Doctor Who - Documentary s10e08 Episode Script

Perfect Scenario - Lost Frontier

COMPUTER VOICE: Source material selected.
Twentieth century classical TV.
Doctor Who, The Pertwee Years.
Frontier in Space.
Guide allocated.
Learner guide mind-bond commencing.
(COMPUTER BEEPING) Learner mind hosted.
Assembling images.
-GUIDE: Please state your name.
GUIDE: And your learning objectives.
ZED: Reasons for contemporary popularity.
GUIDE: I understand you are a Scenario Smith employed by Sea of Stories Inc.
ZED: Oh, yes.
GUIDE: Your interest comes from this? ZED: Yeah, field of dreams aren't connecting with my stuff any more, or the other Smiths, come to that.
I need ideas.
GUIDE: I doubt this text will help you there.
-Oh, why is that? -GUIDE: You will see.
You retain neural traces of the text.
What did you make of it? ZED: Six episodes of inter-planetary diplomacy and imprisonment? What's that all about? GUIDE: I do not follow.
ZED: Well, compress that into episodes one and two and you're clear for four episodes of high-intensity galactic war, which Earth wins because of its belief in God and personal freedom.
Jo gets caught by the Draconians, the Doctor gets caught by the humans and has to make sure victory doesn't happen at her expense.
Better audience appeal, higher ratings.
GUIDE: Higher ratings? This programme attracted a peak audience of 9.
1 million people when it was first transmitted.
ZED: No way.
But that's more than the population of GUIDE: I know.
ZED: Easily pleased, weren't they? Wish I had an audience like that.
GUIDE: I see.
Clearly, your work with the field of dreams has led you to an exclusive concern with the primary colours of storytelling, plot, character, spectacle.
ZED: Well, aren't they important? GUIDE: Indeed, they are central to this text but it is the centre of a web.
A web of associations radiating out from the story to the real world in which its original audience lived.
Once I have illuminated this web for you, you will understand why this text cannot inspire you as you wish.
Before we begin, the surviving records of the 20th century are not complete.
However, I believe we are able to build a representative view of the era from what survives.
How familiar are you with the life of 20th-Century Earth? -ZED: Uh, pretty familiar, I'd say.
GUIDE: Then we shall begin with a question.
What is striking about the visual appearance of the Earth of the 26th century, as depicted in our story? ZED: Well, it looks remarkably unlike the Earth of our real 26th century.
GUIDE: Indeed.
But it looks remarkably like the world of 1973, in which the programme was first transmitted.
Architecture, spaceship design, even the hairstyles of the characters, all have the look of what was once known as "The decade that taste forgot".
FEMALE COMPUTER VOICE: Loading archive interviews.
Physical Now Projection is a phenomenon widely found in 20th century visions of the future.
It's where visual aspects of the architecture or design or fashion of an era permeate the sci-fi works created in that era.
This happens for a number of reasons.
GUIDE: One of these reasons is economic.
To show, convincingly, a future Earth on the kind of budget, you know, that we've got on Doctor Who, I mean, basically you can show only a few sets.
We tried to give the broader picture by the conversations between the President of Earth and the General about the troubles all over the world, the fact that the War Party was growing, she might be deposed or voted out of office, whatever, you know.
And there's an inquiry reporting on the anti-Draconian riots in Peking last week.
The petitioners seek your support for compensation.
It's vast scope, you know.
And you're trying to do it all in a couple of rooms in Studio 1.
It's not easy.
GUIDE: Financial constraints notwithstanding, 20th century visions of the future still struggled to escape the look and feel of their own present.
Inevitably, when we tried to do things in the future, it was partly, obviously, because we were using things which didn't have to be constructed, which we could go out and buy.
But also, because the designers were there amongst the whole feeling of design of the time and no matter how much they tried to project themselves into the future.
One thing that I've always noticed, the way men's haircuts vary according to the time that they were shot.
They're supposed to be short haircuts, and it's the time of the Beatles, they'll be a damn side longer than short haircuts are now, like mine.
GUIDE: The spaceships used in Frontier In Space illustrate this phenomenon well.
Had they been designed as little as six years earlier, they would have looked quite different.
IRVINE: The designs of the spaceships, had, by the '70s, certainly gone from the sleek, um "Let's build a big V-2 rocket", as you got in Destination Moon, or something like that.
Or Conquest of Space.
In fact, there were two influences.
One, in fact, was Thunderbirds, or rather, Gerry Anderson Productions, in general.
