Monday, November 30, 2009

The New Adventures - The Dark Flame

Serial SS4 - The Dark Llama
The Dark Llama
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Braxiatel Collections


Serial SS4 - The Dark Llama

Part One

Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor and Ace are shouting at each other again. She yells at him for abandoning her in the twenty-third century to become a psychotic Dustbin serial killer, and he yells at her for fancying blokes whose retina drip with alien mind fungus.

Normally at this point a completely plastered Bernice "Benny" Summerfield stumbles in clutching a bottle of ol' Janx spirit and proceeds to belch, gurgle and generally mock the two most pathetic people she has ever met in her entire life – "Dumb Doctor and Dumber Dorothy" as she unkindly spits at them.

However, this time Benny doesn’t arrive and the argument just goes on and on until it actually gets incredibly weak – like the time the Seventh Doctor didn’t let her eat a mango because he wanted it first, or the time Ace shot up on meth amphetamines and started lisping the word "BOOM!" over and over again in casual conversation.

Finally, the Doctor and Ace realize that Benny has once again tried to ditch her fellow travelers by fleeing to the Orbos research facility, in orbit around the planet Marran Alpha. Since Benny ALWAYS goes there, it is a simple matter to send the TARDIS there.

"Will she ever learn?" the Doctor muses.

Suddenly, the TARDIS receives a spam email from someone called Remnex who claims to be an old friend of the Doctor, despite the fact he’s clearly never met anyone called Remnex before. Expecting lots of bargain basement penis enlargements and spam filters, the Doctor deletes the email (marked "PLEASE HELP ME! THE LLAMA IS BURNING WITH DARK, BLACK FLAMES! PLEASE!") without a second thought.

Ace looks in the Doctor’s contact list and discovers that Remnex is one of three scientists stationed on Orbos, and apparently really IS an old friend of the Time Lord. So the Doctor jabs her in the forehead with his power digit and erases this knowledge from her mind. Who knows how many other faux pas the Doctor is desperate to hide?

As Ace recovered consciousness and tries to remember whether or not she sleeps in the nude, the Doctor broods that Remnex is a maverick child of the new millennium, a wild-eyed loner not content with ordinary ultraviolet light, but rather space-time quantum meta-fluctuation energy – AKA black light, which can be found on most late 1970s prog rock ablums!

It seems that Remnex has paid the price for tampering with such a dangerous energy source! And it also seems that the desperate pleading for help actually WAS some weird spam, since Remnex is alive and well, getting slowly sozzled as he sits on the the observation deck of Orbos, looking out over the dead world Marran Alpha in his pith helmet.

The TARDIS arrives on the station and the Doctor and Ace emerge to collect Benny so they can get back to arguing about angst, continuity, sexually transmitted diseases and evils from beyond the dawn of time who seem to think that VR is a really cool idea.

Spotting Remnex, the Doctor throws Ace out a door and tells her to go and blow up some stuff or whatever it is she does to justify her empty existence, while he and Remnex chat about tele-temporal email accounts.

Remnex admits he doesn’t have one, but has been wondering if it might be a good idea to trigger a black light explosion which would consume all matter in the entire universe.

"That’s not a good idea," the Doctor confesses.

"Oh well, we’ll have to do something else then," Remnex sighs, idly wondering why Mel is not one of the Doctor’s emotionally-scarred, ruthless, military trained warrior women. The Doctor admits he can’t stand redheads as part of the pawns he plays with the Eternals of abstract anthropomorphicism.

Meanwhile, Benny is desperate to get away from the endless canon arguments between the Doctor and Ace – especially after that time they went around demanding she refer to them as "Professor Dominie" and "Alice Ace" – and is willing to join Professor Lomar in a traineeship of ‘post-consumption evacuation facilitating’ which involves dumping lots of rubbish into the waste disposal unit.

