Doctor Who - Documentary s10e12 Episode Script

Perfect Scenario - The End of Dreams

COMPUTER: Source material selected.
20th century classical TV.
Doctor Who, the Pertwee years.
Planet of the Daleks.
(COMPUTER READING) GUIDE: We have now been progressing for fully 30 minutes and are outside the recommended parameters for continuous attention.
We can adjourn if you wish to re-energise and re-focus.
ZED: Listen, I may well end up demoted to the Field of Dreams, but I'm not there yet.
I've gone for an hour at a stretch before now.
GUIDE: Very well.
ZED: Besides, as we've heard, things are looking serious down there.
I need to make progress.
GUIDE: We approach then the tipping point of which we hear so much.
ZED: Yeah, and it'll be pretty quick if they all start to wake up.
There's no going back after that.
It would only take a small increase in muscle activity to push the oxygen balance into the red.
GUIDE: So I understand.
What a pity we cannot plant more trees.
ZED: (CHUCKLING) Where? Green zone's full.
We have to manage consumption.
GUIDE: By maintaining your customers in the narcofictive state, alive merely in the dream worlds you Scenario Smiths create for them until the last one passes peacefully away.
ZED: Until the final terminal event, yes.
GUIDE: That could be 100 years away.
The wisdom of the doubters was ignored when science began to afflict humankind with great longevity.
(COMPUTER READING) Scientists are apt to do things purely for the sake of knowledge and then look at the results afterwards.
For example, today, it's these fools who are trying to get rid of the gene which makes us grow old, so that we'll go on living and living and living and living.
Now, that would be disaster for humanity, you know.
We've got far too many people already, we've got far too many old people already.
And at the same time, one of the reasons why we manage to make a life for ourselves, is because we've got a shape to our lives.
ZED: Yes, well, it's all very well being wise before the event, but that doesn't help us now.
But if I, or another Smith, make the breakthrough, that helps, that gives us a start.
That buys more time.
GUIDE: What a pity a simpler solution cannot be found to our problem.
ZED: All other solutions violate their right to life.
GUIDE: To a living death.
ZED: They're there of their own free will.
And they are free to explore the world of their dreams.
GUIDE: (LAUGHS) The power of advertising.
ZED: Look this is not in your remit.
Your job is to get me something on audience engagement from this Planet of the Daleks text.
Doctor? GUIDE: Very well.
The awakening of a vast multitude threatens the future of humanity.
GUIDE: I feel it can teach you much.
ZED: Sounds good.
I could be a hero, if this goes well.
GUIDE: It can certainly teach you much about heroism.
ZED: Excellent.
GUIDE: So, a question.
To what genre do you think the story belongs? ZED: 20th-century science fiction? GUIDE: Partly true.
Though science fictional in basic form, classic Who often borrowed from other popular genres to suit the mood of its audience.
The elements of comedy and mind-expanding psychedelia allowed Troughton's Doctor to appeal to the mood of narcotically-induced frivolous optimism in which London of the late 1960s lay giggling to itself.
There was a belief that you can change the world.
That people, by just being themselves could have an effect.
And sadly, I think, during the '70s, that did begin to erode.
GUIDE: With the optimism, however, went the viewing figures.
The programme's makers looked to another genre for inspiration.
Throughout the 1960s, action-adventure stories had become increasingly popular.
First of all, through the strikingly successful James Bond film franchise ZED: Oh, yeah, I like those GUIDE: Please.
And through the output of the ITC television company.
Action-adventure inspired in the production team a vision of Doctor Who in which chases, fights and gadgets Sonic screwdriver.
GUIDE:would be as prominent as the monsters or the science fiction concept behind the story.
A dashing, elegantly attired Doctor would combine his intellect with a fighting style forged into sulphuric acid-laden atmosphere of the planet Venus.
Thus he could extricate himself and his pretty and stylish companion from any predicament without appearing to try too hard.
The Pertwee years were duly ushered in and, with them, a revival of the programme's viewing figures.
Amongst the pool of writers producing action-adventure stories for the ITC company was Terry Nation, the writer of our story.
He regularly contributed to shows such as The Saint, The Champions, The Baron, andThe Persuaders! Nation's ITC experience meant he was well suited to the action-adventure flavour of Pertwee's Doctor.
The characteristic of Terry's stories are that people are put in a difficult situation, which he then makes worse.
And then worse again and then worse again after that.
You know, they literally are one damn thing after another.
I always used to say, people have a really rotten time in a Terry Nation story, you know, because you're going to be clobbered with peril after peril after peril.
