Serial SS3 – The Maltesa Penguin
The Maltesa Penguin
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Flipper Fics
Serial SS3 – The Maltesa Penguin -
"Name’s Avan Tarklu, but mostly people call me Frobisher. I’m a Private Eye and little did I know, but on this dark and stormy night, I had a date with Destiny... but she was busy, so I set up a date with Intrigue, but YOU try getting Intrigue to go out on a week night! So I had to settle with a date Danger – Danger’s all right with me. My beast friend, the cream in my spinach, the nuts in my nougat, the Eskimo in my pie, the liquid in my plum sauce, the seam in my trousers, the redback in my toilet. Danger is my middle name... according to the Manhattan Post Office anyway..."
After a truly insane adventure involving the discovery that the Cromer-like planet of Myass and its kinky bondage freak inhabitants the Boord are in fact destined to become the planet Monday and the Cybermen respectively, Frobisher (AKA Avan Tarklu, PI) has had enough.
A penguin with attitude, he’s a shamus, a private eye, the kind of guy who’s right at home on the mean streets where you can trust no one but yourself. And thus he’s absolutely sick and tired of playing fifth fiddle to the Doctor, Peri Brown and Sil the Mentor.
Frobisher pauses only to collect his possessions, give Peri a long sophisticated kiss and kick the Doctor in the bollocks before leaving the TARDIS forever!
On the surface of Monday, Frobisher gets the strangest and most unfashionable of the Time Lord containment team (a looney called the Magician and his life partner, a Yamaha keyboard), to return him to his grimy detective agency in 1980s New York.
There, Frobisher returns to his hard-bitten lifestyle – he takes photos of a supermodel post-liposuction by disguising himself as a canister of nitrous oxide; he locates a teenage girl in New York Woodie Allen has yet to marry; he finds three missing cats; he saves Alice Cooper from a robot assassin sent from a parallel future; he closes down a white slave trade conglomerate and starts his own, much more efficient and cost-effective one; and he firebombs Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, because he doesn’t need the competition!
So, when Frobisher returns to the office to find the Doctor waiting for him, reading through Frobisher’s collection of Reader’s Digest, he is less than impressed.
The Doctor explains that after a particularly harrowing adventure encompassing Earth in the future, Thoros Beta in the 23rd century, and the heart of the Gallifreyan noosphere, he been reduced to an exiled wanderer – Peri is dead, her body possessed by an evil slug; Sil has married a warlord who looks like Brian Blessed; and the Supreme Council of Time Lords is now being ruled by the Bastard.
At his wit’s end, he begs for Frobisher to rejoin him so they can joyride through time and space, helping rebels overthrow corrupt dictatorships, letting the rebel government become a new corrupt dictatorship and then overthrow them!
Frobisher pulls out a bottle of something vaguely alcoholic, which he then smashes it over the Doctor’s head of tousled curls. He pulls out a gun and swear that if the Doctor turns up again, Frobisher will take out a restraining order on him by the Assassins Guild of the Order of Pyxis – psychotic, eyeless children who use sonic knives to destroy their chosen victims.
The Doctor protests that he saves the universe twice a week, saving Earth from invasions every day while Frobisher is a lowlife guttersnipe rescuing lost cats – surely being a companion of the famous Time Lord is a better career path than a pathetic gumshoe?
After smashing his desk over the Doctor’s head and throwing the unconscious Gallifreyan out the third floor window down into the dumpster full of barbed wire, broken glass and used syringes, Frobisher realizes he’s completely out of neat hootch.
At that moment a stunningly attractive supermodel named Alicia Mulholland-Jjones arrives and explains that her husband-to-be is possibly a transvestite, and she wishes Frobisher to use his shape shifting skills to try and catch him in the act.
Frobisher agrees, and tries out various inconspicuous humanoid forms to wear while undercover, but tragically, his plot-contrivance mono-morphia strikes, leaving him trapped in the shape of the Doctor!
Exactly WHY Frobisher was morphing into the Doctor’s form to pose in front of a mirror is best not explored. Just... just leave it. It’s nauseating, it really is.
"Now, an unprofessional would just scour the streets, walk up to people and say something like, 'You seen Arthur Gringrax in a black cocktail dress and chest wig?' But not me.
I know the brutal language of the cold, hard streets - the lingo, the secret codes, the hidden words like...
