Serial 6Y/A – The Year of the Lame Dog!
The Year of the Lame Dog!
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Porkarama
Serial 6Y/A – The Year of the Lame Dog! -
After getting brutally beaten up after mistaking HG Wells for Oscar Wilde and totally failing to get anywhere, the Doctor decides to take Peri and Sil to planet of El Tropo.
Leaving the TARDIS in the shade of an Egyptian banksia on the far side of the mighty river Zogo which leads into the Time Swamps of East West Zoobubuzoobubuzoo, the time travelers decide to relax on the shore.
As the Doctor slags off his previous incarnations and in particular the way his companions seem to prefer them to his new, sensitive persona, Peri is still in shock about what the Doctor did to HG Wells.
The Doctor suggests the trio should use this vacation to broaden their minds rather than expanding and then destroying what little that remain. Sil agrees and they decide to "consume a few culture burgers" and visit the ancient temples in the jungle.
Unimpressed by a heap of neo-classical rubble, the Doctor decides to return to the beach and discover the lost secrets of the universe and promptly forget them.
Meanwhile, Peri spots a figure in a pith helmet apparently drowning down stream. The Doctor jumps off the elephant he and Sil were riding, drips over a pile of empty gin bottles and dives into the water to save the figure and do the whole Baywatch thing.
The Doctor discovers the swimmer is an anthropomorphic rhinoceros named Ralph, and he was collecting botanical specimens and avoid being caught by the El Tropo militia with their heat sensing missiles.
Ralph the Rhino explains that this stretch of the river is believed to be haunted by the natives, and something darned weird is happening. The Doctor gleefully offers to join Ralph the Rino in his boat, and together they sail down the Zogo, encountering strange sea creatures that resemble finger puppets and a giant bulldog with a Mediterranean seaside city growing out of its back.
The current rapidly turns stronger and the Doctor and Ralph are sucked down a waterfall, over the gold-and-blue striped cliffs and are washed up in a gargantuan courtyard miles wide in the heart of El Tropo, containing strange blue-and-gold striped anti-gravity sculptures.
Ralph suspects they’ve stumbled on something massive and he and the Doctor move out of the courtyard into the jungle, passing a Sphinx playing a game of chess with a forest of Banyan trees. After three hundred thousand years, the Sphinx puts the Banyan trees’ rook under pressure with reassuring slowness.
Back at the beach, Sil and Peri trade witticisms.
The Doctor and Ralph, meanwhile, discover that the rest of the jungle and the seas and islands beyond are all the backyard of Alphonse Chardalot’s Café de Amazon. On the patio, Alphonse Chardalot himself greets the travelers and explains that he wants them to join the Beachcombers’ Club – an unlikely assortment of fools, dreamers, sages, pickpockets, romantic and lunatics. In the Kingdom of Imagination, the Beachcombers’ Club inhabits the wastelands civilization considers inhospitable and one of the fringe benefits is invisibility.
The Doctor, as an honorary full member of the Beachcombers’ Club, is able to reforge the primal forces of creation and creates his perfect holiday destination: a secluded bay off the gulf of Mexico, in mid-summer, with access to a fountain of youth, brewery and a male-only brothel that the Time Lord dubs "El Dorado".
Ralph meanwhile, discovers this beach is built over a picturesque vista of Mombassa with lots of white marble support pillars, palm trees and low-flying clouds. A giant saucer and cup of tea descend next to Ralph and he and the Doctor climb inside...
...and finds a swimming pool with a strange mixture of Brighton pier and medieval astrolabe in the middle as Sil frolics in the water, having used the Beachcomber power to reconstruct the absurd moment in his maggothood when he knew nothing but understood everything.
Just then, a giant Peri picks up the cup of tea and drains it all in one go, sending the Doctor, Ralph and Sil down her throat into a frozen moment of time where stone crocodiles roar as the waters claim Atlantis.
This is reflected in the sky above the mighty tree-cities of jelly, which in turn is just a sketch on a table in a seaside hotel statue, which itself is inside a stone box sinking into the swamp, which itself is just a stage backdrop and the Doctor, Ralph and Sil are actually still on the shores of the River Zogo, which in turn is just an image on the TARDIS scanner.
Peri is left wondering what the hell this has all been about. Is it an ancient religious joke? A modern Russian work of art? Or merely another tiny part of that great hallucination we call progress?
