The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Fantastic Voyage

Back to Doctor Who land, and some deleted scenes. I’ll go back through the previous Labour Conference blogs and tidy up the writing, add some photos and (most importantly) give them titles named after songs in my Windows Media library at a later date.


October 2012 saw the release of my third Jago & Litefoot story, a Doctor Who crossover called Voyage to Venus. I’ve blogged about the release previously here and here, and as usual I recommend you buy it (it’s marvellous) before reading any of these deleted scenes as they will undoubtedly constitute ‘spoilers’.

First of all, my first draft of the story was 13,000 words, which was way over the target wordcount, so before the script editor (Justin Richards) saw it, I had deleted the following material (with commentary in italics):

Cut because it was too descriptive:

LITEFOOT:
I see what you mean. All those chimneys, belching out smoke. Most unhealthy!

JAGO:
Venusian Factories! Reminiscent of Blake’s dark Satanic mills!

LITEFOOT:
Let’s try to not get completely carried away, shall we, Henry?

Too getting-ahead-of-ourselves:

URSINA:
I don’t know. Except... wait! The forbidden caves!

LITEFOOT:
The what?

URSINA:
Corvina had this idea that they were the source of all these creatures.

DOCTOR:
You know how to locate these caves?

URSINA:
Of course. Corvina intended to mount an expedition, and went to Vulpina to seek permission...

LITEFOOT:
Her fatal mistake, it would appear.

DOCTOR:
I think we should see what these caves have to offer.

Too but-I’m-telling-you-the-plot:

URSINA:
(LOOKS) Captain Felina... and a squadron of palace guards! But how can Vulpina have found out what we were doing?

LITEFOOT:
Through the use of some sort of concealed listening device, I should imagine.

DOCTOR:
Very probably. Having killed one Chief Scientist, I expect she wanted to keep tabs on her replacement. Speaking of which. Ursina. Can you get us out of here?

Too slowing-down-the-action-at-an-exciting-bit:

(FX: RADIO OFF)

VULPINA:
And as for you, you perfidious primate –

JAGO:
(FRIGHTENED) What? What?

VULPINA:
No. I shall not kill you now. You deserve a lingering death.

Too cuttable:

(FX: SKY-YACHT IN FLIGHT. A LITTLE TURBULENCE, CREAKING LIKE A BOAT, ENGINES THRUMMING. LUXURIOUS. WE’RE ON THE UPPER DECK.)

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED, BLEEPING.)

DOCTOR:
Ursina. How much of a head start do you think we have?

URSINA:
Not sure. Half an hour, at most. We’re going as fast as we can.

DOCTOR:
Not quite. There’s a tail wind. If you raise the sails and reduce altitude, it might give us a little extra speed.

URSINA:
Raising sails and reducing altitude...

(FX: SAILS RAISED AND INFLATE. INSTRUMENT BLEEPS)

A whole chunk cut because... I could.

(FX: VENUSIAN TORCHES SWITCHED ON. THEY ENTER THE CAVES. DRIPPING WATER, ECHO ON VOICES)

LITEFOOT:
(WHISPER) Doctor. A question.

DOCTOR:
There’s no need to whisper, Professor.

LITEFOOT:
It just occurred to me. What if there’s something living down here? One wouldn’t want to rouse a Shanghorn from its slumber.

DOCTOR:
I assure you, they’re normally quite harmless.

LITEFOOT:
Even when they’ve been disturbed by unexpected home-callers?

DOCTOR:
Good point. Well, if we do see one, you know what to do.

LITEFOOT:
Do I?

DOCTOR:
I told you. Shanghorns can be pacified by music. Any music. The sympathetic vibrations cause their cranium to resonate.

LITEFOOT:
So what do you suggest? We sing to it to sleep with a children’s lullaby?

DOCTOR:
That should do it, yes. Though in my experience, they are also very partial to Gilbert and Sullivan...

(FX: FOR THE LAST TWO LINES, THEY’RE MOVING INTO THE DISTANCE, INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE CAVE.)

Again, another chunk of dialogue that turned out to be inessential:

DOCTOR:
Presumably this is where all your specimens have been coming from, Ursina. As the walls of this cave thaw out, the ice melts...

LITEFOOT:
- and the creatures wake up, as though from hibernation?

DOCTOR:
Yes. A process known as cryonics.

URSINA:
But what is the purpose of this place? How did all these creatures end up frozen in ice? How long have they been here?