'My bouillabaisse is undercooked.'
'That toupee does not meet the accepted Spanish quality standard.'
'I wish to purchase a glockenspiel made entirely out of figs'.
But it seems that no one else in this reality ALSO knows the lingo, and they just stare at me like I’m nuts. Often, they even call the police. Sometimes the fire department, but often just the police.
So, I decided to take the unprofessional approach at the Last Resort."
At The Last Resort, the most fashionably seedy hotel in town, Frobisher walks up to the bald Jewish stereotype acting as the receptionist and tries to bribe him with the paltry offer of the secret of true happiness.
When the receptionist scoffs and says nothing, Frobisher shoots him dead – it’s been a really rough day and Frobisher needs something to unwind. Unfortunately, the police happen to be holding a staff function at the hotel and see the whole thing. Their leader, Peter Lorre arrests Frobisher for murder.
Unfortunately, Lorre has no sense of direction and instead of taking Frobisher back to the cells arrives at the secret hidden palace of the rich and powerful Baron Silas Greenback, a man/frog alien hybrid.
Greenback is delighted, mistakenly believing that Lorre has brought the Doctor to Greenback so he can extract his blood-curdling revenge on the Time Lord for... stuff that happens in comic strips. They’re old enemies, just get over it.
Frobisher falls on his knees and begs for help since he is not ACTUALLY the Doctor, but a whifferdil trapped in the shape of the Doctor and he was really trying to locate a transvestite called Gringrax. Greenback, suspicious, offers Frobisher a small fortune, and then a LARGE fortune, to help him hunt down and kill the real Doctor.
Frobisher refuses – not out of loyalty, far from it: HE wants to kill the Doctor, rather than let some incredibly rich and powerful mutant get his amphibious membrane on him.
Greenback has his associate Stilleto to grab Frobisher and throw him into the depths of the New York sewage treatment works... and by sheer luck, falls straight into the TARDIS, which just happened to have materialized on its side with the Doctor eagerly waiting for him.
Frobisher insists he is not looking like the Doctor because he actually cares about the Time Lord and he certainly isn’t as lonely, pathetic and miserable as the Doctor. He also reminds the Doctor that the restraining order ISN’T a bluff.
In a hissy fit, the Doctor kicks Frobisher back out into the liquid excrement outside and takes off, vowing to find a different, more interesting and less penguin-shaped companion. Possibly Grant Markham.
Frobisher wades to shore and, still dripping in sewage, returns to his office where Alicia is dousing the place in petrol to start a fire. But when Frobisher arrives, she announces she has fallen in love with, and despite filth he’s covered in, they start making out.
Incredibly, this seems to fix Frobisher’s mono-morphia
It is at this point Peter Lorre arrives to find Alicia apparently having sex with a four-foot penguin and, convinced he is undergoing a psychotic episode, pulls out a gun and tells the evil monsters inside his eyeballs to release his brain or else he starts shooting.
Finally, Lorre finds a mazuma coin and, to escape the horror, he rams it into his head, which then explodes.
"Jeez, everyone’s a critic," Frobisher sighs.
Stilleto arrives and, mistaking the penguin-shaped Frobisher for his second cousin Angus, and thus he and Frobisher takes Alicia prisoner and drag her back to the secret base of Greenback.
As Alicia is thrown into a dungeon for being a mammal, Greenback takes Frobisher aside – not realizing the penguin’s TRUE identity – bursts into tears that he is so rich and powerful, he can’t risk doing anything unless it effects the stock market prices. Simply using the lavatory might wipe out his multimillion mazuma empire!
Frobisher points out that since HE isn’t Greenback, he can do whatever he damn well pleases! He cannot be defeated by the F/T index, and so picks up a shotgun and shoots Greenback through the head.
Instantly, the economy collapses, but Frobisher was cunning enough to get his twelve mazumas fee in advance, and is now technically the richest being in America.
Alicia reveals herself to be Arthur Gringrax all along – he was such a brilliant transvestite, no one suspected a thing!
Frobisher realizes that Gringrax was also his ex-wife, Francine, who always said she was a whifferdil trapped in the form of a balding, forty-year-old human man.
Frobisher muses on this for a moment, and then agrees to marry ‘Arthur’ once more.
