Serial 7C/S – The Afronauts
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Diluted Genetics
Serial 7C/S – The Afronauts -
The Doctor, feeling at a loose end, travels to the year 2150 AD and signs on to the Space Force ship HMS Camden Lock as it travels throughout known space trying to con gullible new civilizations and alien beings into thinking that Britain has any kind of power in the current galactic village of rival industries.
Five minutes after the Doctor has joined, the HMS Camden Lock unexpectedly comes under attack from an unknown enemy which the Doctor finds slightly familiar – is the crystalline turbo engines? The anti-matter drive holds? The words "DUSTBIN WARSHIP – IF YOU CAN READ THIS, PREPARE FOR EXTERMINATION" written on the hull?
The Dustbin ship opens fire on the HMS Camden Lock, breaching the rector core. This overloads and explodes scant seconds after the Doctor dives into the TARDIS and leaving the rest of the crew to die horrible deaths in the airless vacuum of space.
Unfortunately the TARDIS is nabbed by a tractor beam and drawn into the Dustbin spaceship. Finally, after three minutes, the Doctor gets bored and surrenders to his mortal enemies just for something interesting to happen. Instantly, he is chained to the wall and the Black Dustbin commander explains they require the Doctor's help to deal with a threat even GREATER than the mighty Dustbins can defeat!
They need him to go to Brighton, 1986.
Nonplussed, the Doctor asks why they don't use their fancy time corridor technology to go there themselves, but the Dustbins are still riddled with hypochondria after a recent accident with an airborne toxin, and also have the strange idea that 1980s Brighton is the most lethal place in the entire universe.
The Black Dustbin notes after their failed attempt to reclaim their creator – the insane mutant known as Lavros – the bastard somehow ended up marooned on 1980s Earth and tried to set up a thriving dot com empire with Zoe Herriot, before diversifying into a funeral-home-cum-Dustbin-factory when a crack team of SAS Dustbins finally caught up with him and dragged him aboard a chartered tour bus!
Once again, the Dustbin inability to see the colour red caused a horrendous traffic pile up and the tour bus finally smashed into a Brighton computer firm, Lethe Logistics.
Somehow, Lavros managed to survive the crash and is now working for the computer firm, and knowing him he'll probably be trying to create another completely ludicrous scheme to conquer the entire created universe that will instead wipe out everyone involved.
The Dustbins offer to let the Doctor live on the condition he helps them discover exactly what crazy get-rich-quick scheme their creator has in mind. Showing a level of mindless optimism not often seen outside of very bad fan fiction, the Time Lord BELIEVES them.
The Doctor and a picked team of Dustbins enter the TARDIS and travel through time and space to the car park outside Lethe Logistics and, leaving the cleaning machines of total carnage in his time machine, the Time Lord starts to prowl around in dark glasses.
Inside, Melanie Jane Bush is one of the computer programmers – along with her friends Geoff and Sonali – working for Lavros, now under the cunning pseudonym of Herr Varsol Beadlebaum.
Lavros intends to upgrade three gigantic, 20-sided dice from some prehistoric game of Dungeons & Dragons that were found down the back of a sofa.
Mel and the other programmers cheerfully install software, providing multitasking procedures and a Larry the Lamb bubbling electronic voice, so these giant dice can carry out incredibly simple mechanical tasks as long as you speak COBOL very slowly.
Lavros puts the dice through their paces, and after briefly considering call them "Doris the Digital Dodecahedrons of Doom", settles for the name "the Afronauts".
Already, their work attracts the attention of the Outreach corporation, which sends a party of key executives off for Lethe Logistics to find out what the fuck these seaside loonies think they're doing, building giant robotic D&D dice.
The Russian ex-KGB and Senior Bastard of Outreach, Mr Brauer, arrives and starts shouting very loudly. Lavros explains that technically a man called Ashley Chapel runs Lethe Logistics, but he accidentally ate a peanut and died horribly, so Lavros now controls the company.
Meanwhile, the Doctor spots Mel and cheerfully bursts in and acts like her best friend when – thanks the paradoxes of time travel and no script editor – they have never met before.