Finally, Benny and Lamor decide with their usual wacky inventiveness that rather and waste time and effort turning waste material into the raw fuel that keeps the space station functioning, it would be a lot easier to just use an incredibly amount of energy to teleport all the rubbish to the volcanic, acid-drenched surface of Marran Alpha.

The Doctor discovers that all of the station’s entire research equipment runs from the energy extrapolation of a custard cream biscuit.

The Time Lord declares such a power source dangerously unstable, but the sinister Professor Slyde appears out of nowhere to assure him that it is only a temporary measure – they require a suitable control element existing both inside and outside of time and space, and it is very rare to find a custard cream to THOSE specifications!

So saying, the unpleasant Professor Slyde vanishes in as mysterious and disturbing manner as he arrived.

The Doctor and Remnex agree that Slyde seems a nice chap.

Meanwhile, a bloke called Victor and his comic relief android Joseph are in a quarry attempting to dig up the body of an ungodly warlock that was crucified into the rock of Marran Alpha centuries ago by a mob of intergalactic rednecks.

"I mean, anyone can be a godly warlock," Victor enthuses, "but an UNGODLY warlock, that takes imagination!"

Finally they find the remains of the fanatic, and Joseph points out that you know, messing about with the corpse of a warlock nailed to the seventh gateway to the deepest depths of hell might be a tad reckless.

Victor insists that he knows precisely what he’s doing, just as the skeleton rips free of its restraints and gouges out Victor’s left eye.

"WHO SAW THAT COMING?" puns Joseph, breaking the fourth wall as Victor rolls around on the ground, screaming in agony. "I SEE YOUR POINT," Joseph notes, and replies to the string of abuse with, "OH WELL. AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND ALL THAT."

Victor screams at the android to stop making jokes about his ocular capacity and help them.

"EYE-EYE, SIR," says Joseph, and Victor just groans.

It is then they realizes that the zombie skeleton has buggered off, and Joseph craps himself in terror. And when a mechanoid with no genuine digestive system craps himself, it's generally serious.

A scream echoes out through the space station and everyone runs to the observation deck to find Remnex with an icepick rammed through his head and the Doctor idly wiping his bloody hands. He quickly tells Ace and Benny to claim that an evil cult of space Llamas is responsible for this truly ruthless murder.

Benny is a bit annoyed that, not only did the Doctor seem to know that Remnex was in danger, he also stabbed his old friend through the head with an ice pick for no adequately explored reasons.

The Doctor offers her another bottle of Voxnic if she shuts up and Benny immediately starts prophesizing that the ancient and supposedly-dead cult of the Dark Llamas, who worshipped giant mutant star llamas, have somehow remained active and murdered Remnex.

Slyde appears out of nowhere again and accuses the Doctor, or possibly Ace, or possibly Benny, or possibly Lomar, or possibly himself of killing Remnex to prevent the black light mutually assured destruction experiment from going ahead.

The Doctor shouts that this is a groundless accusation steeped in innuendo, and idly drops the ice pick back into his jacket pocket.

Benny drains the bottle of Voxnic, and, completely pissed, offers to show everyone how the teleport works, explaining it’s not simply some fucked-up Star Trek transporter that destroys you and recreates a version of you at the other end but works on a quantum elastic band principle of blackmailing your molecules to be elsewhere.

Suddenly, she bursts out laughing at some joke that didn't seem funny before now, and falls into the teleport. Ace muses it might be some exotic particle leakage from the transmat system, but concedes it might be the fact Benny is a complete alcoholic tool.

The teleport activates and sends the giggling Benny to the volcanic surface of Marran Alpha with its volcanos and the toxic atmosphere and the continual storms of acid rain and the screaming and the yelling and the burning. Glavin!

"Ob-li-di-ob-li-da," the Doctor says philosophically, providing a totally gratuitous pop culture reference before the episode ends.