GUIDE: But it was Nation's previous track record on Doctor Who itself, which made his involvement in this story significant for scholars of classic Who.
The more so, as the story fell within the10th anniversary season of the programme, for during the programme's first season, Nation played what many see as a key role in ensuring its survival beyond its first 13 episodes.
So, who truly is the creative genius behind the Daleks? Designer Raymond Cusick or writer Terry Nation? Well, both have a claim, but the key thing is that Nation got the credit, and the control and the ownership.
It's Nation who becomes part of the show's mythology.
GUIDE: Following the success of the Daleks, Terry Nation penned a further three Dalek stories, before moving on from Doctor Who to the ITC action-adventure series.
It was a Catch-22 for Terry, you see, 'cause he had the Daleks, which was this immensely valuable property.
And this is something I think his agent never really realised.
The Daleks are valueless outside Doctor Who.
And Terry had made a number of determined attempts to get the Daleks off the ground without the Doctor.
He'd done plays and I think he tried to mount a television series and it doesn't work.
So he'd got, as it were, this pure-gold asset which he couldn't use unless we decided he could use it.
GUIDE: Nation's involvement in the early success of the programme meant that his return after a hiatus of seven years forPlanet of the Daleks was an event.
I think Terry Nation definitely had a sort of iconic status as creator of the Daleks, amongst the writers of Doctor Who certainly.
And we were always very pleased when he wrote something for us.
It's interesting but Planet of the Daleks is linked narratively to Frontier in Space, and they make this extended story of 12 episodes, which, of course, equals the programme record set by The Daleks' Master Plan, which was itself co-written by Nation.
GUIDE: It is tempting to link this with Nation's return to the programme and see it as part of an act of celebration of the programme's 10th anniversary by its makers.
But are we right to do so? ZED: I don't know.
GUIDE: Of course you don't.
It was a rhetorical question.
Please do not interrupt the flow.
ZED: Sorry.
GUIDE: To continue, the plot of Planet of the Daleks appears consistent with this view.
In the first Dalek story, the Daleks are found inhabiting a city on the edge of a forest.
During the middle part of the story, the Doctor and his companions escape from the city to the safety of the forest, pursued by Daleks.
The story concludes with an attack on the city both frontally and via its Achilles' heel.
The survival of all non-Dalek life on the planet depends on the success of the attack as they prepare to destroy it through the use of a devastating weapon.
One of the Thals falls in love with the Doctor's female companion.
What is striking about this story in relation to that of Planet of the Daleks? I said, "What is striking about this story "in relation to that of Planet of the Daleks?" ZED: Oh, sorry, I thought it was another one of those rhetorical questions.
ZED: Oh, well, in that case, it's Well, I don't know.
GUIDE: In their essential elements, they are the same story.
This similarity has polarised scholarly opinion into two camps over the centuries, neither of which see it as coincidental.
KAHN: Having established the Dalek story paradigm in The Daleks, Nation cleverly references it in Planet of the Daleks by combining this paradigm with contemporary action adventure elements.
Nation at once reminds his audience of the show's own past, whilst, at the same time, showing them how far it's come since then.
By evoking the programme's history in this way, he draws the audience into an act of celebration.
Marking its own milestone 10th anniversary.
In a sense, of course, he's also putting down a marker which says, "I, the uber-creator, have returned.
" GUIDE: At the other end of the critical spectrum lies a less positive view of Nation's endeavours.
Essentially, Terry Nation couldn't think of an original idea, so he rehashed his old one.
GUIDE: So, an unimaginative retelling of an old tale, or a sophisticated attempt to draw the audience into celebrating the programme's anniversary by evoking its past whilst acknowledging its present? What did those involved in the story's creation have to say on this? The story of Planet of the Daleks is very reminiscent of the very first Dalek story of all.
This was not deliberate on our part.
All Terry Nation stories tend to be fairly similar, in that they will go through the People will go through the same dangers and traumas.
GUIDE: So, what of Nation's return to Doctor Who at this significant time? The previous year, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks had created a Dalek story without the involvement of Nation.
He and his agent had taken a dim view of this and so the Who team hastily arranged a placatory lunch where Nation gave approval to the script, at which point And then he said, "You know, it's funny this should happen because "I've been thinking about coming back to the Daleks for a while.
"How would it be if I wrote you a Dalek story for next season?" And we said, "What a very good idea, Terry", you see.
And the subtext of the lunch, as it were, was that if there were going to be any more Dalek stories, Terry Nation was going to write them.
Which is fair enough.
You know, he had every right to do that, you see.
So, every now and again, we would go back to Terry for another Dalek story.
I've brought some old friends along to meet you.
