition. Where are the frozen molecular sculptures, the conceptual magnifying glasses, the nervous system percussion drives? WHY HAVEN’T THEY COME UP WITH SOMETHING REMOTELY INTERESTING AFTER A SODDING MILLENNIA?!

Fashion Victims -
The robot familiars clad in denim jackets and blondie wigs.

Technobabble -
The Doctor mutters darkly about "sudden inrush of negative creetathongs driving positronic flows into overdrive". What this means is anyone’s guess, but I think he’s just talking dirty for the hell of it.

Links and References -
This story is prequel/sequel to the Eighth Doctor adventure "The Stoned of Venice" (Serial 8B), and in time honored Doctor Who tradition completely contradicts and mercilessly retcons the previous story out of perceived existence.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor implies that the Venetians were driven to chain smoking by his visit with Tegan Jovanka.

While we were listening to the Griffiths Doctor and Kate confront what is rotten within one’s self while having wacky hi-jinks in outer space, the 7th Doctor, Ace and Hex returned library books to Breearos, used a laundrette on Tau Sartos and used a roach bomb to destroy a Zylax swarm on Nydas Three in a tide of mucus.

So, obviously, we haven’t been missing much.

Groovy DVD Extras -
Exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew and all the sort of stuff you used to get in the DWM previews and reviews, but now have to actually buy the CD for if you want to stand a chance in hell of being informed enough to do a parody spoof of the story in question... NICK BRIGGS IS ON TO ME!!!

Dialogue Disasters -

The Doctor on being told he’s always calling himself Time’s Champion, tricking his enemies into using back-firing Gallifreyan super weapons, playing chess games on a thousand boards with people as pawns, sacrificing lives for the greater good, laying plans and traps to the point he is a bigger nightmare than any monster he faces:

Riffraff: It’s astounding! Time is fleeting! Madness takes its toll!

Hex: Don’t you get a bit sick of having to evade malfunctioning robots and getting arrested by narrow-minded military police officials I then have to convince what’s going on?
Doctor: Indeed I do, Hex, indeed I do. If only I had some kind of psychic passport to short-circuit such tiresome sequences!

Dialogue Triumphs -

Lilly: One day, I shall snap – yes, I shall snap. On that day, expect tears and anxieties. So sit patiently in the belief, eventually I will go out of my mind. And until then, STOP THE GODDAMNED POETRY!

Doctor: I know you and Hex were just teasing, but you’re right. I’ve got a terrible habit of not telling you enough. You said it yourself. I take you somewhere, and I don’t tell you why, or I don’t tell you everything. Or I only tell you everything when it’s too late. I’m sorry for that. In the future, I’ll make sure I tell you.
Ace: I thought this WAS the future?
Doctor: Oh, for fuck’s sake...

UnQuotable Quote -
Hex: Venice? I thought it was Lowenstoff!

Viewer Quotes -

"Hex and Ace kiss! SQUEEEEE!" - some fangirl I despise (2007)

"This sort of thing is old hat. Big Finish should do something the new TV series never will. Like set a story on the planet Zog. Better yet a multi-Doctor story with the Bastard set on the planet Zog, with an entirely alien cast of characters! Oh and a zogmonster... Not forgetting the magical zog crystal, of course! Yep, that'd make me happy. And by the way, seriously, what is wrong with McCoy? It's like his voice box is in a straightjacket!" - Ian Levine (2007)

"I liked how the script had Ace and Hex discuss a multitude of adventures that aren’t documented on television, in print or even on audio. Even with the hundreds upon hundreds of Doctor Who stories out there, there are infinitely more that are yet to be told - there will be always be missing adventures and gaps to plug. I have no imagination of my own." - Mark Gatiss (2009)

"Very run of the mill, a bog-standard 'middle of the road' Doctor Who adventure. Why can’t we have EVERY single release being a wildly experimental one? There was nothing here that really sparked the imagination! Just because I've heard plenty of worse Doctor Who audios doesn’t make this GOOD, does it?" - Mad Larry the Pirate King (2008)

"I never realized just how butt ugly the main cast were till I saw that cover. It’s nauseating, I tell ye! DEAR GOD, THEY ARE UNHOLY! Creatures with faces like that should have been strangled at birth!"
- The Elephant Man (2008)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Every time I masturbate, I kill a kitten. Never mess with voodoo while drunk, nasty things can happen."

Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"In the old days it was just Ace and I would arrive and then we’d split up, often have various adventures that wouldn’t make sense until you got the extended edition out on BBC Video, and then get together at the end and go away again. Now, it seems to be Ace and Hex go off together, which gives more scope to the writers, but it does give you the impression no one likes the Doctor and he’s left all alone."

Philip Oliver Speaks!
"Yeah, no, I mean, they were like 'What?' and it’s hard explaining to them 'No, not the Doctor Who on TV, the Doctor Who on audio!' but it’s weird now, a lot of people are getting to know about it, I think a few more people are going out there and buying it – well, I know my friends are, and now they’ve all ditched me for being terminally unfashionable. So, yeah, I better quit before my family finds out... if they do, I’ll have to keep them supplied with merchandise and marry Billie Piper and stuff like that. I’ll never hear the end of it. I hate the BBC for bringing it back and exposing my shameful day job."