Mel has no idea who the badly-dressed windbag before her is, or why he is claiming her supervisor is the most evil being in history who is really creating the Afronauts to conquer the universe.
Brauer decides that Lavros' plan to create an army of giant, 20-sided dice to take over mundane chores from humanity is the single most stupid idea he has ever heard in his life and cancels it on the spot, threatening to sack the lot of them, and if they don't like it, they can complain to Thatcher – if they dare!
The Doctor jumps up and down, screaming that they cannot trust "Herr Varsol Beadlebaum" and taking time out to insult Lavros' increasing infirmity – he's lost his arm, and his Cyberloo wheelchair is a completely different and much cheaper prop. Sooner or later, Lavros will just be another Dustbin to cover costs!
Lavros insists that he wants a new start in Brighton, and despite the complete and utter cockups he made in Shropshire and Cambridge, is pretty confident he can not only put the past behind him, but he's fairly certain he can pull Mel.
Brauer, Mel, Sonali and Geoff try and get a word in edgeways to understand what the hell is going on, but at that moment, three badly-damaged Dustbins smash their way through a convenient wall of cardboard boxes and scream a lot in Taiwanese.
These are the remains of the Dustbin squad sent to retrieve Lavros from Tranquil Repose, that Lavros has rebuilt after the crash with lots of empty Coca Cola cans, sticky-backed plastic, and toilet plungers using the awesome creative powers of Blue Peter.
Brauer pulls out a gun at this point, demanding that Lavros and the Doctor start talking sense because it all sounds like a German soap opera acid-trip and he HATES German soap opera acid-trips!
Sick of all the rude interruptions, the Dustbins exterminate Brauer and shout a lot, sounding like some Japanese prison camp governor shouting into a megaphone.
Lavros now intends to get Outreach to mass produce Afronauts into an army of self-sufficient, self-repairing, and, eventually, self-replicating Dustbin Killing D&D dice which will wipe out the Dustbin Umpire forever - since the Doctor won't do it for fear of losing ratings.
The Doctor casts his mind back and can only think of one occasion in the history of the entire universe where giant D&D Dice faced off against the Dustbins and the Dustbins wiped the floor with them.
Lavros cackles insanely, and reveals he has tricked Mel and the other computer programmers to create an incredibly powerful mind-altering ray that triggers insane paranoia in its victims and the already neutrotic Dustbins won't be able to withstand it.
Trouble is, this system uses so much RAM that the Afronauts are barely be able to reverse park.
Meanwhile, in the TARDIS, the Black Dustbin is going stir crazy and starts asking the other Dustbins what their top ten snuff films are.
The Doctor points out to Lavros that if the Afronauts were modified cyborgs with human body parts and nervous tissue, they might actually be able to master complicated arts of picking up pieces of paper.
Lavros admits he thought about doing this, but it was getting kinda derivative and actually, flesh mechanics is actually rather crude in 1986 England, so the idea went nowhere.
The Doctor blows out his cheeks and, checking his watch, realizes that he's wasted three episodes standing in this room arguing with Lavros about Doctor Who continuity. So he heads for the carpark, unlocks the TARDIS and tells the Dustbins within to "kick some Afronaut butt!"
The Black Dustbin is delighted for the change of pace and they effortless blow the Taiwanese-speaking recycled Dustbins to smithereens, only for the Afronauts to...
...waggles their arms and bump into each other.
The Dustbins delay their fire for a moment, not believing that anyone could possibly believe these giant dice could threaten a haddock that had been left festering in the sun for three days.
Then they open fire and blow the mothers away.
Lavros' already shaky grip on reality starts to crumble as all his dreams of conquest and destruction fall apart when the Afronauts are reduced to crumpled tinfoil before his very ocular sensors.
As the Dustbins close in, Lavros starts screaming girlishly that he was really working for the Dustbin cause by creating the ultimate race of anti-Dustbin robot death machines... but not even Lavros can follow the logic of THAT argument.
Finally, he remembers the paranoia rays built into the Afronauts and the surviving three units open fire – the Dustbins start screaming and ranting before attacking each other and in minutes the advance force of Dustbins have been blown to pieces.