Part Two

Ace starts to go off again about the Doctor using his companions as pawns in a chess game against the might forces outside creation, and the Doctor smacks her unconscious and hypnotizes her again so she shuts up for one fucking minute about this "Jan" bloke who gave her the screaming thigh-sweats so badly for 48 hours back in 1992 he left her such a whinging bitch ever since.

Benny wakes up in a quarry on the surface of Marran Alpha and realizes a basic continuity flaw in the script has saved her from the most grossest and agonizing of demises imaginable. She marvels at this and downs another flagon of booze.

She is then chased up and down some tunnels by a skeletal zombie.

The Doctor decides to go and steal Remnex’s wallet for the greater good of the universe, and is incredibly annoyed to discover that Lomar, trying to be helpful, has already teleported the corpse down to the surface of the planet.

"Why did you tamper with the crime scene so stupidly?" the Doctor demands of her, furious.

"It was spoiling the feng shui!" Lomar protests.

On the planet, Benny stumbles over Remnex’s body and throws it at the zombie as a peace offering – however, the demonic energy flows out of the zombie and infects Remnex’s monocular corpse, which returns from the dead.

"I may have only one eye, but it's the land of the blind! Let me remove those pesky retina, Bernice!" the Emissary of Apocalypse drools before chasing Benny up and down some completely different tunnels.

The Doctor is wandering down a corridor when he bumps into the half blind Victor and then, noticing a classified add he will one day enter into the Orbos Routine Daily Circular, dives for cover as Ace charges down the corridor with a chainsaw.

Instead of perforating the Doctor, it is Victor sliced into strips of meat by the insane Ace. The Doctor offers Victor’s severed leg to Ace as a peace offering, then runs for it before she changes her mind. It strikes the Doctor that the leg is parachronic!

After a quick check of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Doctor learns that "parachronic" means "Victor’s leg exists partially outside the space/time continuum" and thus is not a word used often in everyday conversation between normal people.

It strikes Time’s Champion that Victor’s leg is JUST what is required to replace the custard cream in Slyde’s omniversally-assured mutual destruction black light explosion device.

"Lucky bastard," the Doctor scowls, wishing HE could stumble across such artifacts whenever it was convenient to do so.

Telling Ace to guard the leg with her life, or, failing that, just shoot herself through the head, the Doctor crosses to the teleport and uses the neutron flow polarity reverser to transmat him down to the quarry on the planet below.

Meanwhile, the ever-violent Ace decides to run around Orbos beating up everyone she can find on the off-chance they might be belonging to the Cult of the Dark Llama!

Part Three

Finally, Ace gets bored and sets off a smoke grenade just so she can get high off the fumes. In the confusion, Lomar and Slyde run away.

On Marran Alpha, the Doctor teleports into a cell where Benny and Joseph the android are hiding from the Emissary of All Darkness Evil And General Naughtiness.

The Doctor learns that the others are hiding from a decaying corpse carrying a centuries old spirit serving the evil that burns in the heart of every living Llama, the most pathetic cult in the history of the universe.

And sniggers.

Benny points out that the Cult of the Dark Llama were famous for their dinner parties where the followers were gifted with the ability to rise from the grave with the unnatural strength of the undead, and the quarry is now teaming with Jason and the Argonauts-style skeleton warriors who won’t be impressed by mockery or flippancy, but will brutally behead anyone they come across.

The Doctor admits that maybe this IS a bit serious, and they really should try and escape in the TARDIS, as it strikes him that parachronics are caused by incomprehensibly twisted physics from billions of years from beyond the collapse of the universe.

Thus, using it to trigger a black light explosion might be a bit more dangerous than the cosmos-shattering firestorm hitherto indicated.

Luckily, the Doctor has a handy teleport bracelet and so is about to take them back to the space station when living zombie skeletons attack. The Doctor cuts his losses and abandons Benny and Joseph to certain and agonizing death.

However, Joseph announces he has had enough of this shit and goes "I, Robot" Will-Smith-style on the skeleton hordes, smashing them to pieces and using the pieces for xylophone practice.