And the other one was, of course, 2001.
Both of which were '60s.
They showed that, in fact, in deep space you don't need sleek rockets.
Why have you got sleek rockets? There's no atmosphere that you need to push through, as it were.
You can be as bits and piecey So, by the time we'd got into the '70s with Who, certainly the idea had changed around.
GUIDE: You will comprehend that visual references to the audience's real world made the fictional world of the 26th century both reassuringly familiar and intriguingly unfamiliar to them.
In these visual references, we have the first strands of our web of associations.
ZED: This idea of the audience's real world, I want to get to the bottom of this.
What does it mean? GUIDE: It means, the world outside the audience's experience of this text and others.
-ZED: And that was different, was it? -Most certainly.
GUIDE: The total union of experience and fiction which most of our fellow human beings now enjoy was in 1973, but a distant dream.
ZED: Okay.
Go on.
GUIDE: So, visual references aside, our fictional world would have felt like the world of 1973 in a more profound way.
Consider two pieces of information that are released to the audience in episode one of the story.
-Hmm, they're carrying bulk flour.
-DOCTOR: What? They're carrying a cargo of bulk flour.
And the Bureau of Population Control announced today that the recently reclaimed Arctic areas are now ready for habitation.
GUIDE: Grain, being carried to Earth from another world and a proposed habitation of what used to be known as the polar ice caps.
How would you connect to these two pieces of information? ZED: Well, how about the grain ship develops a fault on Earth entry and is going to crash into the capital city of the polar ice caps? PILOT: It's the polar ice caps.
We're going to crash! Not while there's a breath in me.
GUIDE: Please desist.
They indicate that Earth can no longer feed or accommodate its human population.
There are too many people for the planet to cope.
ZED: Mmm, that's another way of linking them, I suppose.
This was a concern at the time but, of course, it had been a concern for many, many years.
Just as now, the population was expanding exponentially.
And it's bound to run out of resources and, certainly in the '60s and the '70s, this was a big thing.
And any writer worth his salt, doing, what is, might be called, a story which has a political element in it, would be bound to bring this in.
GUIDE: The idea that basic commodities might run short under pressure from a burgeoning human population, is a current running through a number of early 1970s films and TVshows.
In our story, a galactic empire supplies the food needs of Earth.
Resources have been expanded to match human demand for them.
-Here, in our real world -ZED: The opposite has happened.
GUIDE: Quite.
ZED: So, our story's not turned out to be a very good prediction of the future.
GUIDE: Its makers did not seek to predict to the future, merely to present a plausible and interesting extrapolation from the world as it then stood.
Selective Now Stretching is where a fictional future is based on contemporary social, political or technological trends developed to an often extreme point.
As this future has recognisably grown out of the audience's own present, they are able to identify with it.
And it also gives the creators scope to say things about the present, by exaggerating certain aspects of it.
GUIDE: References to resource shortages, shows that our web of associations is partly woven from the concerns and preoccupations of the original audience's own era.
But what other aspects of the audience's present have been stretched to build our vision of the future? You will have noted that Earth is ruled by an elected President working with an elected Senate.
I can overrule you.
Only with the backing of the full Earth senate.
And do you think they will give it? GUIDE: The USA of the early 1970s was also ruled in this way, a version of what was called democracy.
Government by the people for the people.
In our story, the political system of 20th century USA stretched into the future, has triumphed over all competitors to unite mankind and take him to his destiny beyond the stars.
ZED: Fantastic.
GUIDE: But, all is not well on the planet of the free and the home of the brave.
It's a very repressive state.
It imprisons political dissenters in its lunar penal colony.
Uh, it sanctions the use of torture.
The military is unhealthily influential.
It's not a nice state.
It's rather nasty.
GUIDE: But if the concerns of the early 1970s can be found in the world of Frontier, does this suggest that democracy was seen as an oppressive system of government in that era? The view that the Western democracies were really a sham emerged in the universities of Europe and the USA in the late 1960s.
The democratic institutions were seen as a sheepskin, concealing the wolf hide of authoritarianism and repression.
You see, according to this view, the authorities only needed to be provoked to show themselves in their true colours.
And violent clashes between the authorities and student protestors in the USA in the late 1960s only reinforced this view.
The United States were thought quite capable of turning on their own people, if provoked.
GUIDE: The similarities between fiction and reality were not lost on the members of the cast.
The idea was certainly got from all the troubles and riots and things that were going on at the time.
