A few minutes ago, I finished watching the final episode in this season’s Doctor Who, starring Matt Smith. A satisfying and clever end to a great story.
The show is an interesting one from a dramatic standpoint: good fiction will usually chart the journey of a character along a line describing his development. There should be a fundamental, irreversible change between the character at the beginning of the story and the character at the end. This does not work for the Doctor. How do writers get around this? They subject his companions to peril; and they have his companions undergo ‘growth’ on his behalf.
Not only this, but the stories often struggle with the problem of the ‘deus ex machina’ — solutions to story problems that arrive seemingly from outside the story itself. In today’s episode, it turns out that a prison box happened to have the ability to recreate the entire universe. As did the brain of the Doctor’s assistant, Amy Pond. This happens rather too much, but, interestingly, does not appear to wound the story fatally. Indeed, these interventions have almost become a trademark of the show.
It’s also interesting to compare my own guesses about the direction of the show, pre-broadcast, to how the show turned out. This is fairly straightforward because I wrote a speculative script in January. Overall: pretty much on the money with regards Amy’s impending marriage and the romantic relationship between her and the Doctor; and wide of the mark in terms of her profession, which turned out to be a kissogram rather than a police officer (got that from a leaked set photo). Writing the script was an enjoyable exercise, but something I probably won’t come back to, given that the plot of my story was very similar to The Beast Below.
DOCTOR WHO AND THE DIAMONDS OF BLOOD
1 EXT. SPACE
FX: THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Bang! The sun is a brilliant, white orb. We drift back and the sun dims. The EARTH swooshes past. The sun: dimmer and dimmer. We pass JUPITER, SATURN, URANUS until we slow down on the looming, majestic, black disc of PLUTO. It is no brighter than a tombstone on a moonlit night.
A series of SHOTS, over which we hear the NARRATOR; an old man, tired.
FX: SHOT ONE (PLUTONIAN MOUNTAINS)
FX: SHOT TWO (PLUTONIAN PLAINS)
FX: SHOT THREE (PLUTONIAN PLAINS 2)
I am one of the ancients, born in the fires that marked Creation, to die alone in the ice cold darkness at the end of all things. I wander from galaxy to galaxy, from star to star. I am the last of my kind.
2 EXT. ICY PLAIN ON PLUTO
NB All scenes on PLUTO take place at NIGHT.
FX: A BLACK PLAIN, WITH HINTS OF ROCK LIT BY MOONLIGHT. WE CAN’T SEE ANY STARS.
IN LONG SHOT ON THIS PLAIN: THE TARDIS MATERIALISES.
The WHITE LIGHT atop THE TARDIS throws a pale, steadily illumination for a few metres around it. We cannot, however, see behind the TARDIS yet.
HOLD on THE TARDIS for a BEAT.
THE TARDIS opens. Softly.
THE DOCTOR steps out. He looks mischievous, as though on the verge of a prank.
He walks onto the surface of PLUTO. His steps are comic tip-toes.
We see AMY standing at the door to THE TARDIS, smiling.
THE DOCTOR turns to her. He puts a finger to his LIPS.
THE DOCTOR removes A PIN from his pocket.
He holds it up to the light. Lets it scintillate.
He drops the PIN.
We’ve got the whole planet to ourselves?
AMY leaves THE TARDIS.
It’s not actually a planet. More of a planetoid. Or a big, inhospitable -
Wait — we’re not going to suffocate, are we?
The TARDIS is projecting an envelope of oxygen, nitrogen, and so on; the usual suspects. Fresh as an alpine meadow. Minus the cow pats, of course. That would be taking verisimilitude too far.
What should I be wearing?
THE DOCTOR has his back to AMY. She can’t see as he produces NOT JUST ANY POCKET WATCH with a GLOWING DIAL.
(looks at the watch)
AD 13 times 10 to the 4th?
It’s a date.
What? This? Now?
Of course. It wouldn’t be a date otherwise.
Well, I had no idea. You should have said earlier, in the TARDIS.
Why would I? It wasn’t AD 13 times 10 to the 4th then.
You are so alien.
AMY walks across the surface of PLUTO away, casting her eyes about.
So we’ve got a whole planet to ourselves?
It’s not a -
Whatever it is, it’s dark.
Not much sunshine this far out. Plenty of peace and quiet, though. Over-rated, I feel. Give me a kerfuffle any day of the week. Even malarkey. At shenanigins, I draw the line, obviously, like any sensible person.
THE DOCTOR crouches to pick up the PIN. Something captures his attention on the ground.