The Doctor arrives back on Orbos and finds Ace has gassed the rest of the cast unconscious and now subjecting them to inhuman diatribes about how she has issues with her mother, which sets her apart from the rest of the human race, and how an interest in high-impact explosions make her interesting, and not a psychopathic pyromaniac.

Then, the skeleton hoards teleport up to the space station, now lead by Joseph, who is so bad ass he now controls the Cult of the Dark Llama after grinding up the previous Emissary into salmon-liver pate.

The Doctor laughs cruelly, certain that at any moment, Benny will arrive with some expendable space marines and blow up Joseph and save the entire universe!

Joseph points out that if she does, she’ll have to wait another twenty four and a half minutes, providing a totally gratuitous breaking of the fourth wall before the episode ends.

Part Four

Joseph orders his skeletal followers hold Ace down while everyone takes turns to beat her up and shout "JUST GET OVER IT, YOU NUTTER!" very loudly.

The Doctor begs Joseph to let him have two turns, but is turned down on the grounds he gets to do cruel psychological stuff to Ace all the time, and this might the only chance for the others.

The Doctor goes into the corner and sulks, before bitching about blowing up Fargo and Dustbins with ancient Gallifreyan super weapons and idly wondering if he IS the Other, or if Lance Parkin is talking absolute rubbish as per usual.

Meanwhile, Slyde finally works out what everyone managed to do ages ago and realize that if Victor’s severed leg is plugged into the black light convert so it can trigger the incomprehensibly destructive forces at their command.

Benny arrives and offers herself in a gratuitous sex scene for Joseph to gloat the way only an evil possessed butlerbot possibly can.

The Doctor snaps that Benny was going to cut it a bit fine, and then, for no apparent reason, activates the explosives and the Dark Llama energies begin to seep over the Orbos station in a cheap negative effect that is actually incredibly expensive CGI that only LOOKS like a cheap negative effect for nostalgia value.

Yes, the Doctor has doomed every corner of time and space!


Ace gets up and beats the Doctor unconscious with a neutron blaster, and everyone runs away – including Benny, much to Joseph’s annoyance, and he grumbles that they’ll all come crawling back to him.

Joseph then has a fit of existential angst as he realizes that maybe, just maybe, he is a brain in a jar somewhere and the entire universe is nothing more than the daydream of a bug on a tree.

Joseph writes a bit of agonizing poetry and rips out Victor’s Leg, causing a massive explosion that solves the entire plot in one very loud sound effect.

The Doctor, Benny and Ace marvel at the reset button ending which has left Lomar and Slyde nice, cuddly, piglety creatures who love flowers and peace and not war and pollution, while Remnex dies peacefully in his sleep. And a pick axe through his eye, but it was sill peaceful.

The trio leave in the TARDIS for some gratuitous foreshadowing to the Benny Summerfield spin-off range as the Doctor intends to make Joseph a recurring character.

Moments after the TARDIS takes off, the Doctor and Ace start arguing again and Benny cracks open a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

"I love this job!" the Doctor muses. "I just hate everything else!"

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who Versus Lucio Fulchi The Eye-Gouger
The New Doctor Who Adventures: Dark Llamas!

Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed to be off his face in this story.

Goofs -
Slyde notes that the Dark Llama Emissary needed a strong, firm, young body... so logically Slyde went out and chose the decrepit septuagenarian with half his skull missing.

Fashion Victims – Ace’s casual, wet look body armor.

Technobabble -
Black light explosions are controlled by a iso-chrontic crystal, a forced generated tachyon super-conductor, time sensitive element.

And severed legs.

Links and References -
The Doctor and Mel were on Remnex’s "Skull Duggery Buggery" mailing list after they accidentally handed out their email addresses at a really wild party on Mogaria.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The New Adventures. Give or take a few bits of "The Highest Scientists", you really haven’t missed much.

