The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 7 August 2017

How To Be Invisible

Well, having spent most of this afternoon writing, rewriting and then cutting various scenes from a script, I thought, hello, why not another trip to see what I can pull from the Deleted Scenes skip? So this time it’s Deleted Scenes from Doctor Who: The Last of the Colophon, released way back in 2014.


(I wrote previously about the story here, there’s a trailer here, an associated sketch here, and a blog about its scientific accuracy here. It can also still be ordered here. As usual, these deleted scenes will constitute ‘spoilers’ so do not continue if you haven’t heard the story).

To  begin with, both of my first drafts were a couple of thousand words too long. So, before I even showed the script to anyone else, I cut out a fair amount of stuff. These are the biggest parts I cut (literally dozens, if not hundreds, of small bits, odd lines were cut).

From part one:

(FX: INSTRUMENTS BLEEP. KEYBOARD TAPPED. ENGINES RUMBLE AS SHIP DECELERATES.)

KELLAWAY:
Approaching planet fifteen. Distance point one solar units.

HARDWICK:
Take us in closer. I want to take a good, long look.

(FX: KEYBOARD TAPPED)

KELLAWAY:
Stabilising in super-synchronous orbit, at a distance of (READS) Point oh-one solar units. Now in visual range.

(FX: SCANNER ACTIVATED)

SUTTON:
Whoa, we’ve struck the mother-lode with this one. Another lifeless grey rock.

HARDWICK:
We can’t be sure of that. Commence spectroscopic scan.

(FX: KEYBOARD TAPPED)

KELLAWAY:
Commencing scan.

SUTTON:
It’s as dead as our prospects of getting a productivity bonus. Helmet to a halfpenny, there’s nothing down there bigger than a sand-roach.

Deleting stuff mainly cos, you know, it’s explaining stuff that doesn’t need explaining.

HARDWICK:
Ideal conditions for the emergence of life.

SUTTON:
Yeah. Unless it’s been sterilised by ultra-violet rays.

(FX: KEYBOARD TAPPED)

KELLAWAY:
No, I’m not detecting significant levels of electromagnetic radiation.

Again, too much explaining.

LEELA:
Where are we, anyway?

DOCTOR: (INSIDE TARDIS)
(CALLS) What?

LEELA:
(CALLS) Where are we?

(FX: DOCTOR EMERGES WITH CLANKING TENT-POLES, CLOSES DOOR.)

DOCTOR:
Not sure. Bit off the beaten track, not listed in any of the major tourist brochures.

Irrelevant.

MORAX:
They have disembarked from the spacecraft?

COMPUTER:
Negative. The spacecraft has not yet come to ground.

MORAX:
Interesting. You spend a thousand years waiting for a single alien visitor, and then two come along at once!

Too much explanation again!

COMPUTER:
The spacecraft has now landed.

MORAX:
And the two life forms?

COMPUTER:
They are approaching it through the remains of the city.

(FX: DOOR OPENS)

TORVIK:
Morax. What are you doing?

Telling the listener things they already know.

TORVIK:
They will not discover anything. They will leave soon enough.

MORAX:
What? But they can’t. They can’t!

TORVIK:
Do not indulge any fantasies of rescue, Morax. This citadel is shielded. They will not be able to detect your presence.

MORAX:
I beg you, have mercy. After being alone, for all these centuries...

TORVIK:
You will be alone for many more. No-one will ever find you. Ever.

Basically repeating stuff.

HARDWICK:
I am Chief Surveyor Hardwick. This is my Deputy Sutton, and our pilot, Kellaway.

DOCTOR:
Look, do you mind not pointing your guns at us. We are, as you can see, unarmed. In fact, you could say we were mostly armless

Not a classic gag.

KELLAWAY:
Chief Surveyor, it might just be a glitch, but I’m picking up an energy trace.

HARDWICK:
From the ship belonging to these two?

KELLAWAY:
No, it’s a repeating pattern. Like a distress signal.

