The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Underwater

Deleted scenes! This time from Doctor Who: Phantoms Of The Deep, written way back in August 2011, and released not quite as far back in May 2013. Looking at my drafts (I keep every day’s work as a numbered draft) it took nearly two weeks to write. Anyway, to commemorate the fact that it is now available for £5 (CD) or £2.99 (download) I thought I’d investigate the murky depths of the cutting room floor.
   
The following bits were cut after notes from the script editor, director and producer. As usual, these notes contain spoilers, so please buy and listen to the story before going any further if you haven’t done so already. It’s only £5 (CD) or £2.99 (download) and it is absolutely brilliant. Tom Baker is brilliant in it, Mary Tamm is brilliant in it, John Leeson is brilliant in it, Alice Krige is brilliant in it (she was in The Syndicate recently and great in that too), everyone is great, the sound design and music are great, so buy it!


(For more details on the story, I blogged about it previously here)

My notes will be in italics from now on.

Cut from the beginning of scene 2, as it felt a bit say-what-you-see and one should always enter as scene late, leave early:

2. INT. CONTROL ROOM.

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED)

TERRI:
Distance from trench... ten metres, five metres. We should be practically on top of it.

CHRIS:
It’s like a canyon... can’t make out the far side, just a cliff going down into complete blackness.

PATRICIA:
And that’s where we’re going.

Look, I’ve done my research:

PATRICIA:
What is it? There shouldn’t be anything at this depth apart from sea cucumbers, urchins, sponges and worms.

CHRIS:
And Police Boxes?

PATRICIA:
What?

I think the next bit was cut because the fourth Doctor quoting things had got a bit much in other stories. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s a bit showy-offy:

7. INT. CONTROL ROOM.

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED)

TERRI:
And here we go, depth ten thousand metres.

CHRIS:
Ten kilometres down. And still it keeps on going.

DOCTOR:
(QUOTING) “Easy is the way down to the underworld, by night and by day dark Hades door stands open.”

TERRI:
Not all that dark. There appears to be some light coming from beneath us.

One of those occasions where if you cut the middle two lines you find it joins up neatly without them:

PATRICIA:
Of course. I’m more interested in why you’re volunteering to go with me.

DOCTOR:
Ah, well, it’s important to have a diving buddy, and I assume the rest of your crew are too valuable to risk.

PATRICIA:
Whereas you are expendable?

DOCTOR:
Whereas I’m used to dealing with the unknown.

More showing off research. Look, I bought a book!

CHRIS:
I’ll give it a go. Need to scrape away some of the coral that’s grown over it first. Might scare one or two spider crabs in the process, they’ve made their home in the mud.

TERRI: (VIA RADIO)
Okay, good luck.

Another instance of cut two lines, and it joins up without them:

PATRICIA:
Doctor. Attach your belt to this safety cord.

DOCTOR:
Any particular reason?

PATRICIA:
One end is attached my belt, and more cord will unwind from the Erebus as we swim towards the derelict submarine.

DOCTOR:
Ah... So just in case something happens to either of us, we can be reeled back in?

Next bit was a bit pointless, to be honest. False jeopardy?

18. INT. MINI-SUB. (CONTINUOUS)

(FX: AS BEFORE)

TERRI: (VIA RADIO)
Chris, Chris can you hear me? (BEAT) No, he’s not answering either.

(FX: BUTTON PRESSED)

CHRIS:
No, no, it’s alright. I can hear you.

Another bit that turned out to be cuttable, hopefully no listeners were left puzzled because I hadn’t explained what the safety cord was tied to.

DOCTOR:
Ah. Smells a bit of mildew. Touch of rising damp I expect.

SAWYER:
No point in wasting air supplies. Can you see anything I can tie the safety cord onto?

DOCTOR:
This strut in the wall. Bit of rust but it should hold. Oh.

(FX: IT BREAKS LOOSE WITH A CLANG. SHE TIES CORD ELSEWHERE)

SAWYER:
Never mind. Now, where are we?

The last two lines of this scene were cut because, I think, they undercut the mystery. I don’t know. I think they add to the mystery:

TERRI:
I - I can see them too. They’re like phantoms, drifting in the water, swirling about like they’re made of silk.

ROMANA:
Phantoms? K9. Can you see anything out there?

K9:
Negative mistress. No life forms detected.

Onto part two. I suspect the next bit was cut because it was taking the piss, although I still think it’s quite funny:

CHRIS:
Malfunction? Is that what you call it?

K9:
This unit was being controlled remotely by use of radio waves. I was unable to resist.

CHRIS:
Resist what? Oh, the etheric disturbance?

K9:
Affirmative.

The next bit is a fantastic example of the sort of waffle that can and should be cut:

CHRIS: (VIA RADIO)
I think so - if that’s okay with Patricia?

PATRICIA:
You’re mad, Doctor. It’ll never work.

