Sunday, 2 February 2014

Terra Nova - Revisited


In the run up to the release of the first half of the 3rd season of 8th Doctor adventures, I'm going to be revisiting some older stories and take the opportunity to explain why I wrote them and give some behind the scenes info.

Terra Nova came about for a variety of different reasons. The first was my utter desperation to produce another 60s era story. Sadly Hartnell's rogues gallery consists only of Daleks, a Mechanoid and Cybermen, the latter is impossible to use with Hartnell as they appear for the first time in his final story. Troughton's Doctor also suffers from only Daleks and Cybermen, and I was reluctant to do more Cybermen stories as I have produced loads and I knew the Daleks would be featured en masse in the 3rd season of 8th Doctor stories. This left me with only one option, Ice Warriors and the 2nd Doctor!

The Ice Warriors were a monster I had wanted to revisit for a while. I wanted a story where there were no Ice Lords and they were just bad,they still remarked on their code of honour but weren't really the sort to uphold it in their current situation. I was also keen to do a historical story. Now historicals with action figures are very hard to produce, which is why I seldom write them, and the reason for this is that there are very few historical figures that are in scale with the 5" Doctor Who line. However, I was really keen to get a historical story out there and as such I came up with the idea of the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria crossing paths with the Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova expedition. Why Terra Nova? I'm not sure. In fact I can't recall whether I decided to do the Terra Nova expedition and then decided on the Ice Warriors, or if I decided on Ice Warriors and then thought about Terra Nova. Regardless, I knew that I wanted the Doctor's involvement to be linked in with their tragedy but in such a way so that it did not impact the true historical events too much and did not undermine the memory of these brave explorers. The content had to be treated incredibly carefully and I wanted to make sure that each of the characters were presented as brave men. Their adventure with the Doctor was merely a side step from what actually happened. After they lost their race to the South Pole, Scott and his men embarked on a return journey that cost them their lives, but in this story they would save the planet from Ice Warrior enslavement and, tragically, no one on Earth would ever know. A great deal of research went into the story in order to ensure things could link up with historical documentation closely.

Hasbro's 3.75" Indiana Jones line had previously worked alongside the Doctor Who figures in The Destroyers of Worlds and so I looked to my vast collection of Star Wars figures for a cast of characters. Assorted variations of Hoth Troopers and Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in Hoth gear would serve as the cast. Moustaches were added to some doubles in order to distinguish them all! Victoria was a new custom based on her outfit from The Abominable Snowmen and The Ice Warriors, using a Primeval figure as the base. Apologies for not knowing the character's name, to me she was just custom fodder! Ideally I would have liked the 2nd Doctor to have worn his fur coat, but sadly the figure was never, and as of yet hasn't been, released. As such the idea of Heat Packs were created to get around the reasons as to why the Doctor and his friends weren't freezing to death!

The set designs were, as ever, supplied by the wonderful Philip Lawrence at AFT Downloads. The ice sculptures featured in the main chamber were simply glasses frosted with snow i.e. talcum powder. The title sequence had to be altered, simply because YouTube copyright wouldn't let me use the originals. So a little alteration here and there allowed me to produce something similar but different enough to be accepted by YouTube.

Overall I loved writing this story. It was one of those rare instances where it just flowed. Filming it was also fun, although there were many moments where Victoria fell over and I turned the air blue! Sadly the story did not quite get the views I had hoped for when compared to some of my other stories. Whether it was because of the slow 60s pacing, the black and white footage, or because no one really liked it, I cannot be certain. But I was pleased with the end result both in terms of the script and the finished film. Terra Nova meets The Ice Warriors meets Tomb of the Cybermen is my best way to describe it, the latter being totally unintentional and only really occurred to me while I was editing it! A huge amount of thanks goes to Kathrine Thomas, who did a wonderful job as the shrieky Victoria, and to Jonathan Toffolo, Porle Miller and John Mabey who supplied voices for the Terra Nova crew. Their assorted voices really made the authenticity stand out.

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