BBC Project – Interludes and thoughts…

My Hartnell TARDIS console room, rendered up, made grainy, and black and white. This was amongst the stuff we sent to Phil Balaam.

Initial posting giving an overview of the project history here.

For previous parts in this series, go here.

Nothing majorly relevant to the project here.  This is just a brief general rundown of a couple of things whizzing about in my head.

As you can see if you’ve read Part 2 of the bible, I favoured a very traditional approach to the basic series format.

After Russell T. Davies’ first season came out and was resoundingly fast and modern, I thought that yeah, I was so wrong.

But now, seven years down the track, I’m less convinced. When the new series does a good single or two part story, it’s an amazing piece of work, standing up there with the best of any television drama you care to name.  However  I do have some issues with the writing at times.  There are occasions when it seems a little too hand-wavy, or under explained, and I feel the sonic screwdriver has been seriously over-used.

None of that has to do with the faster pace.  The new Canadian series Continuum is incredibly well written.  Episode after episode where I wish I could write for it but doubt I’d have the talent.  Doctor Who is a clever show, but Continuum is an intelligent show.

But I don’t love Continuum in the same way I love Doctor Who, because Doctor Who is unique.  Continuum is the sort of tired premise we’ve seen many times before, thing here is, it’s really well done.  It avoids the clichés or subverts them well.  I’m eight episodes in, and there’s not a dud amongst them, that’s an impressive track record.

Getting back to Doctor Who…

Strangely some of the stories I thought suffered were single parters that I felt actually needed more time on screen to explain or sort out their issues, and naturally there’s two-parters that I feel could be tighter or have problems.  But I also always said that if I was 100% happy with the new series, then they’ve probably gotten it wrong.  It has to work for a modern day audience with no pre-knowledge of the show.  That’s not me.

And it’s not like I think the original series was perfect.  No series is.

Nor do I think what I was developing would have been perfect.  I have no doubt whatsoever that some of the fans would have being loudly saying that we’d destroyed Doctor Who forever from the very first episode.  I daresay there’s people reading through these posts, shuddering, and thinking, “Well, we dodged that bullet!”

I have no doubt that some stories would have had major issues.  It’s inevitable, especially for a show trying new and different things, as Doctor Who does regularly.

I also wanted to go back to some of the core elements from the very beginning – trying to base things on real science where possible, having pure historical stories, and so on. You don’t have to stop the whole story to explain nanites, or genetically modified crops, but it doesn’t hurt to be clear on these things either.  And totally made up science is fine, so long as it’s internally consistent within the story, and seems plausible in the way it’s presented.

I’ve always hated the myth that the historicals weren’t popular.  I’d play heavily with audience expectation for the first pure historical.  Have red herrings to make things look like maybe it was some outside influence.  We’d have had to have picked a really good time period, and the story would have to have had a rip-snorter of an ending to get away with it.  Even then, no matter how good it was, people would have complained about the lack of monsters.

I doubt that I would have been allowed to actually write for the series, at least initially, and that’s fine.  I was an unknown quantity and would have been stunned if I had been allowed.  That said, I would have fought for at least an assistant script editor position, since I’d developed so much of our show.  And even if I did write for it, there’s nothing to say my stories would have been any good, or well received.

No-one who has ever written anything, set out to write it badly.  No production team ever sets out to create something that doesn’t work.  But it happens, because people are human.  They make poor choices, deal with constraints, things go wrong, they run out of time, or any one of a million things happen to change things.

Even if you do write something that is brilliant, there’s no reason people will ‘get’ it.  So it may well be hated because you’re tailoring it to the wrong audience, or you don’t know how to write it in a way that makes it accessible, or who knows, maybe it’s ahead of its time.

I haven’t actually gone searching for my email back-ups yet.  The few things I mention in the previous post were all from my uncorrupted outgoing email folder.  I suspect that once I start going through emails I’ll have to make a bunch of changes as I piece together bits of it that I’ve overlooked.

If I’d known I was going to start posting this stuff up, I’d have gone through all the emails, gotten permission from people to post up their art, made accurate notes, and generally made this whole thing a lot nicer.  But it all started the other day with thinking about the work we put in, and how nice it’d be for us to be recognised for it in general, and for Cliff to be recognised for it in particular.

As when I was a part of Who3D, it took Cliff Bowman to get me off my arse and moving!  If I hadn’t suddenly decided he deserved some small recognition, it’d still be sitting on my hard drive, as it has for almost a decade.

Anyway, I’ll try to get the next part up tomorrow.  If you’re enjoying these, or finding them fascinating, have any questions, or even if you think I’m full of crap, I’d love to hear from you.  And if you do think they have some genuine worth, please spread the word.

And I will try to get you the names of the other contributors soon.  Please, please, please don’t think for a moment I was in this alone.  There were a bunch of us working on it, and I had a few people I used as sounding boards, and who gave me some ideas and direction.  Some of the art and ideas from other people were utterly fabulous.  All I’m presenting here are my bits, and the stuff I worked on.



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