And that would have happened in the 26th century.
This is a military situation.
We should attack now.
And I think General Williams loved it.
Because he could rule it with an iron hand.
When it failed, or started to fall apart, that's when he got very bitter and very aggressive and was determined to prove that he was right in coming down hard on anybody who disagreed with him.
GUIDE: But do the actions of General Williams and his security forces in our story intentionally reflect this radical, contemporary view of the state of the United States? It's very true that there were a lot of riots and discontent going on at the time.
A regime that starts off with good, liberal intentions may find itself forced into authoritarian actions when it is, in fact, the authority, you know.
It's a I think the good thing about it was that it was shown to be a complex issue.
It's not an easy, black-and-white kind of thing.
There was quite a lot of anti-American feeling, uh, in Britain at the time.
GUIDE: Programme producer, Barry Letts, had clear views on whose value the programme should reflect.
If a writer had come up with something which was strongly fascist or something, we'd have said, "Go and get lost.
" But if they came up with a political theme which fitted the way I and Terrance looked at things and Then I was very happy to go along with it.
GUIDE: But did UKsociety at large share his and writer Malcolm Hulke's anti-American stance? Well, there was a certain amount of anti-American feeling in the UK in the early 1970s, at the time related to the Vietnam War.
(CHUCKLING) But that was really a minority of pinko, liberal lefties who were too stupid to understand the danger we were in from the Commies.
GUIDE: We should then be wary of assuming that the values embodied in the text are, at all times, representative of its original audience.
They might more reflect the values of an influential, intellectual minority.
ZED: Okay, I have a question.
The Doctor and Jo keep getting locked up throughout the story, in prisons, cells, cages, what have you.
Is that then, a metaphor for the incarceration of the human soul within the mechanistic structures of the repressive state? GUIDE: No.
So, it's basically just padding, then? I require that you respect the text.
You might be merely symptomatic of the decline of the audio-visual arts, but that does not absolve you of the duty to seek an understanding of the achievements of our forefathers.
I hope you're not suggesting my job's not important? It's considered of vital strategic significance at exec level! I accept that the continued quiescence of the poor, benighted denizens of the field of dreams is critical to our survival.
I do not accept that that dormancy can be maintained through the tireless rehashing of exhausted storylines which characterises the work of your kind.
Yes, well, that's why I've come to you for help.
So, to answer your question Much of the dramatic tension in Frontiercomes from the fact that the people who can prevent war, because they know what's going on, the Doctor and Jo, are prevented from doing so, because they spend most of their time locked up.
GUIDE: The drama of the story then, is based on the premise that war is the worst possible outcome and must be avoided at all costs.
Naturally, this only becomes dramatic for the audience if they agree with this premise.
ZED: I think that's why I found it a bit boring.
GUIDE: War is an indulgence we can no longer afford.
So, your ignorance of it is understandable.
But memories of World War II, the contemporary Vietnam War, or the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union made it a palpable presence in the lives of our original audience.
ZED: It sounds awful.
GUIDE: Awful, yes.
For nearly half a century, the Soviet Union and the USA engaged in the Cold War, which was an unseemly mix of military posturing and political squabbling.
The problem was both sides had enough nuclear weaponry to destroy life on Earth several times over.
GUIDE: The idea that a war could be won by one side or the other in this drama, had long since disappeared from the calculations of military strategists.
The emphasis, then, was on the avoidance of war.
An imperative which the original audience would have accepted virtually without question.
ZED: Or, were they just copying the Bond film, You Only Live Twice? GUIDE: A clandestine third force seeks to provoke mutually destructive war between two super powers, hoping to fill the resulting power vacuum.
The premise is similar.
Our Who classic lacks the gritty realism and frightening plausibility of the Bond film, yet, academic debate has raged over the similarities ever since, stimulated by the ambivalent stance taken on this issue by the programme's makers.
I don't think there was ever a sort of deliberate attempt, you know, to model Doctor Who on James Bond.
I know that this has been said, you know, and it's possible that it's there, if you want to look for it or if you want to pick it up.
As far as I was concerned, no, there was never any connection between any particular Bond story and any Doctor Who story.
But, on the other hand, um, writers are very much a law unto themselves and Mac Hulke may always have thought, "Well, that's a good idea.
I'll use it.
" GUIDE: In both stories, war is finally averted when the plot is exposed.
But, whereas in the Bond story, the rival superpowers then returned to their state of cold antipathy, Frontier goes a step further.
