The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed)



More deleted scenes, this time from Hothouse, released way back April 2009 and written even wayer back in April and May 2008. If you haven’t heard it, it starred Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith as the Doctor and Lucie and guest-starred Nigel Planer (!) and Lysette Anthony (!). Which are four good reasons for buying it, which you can do here.

I’ve blogged elsewhere about the story here (part one) and here (part two) and put up the synopsis of the storyline Blooming Horrible, which after four or five reworkings became Hothouse. My main memory of writing the story is that I wanted it to be an eco-thriller set a few years in the future, non-specifically inspired by a drama called Black Easter from 1995. Hothouse is sadly prescient in the same way that Black Easter is, depicting a future where Muslim refugees are desperate to enter Europe which has closed its borders, being smuggled in by criminals and sold into slavery. I also thought it would be interesting to have a villain that was an ‘eco-fascist’ – someone who wants to save the planet and is prepared to kill in order to do so. I’m not sure how effectively that came across but that’s what I was aiming for.

The problem with the play – and a fair criticism it received – was that it didn’t do much new with the Krynoid monster itself; I did try to break new ground but the modus operandi of the monster did rather predicate the plot, because you want it to do all the cool Krynoid stuff in The Seeds of Doom and to remain consistent with that story. But I think – I hope – there’s enough new stuff elsewhere in the story to make up for it. And I had fun putting in an incredibly obscure in-joke to Tom Baker’s appearance on Animal Magic and naming a character Christina Ondrak after a friend from Austria.

Anyway, deleted scenes! The following are bits that got cut from my first draft.

Originally Alex Marlow wasn’t a rock star, he was an ecologist, as Hazel explains:

HAZEL:
(EXPLANATION) Alex Marlow. Nobel prize-winning ecologist. Made a name for himself travelling the world, rescuing endangered species. Now he’s moved into politics, fronting ‘The League of Nature’. Claims he wants to save the planet.

DOCTOR:
About time somebody did. The human capacity for denial and groundless optimism...

HAZEL:
Since the tragedy in Dhaka, the group’s profile has increased dramatically. Over eighty million paid-up members. And, as far as we can gather, their subs have been pumped into this place, The Hothouse.

DOCTOR:
So you don’t think he’s using it for conservation?

HAZEL:
If he was, why keep it quiet? The guy’s not exactly a shrinking violet. But he’s been paranoid about keeping this place off the radar...

This exchange from part two was rewritten, it was a bit too formal in the first draft, though I like the ‘politically correct’ bit:

MARLOW:
Tough decisions, Doctor, tough decisions! I have no argument with the human race, but the current population just isn’t viable. I don’t want billions dying of thirst in some Malthusian catastrophe. Humanity needs to be pruned back to a... sustainable level.

DOCTOR:
You make mass genocide sound like horticulture.

MARLOW:
Similar principle. Say, a hundred million individuals...

DOCTOR:
(SARCASTIC) Right-thinking, of course.

MARLOW:
Oh, of course. (JOKING) Don’t want any riff-raff in our garden of Eden, do we? (SERIOUS) No, I was thinking more of a random cull – a life lottery, if you like - with a view to maintaining ethnic biodiversity. I’m nothing if not ‘politically correct’.

DOCTOR:
Let me get this straight. You want me to find a way of making the Krynoids remain ‘human’ - in mind, if not in body...

MARLOW:
If you could. And I’d do it soon... needn’t remind you, your friend’s life is at stake...

But apart from odd lines here and there, I didn’t cut much from the first draft; instead, the second draft was when I added all the stuff about the Doctor having become disenchanted with humanity after spending centuries with a bunch of clams in Orbis.

After that, the story went through another draft, as I hadn’t included (because I hadn’t known about) the idea that the Doctor would not remember Lucie, so they would need to regain each others’ trust. This draft wasn’t by me; it was by Alan Barnes, Nick Briggs and Barnaby Edwards. To be honest, I was grateful to be spared another round of notes, and they are all very accomplished and experienced writers who’ve written loads of great Doctor Who stories so their changes were all good ideas which I was perfectly happy to take the credit for! But even writing this I’m kind of overstating things; looking at the script now, most of the changes are to scene directions, the end script is still 95% me; the only bit that was substantially rewritten was the section where the Doctor and Hazel sneak into the base in the back of a lorry, just to make the action clearer, and the only new scene was the final scene with the Doctor and Lucie in the car. Which includes the only bit of the story that bugs me – the reference to the Eight Truths doomsday cult. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, it’s a clever bit of setting-up for a story later on in the series, it’s just because in my head Hothouse is set forty or fifty years in the future, whereas the story called The Eight Truths is set in the present day. But I don’t think anybody has ever noticed so I’m not going to complain about it either!

But then the story went through one more draft, by me! In this draft I added the element of Alex Marlow being a Sting-ish ex-rock star, to make him more interesting/distinct from Harrison Chase; I remember having fun trying to come up a plausible name for a rock band that hadn’t been used. Hence ‘The Experts’. I also added the bit about the space-time telegraph to explain why the Doctor had turned up. But again, looking through the script now, it really is just odd words and sentences here and there – just me rewriting bits of my own stuff that sounded clunky. So no deleted scenes, I'm afraid!

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