The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Girls Of Amsterdam

Happy new year, dear reader. As you can see, updating my blog more frequently has not been one of my new year’s resolutions. I haven’t done any news years’ resolutions because, basically, I got everything right in 2015 and see no room for improvement.

Anyway, stuff to plug! First off, I must implore you all to rush out and buy the latest Doctor Who Magazine as it contains two things by me; firstly, a ‘Fact of Fiction’ on the classic 1974 tale Death to the Daleks and secondly an appreciation of the classic 1968 tale The Wheel in Space.

Doing the ‘Fact of Fiction’ on Death to the Daleks was great fun, because I love the story, it’s pretty robust plot-wise as you would expect from Terries Dicks and Nation, and (I hope) I managed to find out some interesting new stuff about it. Doing these features involves what I believe proper academics call ‘close reading’ – looking at a camera script and working out what is implied by things like missing pages, mis-numbered scenes, different typefaces, handwritten notes and so on. And with each ‘Fact of Fiction’ I set myself a little challenge – in the past I’ve tried to identify stock footage of rocket launches and so on – and for Death to the Daleks my challenge was to identify the Peruvian temple that Terry Nation was referring to in part three. It’s a combination of two – one of them is this one which I trust you’ll agree looks a bit like the Exxilon city.

I’m also quite proud of my guesses as to possible sources of the names Railton and Parrinium – and for hopefully laying the ‘Doctor Who and the Exilons’ myth to rest. I have a couple more 'Fact of Fiction's in the pipeline, so keep buying the magazine.

With The Wheel in Space article I came up against an unusual challenge. When I was asked ‘Which story would you like to write about’, I suggested The Wheel in Space because I have lots of interesting opinions about it. But then, in preparation for writing the article, I checked to see what I’d written about it before in the Second Doctor Missing Episodes special – and there were all the interesting opinions I was going to write about! So I had to come up with more interesting opinions about The Wheel in Space, which fortunately is not difficult as it is ceaselessly fascinating. Initially I had planned to do 2000 words just on the opening episode but didn’t quite manage it.

So there you go. People have said kind words about both features so it looks like I’ve got away with it again.

What else? Well, I’ve a few Big Finish releases coming up. February will see the release of the third series of Vienna, which I script-edited and fiddled about with, which consists of three terrific stories by Ian Potter, Guy Adams and Steve Lyons. Lots of weird and wonderful alien worlds and mind-boggling sci-fi concepts and action and adventure. You can order it here – it’s probably worth it just for the cover:

You can also listen to the trailer here.

March will see the release of Doctor Who: The Paradox Planet, starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, Tom Chadbon and Simon Rouse amongst others. I shall plug it at greater length nearer the time but suffice it to say I am extremely proud of it, it was a thrill to do, to have an opportunity to pay tribute to Tom, Lalla, Graham Williams and particularly Douglas Adams, and when I listened to the trailer (which can be found here) I was immediately carried back to the autumn of 1979 and could visualise the sets, costumes and special effects. You can pre-order it here (you’ll need to pre-order Legacy of Death too, as that’s the second half of the story).

Most importantly, sometime later this month my next Doctor Who audio adventure by Big Finish will be released. This is The Waters of Amsterdam, featuring everyone’s favourite fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, along with his companions Tegan and Nyssa. I’ve heard the first episode and director Jamie Anderson has done a terrific job with it, he’s got the tone just right – it has a sort of lightness of touch to it, to give the characters and emotion a chance to breathe. Story-wise it’s a bit of a departure, I hope, something a bit different, because although there are alien monsters and time travel and stuff, I think the story’s structure has a (deliberately) unusual shape and the emphasis is much more on the characters’ relationships and emotional journeys. I mean, it’s lovely to do stories that open with episodes of the Doctor and his friends exploring a deserted spaceship, I’ve done a few of those in my time, but it’s just as lovely, every now and then, to tell a story which doesn’t do what people expect, which veers off at hopefully unexpected tangents. And I’m particularly proud of some of the scenes later on with Rembrandt, hopefully I will do him justice, I look forward to hearing the rest of it!

The other thing that cannot be emphasized too strongly is this; Don’t worry, it will fit in with Omega and The Burning Prince and The Elite. I even sent the script to Nev Fountain to check! Although it’s never actually stated anywhere that Omega takes place shortly after Arc of Infinity, that’s what everyone thinks because of the production code it was given, so I have respected that. It all fits, I appreciate how important that is!

So, please buy it, you can order it here and listen to the trailer here.

One other thing I should mention is that I’ve been working on the Doctor Who: The Complete History partworks, providing new synopses for all the different stories. Which has been more interesting than you may think – there’s a hell of a lot of discipline in boiling down each episode to just 300 words, and in the process I find I often come away with a new-found appreciation of just how clever some stories are – The Day of the Doctor, for instance – while sometimes I discover that stories I had previously admired fall apart when you subject them to close scrutiny (I’m not saying which ones).

The books themselves are truly stunning, absolutely magnificent and quite definitive, so I thoroughly you recommend you avail yourself of them here.

It’s a little odd for me, plugging these articles and stories, partly because I wrote the Tom and Lalla stories quite a while ago – in June 2013 – and partly because all this stuff is, for me, a fun sideline, as my focus is on my other main writing project which is, for the moment, not something I want to talk about. When and if I have anything to tell you, I shall be tweeting about it from the rooftops. But rest assured, I am doing other stuff!

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