Sunday, 7 November 2010

A series-ful of classic Who plots: Aliens Of London

The travellers visit the present (possibly visiting a present-day companion's home and family) or a present-like bit of the future, and find that aliens are up to something odd.

This is snuck in behind the season opener as the standard format from which all other Doctor Who adventure types (and The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood and so on) all deviate. As such, there isn't much to say about it...

2: Something that shouldn't be here...

The alien plan isn't big enough to be a Secret Invasion. They might be new, or classics but not a big enough name for it to be a Classic Monster Revival. Even if it's set in the future it's just a backdrop. The time machine isn't used for anything (or anything much). The plot might be a backdrop to a Season Opener, or a Christmas Special, or a Doctor-Lite Episode, but at heart this is a "normal" episode. Every series has to have one now and then...

The juxtaposition of the everyday and the unearthly is a key element of Doctor Who, and here it's the big draw.

The mystery is solvable, and the alien can removed/defeated/helped, with plenty of time for the modern companions to worry about their lives in and out of the TARDIS, break the hearts of lovelorn exes and the like, and the non-modern travellers can get an ominous hint of the series arc while they wait.

Useful examples would be at least one story from just about every run of Doctor Who, lots of The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, Russell T Davies's previous "I want to make Doctor Who!" kid-friendly genre show Dark Season, loads of Call Of Cthulhu adventures...


Example: Cat's Eye

After seeing early Renaissance Britain firsthand, and the year 88,888 into the bargain, the modern companion returns to modern-day London... but as she goes to tell her flatmate about it, the Doctor knocks on the door and asks "do the cats around here usually speak English?"

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