This was the second Big Finish episode to feature the shape-shifting companion Frobisher, taking place in the Doctor Who Magazine comics canon rather than the Big Finish canon. It takes place before "The Holy Terror". Its official production number is "Monthly series 33 1/2", although it was released in the bonus range instead of in the monthly range (still with us?).
Frobisher, narrating, tries to get back into working as a detective after having said goodbye to the Sixth Doctor for a while. He's not even remotely successful at it, but when the Doctor vworps in for a social call, Frobisher's a bit too proud to admit it and refuses to become a companion again. Instead, he takes on the case of a Femme Fatale named Alicia, who begs him to spy on her cheating husband. She asks him to be inconspicuous, so Frobisher shapeshifts into the one humanoid form he knows best... that of the Sixth Doctor.
Frobisher, now sounding like Colin Baker impersonating Robert Jezek playing the Sixth Doctor (while also still narrating in his regular voice), finds said husband dead in a pool of blood. The case turns out to be linked to the interstellar commerce empire of Mr. Dogbolter. The mobster has taken over all production on the entire planet, made it all as stagnant as possible in order to stabilise the economy, and has outright banned creativity and innovation, as even the smallest new invention could completely undermine the ever-present mediocrity that secures his power over the planet. But now, it seems, Alicia's mysterious dead man has innovated a... something.
Frobisher is nearly executed a few times over, does some back-and-forth shapeshifting, brushes off the Doctor (who vworps in a few times to see if he really can't be of help) and confronts Alicia about her lie. She practically throws herself at Frobisher and (after a good snog) confesses that it was all a ploy to trick him — the man was not her husband, but the inventor of something that could very well change Dogbolter's empire forever.
The "something" turns out to be a microchip, containing the sentence "... you don't have to be crazy to work here, but it sure helps!". By activating the chip out of curiosity, Dogbolter accidentally broadcasts it to all his workers, who promptly start laughing and talking to each other and other such highly forbidden things. Realising that the economy is becoming entirely too unstable for him again, Dogbolter flees from the planet.
Alicia reveals herself to be Frobisher's shapeshifting ex-wife, who faked being the dead man (and the pool of blood on the floor) in order to get the microchip into Dogbolter's hands. And although she and Frobisher still love each other very dearly, they both realise that they'd rather compete with each other than try to live together in harmony. Frobisher decides to go back to being a companion.
- Affectionate Parody: Of Film Noir. While a few archetypical tropes of the genre is played straight, most of them are bended or given a humorous twist in some way.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "I've been shot at, knocked out, and made to sit on uncomfortable plastic chairs, all because of you!"
- Allergic to Routine: The Doctor as per usual, and thinks this must go for Frobisher as well.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other
- Black Widow: Doubles as The Vamp.
- Black Eyes of Evil/Red Eyes, Take Warning: Frobisher notices that Dogbolter's normally black eyes becomes a threatening shade of red when he is angry.
- Cigar Chomper: Dogbolter
- Comically Missing the Point: "I don't live on top of this giant cliff."
- Creative Sterility: Purposefully set up and exploited by Dogbolter.
- Demoted to Extra: The Doctor, for the duration of the story.
- Dirty Cop
- Disney Villain Death: What Elgar planned for Frobisher.
- Double Entendre
- Drop-In Character: The Doctor's reduced to this, in the story.
- Everything's Better with Penguins
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor
- Fantastic Racism:"My tutor had something against avian species."
- Fake American: Frobisher's voice actor is Canadian, and that's forgiveable. But later when Frobisher shapeshifts into a body like the Doctor's, Colin Baker is trying to pull off the same Boston drawl.
- Faking the Dead: Arthur. Done by Alicia
- Who's also Frobisher's ex-wife.
- Film Noir: Parodied.
- First-Person Smartass
- Follow That Car: A pipedream for Frobisher.
- Gonk: Alice's husband Arthur.
- Mr. Dogbolter gets described as this as well.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Mr. Dogbolter
- Hard Boiled Detective: Frobisher tries to act the part.
- Heart Broken Badass: Frobisher. Though the "Badass" is in question.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At one point Frobisher is narrating and he gets interrupted with the plot.
- Lighter and Softer: It's a very silly story. So much so that if you listen to this before The Holy Terror you'll experience quite a bit of Mood Whiplash.
- MacGuffin: The something.
- Male Gaze: Frobisher gets caught.
- Narrator: Frobisher.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Throughout the episode, the Doctor gets sent away by Frobisher, who insists on trying to solve the case by himself.
- "Open!" Says Me: Less glamorous than in the movies.
- Private Eye Monologue: In keeping with the genre, there are loads of this.
- The Reveal: Alicia is Frobisher's ex-wife.
- Running Gag: Twelve Mazumas. (Plus expenses!)
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!/Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Dogbolter, in spades
- Sexophone: When The Vamp walks into the room.
- She's Got Legs: The Vamp
- "You know how to quack don't you? Just stiffen your beak.. and vibrate."
- Frobisher as the Doctor re-enacts Taxi Driver.
- A Peter Lorre Captain Ersatz shows up. And called out on being an Ersatz.
- The name is one to The Maltese Falcon.
- Frobisher and Alicia's relationship at the end has elements of Casablanca.
- Special Edition Theme Song: The adventure ends on a slow harmonica Noir drawl doing the classic Doctor Who theme.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Dogbolter speaks in a rather pleasant and patient tone, until he for a brief moment finally gets fed up with Frobisher's defiant smartassery and explains at the top of his lungs exactly what he will do to him if he doesn't cooperate, before regaining his composure again.
- There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: To Dogbolter, there are those who work for him, and those who will at some point in the future.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: "My friends call me Frobisher. My enemies call me Mr. Frobisher. And the junk mail department of the Galactic Reader's Digest calls me Mrs. F. R. Rubbisher when they say I may have already won 30,000 Mazumas."
- They Fight Crime!: Frobisher and his ex.
- Ticking Time Bomb: Planted on Mr. Chandler.
- Unreliable Voiceover: Frobisher's Inner Monologue frequently tries to play him and his actions off as more cool and witty than they actually are.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Doctor isn't remotely fazed by seeing Frobisher shaped like him — considering what travelling with Frobisher is like, it's relatively normal.
- The Vamp: Alicia Milholland.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting
- Voices Are Mental: Notably averted. Frobisher spends almost the entire episode shapeshifted into the Sixth Doctor. Including his voice.This leads to Colin Baker impersonating Canadian Fake American Robert Jezek playing Frobisher pretending to be the Doctor. It is glorious.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Played for Laughs. Frobisher is trying to be the protagonist of a Hardboiled Detective story, and gets to a point where (in such a story) he'd be killed.Frobisher: I began to wish for one of those nick-of-time rescues. The sort that never happen in private eye stories, worse luck. Only in science fiction nonsense.
- You Have Failed Me: Somewhat, Elgar.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Chandler