My life at your command.
Frontier in Space, leaves us in no doubt that the way in which these two powers can learn to live together is through getting to know each other better.
We learn that this has worked in the past.
We had many years of peace.
There were trade treaties, cultural exchanges And we also learn that ignorance of Draconian culture sparks the previous Earth-Draconia war.
But why a battle cruiser? The agreement was that both ships were to be unarmed.
Naturally we sent a cruiser.
How else should a nobleman of Draconia travel? And we see signs of increasing co-operation between the two powers towards the end of the story.
-Look! -WILLIAMS: It's coming up fast.
Looks as if your friends are catching up with us.
GUIDE: In part, this difference of emphasis between Frontier and Bond reflects the development of the Detente period in East-West relations in the early 1970s.
This was about reducing tension between the two power blocks through a better understanding of each other's concerns, systems, cultures.
There is, however, another idea present in the emphasis on co-existence though mutual understanding.
My life at your command, sire.
How dare you address the Emperor in a manner reserved for a noble of Draconia? Ah, but I am a noble of Draconia.
The honour was conferred on me by the 15th Emperor.
GUIDE: What should we make of the fact that the Doctor is revealed as a noble of Draconia? ZED: That he's part Draconian? Now, that would have been a more interesting GUIDE: One might also argue that it means he accepts the validity of their way of doing things.
The Doctor, right from the start, had always been on the side of saying all races are the same.
And he was taking about alien races.
But obviously it had an analogous situation to the political situation in Britain and the world in general.
Well, clearly Earth and Draconia are on the brink of war, and they both believe it's the others' fault.
GUIDE: In classic Who, it is instructive to think of the Doctor and his companions as the lens through which other worlds are examined from the perspective of the late 20th century.
The Doctor accepts the Draconians, their system and their customs uncritically, whilst criticising the shortcomings of Earth.
What, without a trial? Without even a chance to state my case? You're just tucking me quietly away, are you? GUIDE: This view that different political and social cultures are neither better nor worse than each other first became popular in the early 1970s.
It was referred to as multiculturalism.
For our original audience, an idea they would have recognised as relatively new and, possibly, associated more with societies predominantly left wing opinion formers than themselves.
Mac was, you know, in sympathy, he was on the Left and always very much, you know, he would have been very much in favour of the United Nations, and inter-race cooperation and in preventing war and very aware of, you know, how easily prejudice is whipped up, you know.
The fact that the Earthling calls the Draconians "Dragons", you know.
It's a derogatory nickname.
ZED: But if the view is that the Draconian system shouldn't be criticised, why is Jo allowed to disagree with their treatment of women? GUIDE: An astute observation.
I feel we make progress.
Tell me, what similarities do you see between the portrayal of Miss Grant and that of the female President of Earth? ZED: Well, they're both fairly easy on the eye.
GUIDE: Indeed, they are.
Yes, indeed.
But I was hoping you would observe that Miss Grant is a female who takes action to extricate herself from peril, and that the president is a female in a position of some power.
Traditionally, such roles were taken by men reflecting their dominance in society.
By 1973, this dominance was being challenged.
I shall not strike the first blow.
MANNING: Going on, in our time, was the growth of women standing up and saying, "Wait a minute", you know.
"We're not just people who walk around in fluffy slippers", and, you know, "Who do as we're told", you know.
"We fought for the vote.
" And, you know, I mean, without getting deeply into it, you know, Women's Lib was becoming very strong and very important.
And I think it was good to see that Jo started to take that side and occasionally stood up and said, "No, wait a minute.
That's not right.
" But I'd grown up in the era where, you know, women, literally, were not expected or required to discuss politics or anything else.
We were supposed to go out shopping and do girly things.
What's called Second Wave Feminism really started in the late '60s and people like Germaine Greer and Betty Friedan and all that kind All those kinds of Gloria Steinem.
And the agenda got quite, you know, hijacked by some very radical women.
And it alienated a lot of women who were more towards the centre ground, which is fairly traditional with most political movements.
Um, but it was beginning to make sense that women were here to stay in the workforce and all those kinds of things.
GUIDE: The portrayal of females in Frontier acknowledges these changes.
And we were aware of that.
I mean, that's why when Jo Grant was starting to be far more proactive than some of the previous screaming companions, and it was quite deliberate to make the President of the Earth a woman.
GUIDE: Frontier's director, Paul Bernard, cast Czechoslovakian Vera Fusek in the part, having worked with her before.
