So here is the result of months of work. Some might even say years.
Years ago, I watched "Earthshock", an episode of Doctor Who featuring the fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison. It was a good story about a freighter, hijacked by the Cybermen, that was forced through a time hole and on a collision course with the planet earth - just about the time when a cataclysmic event wiped out the dinosaurs. Just as our heroes discover this fact, Adric, a young Alzarian who joined the Doctor in the episode "Full Circle", is feverishly trying to solve a mathematical puzzle in order to unlock the navigational controls and prevent the freighter (which he is on) from colliding with the Earth, hoping to save countless lives.
Little does he know that the freighter he is on is destined to collide with the Earth, creating the future we all know - one in which the dinosaurs died out, making way eventually for mankind to inherit the Earth.
Here, Adric waits for the freighter to crash into the Earth.
In the following episode, "Time-Flight", Tegan asks the Doctor why they can't go back and rescue Adric. The Doctor's answer never sat well with me.
The conversation goes thusly:
The Doctor: The crew of the freighter is safely returned to their own time.
Nyssa: Cyber fleet dispersed.
Tegan: Great, you make it sound like a shopping list - ticking off things as you go. Aren't you forgetting something rather important? Adric is dead!
Nyssa: Tegan... please.
The Doctor: We feel his loss as well.
Tegan: Well you could do more than grieve - you could go back!
Nyssa: Could you?
Nyssa: Surely the TARDIS is quite capable of...
Tegan: We can change what happened if we materialize before Adric was killed!
The Doctor: And change your own history?
Tegan: Look, the freighter could still crash into Earth, that doesn't have to be changed - only Adric doesn't have to be on board.
The Doctor: Now listen to me both of you, there are some rules that cannot be broken, even with the TARDIS. Don't ever ask me to do anything like that again. We must accept that Adric is dead. His life wasn't wasted. He died trying to save others, like his brother, Varsh.
You know, Adric had a choice. This is the way he wanted it.
Tegan: We used to fight a lot. I'll miss him.
Nyssa: So will I.
The Doctor: And me... But he wouldn't want us to mourn unnecessarily.
Nyssa: Where are we going?
The Doctor: Special treat to cheer us all up...
And with that, the Doctor sets the TARDIS controls to Hyde Park, 1851, the Great Exhibition, Earth, in order to take his companions' mind off Adric. But Tegan was never the same after that.
To my mind, Tegan had a point. And the Doctor's explanation was nonsense. His angry outburst made me believe that it was quite possible to go back and rescue Adric... just not easy. Not convenient. After all, the Doctor interferes with time and space constantly - it's his mission in life. So why not go back?
Argue away. I'm not going to stop you. But I have yet to hear a good reason for the Doctor's decision.
My conclusion was that the Doctor just didn't want to go through the trouble it would take to get Adric back.
Well, as I said, this didn't sit well with me. Not long after, I penned the first two chapters in a novel that would bring the Doctor back to Earth, disillusioned, depressed, bitter with himself for not doing what needed to be done, and for doing the damage he did to Tegan.
Adric (with Math Badge) and Tegan in Flight Attendant uniform.
Well, it was obvious that book would never get written, but then I started creating photo stories using my GI Joe figures. During the production of GI Joe - The Search for the Albino Bigfoot Sasquatch, that I realized I wanted to build a 1:6 scale TARDIS for my GI Joes. I had built a 1:10 scale one years before using balsa wood, but I wanted one my Joes could use.
Then I remembered the story I had begun years earlier, and thought that I could exorcize this demon that had haunted me for so long, and do a cool new photo story that would rival the quality of the Sasquatch story.
So I set out writing a storyboard.
(Click any image to see a larger version)
*Page 6 shows how I fleshed out the Master scene, which was originally much shorter, and harder to understand.
During one segment, I wanted to show that this new, last Doctor, would be the kind of Doctor that does what needs to be done - despite any moral qualms he might have. It would take some fortitude to go back and rescue Adric. And the question came up - what about the Master?
Many contend that the Doctor can't condone murder, so he lets the Master live each time they meet. However, how many lives has the Master destroyed? Isn't the Doctor's cavalier attitude towards the Master directly responsible for countless murders?
Still, it is basically a given that the Doctor cannot murder the Master - he is a pacifist. (I have my own theories as to why the Doctor could never bring himself to kill the Master, but that's for another time - another photo story.) So I included a quick scene in which the Doctor lures the Master to a Dalek base and has them do his dirty work for him. As the Master pleads for his life, the Doctor simply turns away, leaving him to his fate.
So for just one quick scene, I had to start creating a pair of 1:6 scale Daleks.
And of course, how could I do a proper Doctor Who story without the TARDIS interior? So I set to work on a TARDIS console that would fit my GI Joe Doctor.
I wanted Tegan to be a successful woman. In "Logopolis", she was a naive flight attendant, swept up in adventure and left Earth with the Doctor after the Master murdered her aunt Vanessa. In a later episode, she is returned to Earth, to find she had lost her job when she didn't show up for duty. When she accidentally meets up with the Doctor again, she is swept away again, to finally be returned to her home planet in the episode, "The Resurrection of the Daleks", sickened by all the death she had seen.
But Tegan's fiestiness, her ingenuity, her survival instincts, had served her well during her time with the Doctor. No more could she just return to being a flight attendant.
So Tegan is now the Head of Security for Qantum Airlines. Having proven herself over and over as a woman who could handle herself, and others if necessary, she rose up through the ranks at Qantum, and is now in a position she well deserves.
For Tegan, I had limited figures to choose from, but it seemed to me that Tegan Jovanka, the firey red-headed Australian, would be well represented by Hasbro's GI Jane red-headed helicopter pilot. I put her in the Sideshow Toy's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" purple top, which is a tribute to her oft-worn lavender flight attendant uniform, and a Barbie "Working Girl" business suit. The problem was that the skirt did not fit, and for every shot we had to rotate the skirt so the hugely open seam would face away from the camera.