DOCTOR:
Do you have any better ideas?

PATRICIA:
No.

DOCTOR:
Well then there’s no time to lose.

JACK:
I don’t follow, what are you trying to do?

Chris’ line in the next bit was cut. I was worried the action wouldn’t be clear so over-explained it, I think:

K9:
Negative. The Doctor-Master, Doctor Sawyer, and an unidentified human all remain tethered to the cord trailing behind this vessel.

CHRIS:
You mean they made it? We pulled them out of that thing like the flags of all nations out of a magician’s sleeve?

I rewrote pretty much all of this, getting it down to a couple of lines. It’s one of those traps you can fall into, of having the characters discuss stuff that the audience already knows:

35. INT. SPACECRAFT.

(FX: ALIEN AMBIENCE. ECHO OF DRIPPING WATER. ORGANIC PULSE. NEEDS TO BE DISTINCTIVE FROM ‘CONTROL ROOM’)

TERRI:
(WAKING WITH A COUGH) Romana. I think we’re not dead.

ROMANA:
Yes. Cogito Ergo Sum.

TERRI:
What?

ROMANA:
If you can think, you exist.

TERRI:
Where are we? Last thing I remember, we were in the Erebus, in the airlock, filling with water. Thanks to your dog K9.

ROMANA:
Yes. But I suspect he was acting under some external influence.

TERRI:
Well, whether he was or not, he was trying to kill us.

ROMANA:
I’m not so sure. He could have let us drown in the airlock. But instead we were propelled out into the ocean.

Everything after the Doctor’s line was cut. Partly because the Doctor’s line ‘Just because something is imaginary, that doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you.’ is such a cool line to end a scene on, and also because the rest of the dialogue was over-explaining stuff that didn’t need explaining.

DOCTOR:
Oh, Jack. Just because something is imaginary, that doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you.

PATRICIA:
I don’t understand.

DOCTOR:
No, but I’m beginning to.

CHRIS:
Speaking of which, the phantoms, they’re fading away... (BEAT) They’ve gone, they’ve all gone.

DOCTOR:
The etheric disturbance must be decreasing, am I right, K9?

K9:
Affirmative. Analysis suggests it is a cyclic process.

DOCTOR:
Like a heartbeat. These mysterious phantoms must be the key to this. Ask me why I’m so sure of that.

CHRIS:
Why are you so sure?

DOCTOR:
Because that jellyfish attacked just when Jack here was beginning to tell us about them.

JACK:
Sir, you mean –

DOCTOR:
I mean it was trying to shut you up. Yes. So what precisely do you know about these phantoms?

A huge chunk was cut out of the bit where the Doctor realises the alien ship is making people more intelligent. First, this bit came after the Doctor asking Patricia and Chris a difficult sum, and kind of makes the same point all over again:

DOCTOR:
Something is enhancing your mental faculties. I asked you a difficult mathematical question, you answered without even thinking. Do any of you know musical notation?

JACK:
I do sir, I used to play a bit of trumpet, in the mess.

(FX: DOCTOR GIVES JACK PEN AND PAPER)

DOCTOR:
Here. Pen. Paper. Now, K9. Play Brandenburg concerto number five in D minor, allegro, fast as you like.

K9:
Commencing audio playback.

(FX: K9 PLAYS BACK A RECORDING OF THE BEGINNING OF THE TEN-MINUTE ALLEGRO.)

DOCTOR:
Now. Write down what you hear!

(FX: AS MUSIC PLAYS, FRANTIC SCRIBBLING)

CHRIS:
I don’t believe it, he’s writing down the music in real time.

DOCTOR:
Yes. You could probably do so too, if you put your mind to it. You might even work out how the rest of it goes, based on the underlying geometric principles. Alright K9, that’s enough. And Jack, you can stop transcribing now.

(FX: MUSIC STOPS, AS DOES SCRIBBLING)

JACK:
But... but I never knew I could that. I could hear every note in my head, how they all fitted together.

DOCTOR:
Yes. Because something has been expanding your mind! Raising you to a higher state of consciousness.

And later, from the same scene:

DOCTOR:
And if that’s what it could do starting with a primitive species just imagine what it might achieve with the human race.

PATRICIA:
Make us all musical geniuses?

DOCTOR:
Oh, more than that Patricia. You’re only beginning to feel the initial effects of your latent psychic potential being unlocked.

CHRIS:
Sorry. You’re saying something out there is making us telepathic?

DOCTOR:
And that’s just the first step... You’re developing all sorts of new abilities of which telepathy is only a part.

PATRICIA:
But why? Why would anything want to do this?

Following on, this entire scene was cut, as it basically repeats the same information all over again:

41. INT. SPACECRAFT.

TERRI:
Yes, why would it want to make us telepathic?