Groovy DVD Extras -
A music video of Britney Spears "Oops I Did It Again" when the Doctor realizes he has accidentally kick started the end of the universe.

Dialogue Disasters -

Just in case you hadn’t noticed the title, it gets mentioned once or twice during the course of the story...


"The Dark Llama never dies - somewhere, somehow, it ALWAYS survives. The Dark Llama can NEVER be extinguished!!"

"She has given herself to the Dark Llama! You know this to be true!"

"You don't understand the power of the Dark Llama!"

"I’m afraid not my dear lady, for you see I ALSO belong to the Cult of the Dark Llama!"

"The Dark Llama is terribly powerful and therefore terribly important!"

"Perhaps now you believe in the power of the Dark Llama!"


"I may have the body of a feeble human, but I have the mind of the Emissary of the Dark Llama!"

"Prepare to die, Doctor! For I hold the power of the Dark Llama!"

"You STILL don't understand the power of the Dark Llama!"

"Silence dog, lest the Dark Llama grip your little mind so hard that it will crush it like a soft fruit!"

Dialogue Triumphs -

Lomar: Don’t antagonize them Bernice, the butler’s a nutter!
Benny: I should say so! The bastard’s given me water instead of vodka! AND he wanted a tip!

Joseph: What have I done?
Remnex: Signed your own deactivation warrant!
Joseph: I thought you just wanted an autograph!

Benny reacts with total credibility on being confronted with a zombie -
"We’ve not been seeing each other long enough for me to meet your mother!"

Doctor: Sleep is for Chelonians!
Joseph: That’s the second-funniest thing I’ve ever heard. Mind you, the funniest thing I’ve heard was when a blind cripple was diagnosed with leprosy... Guess you had to be there.

Doctor: I never trust people who hide behind titles.
Benny: But you hide behind a title!
Doctor: Ah, but I never said I trusted me, did I?

Doctor: The Web of Time can look after itself – it's the spider I want.
Ace: Why?
Doctor: Mainly as a cheap bit of foreshadowing to Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass.

UnQuotable Quote -

Doctor: Ace! Dorothy! Waaaaakey-waaaaaakey!!!

Viewer Quotes -

"Great. More Benny and New Ace. Where’s Roz and Chris, eh? Or Fitz? Or Anji? No no, focus on the most pathetic, irritating and above all overused companions of the New Adventures, why don’t you? Never mind the art and genius on display from BBC Books! I HATE YOU ALL!"
– Stephen Cole (2004)

"Benny has got nothing on Lara Croft... mainly because she’s too busy swigging Croft’s original sherry. The irritating, wisecracking, endlessly sarcastic, alcoholic slapper." – Katy January (2000)

"I’m so tired of your feeble witticisms, Summerfield. Can’t you think of anything serious to say?" – Paul Carnall (2007)

"I’m rather fond of numbers. This is the 42nd release of the main Big Finish range and their 50th overall Doctor Who release. Since it’s Number 42, it explains life, the universe, and why the New Adventures are overhyped fanwank not worth the toilet paper printed on. Since it’s Number 50 it shows that Big Finish still can’t pull their finger (or similar extraneous body part) out of the NAs, so I’m getting out now! The rest of these bastards can burn in hell!"
– Father James O’Malley (2003)

- The Doctor Who Audio Rankings (2005)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"The Dark Flambe? Oh, Dark Llama! What a heap of shit THAT was."

Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"It’s lovely to work with Lisa, because then I have two companions to heartlessly manipulate, alienate, discard and scorn in my endless quest to play chess on a million boards and give monsters nightmares! Which is why the plays I’ve enjoyed most are those when the Doctor’s alone. It stops all this New Adventures Dark Doctor shite from being rammed into the script like a fist up your backside..."

Sophie Aldred Speaks!
"It's lovely to see Sylvester again. Just briefly before he left the studio again... still, who can blame him when presented with this crap? It’s well twisted that the BBC allows them to do this at all."