DOCTOR:
All very good questions. To answer the last one first, I think they’ve been here for a very long time...

Too a-character-is-pointing-out-a-problem-with-the-plotting-that-I’d-rather-not-draw-attention-to:

(FX: BACK BY THE CAVE ENTRANCE, AND THE WATERFALL. VULPINA, LUPINA AND LITEFOOT AND JAGO EMERGING, BREATHLESS.)

JAGO:
I say, what’s the hurry? One minute you’re dragging us down into the cave, the next you’re dragging us back out again!

I got this down to a couple of sentences:

VEPAJA:
Indeed. We preserved not just ourselves, but samples of every being, every plant, so that one day a new world might be born.

URSINA:
They’re all from this planet’s pre-history?

VEPAJA:
Pre-history to you. To us, it seems only yesterday.

DOCTOR:
An underground seed vault.

VEPAJA:
And now we have been revived from our slumber, and the young of our race once more walk upon the surface of our world.

Too hey-it-would-be-neater-to-end-this-scene-a-couple-of-lines-earlier:

JAGO:
I know, old chap. From this distance, Lupina won’t be able to tell the difference. Fear not! The ever-resourceful Gordon-Jago has cogitated and concocted a cunning plan.

LITEFOOT:
Well done, old chap. What do you intend to do?

JAGO:
Just play along when the moment comes, Henry. When the moment comes! Ha!

Again, much more dramatic to end on the Doctor’s line:

DOCTOR:
And send them to slaughter everyone in Amtor! For all the difference, you might as well have let the city crash into the ground!

VEPAJA:
Some of those for whom I speak are sympathetic to your views, Doctor. But the balance is in favour of retribution. You must remember, Cytherea is our world. These Venusians are the interlopers.

URSINA:
We’re not! You destroyed your own planet and abandoned it. If it wasn’t for us, you would never have woken up!

VEPAJA:
You speak the truth, but I’m afraid, it will not be enough to save your race. This world shall be ours - and ours alone!

Too explaining-stuff-that-doesn’t-need-explaining:

(FX: VEPAJA IS MEDITATING.)

VEPAJA:
Omniddy-dom-dom. Omniddy-dom-dom.

URSINA:
What’s it doing, Doctor?

DOCTOR:
Guiding the Shanghorns telepathically. The Cythereans plan on using them to do their dirty work.

I quite like this but it’s a joke on top of a joke which never works:

LITEFOOT:
Yes. Henry, think back for a moment. What one thing did the Doctor tell us about Shanghorns?

JAGO:
That they’re normally shy, placid creatures?

LITEFOOT:
Other than that.

JAGO:
That you should never trust one with a Perigosto stick?

LITEFOOT:
Other than that.

JAGO:
That... you can send them to sleep by playing them some music!

Too... badly-written, frankly. I got it down to a couple of sentences:

URSINA:
It is though they are reciting words to a pulse, but altering the pitch as they go...

DOCTOR:
Vepaja. It would appear the Venusians have discovered the Shanghorns’ great weakness!

VEPAJA:
But that is impossible!

DOCTOR:
But nevertheless they’ve done it. Your planned retribution has turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

All those cuts, and others, got it down to about 11,000 words, still way too long (as it was still missing the opening scene, which would follow on from the previous adventure).

After this, it went to two more drafts, with notes from the script editor and producer. The commentary that follows is my guesswork as to the reasons why stuff was cut.

Too obviously descriptive:

JAGO:
Extraordinary. A mighty metropolis suspended above the clouds by... by hot-air balloons!

DOCTOR:
Looks like a cross between a gothic cathedral and a Northern industrial town.


Too cuttable:

JAGO:
Must be some way of raising the alarm...

VULPINA:
Move away from those switches. Or I’ll have you eradicated!

(FX: JAGO STILL THROWING SWITCHES)

JAGO:
Never did care for people who mistreat their pets... hello!

Too slowing-down-the-action (I cut this down to a sentence or two):

(FX: DOCTOR ACTIVATING CONTROLS AS HE TALKS)

DOCTOR:
No. If we can create enough disruption, it should give our pursuers something to think about!

LITEFOOT:
I see what you mean. They’ll be too busy dealing with these monsters to come after us!

(FX: CONTROL ACTIVATED, DOOR CLANGS OPEN.)

DOCTOR:
There. That’s the shrieking Glarosus. Now for the Shanghorns!