ROMANA:
I don’t know. Not yet. But whatever it wants, it has something to do with intelligence. It must’ve tried using the squid and found them to be insufficiently advanced.

TERRI:
So now it’s using us?

ROMANA:
Well, you. Fortunately I seem to be unaffected.

TERRI:
So that’s why K9 put us in the airlock, to send us here.

ROMANA:
Yes. This spacecraft must be programmed to seek out the most intelligent life it can find and bring it here for examination.

TERRI:
Examination?

ROMANA:
Examination – and experimentation. Hence the telepathy. And the visions you’ve experienced, they must be another aspect of the process.

TERRI:
You mean it’s trying to turn us all into super-intelligent humans?


I got the next bit down to a couple of lines:

DOCTOR:
You should be quite safe. If this thing wanted to destroy us, it would have done so already.

CHRIS:
You think it wants to keep us alive for something?

DOCTOR:
Well, it kept our friend Jack here alive for over a hundred years, didn’t it?

JACK:
Doctor. What about the goblins? Will they be back?

DOCTOR:
Very probably. They seem to be linked to the development of psychic powers, and as we’re nearer to the source, that can only serve to accelerate the process.

CHRIS:
But why? Why is this thing boosting our intelligence?

DOCTOR:
That’s what I hope to find out Come on, Patricia. (BEAT) Oh, and K9. Try not to get possessed again, could you?

K9:
(EMBARRASSED) Affirmative, master.

I cut the next bit, because as a subtle way of establishing that the Doctor is wearing a diving suit, it isn’t very subtle:

(FX: DOCTOR ADJUSTING HELMET SETTINGS)

PATRICIA:
Doctor, what are you doing?

DOCTOR:
Sorry, just checking the oxygen on my diving suit. Was I distracting you from your driving?

Amazing that the next bit was cut, I could’ve sworn it was still in the story:

DOCTOR:
A tractor beam. It must be how it pulled Terri and Romana down here.

(FX: LURCHING STOPS, WARBLING CONTINUES)

PATRICIA:
And look. There’s a hole in the side opening up.

DOCTOR:
Yes. You know, it’s probably not a good idea to mention it, but it does look remarkably like a mouth...

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED)

PATRICIA:
Chris. We’re now entering alien artefact –

CHRIS: (VIA RADIO)
Okay, I – (am monitoring the situation from here)

(FX: WHILE CHRIS IS SAYING THAT, THE RADIO BREAKS UP. AT FIRST WE CAN HEAR ODD WORDS, BUT THEN JUST STATIC.)

CHRIS: (VIA RADIO)
Hello? ...Can you read me?

I cut the next bit down to literally one line from K-9:

K9:
Warning. Amplitude of etheric disturbance increasing.

CHRIS:
It’s happening, just like before.

K9:
Suggestion. Deactivate this craft’s navigation computer.

CHRIS:
What?

K9:
It will be susceptible to external influence. Just as I was.

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED)

CHRIS:
Okay, putting it on standby. But what’s to stop you being taken over again?

K9:
This time I am not connected to this craft’s computer. My own defences are much superior.

CHRIS:
Bit sure of yourself, aren’t you? (IN PAIN) Oh my head.

JACK:
What’s the matter, sir?

CHRIS:
Headache again. Just bang out of nowhere.

K9:
Amplitude of disturbance now exceeding previous threshold.

I rather like the next bit, bit of character, bit of emotion, but when a script’s overlength you can show no mercy:

49. INT. SPACECRAFT.

ROMANA:
Terri, Terri, are you alright?

TERRI:
(RECOVERING) Yes, I think so. It still hurts behind my eyes, seeing stars and stuff, but not as bad as before.

ROMANA:
Good, I’m very glad to hear it.

TERRI:
But it’s not going to stop, is it? What’s going to happen to me? When it’s finished messing with my head, what will I have become?

ROMANA:
You’ll still be yourself. You’ll still be human.

TERRI:
You can’t be sure of that. (BEAT) Romana. I’m frightened.

ROMANA:
It’s alright. We’ll find a way out of this, I promise you.

And the next bit was cut down to a single line of explanation:

53. INT. SPACECRAFT

PATRICIA:
So that’s why it’s been keeping us alive. Because it wants to use our bodies.

DOCTOR:
Rather more than that. Terri, when the humans have been instilled with the race memory, what happens next?

TERRI:
The humans are to return to the surface, to their own kind. The race memory will then spread amongst them until it has found expression in every intelligent being on this planet.

ROMANA:
This spacecraft intends to use the whole human race to recreate a long-dead world.

DOCTOR:
Yes. And given that it can propagate itself telepathically, if any of the humans here does return to the surface, then nowhere on Earth will be safe.

The next bit... is like those Fast Show sketches where the blokes haven’t heard what the woman is saying. The Doctor is repeating Romana’s point!

TERRI:
But then we’ll all be trapped down here.