Adric was a companion no one really liked all that much. He was intelligent, yes, but whiny, irritating, and just generally unlikeable except in his last episode. I created this story not for Adric's sake, but for Tegan's. Something had to be done to repair the damage to Tegan after her adventures with the Doctor.
For Adric, no figure I had would fit the bill. But the new Harry Potter figure had the boyish look, the unruly hair. Still, the Harry Potter figure was too small. I bought a Real Heroes astronaut, a 10" figure, and put Harry's head on it. I had to wrap an elastic around the Real Heroes neckpost so Harry's head wouldn't pop off. The outfit is hacked together from various bits.
Helen is Tegan's receptionist and secretary, and while I had written her to be jovial, and to make it obvious she and Tegan had a friendly relationship, I decided to go with the figure of Xena's Gabrielle, wearing a sweater from the Sarah Foster Sweater Collection. Sadly, her serious face doesn't fully get the point across that she can rib Tegan about a mysterious boyfriend. I wish action figures could smile.
I beheaded the Gabrielle figure, and placed her on a Hasbro GI Jane Vietnam Nurse. Later, I intend to use Gabrielle's outfit on another companion.
Since the Doctor's portion of this story takes place so far in the future, my vision of the Master by then was similar to how he was before he stole Nyssa's father's body, in the episode, "The Keeper of Traken." Diseased, decrepit, his last body all but used up, and on the prowl for a new body.
The Emperor from the Star Wars figure line fit the bill. I didn't bother with the moustache. I used a black robe other than the one he came with, because I wanted some distinction between the stock Emperor and the Master. I used a robe that came with a wrestling figure, edged with satin, it was quite nice.
The hardest part to cast, of course, was the Doctor. I wanted him to be an older, more mature Doctor than Peter Davison. I also wanted him to have an expressive face, and to be versatile. I am planning on doing more stories with this Doctor. So the perfect face was the face of Hasbro's Buzz Aldrin.
For his outfit, I wanted him to have an amalgam of previous outfits. A long coat of some kind. A long scarf reminiscent, but not identical to, Tom Baker's scarf. A frilly shirt, like John Pertwee often wore. A wide-brimmed hat. Long boots. And I wanted to bring back Sylvester McCoy's umbrella.
So I used a WWI Ace coat, which is a supple leather-like vinyl. I took the shirt from the GI Joe Yankee soldier, with George Washington's neck ruffle. I cut the scarf from a striped jersey I found. I used a Michael's Craft Store cowboy hat, with the brim bent down for the hat. I borrowed his boots from one of the Jedi figures.
The umbrella is hand-made from bent copper wire, painted red, with a bead on it, and black cloth wrapped around it. It can't open, but looks good as a hand-held cane.
Behind The Sets
The TARDIS interior was set up in the offices of Turbine Entertainment Software Corporation. Here are some behind-the-scenes shots.
Click on a picture for a larger version.
|This is me, lining up shots of the Doctor inside the TARDIS console room. The storyboard is clipped to the light stand.|
Sean Dickinson places the coat rack into position. We started thinking the little cat would make a nice replacement for K-9 in a future story. Note the sheet on the table. It contains screenshots from episodes of Doctor Who showing the consloe room for reference. Note that Boba Fett and Lara Croft supervise the shoot.
|Me again. This time we had the TARDIS hallways set up as the Doctor enters his disused console room.|
This shows how we back-lit the console room to make the circular disks light up from behind. The shroud on the console is intended to show that it hadn't been used in a very long time.
|Another light is used to back-light the door section of the TARDIS console room.|
This story would have been hard to do without the technique of forced perspective. Since much of it was shot in a park, and grass doesn't scale to 1:6 very well, we had to use forced perspective to make the figures seem larger.
The technique requires setting your camera up against a real background, and cheating the 12" figures closer to the camera, and higher off the ground, than normal. We used boxes, and hands, to keep the figures in pretend perspective with the backgrounds.
Here, Tegan goes over a real bridge. I took a second picture without Tegan, and used Photoshop to composite the bridge back in over her legs. The result looks pretty good. Click the image to see the final composite.
Here, Sean Dickinson holds the Doctor up to make him scale well with the full-scale bridge behind him.
Here, Sean holds Tegan down on a Banker's box while I take the shot. The Doctor is using a leg-stand. To make forced perspective work, the shot has to be cropped so the box, or whatever they are standing on, is not visible.
Where's the Funny?
Doctor Who is known to be humorous at times. My own photo stories also have humorous situations or lines. I like to have a bit of humor to keep people laughing, sometimes when the story itself is more serious.
However, there was nothing humorous in this story. And that is by design. Earthshock had little humor in it, and a companion died at the end. The credits rolled with no music. This is a serious story, and any attempts at humor would have ruined the effect.
However rest assured, this Doctor will return, and next time, there'll be some fun!
Some things that may make some people (and Doctor Who fans) go "Huh?"
Click for larger version.
I have to say I'm very pleased with the result of my work here. It took a long time. Just putting together those two Daleks took weeks of free evenings. Then the console! Sheesh! The TARDIS came together rather quickly, though.
It was hot work, shooting under the sweaty sun for the park shoot, but the rest was shot at my office at Turbine Entertainment Software. Usually, during a shoot, several co-workers will file through to see how it's going.
The main result was that while it was hard work, it was fun. I wouldn't do these stories if they weren't fun.
I hope you had fun reading it.
If you get a chance, please visit Outpost Gallifrey, one of the finest Doctor Who sites on the web. In July of 2002 they featured my story on their Web Planet, a page of interesting Doctor Who links.
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