Sunday, March 11, 2007

How Write Really Bad Doctor Who

By Youth of Australia.
Who learned it the hard way.

  1. The story is a rip-off of a previously made story. It might also be a sequel to one that doesn't need it, but is there simply because the sets/costumes are still around. If so, none of the characters are to do much after the initial "Doctor, you've come back!" scene, and should have no relevence to plot other than standing in the background looking stupidly. This also applies if the setting/characters are different but the story resurrects a villain better left dead/in jail/reformed. The villain will have learned no lesson from the previous story, which this one should contradict. Ideally any contradictions will be noted in the dialogue and given the flimsiest of resolutions ('oh, he was lying') and at its best these resolutions should contradict the original and the one we're currently in.
  2. Too many episodes, leading to padding. This padding will not be any character work, but merely arguments and scenarios repeated with slightly different variations. A scenario which might have worked the first time is repeated again and again (like a countdown, for example) which leads to identical cliffhangers. For the truly bad story, the first time the cliffhanger is used we discover that there was never any real danger, but in the repeat the universe is going to explode.
  3. Have the universe about to explode. It's very rare to have the universe in danger, because it's such a whacking great concept no human mind can comprehend. At no point have the danger in the
    immediate frame of reference or threatening any characters we might care about. To double-check, make sure all the characters are either unlikeable, boring, not real and perhaps all three. Nevertheless,
    the Doctor somehow gives a crap about them for reasons not disclosed.
  4. Characterization. Have all the regulars act like morons, or at least wildly out of character with no alien mind probes or anything to justify their stupid behavior. Have them leap wildly to conclusions that, defying all reason, turn out to be correct. Make sure that under no circumstances they work out this conclusion from facts at their disposal, but either use spurious instinct or have some local wander in, tell them the plot, and wander off again. This leads to:
  5. Body count. As RTD noted, more people die in Doctor Who than Six Feet Under. So, have all the guest cast dead by the end of the episode. Make sure the massacres both mix with generic canon fodder and also people who might get to know. On no accounts are their deaths to have any meaning (such as noble self sacrifice, revenge killings). They just drop dead. A few of them might have some ludicrous plan but die well before they even get a chance to carry it out. The rules of dramatic grammer (the leader is the last one to die) can be adhered to only if they give a self-justifying speech long enough to have finished their job, but instead allowing the villain to kill them. Otherwise, kill all the characters we know (if not like) right away and then have silent extras massacred. On no account are we to give a rat's arse about their welfare, or even be given an attempt to try.
  6. Villains. If not established ones being badly written, have a badly-written original character who couldn't hold a torch to the original (the ultimate example is the Borad instead of Davros). Their plans must not make any sense and be utterly pathetic. They should have numerous schemes running at once (the stages of which will provide those cliffhangers), and these plans should if they succeed or fail, compromise or render impossible the man plan. The villain should also lust after the Doctor's companion, trick them into betraying the Doctor and then the villain should gloat over this. The companion must not be clever enough to talk their way around the villain, despite the villain being so stupid he is baffled at the concept of shoes. The Doctor should only get one scene with the villain and maybe not even kill him. The Doctor will not make any judgement on the villain, just try and stop him. For the extra touch of class, have the Doctor reveal that he fears this villain's potential to conquer the universe, and has not been this afraid ever before.
  7. Setting. The story should shift between settings that have absolutely no relation to each other, be dull to look at and have no emotional connection to he viewer. Start the episode in one location that will never be visited again, thus wasting the first episode and meaning the second needs a new set of introductions and the like. Whenever the plot seems to progress (they're tricky little buggers, so keep an eye on them) move to another unrelated setting long enough to establish its location, then return to the main action in time for a cliffhanger.