In Paris, a dog falls over and whimpers.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who Visits The Psychedelic Corkscrew
Doctor Who & The Year of the Bad Wolf (Canada Only)
Slap Her, She's A Lame Dog Monthly
The theme music is for Season 23, not Season 22. I FUCKING HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS! IT REALLY GETS MY GOAT!!
Sorority girls from Baltimore rarely read the entire works Proust for Schoolies Week, so either Peri is unique amongst her hot Baltimore teen girlfriends... or the twisted mind writing this is a touch confused.
"We see the world via the medium of reflected light. There are many forms of light. The human eye perceives only one kind. They are, if you like, a series of TV channels. Each has a separate, distinct and simultaneous reality. Our domain is illuminated by delta particles, the same ones used to form dream and thought images – playful and capricious particles that we can, of course, manipulate simply by thinking about it. It’s more fun than TV, cheaper than drugs and twice as addictive. Watch out for low-flying famous madmen!"
Links and References -
The Doctor reminisces fondly about his third incarnation’s Super Disco persona and how it ultimately lead to his horrible death over the course of Season Eleven.
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor swears blind he had this exact same adventure three incarnations from now, when he and Vicki fought a talking pig reciting Shakespeare in a Belgium hotel.
Groovy DVD Extras -
None. The cover, however, does list the entire cast – contravening the witness protection program agreement on several occasions.
Dialogue Disasters -
Ralph: Di-sect? It's dee-sect, you ignoramus! It doesn't mean to cut something in two. Do you know nothing of etymology?
Doctor: Ralph, stop annoying the nasty man with the knife.
Peri: I don’t mind. How COULD I mind? Mind you, I haven’t got a mind to mind with! Oh, if ONLY Biggles were alive to see this! C’est la guerre!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Doctor: Over there! Having dinner at that corner table!
Ralph: Who is it?
Doctor: That’s only Salmon Rushdie – I had no idea he was staying here at the Café de Amazon, probably still hiding from the Ayatollah... OI! SALMON! I’VE GOT A BONE TO PICK WITH YOU!
Ralph: Doctor, no...
Doctor: Did you even WATCH that Jon Pertwee story you slagged off?!?
Sil: God bless the King of the Belgians! I know what you’re going to say about all those people who got their heads stuck on poles in the Congo, but he certainly knew a thing or two about how to spend time at the seaside!
Peri: Your pedantry is only exceeded by my contempt!
Doctor: ...and so we come back to where started, with a confused and battered hero pondering his next move. Well, friends, another year down the cosmic plughole for Big Finish. Let’s hope the next one’s a winner. Now, stay tuned, think nothing, act foolish and keep an eye out for the clefts of reality. AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU AT HOME!
Viewer Quotes -
"Very, very silly. Very, very twisted. I hated it. What a rubbish adventure. An exercise in pompous tedium, too long and self-consciously theatrical in a way that results in stilted and artificial dialogue and performances. It's one of those releases that makes you despise Big Finish all over again. This play's sense of humor differs from my own. This is unusual. I find it strange."
- Sparacus "Flamingo" Jones (2006)
"I've listened to the play several times now, because I utterly adore it, but there are still lots of bits that I don't understand. I don't understand the character of the doctor guy at all. And how come a blue phone box can be bigger on the inside? Huh? What crap!"
- Extreme Newbie Review (2006)
"What’s shocking is that the character of Peri could possibly have read literature that I haven't. Wait. I think I just insulted myself. Still, at least I’m not sophisticated and intelligent enough to enjoy Year of the Lame Dog. I hate myself." - Britney Spears (2005)
"A too long, plodding Big Finish release? Well who could guess that
would happen? Again!? Incidentally, Gay Russell, thanks for the 90-odd 'Who' plays. They've been absolute shite, and if I have occasionally enjoyed, it's only 'cos I despise you so passionately. Divided Loyalties made me puke." - Ewen Campion-Clarke (2007)
"It’s very tempting to see Year of the Lamde Dog as Mr. Russell’s final statement on BF’s editing (or lack of same.) Are we thin-lipped naysayers, who constantly demand cuts closer to the bone, missing the sprawling, over-spilling delights of some of BFs most corpulent works? Certainly if you troffle down and allow the chocolate moistness to roll over you, there is much here to relish!!" - The Unpublished Target Novel "Doctor Who and the Cooking Analogies"
"Salmon’s Satanic Verses stink like the Ayatollah’s breath!