(FX: WE HEAR THE DISTRESS SIGNAL FROM SCENE 7, VIA RADIO.)

DOCTOR:
It seems we are not alone on this planet.

SUTTON:
Not necessarily. It could be computer-controlled.

HARDWICK:
Kellaway, can you get a fix on the source?

Too many explanations!

COMPUTER:
Iso-locking controls.

MORAX:
You think that will be enough to stop me?

TORVIK:
Your nervous system has become severely compromised over the years, Morax. Were it not for a constant supply of analgesic medication you would be condemned to a state of perpetual physical agony.

MORAX:
No, Nurse Torvik, I beg you, have some pity –

TORVIK:
As a punishment for your treachery, you will be denied medication for the period of one hour.

Exposition of the ‘As you know...’ school of writing.

LEELA:
What is it that you do? Why have you come to ‘survey’ this planet?

SUTTON:
This stellar neighbourhood was recently purchased by the third imperial conglomerate.

Pity I cut this, but worldbuilding colour is disposable.

HARDWICK:
You know how to open it?

DOCTOR:
Oh yes. It’s perfectly elementary. But I strongly advise against it.

HARDWICK:
Oh, do you?

DOCTOR:
Someone has clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to prevent anyone from knocking, and in my experience, it’s usually best not to go where one is not wanted.

SUTTON:
Someone has also told us how to open the door so they can’t want us to stay out that much.

DOCTOR:
Ah, yes, but only I can interpret those instructions, and I’m not going to tell you what they are.

HARDWICK:
Oh no?

DOCTOR:
No. Like I said. Someone doesn’t want to be disturbed and I think we should respect their wishes.

Labouring the point.

TARVIK:
I have come to see whether you are willing to co-operate.

MORAX:
Of course. And besides, now you have iso-locked the controls, I am quite powerless.

TARVIK:
I must have your word.

MORAX:
I cannot bear it any longer, the agony is too great. I will do anything you want. Please, just give me my medication.

TARVIK:
Very well. Hold out your arm.

(FX: MEDICAL DEVICE INJECTION, PNEUMATIC WHOOSH.)

MORAX:
(PAIN RELIEF) Ah. Thank you. Thank you... (LAUGHS)

TARVIK:
What is amusing you?

Doesn’t add much to the scene, does it?

HARDWICK:
Alright, Doctor, Leela. If you’d be so kind as to walk ahead of us?

DOCTOR:
With a gun pointed at our backs, you’re not giving us a great deal of choice.

Bit clunky, even by my standards.

(FX: FOOTSTEPS ON ECHOING METAL)

LEELA:
Doctor, I think my eyes are adjusting to the dark. It is a tunnel. The walls, they glow like the fungi of the forest.

DOCTOR:
Chemiluminescence. Must’ve been activated automatically when we entered. At least we’ll be able to see where we’re going.

I doubt anyone was ever going to wonder where the light was coming from. But I had thought it all through!

SUTTON:
Apart from you.

MORAX:
I sealed myself into this citadel so that I might conduct research into the nature of the disease. You are standing in my laboratory.

LEELA:
But you found a cure. You are alive.

Surprisingly unessential.

DOCTOR:
Doesn’t look like anyone’s been in here for a while. (BLOWS AWAY DUST) Still, so as long as the radio works, it doesn’t matter how dusty it is.

‘Controls encased in dust’, bit naff.

HARDWICK:
We have to get out of here first.

MORAX:
We will. Tell me about your world, Chief Surveyor.

HARDWICK:
The third imperial conglomerate covers many systems, not just single worlds. The empire stretches half-way across the galaxy.

MORAX:
An empire? Fascinating. Tell me more.

Worldbuilding colour, disposable.

MORAX:
Genius, Nurse Tarvik? You flatter me.

HARDWICK:
Who are you talking to?

LEELA:
I think he is listening to someone else through the air. See. He has a metal box on the side of his head.