Then the TARDIS materializes and the Doctor pops out of the TARDIS to ask Frobisher one last time if he’s reconsidered, but Frobisher opens fire with shotgun, and the Time Lord flees, having finally got the message...
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who and the Stalker of Penguins
Joel Cairo and Frobisher Strike Back!
"I’m Sorry, Avan Tarklu..."
What the hell is up with that title? What do Maltesas have to do with Penguins?! Is it some kind of literary allusion that only High Brains could possibly understand?!?
Someone has yet to realize that if you throw something onto a deep pile carpet, it DOESN’T go "clang!"
Links and References -
Frobisher threatens to do to the Doctor what he did to the evil possessed wooden puppet Chucky in "The Unholy Error".
Untelevised Misadventures -
The climatic final installment of "The World Rapers" where Frobisher quits the TARDIS crew. Well, I say ‘untelevised’, it IS a comic strip. Well, it’s NOT a comic strip, it’s just a story that’s LINKED to a comic strip by some dialogue. It’s not EVEN a story, just a dramatic starting point for this story. Which isn’t televised. So there.
Groovy DVD Extras -
Frobisher plays the Doctor Who theme tune on a harmonica, available to be downloaded as a ringtone. I don’t think the Crazy Frog has much to worry about, do you?
Dialogue Disasters -
Frobisher: On my office door it says private investigator, but that's because the client likes the job to sound pretty and polite. What I am is a lot uglier than that. I'm a shamus, I'm a sleuth. I'm the guy who ferrets through your trash cans, looking for clues. And I'm paid not to mind the smell. For the right money, I'm the guy who'll find all the answers, and if the money is even righter I'm the guy who'll look the other way when he gets them. I'm a penguin with attitude.
Frobisher: God, I’m horny.
Alicia: You know how to quack, don't you, Frobie? You stiffen your beak... and vibrate.
Frobisher: Ms Alicia... are you trying to seduce me?
Dialogue Triumphs -
Alicia: I need to know if I can still do it.
Frobisher: Now, may I assume you'll rethink your position?
Greenback: What are you going to do with that shotgun?
Frobisher: I might wreak murder, I might just wreak grievous bodily harm; I'll see how the fancy takes me.
Viewer Quotes -
" A gift to subscribers! A reward for putting up with Big Finish for a year! Thank GOD I had to pay double for it – everyone knows that stories that come for free are throwaway and non canonical! Rob Shearman is the best writer Big Finish possess apart from me!"
- Big Finish Press Release (2002)
"God, cliched film noir style, a story focussing on Frobisher over the Doctor, in fact the basic conceit of a talking penguin is, really, ludicrous! God, an audio-only story about a companion only fans would have heard of, released to subscribers that could only be fans, and listened to by people who like Doctor Who, and therefore must be fans! Definitely for fans only! I’m no fan! I’m an ENTHUSIAST! I’m normal! I’m not weird! I’m not a freak! I’m an ENTHUSIAST!"
- Ron "Weirdo" Mallet (2005)
"Oh lovely! Hearing Colin Baker impersonate Robert Jezek impersonating Frobisher impersonating the Doctor with faux bad American film noir accent is wonderful! What's not to enjoy? Apart from anal leakage?"
- Angelica Pickles (2004)
"Good cover, isn’t it? I designed it when I was naked. And I didn’t use my hands." - Lee Binding (just before his arrest)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Penguins taste like chicken... if you cook them. Eat them raw, they taste like drifter. Only a bit saltier."
Colin Baker Speaks!
"Over the years, my performance may have got better. That’s for others to say. Really. I can’t assess it. I mean, I’ve been given some very good scripts. How well or otherwise I’ve done them is not for me to pass judgement on. I lack objectivity. The Maltesa Penguin is shit."
Robert Jezerk Speaks!
"No I don't. Piss off you anorak!"
Rumors & Facts –
By their nature, subscriber and DWM freebies are not expected to be particularly deep, dramatic adventures, which is good because even if The Maltesa Penguin WAS free, it still would cost too much!
Rob Shearman’s debut audio play The Unholy Error, starring the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher the Penguin, had garnered so much critical acclaim that you actually start to wonder what is WRONG with people nowadays. I mean, it was a tale of court intrigue, paranoia, religious satire... and a giant penguin who liked blowing people’s heads off with canons.