DOCTOR:
Yes. But I can’t imagine that the intelligence behind this spacecraft can be too happy about it either.

ROMANA:
The experiments. It modified Midshipman Hodges’ brain, giving him psychic abilities.

DOCTOR:
Which he is now turning against it. And that might be our only hope.

PATRICIA:
What hope?

DOCTOR:
This spacecraft has made you all into supernatural savants. It’s given you the power to be gods. If you use that power against it... we might be able to override its programming.

After a fair bit of the characters repeating ‘They do not exist’ I also cut this bit:

DOCTOR:
We’ve gained the upper hand. Temporarily.

ROMANA:
Temporarily?

DOCTOR:
For as long as I keep holding onto the idea that the phantoms don’t exist. Lose that thought for a moment, one slip in concentration...

ROMANA:
And they’ll be back.

Another whole scene cut, along with the bits just before it and after it:

DOCTOR: (VIA RADIO)
Good. Romana and Terri are on their way over to you in the mini-sub. Look after them. Over.

CHRIS:
But what about you? Doctor? Doctor?

(FX: RADIO HAS BEEN SWITCHED OFF)

CHRIS:
So they’ve done it? They’ve defeated this spacecraft thing?

K9:
Negative. Alien spacecraft still active and amplitude of psychic disturbance continuing to increase.

CHRIS:
What? You mean... it’s fighting back?

61. INT. MINI-SUB.

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED)

TERRI:
We did it. We got out of the spacecraft!

ROMANA:
We’re not home and dry yet.

TERRI:
Well, I know, but –

ROMANA:
Just take us back to the Erebus.

(FX: BUTTONS PRESSED)

TERRI:
Okay. Heading for the docking bay.

62. INT. CONTROL ROOM.

CHRIS:
They made it. Doctor, Patricia. I don’t know if you can hear me, but the mini-sub’s on its way back.

JACK:
(WAKING) What’s happening... what’s happening?

CHRIS:
Long story, Jack.

JACK:
But the goblins, they were here.

I cut the next bit down to two lines. I think all this cutting is why part two is so fast-paced and exciting! Nothing wrong with a bit of writerly discipline!

64. INT. SPACECRAFT.

CHRIS: (VIA RADIO)
The vampire squid, it’s heading straight for the mini-sub.

DOCTOR:
It’s being controlled by this spacecraft. I think it’s out for revenge.

PATRICIA:
Revenge?

DOCTOR:
If it can prevent any of us getting away and raising the alarm, it can wait for more humans to arrive.

PATRICIA:
Then we have to destroy it. Stop it forever.

DOCTOR:
Yes. The attack on the mini-sub is an attempt to distract us, it must be getting desperate.

The next bit was cut down as I’d established the hole in the floor earlier in the script so it didn’t need mentioning again:

PATRICIA:
I think it’s working.

DOCTOR:
Yes. It’s been down here a long time, it’s been going soft. Patricia. It’s time for you to go.

PATRICIA:
What?

DOCTOR:
The hole in the floor leads to the outside of this craft. I’ll be able to keep it open long enough for you to swim clear.

The next speech was cut down to reduce a national run on sick bags:

PATRICIA:
That’s an order, Doctor. (BEAT) The ocean has been my whole life. It has given me so much, brought me so much joy, shown me so many wonders. Do you know why we were down here, Doctor?

 As you may have spotted earlier on, I have a bad habit of using the phrase ‘There’s no time to lose’ in a script. It’s a placeholder for a proper line!

TERRI:
Opening airlock. And in he goes.

ROMANA:
He’s going to need help decompressing. Chris, do you have resuscitation equipment?

CHRIS:
Yes, in the medi-bay.

ROMANA:
Bring it to the airlock. There’s no time to lose.

As I’d cut the bit about Bach earlier, this silly joke now had to go too, which is probably a good thing:

DOCTOR:
No. Should fade in a couple of hours, if not sooner. I should make the most of it while you can. K9?

K9:
Yes, master?

DOCTOR:
That tune you were playing earlier. Play it again, K9.

And finally, the final scene. Much of this stayed the same in the final draft, but I lost K9’s line, which is only there because of the grammar of establishing he is present in the scene:

75. EXT. SHIP DECK.

(FX: WE’RE OUTDOORS AT SEA. WIND, GULLS, CREAK OF SHIP.)

CHRIS:
Here you are, Doctor. Your ‘TARDIS’! All safe and sound.

(FX: DOCTOR PATS THE SIDE)

DOCTOR:
Ah, old girl. Did the rough sailors look after you?

ROMANA:
I shouldn’t worry. It is practically indestructible.

TERRI:
Well, if it withstand being at the bottom of the ocean, I suppose it can probably cope with anything.

K9:
Logical supposition incorrect. There are conditions in the universe much more extreme than those at the bottom of the Terran ocean.

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