The listeners would have worked this out.

DOCTOR:
They chose extinction over tyranny.

TARVIK:
They decided that if Morax wanted to be the last of the Colophon, they would grant him his wish.

He said it! He said the title of the thing!
DOCTOR:
I see. Sentenced to life. Eternal life.

SUTTON:
Eternal agony.

TARVIK:
He destroyed his own race. He showed them no mercy. So now you see, Doctor, why I cannot permit him to escape.

Labouring the point/repeating information.

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
Ah, been eavesdropping have you, Morax? Were your ears burning?

MORAX:
Contact the ship and instruct the pilot how to open the door to the citadel. And then we can all leave.

DOCTOR: (VIA MONITOR)
And if I don’t?

MORAX:
You wish to be trapped here?

DOCTOR:
No, but I don’t particularly want to set a genocidal maniac loose on the universe either.

MORAX: (VIA MONITOR)
You would condemn yourself and the others to a lifetime in captivity?

Morax’s dialogue getting a bit too rhetorical!

MORAX:
On the contrary. I am in perfect health.

(FX: REMOVING STRAPS)

MORAX:
I was not strapped into this chair because I could not move. I was strapped into this chair to prevent me from moving.

This is quite a nice line but I’m not sure, in the cold light of day, it makes sense.

And from part two...

MORAX:
Keep talking, girl. Keep talking.

LEELA:
Because that is the only way you know where I am. I know that to see, the light must touch the backs of your eyes. But the light passes through your eyes - and so you see nothing.

MORAX:
You are correct. It is the one limitation of my condition

Leela giving us the ‘science bit’ there. I was worrying far too much about how to make invisibility plausible. Glad I cut this!

MORAX:
It is too late. The Doctor has already disclosed the combination. It is only a matter of time until I have my freedom! (LAUGHS)

Characters commentating on how the story is going... never good.

SUTTON:
That robot nurse, I thought I saw her move –

TARVIK:
You have instructed an outside agency how to gain entry. The citadel must be secured. All life-forms other than the criminal Morax are to be subjected to temporary paralysis.

Get to...

TARVIK:
Escalating escape attempt protocol. All life forms other than the criminal Morax are to be terminated.

...the point!

MORAX:
And neither do I. How much more pleasurable it will be to take your life with my own bare hands.

LEELA:
That is a pleasure I will deny you. You are no hunter.

MORAX:
And you are, I suppose?

LEELA:
The children of my tribe are taught to hunt silently in the forest.

MORAX:
I am also capable of moving silently. If you only knew the number of enemies I have butchered in their sleep!

LEELA:
So you even murder like a coward. You are afraid to face your victims in death. I think that is why you have made yourself into a ghost.

MORAX:
Oh, I am no ghost, my dear. As you will soon discover - with my fingers around your throat!

Some lovely Leela lines here, maybe I shouldn’t have cut this bit.

SUTTON:
The airlock?

DOCTOR:
In a few minutes your friend Kellaway will be opening the main door. That’s where Morax will be heading. We have to make sure we get there first.

SUTTON:
What about your friend, Leela?

DOCTOR:
If that girl has any sense she’ll be heading for the airlock too. Come on!

Over-explaining again.

TARVIK:
Scanning colonnade four. No life-forms detected.

MORAX:
No. But that doesn’t mean there are no life-forms present.

TARVIK:
Morax. You are capable of independent movement?

MORAX:
Oh I am capable of so many things. All these years I have pretended to be weak and at your mercy, when I was merely biding my time. Waiting for the perfect opportunity

Clunky clunky clunky. He doesn’t need to say any of this because it’s obvious from what he does.

(FX: WHIRRING OF NEW EYES BEING ADJUSTED)

MORAX:
Invert the refractive index... and the eyes become as invisible as the rest of me. Now I can see but cannot be seen! (LAUGHS)

Again, over-thinking the ‘logic’ of how invisibility might work.

