ADVENT DAY ONE: Christmas. It’s not long away. And to celebrate advent, new content will be added to this blog every day in the countdown to the big day. You’ll see reviews, opinion pieces, links to some of my other work, videos – maybe even a short story! Remember to check back every day (in between the mad rush of packing presents, getting the freezer stocked up and watching Home Alone on repeat).
Earlier this year, I was involved with a new project for Kasterborous: running alongside the new series of Doctor Who, we recapped each episode in prep for the next one.
Of course, this meant a surprising amount of work: rewatching episodes and creating a scene-by-scene breakdown, noting down important dialogue and making sure the final piece doesn’t take 45 minutes to read!
Here are all the reKaps (with a K!) – and remember that you can buy Series 7: Part 1 on DVD and Blu-ray.
The first episode was recapped by my fellow-contributor, Scott Varnham. The experiment obviously worked well, so as Scott was busy the following weeks, I happily volunteered for the next four episodes. (Fingers crossed I get to continue writing them at Christmas and beyond!)
I feel that there are a few important things to get across in each rekap. Firstly, it has to be enjoyable, which is quite a challenge when what you’re essentially doing is retelling a story in basic terms, with little speech. Secondly, it has to be understandable – quite a task considering that many don’t really ‘get’ the complex narratives of many-a-tale by Steven Moffat! And lastly, it has to reflect the tone of the story.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship has a wavering tone (that’s not a criticism; I loved this episode), ranging from funny – cue Rory’s dad, Brian – to the serious (mostly due to Soloman). It wasn’t tough to show, really; the serious side seeped through, just noting down the grim sides of the tale, like the Silurians being ejected out of the air locks.
The funnier/sillier sides of the story are mainly shown through paraphrasing: you can’t put words into their mouths – but it’s not just a transcript throughout.
A surprising highlight of the series for me, focussing on a town cut off by the cyborg Gunslinger. It’s bookended by narration, and I used that as an introduction and conclusion to the piece. The rest of the tale was all about morals, laced with typical-Toby Whithouse dry wit. Again, this was achieved through paraphrasing; for example, when Kahler-Jex tells Amy that the Gunslinger probably won’t fire if someone else is with him, she replies, “Oh, well, colour me reassured.” This translated into:
“Jex pulls a gun on Amy, intending to use her as a hostage in order to escape: the Gunslinger’s programming won’t let him harm innocents unless absolutely necessary (and Amy is coloured reassured!).”
Due to the very nature of the ‘slow invasion,’ the structure of The Power of Three is quite disjointed, flitting between the everyday lives of the Ponds and their travels in the TARDIS. But it also maintains a sort of linear narrative. Again, this had to be reflected in the rekap, which was pretty tough.
It was made even harder as many of the scenes in previous episodes could be cut; not that they were unimportant, but little details could be skipped or incorporated later on. But most of the scenes in The Power of Three were important for either character development (the main thrust of the episode) or the threat of the cubes.
It had also become apparent how popular and likeable Brian is, so I tried to incorporate some of his quirks more, like calling him Brian “Diligence” Williams.
By far the hardest rekap to write: a fantastic story, naturally – but one which confused many and had to be a satisfying goodbye for Amy and Rory… and a whole era of Doctor Who.
Once more, the narrative zig-zags between time zones, and I had to reflect certain aspects of the story’s tone and especially sadness. The best way to tell the story of The Angels Take Manhattan is, it occurred to me, how River Song told the story: in a book.
Obviously, a whole book would’ve been over the word limit by just a little bit – so instead, I split the action into chapters, utilising the headings from River’s novel, The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery. It was quite a task, considering those particular chapter titles don’t fit entirely with the on-screen happenings!
Still, it worked out quite nicely, with a few friends saying that it cleared up some confusion.
Matt Smith had previously said that the end tied into 2010’s The Eleventh Hour, and I can proudly say that I correctly predicted that it was Amelia waiting in the garden – then the noise of the TARDIS engines. In fact, that scene had been niggling at me for a while. I even wondered if it was metaphorical or maybe that Amy was dreaming when the TARDIS wakes her! Thanks to Mr. Moffat for clearing it up.
So then it was down to the business of Amy and Rory’s farewell. I found myself relying on the dialogue to get the emotion across, as, hopefully, the reader would start hearing their voices.
Of course, I then got to the afterword – and I just had to transcribe it.
It may have been difficult to do, but I’m really happy with the finished article.
Finally, there’s that last chapter, not in River’s book, but vital to relate back to: what started it all, and a favourite of not just me but so, so many others:
The Eleventh Hour.