(FX: CONTROL ACTIVATED. SHANGHORN ROARS LIKE AN ELEPHANT)

DOCTOR:
(ENCOURAGING SHANGHORN) Yes, that’s right, away you go!

LITEFOOT:
Doctor, I thought you said Shanghorns were harmless?

DOCTOR:
They are. But I think our pursuers will have their work cut out dealing with the – Venusian spore-beetle!

A whole scene cut, I’m guessing just because it could be cut to get the script down to length:

16. EXT. DOCKING STRUT

(FX: DOCTOR, LITEFOOT AND URSINA RUNNING ON CLANGING METAL)

URSINA:
(BREATHLESS) Made it!

LITEFOOT:
That’s your sky-yacht? I say, what an elegantly-designed vessel!

DOCTOR:
Let’s save the aesthetic appreciation for later, shall we, Professor?

LITEFOOT:
As you wish. So what do we do now? Surely you don’t expect us to jump?

URSINA:
Yes. Hurry, there’s no time.

(FX: URSINA AND DOCTOR JUMP ON BOARD)

DOCTOR:
Come on, Professor, jump. It’s only a couple of feet!

LITEFOOT:
Very well, here goes – (JUMPS) Woah!

(FX: LITEFOOT JUMPS ON BOARD)

DOCTOR:
Got you. Ready to go, Ursina?

(FX: ENGINE REVS INTO LIFE)

URSINA:
Ready to go. I recommend you both hold on to something.

LITEFOOT:
Any suggestions in particulaaaaaaaaaar!

(FX: AS LITEFOOT TALKS, THE SKY-YACHT WHOOSHES INTO THE DISTANCE, WITH THE DOCTOR AND LITEFOOT GASPING IN SHOCK)

(FX: WE MOVE BACK TO THE THRONE ROOM, WHERE THIS IS BEING OBSERVED VIA A MONITOR)

Another great big bit cut out:

URSINA:
Yes. We should still be able to make it to the caves first... but only just.

DOCTOR:
In the meantime, I suggest we take this opportunity to get our breath back. Professor Litefoot, are you alright?

(FX: LITEFOOT IS FANNING HIMSELF)

LITEFOOT:
Oh, quite alright Doctor. It’s just this interminable heat. It seems to have been mid-day ever since we arrived!

DOCTOR:
It has. On Venus a single day lasts for about eight months.

LITEFOOT:
Eight months? Oh well, I suppose it gives one plenty of time to get things done!

19. INT. VULPINA’S SKY-YACHT

(FX: THE ENGINES ARE DEEPER, HEAVIER. WE’RE IN THE HOLD)

VULPINA:
How far away are they, Captain Felina?

FELINA:
Thirty miles and closing, Grand Empress.

VULPINA:
The moment they’re in range, I want them blasted out of the sky!

FELINA:
As you command.

VULPINA:
And as for you, Jago-Marm. I want you to tell me everything.

JAGO:
Everything?

VULPINA:
What are you, Henry Gordon Jago-Marm? Where do you come from? And why have you decided to come here now?

JAGO:
Ah, well, it’s a long story...

Cut because the third line was a better scene-opener:

VULPINA:
So you, the “Doctor” and “George” came here from Earth in a craft that flies between planets?

JAGO:
Incredible as it may sound, those are the facts of the matter.

VULPINA:
Tell me, Jago-Marm, are all the creatures there like you?

The end of this scene was cut because I suspect somebody thought it was too silly:

VULPINA:
Then put us down beside their sky-yacht... and inform the guards that we’re going on another hunting expedition!

LUPINA:
Yes, your highness.

(FX: LUPINA LEAVES THROUGH AUTOMATIC DOOR)

VULPINA:
And as for you, Jago-Marm, my human pet...

JAGO:
Yes, your majesty?

VULPINA:
Walkies!

The next bit was cut down because Jago has a bomb in his mouth so shouldn’t have long speeches!

LUPINA:
(REACTS) By the ancestors! The fool’s got it in his mouth!

VULPINA:
Jago-Marm, spit it out immediately!

JAGO:
Not sure you want me to do that. A little bird told me they are extremely volatile.

VULPINA:
Give it to me. Or I will have you shot.

JAGO:
Again, probably not a good idea - whoops-a-daisy, bang-bang!

The next bit wasn’t cut as such, just moved to earlier in the scene so that it didn’t interrupt the Shaghorn bit:

LITEFOOT:
Yes. Henry, think back for a moment. What one thing did the Doctor tell us about Shanghorns?