Those scatological sentences had sentenced him to death!
He dissed a Jon Pertwee story in verse that is a curse
But we can burn a thousand copies if we pay for them first!"
- Timothy Dorsen Lang-Bean Ferguson (1990)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"The Year of the Lame Dog is a great improvement on Seaside Suicide and everything I was expecting from that story and didn't get. This time, I got the right amount of virgin’s blood and proper candles. Worked like a charm."
Colin Baker Speaks!
"It would have been nice if, when I was doing the television series, I got anywhere near the support that the show has now. There’s this charismatic, powerful homosexual controlling the show... the difference is RTD knows what he’s doing. It’s just a pity we can’t say that about the toothbrush fetishist we’ve got running things nowadays."
Rumors & Facts –
It took the BBC fourteen years to make ninety Doctor Who stories, while Big Finish beat that in less than seven years. This can only prove that quality and quantity are two very different things, and it is suitable that this mad-as-a-box-of-frogs story be the one to emphasize that.
Any Doctor Who story that attempts to be anything other than a solidly-plotted adventure serial will suffer criticism from the same quarters: fans who, after 44 years and what has to be approaching a thousand stories, still can’t accept that Doctor Who can accommodate hardcore hallucinogenic drugs. Sure enough, The Year of the Lame Dog has been blasted for a weak plot, for a slight plot, for being too long, for featuring too much talking, and for its truly frightening treatment of Salmon Rushdie.
After seven and a half years of producing Big Finish Doctor Who stories, Producer Gay Russell realized he’d spent most of those years engaged in a pitched battle with the insane Nicholas Briggs and his megalomaniac desire to not only control each and every aspect of production but to make himself the one and only canonical Doctor.
Creating the Dustbin Umpire, Cyberman and I, Lavros spin-offs had not dented Briggs’ deranged lust for control, even when RTD regularly borrowed him to do the monster voices for the real TV show.
Finally, it dawned on Russell that he was fighting for control for an expensive, unloved, fan-only audio series with a bunch of unlikable companions that wouldn’t leave and a bunch of unlikable Doctors that didn’t want to stay – and they’d already rendered most of their own output non canonical in the first place.
Ultimately, all Russell was doing was protecting Briggs from shame, ridicule and humiliation... well, more than his usual expose to it, anyway. If Briggs was put in charge of Big Finish, it would be the most cruel and sadistic punishment imaginable!
Thus, Russell fled the building, leaving only a post-it note on his door saying "Hi! I’ve gone! Love, GR". Russell reached Cardiff and, after a tense moment where money and certain photographs exchanged hands, was immediately hired as Liaison Script Editor, working as general dogs body in the new series of Doctor Who, the spin off Touchwood and the spin off spin off The Sarah-Jane Misadventures – effectively three jobs for a ninth of the pay!
Briggs immediately kicked down to the door of the office and took residence. In less than an out, he had opened the office window and was screaming into the yard using a ring modulator strapped onto a megaphone:
"REJOICE, MY BRETHREN! BIG FINISH SHALL SURVIVE THROUGH ME! THE AUDIO ADVENTURES ARE PERVERTED – ONLY ONE SCRIPT IN A BILLION IS FIT TO BE NURTURED, AND THOSE SCRIPTS I WROTE! I SHALL CULTIVATE PURE AND BLESSED STORYLINES! THE REST SHALL BE FILLETED – PULPED – SIFTED! I SHALL LEAD THIS PRODUCTION COMPANY OUT OF THE WILDERNESS! I AM FAR MORE THAN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER – I REACHED INTO THE DIRT AND MADE FAN AUDIOS! I AM THE GOD OF ALL DOCTOR WHO, CREATOR OF ALL CANON!! THE BEGINNING AND END OF ALL THINGS! THIS IS THE TRUTH OF BRIGGS THE IMMORTAL!!
THIS WILL BE PERFECTION! THIS WILL BE HEAVEN ON EARTH! THIS WILL BE OUR... PARADISE!!!!"
Briggs was then knocked unconscious when a passer by hurled a brick at his bald head.