Lisa Bowerman Speaks!
"Is this a Doctor Who? Sorry, I never know which series I'm in until I see the actual CDs... Yeah, this story really was about moral dilemmas, and the very nature of cult followings, which I think is quite relevent in this day and age. Anybody who believes in Ancient Time Llamas is rather worrying, when you think about it."

Trivia -
There are plenty of possible ways to resolve the origins of Joseph the computer in this story with the one portrayed in the Benny Summerfield book range. But all of them would have to rely on the Seventh Doctor being a devious little git.

Rumors & Facts -

Is there any point in listening to this story?

I've listened to it twice and I still don't know.

Four acolytes of Evil. Three mad scientists. Two companions. One Doctor. And a partridge in a pear tree.

The Dark Llama is a story which – like cheap air travel or declaring a recession – is both tediously predictable and deeply unsettling. Tediously predictable because the exact same plot could be heard in Big Finish’s previous installment, Necrophilia and deeply unsettling because they seemed to think that no one else will have noticed,

Since all Big Finish were giving all the thoughtful and atmospheric stories to Peter Davison and all the confident and experimental stories to Colin Baker, it was only logical that Sylvester McCoy got all the stories that were artless and painful to the ear.

Baxendale flipped through the catalogue and decided to rip off pretty much every other Big Finish story he could, and so came up with a space station full of corridors, an underground cavern full of corridors, a strange cult to run up and down corridors, a strange ancient alien god trying to take over the universe to yell at people to run up and down corridors, and a Relic to be at the end of it all.

He was supremely confident that no one would notice the similarity to Necrophilia, the Excelsior trilogy or The Soundman – and anyone that DID notice were the kind of wankers he didn't want to know socially in the first place. Anyone that noticed the similarity to Image of Ken-Doll could also, in his opinion, fuck off home as well.

After ensuring that all the villains were pointlessly evil and all the cliffhangers were variously predictable and unimpressive leading to a completely fudged ending. All the villain’s dialogue was lifted wholesale from other stories, and not good ones either.

He then ruthlessly removed all the witty and engaging surprises to be saved for something decent, Baxendale promptly decided to start trafficking in the cutthroat world of "Goodnight Sweetheart" memorabilia.

Uncertain as to how high the bar was when it came to script-writing, Trevor Baxendale decided to aim as low as he could, partially to ease himself into writing for audio, and partially because he felt really lazy that day. Ultimately, Baxendale simply rewrote his Fifth Doctor novel Fear of the Llama and, since no one has actually bothered to read it, no one realized until now. Bwahaha.

As Baxtendale himself notes, "Hindsight is a wonderful but unforgiving sexual position." No, I don’t know what it means either.

Gay Russell decided on a whim that, after going through all the hassle to create Reservation of the Scourge, a Big Finish story set during the ‘golden age’ of the New Adventures books, they hadn’t done a single story with the line up for thirty whole releases. So, for no other reason, it was decided that The Dark Llama would be the second such story – and, would you believe it, it was the last?

Russell also decided to create an origin story for the Benny Summerfield regular Joseph the Annoyingly Literal Computer, despite the fact he already had a perfectly good one in Justin Richards' "Tears for Fears for the Oracle". This, it was later discovered, was just to piss off the fans and hopefully make them buy the new story. And let’s be honest, no other reason would have been forthcoming.

Sylvester McCoy found the script so unbearable he could only stay one day in studio to record it and even then required copious amounts of laughing gas, pizza and Fizzade Cola, and fled the recording as soon as possible.

Ultimately, The Dark Llama proved so bitterly disappointing, so bland and so uninspired that further sidesteps into the worlds of the New Adventures were abandoned and instead, more spin off ranges were commissioned – a new series of "Dustbin Umpire", as well as "Gallifrey: 90210", "Doctor Who Unsoiled" and "The Penultimate Brain".

It was to be just ANOTHER fatal mistake Big Finish had made.

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