AMY, absorbed by her own thoughts, looks up at the black sky.
THE DOCTOR’S POV: Lying on the surface are several DIAMONDS. He puts one in his mouth and bites.
Diamonds? Well, that’s not right, is it?
Doctor, where are the stars?
Hmm? Directly above your head, I shouldn’t wonder. No light pollution on Pluto. Prepare yourself for the most beautiful -
THE DOCTOR looks up.
There’s nothing there. Just BLACKNESS.
Doctor, I think we’re being watched.
Amy, I can assure you that there is nothing on this — well, to use the original Greek for the wrong term — this ‘wanderer’, apart from ourselves, the TARDIS -
In an INSTANT, the entire PLAIN is illuminated in a hellish red light.
FX: We look up to see the underside of a HUGE, SPHERICAL SPACESHIP. It’s convex base is about the size of the Millennium Dome. Unlike the Dome, it has a CIRCULAR HOLE in the middle. This is where the light comes from. The SPACESHIP has massive legs like a NASA lunar lander.
– and a very large, flashing, not to say winking and blinking, spaceship.
THE DOCTOR — still crouching — looks at AMY.
HIS POV: THE TARDIS is, we now see, perched on the EDGE of a MASSIVE SHAFT that has been sunk into the PLAIN. The OPENING is identical in size and shape to the HOLE in the base of the SPACESHIP.
Of course, a spaceship on Pluto — that’s not unusual. Improbable, but not unusual. The real question is this.
He holds up a DIAMOND.
Blimey, you’re a fast mover for a nine-hundred-year-old.
THE DOCTOR looks at AMY, looks at the DIAMOND, looks DOWN — and realises that this might be creating the wrong impression.
AMY looks at him. Is he serious?
Ah, no. Listen. Me? No, no. Now look -
As the dialgoue continues, their voices are drowned out by a RUMBLE that transforms into a DEAFENING ROAR, which builds as they talk:
– this is very nice and everything, and you’re probably a great catch for a special lady who is, well, alien and…and likes to travel! Or even settle down and have…something with tentacles -
– I didn’t mean that, I just meant there shouldn’t be any of these diamonds on Pluto, that’s all, for the love of Omega. I’m technically married to a sacred hand puppet on Ragaloos Six, anyway -
Suddenly, the GROUND begins to SHAKE.
PRAC: DUST ROLLS.
THE DOCTOR and AMY fall properly to the ground and reach for each other.
PRAC: PIECES OF THE SPHERICAL SHIP — WIRING, A METAL PANEL — CLANG TO THE GROUND AROUND THEM.
Back! To! The TARDIS!
AMY, holding her ears, nods.
THEIR POV: The TARDIS.
They crawl along the ground.
REVERSE: Closer, closer to the TARDIS.
THEIR POV: THE TARDIS teeters on the edge of the ABYSS, then tips in!
THE DOCTOR and AMY look on in horror.
The TARDIS is indestructible, correct? You’re always saying that.
Yes, I am, aren’t I?
The PLUTOQUAKE stops.
THE DOCTOR stands up, pulling AMY upright too.
He turns on his heel and walks away from the HOLE.
What about the TARDIS?
What about her?
Can’t you just fish it out with it your sonic screwdriver or something?
THE DOCTOR stops.
Fish her out with my sonic screwdriver?
It, her. I’m just…throwing out some ideas.
Fish her out?
You’re the one who brought me here to what should have been the most serene, far-away, quiet place in the universe but turns out, by the way, to be the loudest, scariest, reddest, bizarre alien courtship ritual -
You see that big hole in the spaceship?
I only said ‘fish it out’.
It’s a ‘laser’. It hasn’t started yet. This -
(points upwards without looking)
– is the pre-laser scanner that looks for weaknesses in the rock before blasting it to pieces and since I’m sorry to say that my Nivea Factor Sixty is in the TARDIS, which is at the bottom of that shaft, I would very much like to watch the show from over that rise where viewing will not be interrupted by such trivial inconveniences as the both of us exploding into puffs of mostly carbon.
AMY allows herself, frostily, to be tugged along.
’Fish it out.’
AMY looks wounded. Then -
PRAC: AMY’S FEET RISE FROM THE GROUND, PEDALING.
PRAC: AMY REACHING DOWN FOR THE DOCTOR.
PRAC: HE CLASPS HER HAND; FLOATS UP ALONGSIDE HER.
You’re the expert.
You mean we’re being fished-?
Very very probably. Hold on.
THE DOCTOR and AMY cling to each other as they waltz up into the belly of the SPACESHIP.
CUT TO TITLES