  8. Monsters. These should not be scary even on an intellectual level. They should ridiculous, and also be physically incapable of running down corridors to catch their prey. They should have no real desire to do so. Anyone they kill should be done with cheap laser beams (for example the guns in Ressurection of the Daleks, where the pistols flash with dubbed on noises). Ideally these weapons should stun, wound, inflict pain and be harmless completely at random. They have an easy weakness the viewer should recognize around fifty minutes before the Doctor, and three hours before anyone exploits it. The villain should consider the monsters utterly expendable, leading to more padding as they are slaughtered. See 3). They regularly burst in as cliffhanger moments. The companion is terrified of them.
  9. The Doctor's involvement. The Doctor should appear for most of the story, meaning any other characters are sidelined. However, this does not mean the Doctor should have a role in the plot. He should be arrogant, objectionable, rude to his companions, have no sense of humor (or just telling bad jokes), and consider wholesale slaughter a worthy price to pay for victory. He must make moralistic speeches once an episode and definitely be the only one who needs to hear them. He should spend around 78% of the story in the TARDIS and most of that BEFORE he leaves first leaves it to join the main story. Have him locked up/fleeing through the sets for the remainder of the story, and only meet the villain once. The Doctor should not defeat the villain or set about his downfall, merely press a button that luckily blows up the base and everything in it before some more breakneck running back to the TARDIS. See 3). The Doctor will either leave without saying goodbye or say goodbye long enough to register the lives he has ruined but refuses to stick around and help. He should continually bore people with all the historical figures he has met and stole ideas from, and have no imagination of his own.
  10. The Ending. Have the main setting explode. Don't worry if we don't see all the characters escape or die or even wobble as a thirty megaton nuclear blast hits them. Just ignore it. Don't have anyone summarize the end (or explain why it is a happy ending) more than 'it's over'. For good measure, have angst displayed for all the wrong reasons by the main cast, with a cheap message that this reflects a contemporary situation on Earth and humanity must stop or else. Anyone who sees the TARDIS take off must not mention it, question it or even react to it but make a stupid expression.
  11. The music. Must be performed by a schizophrenic baboon in a straight jacket headbutting a Yamaha organ. Add elements of the theme music to this. Always make sure incidental music is impossible to tell from background sound effects and is always inappropriate to the imagery (the master is Death to the Daleks, even with its quite good tunes).
  12. Adam Rickitt. If he is appearing in the story, in particular as amateur Ben Chatham, ignore the previous instructions as you don't need teaching. Just up the death toll and make sure that no one bar Rose is a woman in the story.
  13. Casting. The regulars must have no interest in the story, the script or the ideas and preferably be told they're rehearsing rather than a take. The villain should be cast by someone who looked good on their photo but hasn't played anyone bar benevolent uncles or extras. For extra points, make sure they have a bladder problem and then bar the toilet door. The guest cast should never look each other in the eye, should speak in monotones, have conflicted and exaggerated accents, and also one of them should be better at acting and on the eye than the companion. This character should even ask to become a companion, but die, fall in love, or just wander off bored before the end.
  14. For the true master of disaster, just film one of Terrance Dicks' original novels. Have the Doctor not live by his wits but simply pretend to be someone important and indulge himself, hanging around the most
    despicable of history's war mongers and pretend to be a warlock. Include at least one scene where the Doctor and companion drink champagne as innocents suffer in the background, and have them remark upon this before changing the subject. They should travel throughout history with the TARDIS as no more than a taxi which the Doctor will on occasion cause to disappear via a pocket watch. Any historical characters should appear, have the Doctor recite their CV, and vanish. Have Gallifrey, Time Lords, Drashigs, Vampires, Players and the War Lords appear. Not for any reason, just do so. They don't need any motivation, just repeat their modus operandi in a horrified voice. This story should contradict as many stories as possible, and feature an internal flaw so massive, so merciless THAT
    (Warmonger's the Doctor travelling back to Gallifrey before he was born, only for Dicks to forget this three pages later). Have the companion continually threatened with rape. Suggest that, in small doeses, rape is not half as bad as the media suggests. Have companions try and seduce the Doctor while drunk. If a Sontaran appears, it must note that the Doctor's companions'
    thorax is of finer construction than the average male. This is an unbreakable rule. The Doctor must be written as Jon Pertwee in The Mutants and the companion be pretty (dumb).
  15. For guaranteed success, get Eric Saward to write it and tell him he has free reign.

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