Finally, Briggs recovered consciousness and confronted Jason Haigh-Ellery and Alan Barnes. Since he was now Supreme Commander of Big Finish Productions, Ruler of the Audio Range, Lord of TV Tie-Ins, High Admiral of the Spin Off Sagas, Lord General of the Oddly Visuals and The Guy Who Does The Monster Voices, wanting a few changes.
Briggs demanded a brand new start of Big Finish, with its plays accessible to fans old and new. JHE pointed out that it was very unlikely that new fans – assuming they existed at all – would want to pick up one of the CDs and expect to be thrilled, entertained or get the good-old-fashioned Doctor Who buzz.
Briggs laughed insanely, and immediately came up with a seemingly endless series of changes and improvements to be made – number one amongst them the sacking of Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Tom Baker and David Tennant, and recasting all of them as Nicholas Briggs, Doctor Eternal!!
It was then Alan Barnes pointed out that Briggs would be unable to do any of that until he sorted his way through the schedule Russell had implemented before running like fuck. This included the last story Russell had been working on - the traditional "Big Finish Christmas Release of Surreal Craziness That Will Make You Doubt The Workings of Your Own Brain" story.
The previous holders of this title were The Mutant Phrase, There Can Only One Doctor..., Go-Book-A-Room!, The Worm of the Rani, The Best Wife, and Other Lies.
This meant the story had to be special. Not just utter bollocks, but completely incoherent wild displays of imagination, characterization that made the audience ill, a kinda scary tale of random shit that eventually just sort of ends.
There was only one way to ensure that the 2006 December release would be so demented it would beyond any ability to describe: drug-crazed brain-damaged mind-bending delirium.
And when you’re talking drug-crazed brain-damaged mind-bending delirium, you’re taking Matthew "Stark Raving Bonkers" Sweet. Sweet, a man whose passport gave his occupation as "the drugs in the sixties were good shit, man", had his day job presenting "The Culture Show Hallucinogenic Headfuck" on BBC2.
Between presenting "Totally Freaky And Evil By Anyone’s Standards Night Waves" on Radio 3, and writing his magnum opus "Giving Adults Nightmares By Inventing the Victorians", he would occasionally send unsolicited scripts to Big Finish.
The first of the scripts was entitled Aardvarks of Fear, which Jason Haigh-Ellory had dubbed "initiated by pharmaceuticals we are not at liberty to name" and quickly required counseling.
Rumor has it that RTD once met Sweet at the press launch for the new series of Doctor Who, and the big grinning Welshman was later seen trying to claw his eyes out and screaming that there are things Welshmen are not meant to know. In his autobiography "Doctor Who – What Went Wrong?", RTD insists his idea for the Slitheen space pig trotting around the corridors of a twenty-first century hospital was down to Sweet’s blather "lodging in his hindbrain and refusing to let go".
Sweet’s unholy ability to turn minds inside out had left him hated and feared by most Who writers, with his "most completely metaphorical story that doesn’t actually make sense as a plot about real people" attitude to linear existence.
Sweet took inspiration from the very first story that Doctor Who refused to make on the grounds it was a "whole galaxy-full of sillyness" A story by Malcolm Hulke entitled simply – "The Hearsay Trap of Evil Eye Aquarius from the Met Who Couldn’t Remember!"
"The Hearsay Trap of Evil Eye Aquarius from the Met Who Couldn’t Remember!"
1. The Forbidden Planet
2. The Year of the Lame Dog
3. The Heavy Fragile Yellow Arc Scent of Violent Fragrance
4. The Son of a Bitch of Dr Who
5. The Phoenix Surprises
6. The World Lies Stoned At Your Feet
The TARDIS lands in the English countryside of the 1960s, and the Doctor prepares to kick Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright out of his time machine when they realize that something is strange...
Four-leaf clovers are everywhere. Women are the dominant sex. The local policeman on a bicycle is being mutilated by a flock of seagulls that fly backwards.
The Doctor announces based on absolutely no evidence of any sort whatsoever that this is not Earth but the tenth planet of the Solar System, rotating in a diametrically opposed orbit to Earth, ensuring the planet is undetectable since it is constantly obscured by the sun.
Susan points out that this doesn’t explain the whole parallel universe vibe happening, and the Doctor mutters incoherently about this being the mirror image of Earth, where glass has a different reflection and the moulds cast new shapes. No one knows what he’s talking about.