Faced with two species of outer space robot people blowing each other up with deadly cleaning technology, Mel and Geoff start making out, and Geoff promises to marry Mel after he finishes his last mission: debugging an Atari game cartridge.
Seconds later, a stray laser beam blows his head off.
Still, what did you expect?
Seriously pissed off, Mel angrily hacks into the Afronaut’s excuse for a program core and rewrites the Asimov Laws within so all three read "Smash Lavros To A Bloody Pulp With Extreme Prejudice!"
As the giant 20-side dice crush Lavros like a garbage compactor, the Black Dustbin finally starts doing something and the second wave of Dustbin carnage begins, cunningly sounding exactly like the first being repeated to pad out the episode.
Lavros is now a Salvador Dali-style collage of blood, metal and toilet cleaner, who weakly croaks that he was hoping Mel was more than just another friend, and he was hoping to take her to Brighton Pier for their first date.
Mel insists she could never love anyone that was a callous, hypocritical, mass-murdering insane scientist. Plus, Lavros could never have joined her in her gymnastics and fitness routines.
Heartbroken, Lavros picks up a music box playing Ave Maria which he was going to give Mel as a present – since it also doubles as a hydrogen bomb.
The Doctor urges Mel to tell Lavros they can still be friends, but the dying mutant refuses to be placated and sets off the timer with his chapped lips.
The Doctor drags Mel out of Lethe Logistics – the rest of the staff having got bored and gone home early episodes ago – and they run to the car park where Mel is unimpressed by the idea of a police box. Indeed, she starts to believe that the Doctor is actually chatting her up, as he obviously needs a woman to sort out his car crash of a life.
The Doctor realizes he is effectively dooming himself to travel with this horribly cheerful fitness freak, but Mel is already planning to redecorate the console room and put in an exercise bike and a trampoline.
Sighing, the Doctor sets the TARDIS in motion to check up on Evelyn Smythe and convince himself Mel has to be a better option.
Finally, the Black Dustbins destroy the last of the Afronauts and surround the lifeless remains of Lavros, but half way through reading the mutant his rights, the H-bomb goes off.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Mel...
Book(s)/Other Related -
Mel’s Excellent First Adventure! (various authors)
Doctor Who – That’s My Bush!
TV21 Dustbin Chronicle: The Road to Conflict With Giant Dice!!!
Isn't weird that the Doctor keeps bumping into Davros in strict ascending chronological order? I mean, why does that happen? And does the answer involve me putting on a Giant Vampire skull and drawing pictograms in the blood of those that never were?
Just how did the Dustbin tour bus get from Shropshire to Brighton without crashing every two seconds into the invisible post boxes?
The Doctor calls the Grey Dustbins "Renegade" and "Imperial" alternately – not seeming to realize that the Renegades are Grey and the Imperials are White. Is the Doctor colour blind?! Oh. Forget I said anything.
Just why did the Dustbins send the Doctor to investigate? Do Dustbins not have some kind of breathing apparatus, if their fear about the atmosphere of Brighton was genuine? If not, why are they happily dancing around in the dangerous atmosphere in episode four? Exactly WHO is the mysterious agent who told the Dustbins all about Lethe Logistics – is it someone on wikipedia?! Why don't they just use their time corridor to snatch up Lavros and save us all the bother?
So 20th century computer skills can take over alien war machines, huh?
How can Lavros, who is dead at the end of the story and all possible parts of his body atomized in a gigantic explosion, somehow appear in Rememberin’ to Take Out The Dustbins? Huh? ANSWER ME THAT!!
Lavros has remained inconspicuous on 20th century Earth by applying "someone else’s problem cause there are no cyborg mutants around here no sir indeedy" technology.
Links and References -
This story occurs between parts one and two of "Thicker Than Two Short Planks" (Serial 7C/U), with at one point the Doctor worriedly checking that Evelyn is no longer with him.
Untelevised Misadventures -
It is implied that the Afronauts evolve into the Mo'Lovin Network of Rastafarian Androids that wipe out the entire population of the universe with venereal diseases at the very end of time. Or it COULD just be coincidence. That's the trouble with implications. They only imply.
