Under Three Hundred

The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Karma Killer

Yesterday saw the release of my Torchwood audio adventure, Instant Karma. Well, I say my. Those of you with a rigorous attention to detail may have spotted that I am one of three writers credited. The reason for this is simple and fairly dull; it was originally my story, but just after I went to London to attend the recording of Jeremiah Bourne in Time I contracted a norovirus. I shall spare you the gruesome details; suffice it to say I have never spent the best part of three days in the lavatory before and I hope never to do so again. Anyway, this meant I was in no fit state to do the notes on my latest draft of Instant Karma and, as time was short, producer James Goss and script editor David Llewellyn kindly offered to take over. And when I read their draft I was very, very pleased with it – I didn't want to change a word – and so I thought they should share the credit. But to clarify, it’s my idea, and my story, while the script is a combined effort. There, I told you it was fairly dull.

The story itself, however, is terrifically exciting. It’s a bit like a Black Mirror as it starts with a very simple what-if premise. What if you could make bad things happen to people annoyed you? What if you had that power, to dispense justice as you saw fit on a whim? We’ve all wished a long and painful death on people who walk three abreast blocking the pavement, or who drop litter or talk in the cinema. But if you could that, where would you stop? Would you stop at all?

It’s one of those ideas that raises all sorts of interesting moral issues and some great character-based drama. I don’t know if it’s what you would call a typical Torchwood story – it’s more along the lines of the approach it took in its third series than the first two. It’s the kind of story that I think Torchwood maybe should have done more of – and so, given the opportunity to make my own modest addition to the series, that’s what I wrote (plus it meant I could tick Torchwood off the things-I’d-like-to-do list).

The story has already had a couple of very positive reviews so I think I’ve just about got away with it. It can be purchased here, so please, check it out!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Have I The Right

This week saw the release of a new Doctor Who adventure by yours truly, The Lords of Terror, the first instalment in The Time War 2 box set. It stars Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor, and Rakhee Thakrar as his companion Bliss. What’s it about? Well, it’s set on a planet which is being run along strictly Orwellian lines, like Airstrip One from Nineteen Eighty-Four, with oppressed workers toiling in armament factories as government propaganda updates them on the unending war with the Daleks. But, of course, nothing is as it seems.

I read somewhere that drama is all about having your hero chased up a tree and having rocks thrown at them. That’s kind of what I tried to do with The Lords of Terror – to put the Doctor into the most terrible situation possible, where he is forced to question everything he believes. The story is all about soul-searching moral dilemmas, seeing which way characters jump when they are pushed right to the edge. What I wanted to do was to give Paul McGann some moments equivalent – in dramatic terms – to the fourth Doctor’s “Have I the right?” moment in Genesis of the Daleks. So I deliberately echoed some aspects of that story, in which he was sent on a mission to prevent the creation of the Daleks but found he could not go through with it. Not to write a sequel or anything like that, that’s been done, but just to explore some of the issues, in a different way.

The other thing I wanted to do with the story was to show one of the steps that led the eighth Doctor from being the Doctor we all know and love to becoming the man we saw in The Night of the Doctor, a man who has resolved not to take sides in the Time War, who then chooses to become the War Doctor and ultimately destroy both the Time Lords and the Daleks to resolve the Time War. The road that led him to that point must have been one filled with many dark nights of the soul, and The Lords of Terror is one of them.

So that, hopefully without spoiling any surprises, is what it’s about, or what I intended it to be about. It can be ordered from Big Finish here. Hope you enjoy it!

You can also hear a trailer here, and there’s a video trailer here.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Future Days

A couple of brief plugs. The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine, has another of my Blogs of Doom. They said it wouldn’t last. Some of them demanded that it shouldn’t. But it’s still going, and some people even quite like it now. Hooray! There’s lots of other marvellous things in the magazine too, I imagine, I haven’t got my copy yet.

I do have a copy of the latest issue of The Essential Doctor Who about Adventures in the Future. For this I wrote the introductory article, giving a broad guide to the TV series’ depiction of the future. It’s a huge subject – over half of all Doctor Who stories are set in the future to an extent –  so I tried to focus on various themes; the depictions of progressive, egalitarian futures of the Troughton era, the depictions of repressive futures in the Pertwee era; depictions of the Earth’s environmental degradation; the future of humanity. Plus a couple of box outs on how the present day is ‘remembered’ in stories set in the future, and how, in the future, some things will remain the same. It was quite tricky to write – I had to hold almost the entirety of Doctor Who in my head at once, like balancing a tower of plates – with the onus very much on trying to say something new, deliver some new insights or perspectives rather than simply listing Every Story Which Does A Thing.

I’m most proud of the sentence:

Doctor Who even successfully predicted the threat of climate change due to deforestation, although, somewhat less successfully, it predicted that it would lead to a new ice age.

Anyway, copies of both magazines can be found in all good newsagents, and various supermarkets. Seek them out!

Next month will be fun, as three Big Finish things I worked on will be coming out! It never rains but it pours etc. So I shall rack my brains trying to think of fascinating things to say about them, as they ‘drop’.