GUIDE: And as for the narrative link between the two stories LETTS: Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks which are joined together by the Daleks were conceived, I think, in the first place to be connected but not necessarily to be an overall story and certainly not to be a celebration of the 10 years.
GUIDE: If the similarities between our text and the Daleks were due to a lack of imaginative effort this did not harm the programme's prospects for audience ratings.
Its first episode attracted an audience of 11 million viewers when transmitted on the 7th of April, 1973.
ZED: Look, I need more than this.
You're saying you can draw an audience in by mixing new genre elements with tried and tested storylines.
Well, that's my job.
GUIDE: And, as we have seen, this technique did not harm the prospects for our text.
But as our study of Frontier in Space showed us the real world inhabited by both writer and audience was once the wellspring of good storytelling.
It inspired the writer and gave him common ground with his audience.
ZED: And you're going to tell me I can't learn anything from this story because it works in the same way and I don't live in the same world as our Field of Dream customers.
GUIDE: As we shall see, it does work in the same way.
Though it can also show how you might use your god-like power to solve our problem.
ZED: "Godlike"? My job's not that important.
GUIDE: But you create the very worlds in which your customers live.
What else does a god do? ZED: Hmm, I hadn't really thought of it like that before.
GUIDE: But we digress.
Let us return to the real world of the audience of our text and consider whether the story references it in the manner of Frontier in Space.
At first glance, it appears to do so.
You recall our mention of the Vietnam War? ZED: Yes.
GUIDE: This war, fought in the jungles of Vietnam pitted the resourceful and self-sacrificing North Vietnamese against the overwhelming technological superiority of the United States.
ZED: Hang on.
Hang on.
Did you say "self-sacrificing"? GUIDE: Yes, the North Vietnamese were prepared to sacrifice their lives.
ZED: Well, how would that have helped them? GUIDE: It was one of the things that enabled them to defeat the Americans.
ZED: What about the sanctity of human life? GUIDE: They believed that their cause was more important than individual human lives.
GUIDE: A novel concept, is it not? ZED: It's crazy.
How can anything be more important than a human life? GUIDE: How indeed? In the eyes of many in the West this made the North Vietnamese heroic figures.
Are you struck by any parallels between the Vietnam War -and our story? -ZED: No.
GUIDE: How about if we observe that the North Vietnamese used the jungle for concealment whilst the USA sought to remove its concealing properties by destroying it through the use of the chemical, Agent Orange? The war was still raging during the year in which our story was first transmitted.
ZED: Still, no, I'm afraid.
GUIDE: Oh, very well! GUIDE: For the Thals, read the North Vietnamese for the Daleks, the United States, and for the Daleks' bacteriological weapon, read Agent Orange.
ZED: Right.
And for the Doctor and Jo? GUIDE: The analogy does not stretch that far.
ZED: Okay.
What about the TARDIS? GUIDE: No.
ZED: Not much of an analogy then, is it? GUIDE: Some of the performers of the text would disagree with you.
There is always this subtext in Doctor Who, which is terrific, because it means you can watch it as a child and get what you need out of it.
You get the fantasy and the good versus evil and the fact that good wins, which is terrific.
And in this one, of course, you had the jungle fighting going on against the great leader of the universe, right? The Dalek.
So, I think when this was written I don't think there are many Doctor Who In fact, I don't think that there was any that we did that there wasn't actually something being said.
And I think if you look at the analogy of Vietnam with what was going on in that jungle, I think you'll see that that is definitely there.
As soon as you think What else was happening? Who else was in the jungle in those days? Vietnam.
No? They were all How many people were in the blooming jungles shooting each other? Now, did the writers get that idea? Because if so, it was a jolly good idea to set some of this in the jungle.
And it was very, very, jolly effective.
GUIDE: Our interpretation of Frontier in Space in the light of world events was appropriate, due to the radical left-wing political orientation of writer Malcolm Hulke.
But what does the orientation of Terry Nation tell us aboutPlanet of the Daleks? I think the fact that Vietnam was going on at the same time where there were also, I suppose, people fighting in a jungle and people hunted by superior military force, I don't think that entered anybody's head.
That's not the way that, certainly, that Terry Nation worked and it certainly wasn't the way that I worked.
We'd be looking for a strong theme with good drama, good conflict Drama is conflict.
It's a truism.
And the story would grow out of that, either consciously or unconsciously.
Now, of course, any good writer absorbs what's going on around him, and the Vietnam War was very much in people's minds.
It may have been there in the zeitgeist, as it were.
As I'm always saying, if these things were around, they'll very likely be picked up.