SUTTON:
One way to make sure no-one escapes alive, I suppose.

DOCTOR:
Yes. Drastic but thorough.

SUTTON:
What about your friend Leela?

DOCTOR:
If she doesn’t get here in time, I’ll go back and look for her.

SUTTON:
What? But that’s insane. You’ll die here together.

DOCTOR:
Yes, which is why I am rather –

Time-wasting...

LEELA:
I did, but I do not know where he is. He moves as silently as a shadow, he could be amongst us now.

SUTTON:
He could?

LEELA:
And he does not give up. He burns with the fire of madness.

DOCTOR:
Yes, very prettily put.

SKIN OF TEETH

This rather gives away the ‘twist’ that Morax is in the airlock with them. And I’m not keen on patting myself on my back for my own dialogue .

SUTTON:
Thank the Emperor! We made it!

KELLAWAY:
By the skin of our teeth.

LEELA:
I do not understand. Teeth do not have skin.

DOCTOR:
He means we cut it pretty fine. But we should be alright now... look!

Waaaaaffle.

LEELA:
Your people are strange, you live your lives according to numbers.

SUTTON:
That’s just the way it is, we are all servants of the great economy. So you’ll be leaving in your spaceship?

DOCTOR:
Yes, the first chance we get. On balance, I wouldn’t describe Colophos as the ideal holiday destination.

SUTTON:
Then we must say goodbye. Doctor, Leela.

More disposable worldbuilding colour. I’m not sure anyone would be that interested! I certainly wasn't!

MORAX:
Indeed. And now my vision is perfect. So be very careful, Doctor. Because your life now lies in my hands.

LEELA:
(WHISPER) I think this Morax is quite mad.

DOCTOR:
Yes, he’s clearly quite, quite mad. Or should I say transparently? But I’m not sure he started out that way.

MORAX:
I advise you not to mock me, Doctor. Your life now lies in my hands.

DOCTOR:
Before you made yourself invisible, were you a murderer? Did you go to all the trouble of discovering the secret of invisibility just so that you could be a more effective killer?

I quite like this bit but this is ‘character says the same question again’ syndrome.

And then the script went through 4 more drafts, would you believe. However, comparing the first and fifth drafts, there aren’t that many differences; some scenes are shifted around, particularly the around the end of part one, but mostly the differences are things being added rather than deleted. So only a few more deleted bits:

DOCTOR:
Because we’re on holiday, and that’s what people do when they’re on holiday.

MORAX:
I had not dared to dream of such a possibility, but now they are here, setting foot on Colophos!

Just unfunny/over-fruity lines.

DOCTOR:
Unless we don’t use a photon drive, it has been known.

SUTTON:
You couldn’t have got out this far without a photon drive.

Literally nobody listening would care about this. Over-explaining.

DOCTOR:
Or, what, you’ll count to three? I can’t bear it when people count to three, it’s so terribly melodramatic. Alright, I’ll open the door.

I like this line but the script editor probably didn’t.

DOCTOR:
The hairs of the back of my neck are standing on end, and the hairs on the back of my neck are never wrong.

Again, quite a fun line, but your mileage may vary.

DOCTOR:
Why else would whoever lives here send us instructions on how to open it rather than open it themselves?

Reads like it was translated from Albanian.

(FX: PART OF ROBOT BEING FORCED OUT)

MORAX:
Your eyes. I need your eyes! All I have to do is insert them into my own ocular sockets and – yes! I can see. I can see! (LAUGHS)

TORVIK:
Vision malfunction. Vision malfunction. (REPEATS IN B/G)

(FX: WHIRRING OF NEW EYES BEING ADJUSTED)

MORAX:
Farewell, Nurse Torvik. Your ministrations are at an end.

Not sure why this was cut. Jonny boring everyone rigid by over-thinking the science again I expect.

And that’s it. I hope reading that has lulled you into a deep and restful sleep.

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