Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Crossing the Rubicon: a forgotten Doctor Who pitch

Yesterday I posted the long forgotten, original version of a Doctor Who pitch that mutated into a rather different [and underwhelming] published novel. Today it's the pitch for another long forgotten Who project, a sort-of sequel to my book Who Killed Kennedy.

Looks like I pitched this to BBC Books in 2002 but the cost of licensing the Cybermen meant it got no further. I pitched it to Big Finish the following year as an audio adventure - no sale. The scale was all wrong for audio - too many individual voices, for a start.

Anyway, here's the audio pitch that got nowhere. Apparently I described this as 'Magnolia meets Independence Day in Who continuity' - can't think why it never got commissioned!

Crossing The Rubicon

[Cross the Rubicon: commit oneself irrevocably to a course of action]
There are moments that change the course of history, events that become imprinted on the memory forever, days whose significance can never be forgotten. December 6, 1941: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. November 22, 1963: the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

In December 1986, mankind was confronted with incontrovertible proof it was not alone in the Universe. A new planet appeared in the sky, approaching the Earth. Two astronauts died on a routine test flight. Soon much of Earth was debilitated by a massive energy loss. Then came the landings…

Crossing the Rubicon focuses on this incredible day, adopting the same real world approach to established continuity used in Who Killed Kennedy. But instead of drawing together events from dozens of stories into a first person narrative, it examines the effects of a single story through multiple protagonists.

Think about it – what effects would the events of The Tenth Planet have on real people? A new planet appears in the heavens, approaching Earth. The image is broadcast around the world on International Television News. Result – panic in the streets, every kook comes out of the woodwork proclaiming they were right, apocalyptic sects take this as the precursor to Judgement Day.

Earth is dying, its energy being sucked away. Hospitals lose all electricity, patients die on operating tables. There’s anarchy on the streets as looting and rioting create a mob mentality. For the first time in decades, the churches are full as people pray for salvation. Others barricade themselves in their homes watching TV, or stand on rooftops staring up at the new neighbour to the moon.

Then silver giants appear, abducting people and flying off in spaceships. Armies around the world are mobilised. Street battles are fought against aliens impervious to bullets, disease, heat or cold, emotionless warriors with the strength of ten men. It would be unbelievable if it wasn’t happening. Life on Earth suddenly seems all the more fragile and precious and threatened.

Against this background, Crossing the Rubicon tells the stories of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. A priest who has lost his faith… an investigative journalist undercover with an eschatological religious cult... a military advisor at the Pentagon searching for his missing daughter among the chaos… a scientist willing to sacrifice anything in her quest for knowledge…

Tales of heroism and cowardice, sacrifice and redemption. Intertwined stories about people forced to make irrevocable decisions, the crucial moments in an individual’s life that forever changes them.

Who continuity element provides the timetable for events. How people react provides the colour. A strong central plot is essential to propel the story forwards. Listeners will already know how events culminate - just as in From Here To Eternity or Titanic. In this case, Mondas melts.

A linking element is required to draw characters together and the obvious link is the Doctor. Like the listener, he knows the timetable of events. But he has to decide what to do with that knowledge, whether or not to influence events...

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