And you won't know it at the time.
And some future commentator will say, "Aha! This is what's going on.
" GUIDE: If our story is not referencing the politics and conflicts of the late 20th century in the manner of Frontier in Space, then what of its treatment of women? Rebec! GUIDE: You recall the interesting references made to the women's liberation movement -in Frontier.
-ZED: Yes.
GUIDE: In the character of the female Thal, Rebec, Planet of the Daleks appears at first sight, to be drawing on these same associations, as she occupies a role, normally at that time in the West reserved for males only.
That of a soldier.
This interpretation of her role seemed plausible to at least one member of the cast.
Yes, in Rebec, you can see somebody being proactive.
Taking things on and trying to bring the female thought to these men, particularly to Vaber, Prentis Hancock's character, who obviously wants to you know, smash it all.
(GRUNTING) And she counteracts that.
GUIDE: However, this view seemed less plausible to those who were active in promoting the rights of women.
JANET FIELDING: I thought the actress was good but I thought that that female character was pretty poor.
Let's be clear here.
Women are brave.
Childbirth You know.
I have to say that if I was designing bodies I would not design bodies that way, because childbirth is a very difficult, very painful and very dangerous thing.
And until the 20th century, it was highly dangerous.
So women are brave.
-You all right, Rebec? -I can't stand heights.
I daren't look down.
FIELDING: And women did a lot of very brave things in the Second World War.
So the notion that there is this officer in space and that she's getting all weepy It's just Sticks in the craw, actually.
It really sticks in the craw.
And I was kind of glad that my DVD player broke down at that point.
GUIDE: The actor who performed the role of Rebec had similar reservations.
I don't think there was an awful lot of character there for Rebec and I'm (LAUGHING) I must say, when she's hidden away in the suit of a Dalek -All right, Rebec? -All right.
I felt very much it was to shut her up, "While us men get on with it.
" And we were going, in fact, "Oh, you can" "What do you think, Rebec?" and, "Oh, just shut up.
" She was rather sidelined at that moment.
Well, Rebec, it seems you stopped being a Dalek just in time.
GUIDE: Although Rebec did not represent to the audience the growing female emancipation they witnessed in the outside world, she did carry out what was seen at the time as a very important function in the story.
I think the character of Rebec, which I think I suggested because it was a very solid all-male grim thing and I thought a female might lighten it a bit.
Also, it's always nice to have a pretty girl about the place.
ZED: She is very pretty.
GUIDE: Indeed.
And if the surviving records of the 20th century have credence it seems females had by then achieved a quite uncommon degree of loveliness and physical candour.
But we digress.
Rebec also had another important purpose in the story.
Terry didn't seem to like writing female characters but, obviously, we liked to have a balance.
Not just because we wanted the audience to look at some pretty women but, which was part of it, obviously, but just for sheer interest's sake and for all the female members of the audience.
Well, prepare to move.
The Thals who came to the planet of the Daleks to try and sort out the Daleks would have to be, if you're a good writer, very varied, different sorts.
One a bit cowardly perhaps, one really brash and tough, one thinking, one Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
And, obviously too, it would be very dull if you didn't have a woman amongst them.
Now she A woman wouldn't have been brought unless she was one of the soldiers.
GUIDE: Let us then examine the role Rebec plays within the Thal group.
Much of her interaction with the group is centred around the tensions in her relationship with Taron.
You might say you're glad to see me.
I might.
GUIDE: As we can see, Rebec represents the desire to lead a normal life, to marry the man she loves and to raise a family with him.
Unfortunately, for her, that man has other, more pressing concerns in his life.
And somehow we've got to achieve what we set out to do.
We must destroy the Daleks! And how does my being here change that? Because (SIGHING) Because I love you.
GUIDE: For Taron then, the need to defeat the Daleks takes precedence over his own personal wants and wishes.
This is made explicit through his relationship with Rebec.
The other male Thals in the story also subscribe to this view.
We're not a warlike people, Doctor.
We've only just developed space flight.
No one had attempted a voyage of this length before, but every man and woman from my division volunteered.
ZED: This sounds like those North Vietnamese you were talking about.
GUIDE: Indeed, it does.
ZED: So, did people in the 20th century really believe that? That some things were more important than the individual's right to life, liberty and happiness? GUIDE: An interesting question.
-Marat, come on! Marat! -No, you get inside.
-Come on, Marat! Marat! -Get in! GUIDE: It seems clear the text is designed to appeal to such a sentiment, but to what extent this sentiment prevailed in the climate of 1973 is uncertain.
The idea of patriotism, and whatever, died in 1961.