Groovy DVD Extras -
Geoff’s original death scene as he sings "Dustbins to the left of me, Afronauts to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with Mel!" before he is mercifully liquefied.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: Every day you get and more like your creations and, one day, in the future, we won't have to pay the Nation Estate an extra three human souls! Sometimes, that knowledge is all that keeps me going...
Brauer: You're nothing more than a sniveling little toady of communist pigs, Kryson! NOW GET ME SOME VODKA!
Lavros: You are a truly remarkable lady and I promise, you will be suitably rewarded. I love you, Melanie. I have worshipped you from afar, but I simply must tell how I love you from the bottom of my artificial heart.
Doctor: You could be creating an army of war machines! Dustbins with legs, Dustbins with fashion sense, purple Dustbins, spider Dustbins with special lethal web guns... and what do you do? Build three giant dice and paint them white and gold!
Lavros: It is not as mad as it sounds.
Doctor: It SOUNDS fucking deranged, Lavros!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Doctor: There are many who consider my past deeds unforgivable. The only way for me to escape their castigation was through engineered deception.
Mel: So... why do you wear that coat?
Lavros: Centuries ago when the Dustbins left me for dead on Fargo, I severed all ties with them. I can no longer be held accountable for their actions – though I still retain the royalties from all public appearances, and reserve all rights against using them in KitKat commercials! But apart from that, I have nothing to do with them!
Mel: This Afronaut is leaking oil!
Doctor: That's not oil Mel, that's sauce. HB sauce.
Lavros: It was never my intention to become the stuff of nightmares Doctor! I created the Dustbins to stop littering! To make those who do not tidy up after them a LIVING HELL! And now, I want nothing more than to be there on the day the Dustbins themselves are scrubbed out of existence! The Afronauts are the final solution to Dustbin problem – I've already designed the recycling stations disguised as gas chambers so no one will suspect a thing! And, once they are gone, then Melanie and I shall be able to elope to Swansea!
Doctor: And once you're in the know about Lavros and his latest piece of nastiest, what about me? Am I free to leave? When you have your fugitive in hand, I presume I am free to go? Let me be free? Please! Pretty please! With sugar on top! Please release me! Let me go!
Black Dustbin: ER... SURE.
Viewer Quotes -
"There aren't many stories I listen to and think "I could have written that." There are plenty I listen to and think "I HAVE written this! Those bastards totally ripped me off!" and even more I think "A schizophrenic chimpanzee with Parkinson’s disease could have written better!" but The Afronauts is, frankly, one I'm glad I didn't write. This way I can still justifiably claim I have talent." - Andrew Beeblebrox (2005)
"This isn't Judgement of the Dustbins! I wanted to see Lavros win his trial by his creations, seize power over Fargo, become Emperor, then he can fight the Sixth Doctor and Mel and Glitz and the Master and the Valeyard and dear GOD didn't Season 23 suck big time?!" - Tat Wood (2007)
"With this being Mel's first story, it's good that the plot is nonsensical crap. Anything else would have been a waste." - Joanna Lumbley (2005)
"More than slightly derivative, The Afronauts comes across of bad fanboy fiction which people like myself are so often accused of writing. This is what happens when people stand on the shoulders of genius and don't contribute anything concrete themselves! Me? I'M A FUCKING GENIUS, AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT! Has anyone else read my magnum opus 'Void'? It's much better than this, with the Sixth Doctor and Peri travelling through a black hole and finding Lavros in a spaceship graveyard and then everyone running away because writing longer stories makes my hands hurt! AND IT'S ART, I TELL YOU! FUCKING PHILISTINES!!!" - Ron Mallet (2006)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"You are nothing to me, just another pawn to push across the game board of my own design! It works as backgammon AND checkers! YEAH!"
Colin Baker Speaks!
"I used to think the Bastard was the Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes, until I actually read some Sherlock Holmes, and realized he was more like Watson in drag. In terms of individual foes, the two stories I've done with Terry Molloy have put Lavros up at number one for me. Though evil to the core, he comes out with stuff you can't argue with because no one has a fucking clue what he's on about."
Bonnie Langford Speaks!