Sophie Aldred Speaks!
"The Doctor’s a two-faced butt monkey, but at least Ace has an ally, her own companion to ruthlessly manipulate, patronize and condescend. It’s not just me whining at him for keeping them in the dark, it’s Ace AND Hex whining at him for keeping them in the dark. A huge step forward, when you think about it. I’d actually like to have a go at directing a story, getting performances out of people on pain of death, making them suffer my anal retentive views on pronunciation and acting. Just out of sheer bitterness and revenge."

Trivia -
This is the last story that had any kind of decent cover before Nick Briggs utilized one of the few remaining powers he had and ensured that every Big Finish story was now given a churn-out-en-mass cover job with no imagination, invention or color scheme involved.

Rumors & Facts -
Twenty years had passed since 1987’s "Romp With The Rani" which had introduced (or to some ungrateful scum 'inflicted') Sylvester McCoy, and it would an irony that McCoy would spend the whole of 2007 struggling not to be involved in Doctor Who in any way shape or form. McCoy had not lost his love for the show, but more importantly retained his hatred for Nicholas Briggs, now the major domo of Big Finish.

But Briggs hands were tied – sometimes literally – about what he could do with the company. Contracts were signed, schedules mapped out, and Briggs was left nominally in charge of an unstoppable juggernaut. He could not replace the Doctors, or the companions, or even commission stories for himself until Big Finish passed it’s 100th release – and few believed the company would last another nine releases now Briggs was in charge of the whole shebang, contracts or not.

The next story off the block was former DWM-comic writer Dan Abnett who had also perpetrated Hex’s origin story The Cyb-Fest, and often ignored because of his macho air and derivative mainstream sci-fi credentials which consisted of plagiarizing "Aliens" and hoping no one would notice what he was up to. Previous Producer Gay Russell had wanted Abnett to provide something "stultifyingly traditional" to countpoint the previous insanity of stories by Matthew Sweet and Paul Carnall, who Briggs had also been forced to work with.

Briggs however, realized that Abnett was signed up to do another Seventh Doctor/Ace/Hex story, which meant he would simply pluck another unmade script from 1990 and get Richard Griffiths and Julia Sawalha to record it for him with a bare minimum of effort. Briggs was furious – apart from anything else, Griffiths was clearly a far more popular unbound Doctor than Briggs himself could ever be. Thus the Griffiths Doctor had to be abandoned to give Briggs a shot at wooing the public afresh. However, this meant doing a proper story for the Doctor, Ace and Hex since 2005!

This would not be easy, least of all since Sylvester McCoy was busy appearing in Manchester as a nude mute in a stage performance of "Me & My Goat" by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, forcing the entire Big Finish production to set up camp in the audience and record as much dialogue from McCoy as they could immediately before and after the play since the rest of the time he was staying in characters as a mute nudist, or simply ignored them and got on with his life. Due to this strange recording schedule, his fellow stage-actor Roger Bannister, famous for breaking the five minute mile before his internal organs turned to jelly and also eating his wife, was violently inserted into the storyline to become the untalented Riffraff.

Worse, while Sophie Aldred was also in Manchester, she too was busy in a stage show called "Fiddling With The Roof", a stand-up grumpy-old-actress monologue hurling abuse at the various unhelpful shop assistants she had blown up way back in the 1980s (when she discovered the BBC prop department couldn’t afford special props for Nitro-9 and used genuine nitroglycerine instead).

Philip Oliver WASN’T in a Manchester stage show, but was still darned difficult to get to turn up and record his lines. Tagging along was Eric Potts, who had appeared in the 2005 TV series as John Prescott the gas-filled alien parasite in the episode "Alias of London", and whose gaseous fecundity lent gravitas to his performance as the (gas-powered) Instant Messenger.

Abbnett, realizing he was stuck working with Briggs as much as Briggs was stuck working with him, vented his revenge into the story – coming up with a novel idea, in showing us a planet which the Doctor has apparently visited many times before and then making no real use of this fact, instead sticking to some pretty familiar plot devices that have been seen/read/heard many times in Who before and were crap the first time. He deprived himself of sleep just so he had more time to crudely steal and parody stories like Whispers of Error, Schizo, ...ick, Bust Reading, The Stoned of Venice, A School for Glory, and of course The Robots With Breasts.

Briggs retaliated but all he actually could do was ensure on pain of death every episode was no longer than 25 minutes long and then put behind-the-scenes interviews on the extra space afforded on the CD – which most punters never twigged existed, let alone listened to.

Recording of the story was a tense affair, since McCoy, Aldred and Oliver realized that not only was Briggs a bald toothbrush-wielding maniac, he was a rotten conversationalist as well and making stories with him was as exciting and thrilling as dermatological rashes.

Thus the three of them agreed to abandon Big Finish and never return, however McCoy had, over the run of "Me & My Goat" left Big Finish more than enough material to pen two more solo Seventh Doctor stories around him, without anyone realizing the man himself was in fact on his way to Australia to meet up with his old bridge partner Ian McKellan.

Nicotine finally hit the stores on Valentine’s Day, being bought as a gift for fans by whatever they claimed to call their friends and loved ones. Ironic, as after listening to the entirety of the audio, most fans immediately swore violently at their ‘friends’ and never spoke to them again.

Ultimately, there is no denying that Nicotine has a great deal of heart – riddled with cancerous tumors, but a heart nonetheless, with more than just a sense of character, and a really comfy feeling of familiarity, of associations that's really quite pleasing... simply by stealing stuff from stories I actually LIKE.

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