JAGO:
That... you can send them to sleep by playing them some music!

LITEFOOT:
Precisely!

LUPINA:
What are you talking about?

VULPINA:
Ignore them. They’re simply babbling a load of foolish nonsense. Like all of their male-kind!

LUPINA:
I’ve heard enough from you, Vulpina! Guards, take her to the royal chambers and keep her there.

(FX: GUARDS ESCORT VULPINA OUT, DOORS OPEN AND CLOSE)

A whole scene cut out from the end, mainly because in the second or third draft I had the Doctor make contact with Jago & Litefoot earlier so that he was the one who suggested to them that they should sing to pacify the Shanghorns.

37. INT. THRONE ROOM.

(FX: DOOR OPENS. GUARDS ESCORT VULPINA IN)

VULPINA:
Why have you summoned me here? To have me beg for mercy?

LUPINA:
No, Vulpina. So that you can be brought to justice, in front of the people of Amtor.

VULPINA:
You intend to humiliate me with a public trial?

LUPINA:
I want the people to know the truth. To know that it was you who ordered the death of the chief scientist Corvina.

VULPINA:
You have no proof, Lupina. It is only your word against mine.

LUPINA:
On the contrary. We have the evidence of an expert pathologist. Assuming that he is willing to give testimony?

LITEFOOT:
I’d be delighted, my dear. Absolutely delighted.

LUPINA:
Then it is decided. We can only regret that the Doctor and Ursina will no longer be able to give their evidence.

(FX: VULPINA ESCORTED OUT. DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES.)

LITEFOOT:
I suppose, without the Doctor, Henry and I will have to make a new life for ourselves here on Venus. Assuming you have no objection?

LUPINA:
We would be honoured, Professor Litefoot.

JAGO:
Hate to dash your hopes of a Venusian retirement villa, George, but I think you may have spoken too soon!

LITEFOOT:
What?

JAGO:
Look, on this televisor gadget.

LITEFOOT:
But that’s... the sky-yacht belonging to the girl Ursina!

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED. INTERCOM FLICKERS INTO LIFE)

LUPINA:
This is Captain Lupina hailing Chief Scientist’s sky-yacht. Respond please.

(FX: BRIEF CRACKLE, THEN:)

URSINA: (VIA MONITOR)
This is Chief Scientist Ursina. How is everyone?

LUPINA:
We are fine. Vulpina is no longer empress! But you... What happened to you? And where is the Doctor?

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
Hello! You asked for me?

JAGO:
The Doctor! He’s alive!

LITEFOOT:
Thank goodness!

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
Professor! Mister Jago! So glad to see you!

JAGO:
The feeling is mutual, Doctor. The feeling is mutual! And you know the best thing about all this, George?

LITEFOOT:
No, what?

JAGO:
We’re going home!

And finally – my original ending, written because I didn’t know whether I’d be setting up further adventures with our heroes in the TARDIS or not. I replaced it with a scene with the Doctor setting a course for the Red Tavern, Earth – and then everything after that was by Matthew Sweet, taken from the beginning of Voyage to the New World, I think.

JAGO:
No, still don’t understand. So, where to now, Doctor?

DOCTOR:
I’m sorry?

JAGO:
Which is to be the next celestial sphere for a stop-over in that ship of yours?

DOCTOR:
I thought you wanted me to take you home, Mister Jago.

JAGO:
Ah, well, a fellow can always change his mind, can’t he?

LITEFOOT:
You did mention that the TARDIS is a time machine, Doctor. So it’s not as if there is any great hurry for us to get back...

DOCTOR:
You want to continue your travels with me?

JAGO:
If you don’t mind, old chap. See more of what the universe has to offer!

LITEFOOT:
After all, we haven’t been to Mars yet!

(FX: DOCTOR, LITEFOOT AND JAGO ENTER TARDIS)

DOCTOR: (INSIDE TARDIS)
Mars? Mars? You want me to take you to Mars?

JAGO: (INSIDE TARDIS)
Or Mercury. Or Neptune. Or Saturn!

LITEFOOT: (INSIDE TARDIS)
Or Jupiter, Henry. Don’t forget Jupiter!

(FX: TARDIS TAKES OFF. FOR A FEW MOMENTS, WE LISTEN TO THE JUNGLE, THE EXOTIC ALIENS BIRDS, THE SNUFFLING, TRUMPETING SHANGHORNS... AND THEN INTO THE CLOSING THEME!)

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