As night falls, all the adults in the nearby city turn to anarchist, drug-taking, booze-swilling, orgy-indulging maniacs, and the TARDIS crew meet a group of young squares defending their cubby houses from their insane parents.
When Barbara is arrested by some geeky male suffragettes, she discovers that the ruler of this planet is her exact doppelganger – the evil President of the State Barbara Thatcher!
The Doctor, Ian and Susan run around like chickens with their heads cut off to pad out the next five episodes as Barbara is sent to murder Thatcher aboard an ocean liner and assume her place.
Just then, Barbara Thatcher reveals she is William Hartnell in drag!
This is revealed to be an evil member of the Doctor’s own race – in fact, the Doctor’s estranged son who, upon discovering he was illegitimate, named himself the Bastard and now roams time and space in his own TARDIS, being generally naughty.
The Doctor has no idea how to defeat his evil son, a strange man in cricketing gear with a sprig of celery on his lapel arrives with three annoying teenagers. The newcomer explains he is a reincarnated version of the Doctor and has traveled here to join forces with his old self to defeat the evil Bastard.
However, Susan joins the Bastard and together they use a giant clock to send time in reverse to the year 408 AD, at the time of the Saxon occupation. The Bastard decides to aid the Saxon administration of Britain, while the two Doctors and their companions try to call in the Romans to start one huge conflict that can have no survivors.
Unfortunately, the future Doctor discovers a chunk of ice containing a stone age man and decides to use a DNA transplant to give him the genes of immortality! The Doctor wants the DNA for his own nasty ends and so the Doctors agree to play for the DNA via poker on a Mississipi showboat that happens to be passing.
However, before the game can get underway, a group of Nazis lead by the Egyptian sun god Aten. The TARDIS crew look incredibly screwed until the White Witch arrives to save them!
Suddenly, a huge glowing face arrives and announces it is God and this entire thing has gotten completely out of hand and turned very silly. It started out as a nice little story about an alternative version of Earth but it is now just silly.
It turns out that this is really Ian Levine having a laugh and the story ends as the entire cast beat him up.
Verity Lambert told Hulke at the time that what recreational narcotics were available in 1963 were not powerful enough to justify "random Class-A loopy gibberish". John Satan-Turner, who later tried to film THTOEEAFTMWCR for Season 20, described it "totally freaky by anyone’s standards" and by uberfan the Dalai Lama as "something that leaves your imagination bleeding and bruised."
However, Sweet found the script for THTOEEAFTMWCR "disappointingly tame" and decided he would write a completely new, mind-bendingly surreal story using the name of THTOEEAFTMWCR’s second episode, The Year of the Lame Dog!.
After the third production assistant went insane trying to read this weird and mystical story of invisible intangible disembodied life, shadowless bodysnatchers, alien mind-snatchers, machine creatures evolved from metallic molecules and eerie gateways to unknowable universes in another realm that the finest mind can hardly perceive let alone understand, Briggs came to a decision.
Rather than risk being left a sobbing and gibbering wreck by trying to script edit and make sense of the story, they’d simply record it as is and try not to let the non-stop impossible strange high-concept creepy wierdness get to them. This is ironic, as Russell hadn’t script edited any of his stories that year either.
I myself recommend this tactic of closing your mind to this story, since simply describing these events has been so bloody sinister I’ll remember it for a very, very long time.
It would have been easy for Russell try go out with a bang, or to write something self-indulgent and "celebratory" – and let us thank the Lord and all the Holy Saints that they didn’t. Instead we’re left with a pointless little character piece, a disturbing atmosphere, and one LSD nightmare joining hundreds of others.
Russell hiring Sweet to write the story and giving him free reign to "haunt the dreams of those unlucky enough to witness this abomination" was not, as some have unkindly claimed, petty revenge on the rest of Doctor Who fandom.
In truth, it was epic, glorious revenge designed not merely to mind-rape a few subscribers but to destroy everything that mattered to the fanbase in a process that wouldn’t be quick, that wouldn’t be petty but I tell you what it would be: the coup de grace of a lifetime!
Thus, as 2007 dawned, Briggs found himself left in charge of a ruined empire, rendered completely impotent in the face of wholesale public apathy and the tyrannical dictates of the BBC Wales triumvirate.
Did this knowledge dampen Briggs’ enthusiasm?
Did it fuck.