Saturday, 13 November 2010

A series-ful of classic Who plots: The Children In Need Special

A Children In Need special is not an essential (we've only had them in 1993, 2005 and 2007, and The Sarah Jane Adventures had a sketch in Comic Relief 2009, not to mention the short-lived Ninth to Thirteenth Doctors in Steven Moffat's The Curse Of Fatal Death - and looking back, Rowan Atkinson was rocking a very similar look to Matt Smith...) but since it's Children In Need week I thought I might as well add this to the list.

Think of a story the show can tell in eight minutes flat. At most.

This can be a bit tricky. It would be a great use for an idea that doesn't feel big enough for a proper episode, though, perhaps for a shorter-than-usual session or as part of a session also involving a normal-length game.

It could be an important character moment, a bit of knockabout comedy, or a blatant fan squee bit like an appearance by a different incarnation of your group's Time Lord. Or indeed a wildly inappropriate crossover. In 3D.

Or, since we can chip in for a larger budget than "none at all" it could be a full-tilt romp with a horde of monsters chasing the travellers through BBC Television Centre (see TV ACTION! in the Format-Bender article - Format-Bender is probably a good guide here). Whatever the case, ideally it should be funny and/or heartwarming. Children In Need isn't the night for appearances by anything with a Fear Factor higher than 1. When in doubt, lean towards silly.

If you're stumped, you can always just give them the pre-credits scene from the Christmas Special instead.

Example: Special Bulletin

We open with a BBC news correspondent outside a Henrik's department store where apparently a small riot broke out with the first sales of this year's must-have Christmas gadget gift, when all the stock disappeared in "what witnesses described as a strange flash of light... accompanied by a loud, ah, farting sound." The report then cuts to the correspondent buttonholing a passing witness.

One of the travellers.

Ideally a traveller whose player will rise to the occasion when presented with an in-character opportunity to look daft on camera.

After some ums and ers and "don't ask me"s, the others can cause a distraction to get her out of being interviewed, or the distraction can be caused by a Judoon patrol ship flying down to arrest a Slitheen gang with the travellers, and the BBC news crew, in the middle.


As you can see, I went for the knockabout comedy. I had a slightly less insane idea about the travellers, and a Judoon patrol, chasing an intergalactic art thief in 1966 and being indirectly responsible for Pickles the dog finding the stolen World Cup, but decided to go that bit dafter.

And if you think it wouldn't work, the final season opener of my Buffy game The Watch House had the characters going undercover at an archaeological dig to try and stop ancient evil being unearthed during an episode of Time Team...

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