The part was rather alluring.
It was As Paul explained to me, he wanted a President of the Earth who was not only a strong personality, but a feminine personality.
So, he wanted to combine the two things, not the sort of feminist suit, in a strict kind of a male mode, but in a feminine thing.
And he said he will make the seamstresses make the most gorgeous dresses for me.
Well, you can imagine.
(LAUGHING) I was sold on that one.
So So, I said, "Yes, please.
" ZED: So, is it basically saying, "That as a woman you can be strong.
"Yes, but for goodness'sake, carry on being pretty"? GUIDE: It is a question of emphasis.
For the actor who played Jo Grant, the glamorous appearance of the President was positive.
She was definitely very, very, kind of She had this wonderful, little, slight accent.
She was stunning looking and got to wear the best frocks.
But she was actually a lovely actress.
I think she worked very well as that character.
Great casting.
Although she was a very attractive woman, there was something about her that was strong and deeply intelligent.
I didn't want to lose my femininity.
But, at the same time, I would not be ruled by a man.
Uh, I do think we're equal.
We're different, but we are equal.
GUIDE: It is a testament to the success of women in challenging male dominance that a female actor of a later generation could take a differing view.
FIELDING: We know that if a woman is doing that role, she's gonna be one hell of a tough babe.
(LAUGHING) Look at the women who succeeded in those roles and they certainly are not being outflanked by the General.
-What about my position? -If you're not seen to act decisively against the Draconians, you can and will be replaced.
And in fact, I kept watching it, you know, and thinking, "Gee, if I was telling this story, that general would be in cahoots.
" You know, he would be truly treacherous and she would outflank him.
And that would be the interesting story.
That would have been the truly liberated story.
But it just turned out that they had slightly different points of view, which is, I think, a really missed opportunity.
GUIDE: Miss Fielding's perspective alludes to the newness of women's emancipation in 1973.
One has the impression of a predominantly male production team struggling against their own preconceptions to represent women in a modern way.
For one of them at least, the struggle was undertaken with some reluctance.
I always used to believe that the role of the female companion is to be strapped to the circular saw, scream, and wait for the Doctor to rescue her, you see.
Or the railroad tracks, as the case may be.
But you weren't allowed to do that any more, you know.
You had to have strong, liberated female characters.
Which is fair enough.
I mean, it works better.
And I thought that was just a good point to have a female president.
GUIDE: So, to conclude, in its visual resemblance to the early 1970s and its incorporation of some of the social and political ideas, our text would have felt recognisably about the real world of its original audience.
You will therefore appreciate why it can be of little use to you in your quest for inspiration.
ZED: Well, I think I'll be the best judge of that.
GUIDE: How then do you propose to engage your audience with ideas about their real world if they do not have a real world to be engaged about? Merely the world inside their heads and one defined and structured by the decreasingly diverting scenarios you and your kind produce? ZED: Uh, the Draconians look very believable.
I thought CGI wasn't invented until later.
GUIDE: The Draconians are not computer generated.
They are real.
ZED: Real? GUIDE: Yes.
Real people of flesh and blood,just like you and I.
ZED: Wow.
So, where did they all go? GUIDE: What do you mean? ZED: Well, there they were, 500 years ago, playing themselves in TVdrama GUIDE: You have formed the impression that the Draconians in the story are real Draconians.
ZED: Isn't that what you just GUIDE: No, it is not.
They are human beings made to look like Draconians.
Make-up used to have to make their monster.
They weren't masks.
They were pieces.
And they'd spend An actor would spend about four hours before a production having pieces stuck to his face and being built up before the production.
Now, in the old days, Doctor Who didn't have that kind of money.
And I suggested that a latex mask which you just pulled on would be cheaper and easier for everybody COMPUTER VOICE: Program interrupting.
Program interrupting.
Zed, I hate to interrupt.
How's your objective going? Uh, pretty well, I think.
We're on the verge of a breakthrough actually.
MAN 1: Good, because things are starting to look serious on the field.
They're starting to leave the narcofictive states.
They'll be moving around soon.
Imagine what that'll do to the oxy resource.
Yeah, as I said, I'm very close to the breakthrough.
I just need to research one more text.
Just to, you know, clinch things.
Well, don't fail us.
Remember what happens if you fail.
-ZED: Demotion to the field of dreams.
You'll be zedding it, Zed.
Speak later.
ZED: Do you mind if we do the same thing for the next one? Planet of the Daleks, or whatever it was called.