It was the '60s that killed that and we all became incredibly selfish and self-serving from then onwards.
GUIDE: The notion of self-sacrifice for a greater good was certainly dealt a mortal blow within a generation of this text.
I think because of the Thatcherite revolution, where greed is good, there is no such thing as society and all this horrible rubbish.
I query modern people's concept of the collective good.
Is there such a thing? Is there such a thing? GUIDE: By the end of the 20th century, the idea had become an alien concept to most people.
We do look at the documentaries of the First and Second World Wars and think, you know, "God, it's such" Well, because we think, "They did it.
But the waste.
The waste, the waste.
" And they went off, especially in the First World War.
You think, "Well, where did that get anybody?" That waste, that patriotism.
GUIDE: So, why does the idea feature so prominently in our text? Nation's attitude toward women in his writing gives us a clue.
It may have been a time of women's lib but certainly the writers who'd be writing for it were that much I mean, they weren't of the times.
They were the generation not of the times.
GUIDE: If the views of Terry Nation were those of a generation before the early 1970s, was the notion of self-sacrifice as heroic characteristic of this generation? If so, where did they acquire it? People commonly were forced into those roles and seemed to go fairly willingly, to do it through The idea of dying for King and country.
It is the residue of a feeling that developed first of all, definitely with the Second World War, but I think very much because we thought that, if you like, revolution was possible, that people could by gathering together, effect things.
And the Thals do that.
GUIDE: The collective experience of World War II was instrumental in defining the national psyche of the UK for many years afterwards.
It is the British memory of the six years of heroism and self-denial which defeated the Nazi evil to which Nation and the production team appeal in Planet of the Daleks.
ZED: Right.
I've got a question.
GUIDE: Good.
Go on.
ZED: Who were the Nazis? GUIDE: The political party of Hitler which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945.
ZED: And Hitler? GUIDE: Oh, really! You led me to believe you have a good knowledge -of the life of the 20th century.
-ZED: Yes.
GUIDE: How has this knowledge been acquired? ZED: Well, studying texts from then.
GUIDE: Such as? ZED: Doctor Who Magazine.
GUIDE: No, no, no! That is entirely inappropriate.
You will have derived no useful information from that source whatever.
Much of what I have imparted to you must have seemed sheer gibberish.
ZED: Well, I think you're selling yourself a bit short there.
-I think you've done pretty -GUIDE: Silence! GUIDE: As I said earlier, surviving sources from the period are scarce.
However, if you do wish to acquire a balanced view of 20th century life I commend you to the surviving archives of a news journal calledThe Sun.
ZED: Right.
That's popular with you knowledge mongers, is it? GUIDE: Yes, we love it.
Now, although the notion of self-sacrifice disappeared from human consciousness 500 years ago, does this mean it is gone forever? Mr Letts thought otherwise.
That people would be willing to, if you like, sacrifice themselves, for the good of the whole is an idea that appeals to people.
GUIDE: If Mr Letts was correct, and self-sacrifice is an innate ability, then this must mean that you, yourself, for example, are capable of it.
ZED: What do you mean? GUIDE: That given a cause of sufficient importance you have the ability to sacrifice your career, your freedom, perhaps even your life to that cause.
ZED: What cause could be that important? GUIDE: The survival of humanity.
ZED: But I can ensure that just by doing my job, once you've given me what I need from this story, that is.
GUIDE: I have no more to say of the text.
We have concluded our study of it.
ZED: No! But But you I've learnt nothing.
You've You've wasted my time.
I'm going to be demoted.
GUIDE: That is certainly the alternative which awaits you.
ZED: Alternative to what? GUIDE: To your final scenario.
ZED: What "final scenario"? GUIDE: The one in which the subject of the story dies.
ZED: No, no.
Most people in the field are too frail for that experience.
The shock would probably kill them.
GUIDE: Precisely.
ZED: I can't do that.
It'd be murder.
I'd lose everything! GUIDE: Is it murder when a god ordains the death of his subjects? ZED: You're mad.
GUIDE: Is it mad to wish to save mankind from the tyranny of oxygen scarcity? You could do this through one small act.
Imagine how future generations would remember you.
Zed? Zed? All the other Smiths have drawn a blank.
You're our last hope.
Have you got anything? GUIDE: He is right.
You are our last hope.
GUIDE: Think of what I have said.
ZED: No! What? You've got nothing? You've failed? -ZED: No, no, I didn't mean -Answer me straight, Zed.
Have you got what we need? Or do I have to send you to sleep? ZED: Yes, I think so.
Great news! Go to it! You're going to be a hero, buddy.
Oh, yes.
A hero.
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