"It's my first Dustbin experience, but even in my world of 'I’ve done more than Doctor Who and if you mention again, you useless media tossers, I'll scweam and scweam and scweam until I'm thick!' I’ve heard about Lavros and his Dustbins. But I always assumed that the people that talked about them were all on crack. I always assumed that Dustbin Colin and I saw on Blue Peter was just some eggbox display gone horribly wrong. On the bright side, the six months of computer programming I did to rehearse for the character of Mel comes in useful for this story. I get to say "Fortan, Cobol, Basic" and press the odd fake button. Well, it's better than when I was on TV..."
Terry Molloy Speaks!
"Lavros always works for the greater good. People just don't see it his way. And that is why they die, silently at night. It’s quite like Stalin's Russia, but with more amour-plated cleaning cyborgs."
Rumors & Facts –
At the end of 2003, Gay Russell bend, broke and outright sodomized every promise he made to the public by bringing back Lavros, constipated creator of the deadly Dustbins and the most depressingly uninteresting villain in known history.
Since he’d broken his vows once, Russell decided to break them again and again, to create a trilogy of Lavros action, with the final, blistering confrontation betwixt Terry Molloy’s Lavros and Paul McGann’s Doctor, to take place in Dave Lister’s Terri’s Firmer.
However, that still left a gaping chasm in the middle where the second part of the trilogy was. No one could think up a plot for this middle installment, so they simply reused the plot of Lance Parkin’s "Lavros", where the titular crippled genius escapes the Dustbins to worm his way into a remote English community in the 1980s to gradually take control over the gullible humans with a bunch of totally random robots.
In order to tell it apart from "Lavros" or "Rhododendron of the Dustbins", the second story of the trilogy would feature one of Russell’s infamous shopping lists, which often drove prospective writers to suicide.
- it should be a Sixth Doctor story
- it should feature Mel’s first adventure as she joins the TARDIS
- it should feature the Dustbins
- it should feature those giant dice from the 1965 story "The Chaste"
Russell justified the inclusion of the Sixth Doctor on the grounds that this would allow Colin Baker to have a clear monopoly of Dustbin stories – since all the other Doctors could boast only one Dustbin story apiece, the Sixth Doctor had fought them three times.
After five years of doing Lavros-free Dustbins stories and Dustbin-free Lavros stories, one big play with both together could be excused as long as this element was buried with a completely pointless returning monster and gratuitous fanwank of Mel’s first story.
Chosen to be the pointless returning monster was one of the giant dice from The Chaste since Russell had bumped into one at a Stockton-on-Trees Doctor Who convention and realized he hadn’t already used it in one of his interminable 'original' novels. Nicholas Briggs also fancied trying to do their distinctive voices, which was often reason enough to bring back a forgotten monster.
Chosen to write this ungodly mess of a story was one of the many unfortunates who had pitched ideas for the Excelsior trilogy in 2002 and been cruelly rejected. This time it was Alan Scott Woodward, a Los Angeles Warner Brothers stooge.
Unfortunately, after having to actually work with Big Finish for a while, Woodward found his childhood obsession with Doctor Who withering away and became determined to sabotage it. Thus, he deliberately handed round preliminary drafts with lots of plot holes in them, and changed the ending of The Afronauts.
Instead of becoming Emperor of the Imperial Dustbins, Lavros was utterly destroyed in an H-bomb explosion in 1986 Brighton. Either Russell would have to extend the Lavros trilogy to include ANOTHER story to reconcile this ending, or it would be left dangling as a completely unsatisfying conclusion.
Russell decided on the later and had Woodward taken into the alley outside and brutally beaten with piece of plywood.
Thus, The Afronauts as released was be the first Sixth Doctor and Mel story since 2001's There Can Only Be One Doctor..., the first Dustbin story since Rob Shearman’s D’You Believe This?, the first to use Lavros since, er, Lavros, and also be the biggest letdown in fandom since the release immediately previous: The Doctor Doesn’t Regenerate, Charley Doesn’t Leave And C’Rizz Doesn’t Die It’s All Been A Big Fat Waste of Time (AKA, The Best Wife).