However, The Unholy Error was still a success and thus Shearman was immediately ordered at knife point to pen a sequel. Shearman protested that they couldn’t take the chance that the public would be moronic enough to be impressed by a Frobisher story twice, but was ignored.
Shearman promptly did what he did best and shamelessly plagiarized a completely inappropriate source of inspiration... in this case the final issue of Dave Simms’ Cerebus the Aardvark comic strip. He quickly replaced the titular aardvark with Frobisher the Penguin and handed it over to Jason Haigh-Ellery.
JHE was less than impressed with the sequel entitled, "Frobie is Fucked", which involved the old, lonely Frobisher, alone and friendless, falling out of bed, and snapping his neck before being sucked into the depths of hell for all eternity. Gay Russell was not impressed either, particular as each page of the script had a watermark screaming I AM NEVER WRITING FOR THAT ANNOYING AVIAN EVER AGAIN! I – HATE – HIM!
Shearman later used "Frobie is Fucked" as a short story for a charity anthology devoted to preventing domestic incidents involving decrepit, flightless birds falling out of bed and breaking their necks.
The Frobisher sequel idea hung around the Big Finish studios for days as Shearman was forced against his will to pen stories for the second season of Eighth Doctor and Charley, and finally it was decided that, to annoy Shearman even more, the sequel would be released with the finale of that season. After all, compared the epic conclusion of McGann fighting retroactive continuity, the Frobisher story could only be an improvement.
Although only being a one CD release, it would cost four times the normal amount and only be available from either specialist shops, or for subscriber’s only, and Russell was pleased that he could screw even more money out of desperate fans in the days before bit torrent.
Shearman, on the verge of total psychosis thus penned a detective film parody entitled simply The Cheese Sandwich, involving Frobisher’s hard, tough professionalism was constantly compromised by a bunch of bumbling schmos who fantasize that they are in any way intelligent.
Any subtext to this story went completely over the fans’ heads.
Russell made relatively minor changes to the script, by completely rewriting it. Instead of slowly dying in his office from terminal flatulence, Frobisher instead found himself caught in a web of mayhem, intrigue, fear, murder, deceit, treachery, fist cuffs, sentient bloodstains, gangland killings, and very rude hotel receptionists.
Baron Silas Greenback, a famous Dangermouse character whose rights were bought from Cosgrove Hall by John Ridgeway for three mazumas and a used bus ticket, returned from 1984 Doctor Who Magazine comic strips. Then he was brutally killed by Shearman, who wanted the villain of the piece to be Sydney Greenstreet.
Since he dearly wanted listeners to angrily rip the CDs from their hi-fis and throw it against the wall, he decided to make sure all the characters (even the Doctor) spoke with very bad American accents, so the audience’s patience would wear thin and all the subtle jokes would be smothered in the self-aware outrageous parody without a point.
Shearman was heartbroken to discover, despite his intense efforts to ensure the story lacked wit and was drowning in self-indulgence, The Maltesa Penguin proved shockingly popular, and so Shearman stole every single copy on the planet, took it to a desert island and buried them. These ‘desert island discs’ were later destroyed when the French tested some thermonuclear warheads. Just because they could.
Tragically, Shearman’s brain rebelled, and actually started to believe he really WAS Frobisher – he even released an autobiography, entitled "Learning to Fly", which had whole chapters like
"Rob Shearman MIGHT be a genius at, like, pottery or ballet dancing! Who knows, maybe he’s good on the flute? But as a writer? Pssch! Have you heard that Unholy Error thing? Have you? He totally misrepresented me. He made me into some comic stooge – I was the hero of the hour, I’ll have you know – but Shearman, oh no, he knows better. And then Big Finish decided to release a story that treats me fairly, which puts me right at the centre of the action... and they got Shearman back in? WHAT KIND OF JOKE IS THAT? They bring back this strange, flute-playing ballet-dancing pottery pen pusher and let him wreak havoc with my reputation! AGAIN!"
This progressive insanity would hit crisis point the following year, as the psychologically-unstable Shearman was dragged off to create a BBC webcast animation starring Colin Baker.
Ultimately, The Maltesa Penguin is nothing more than an unpleasant, gore-soaked diversion from the epic McGann season and the bleak Excelsior trilogy in four parts. Not essential listening, and not a lot of fun, but if you DON’T enjoy Shearman’s work, then you’ll be labeled a freak and shunned by all other fans.
You were warned, dude.