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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The 'Meat and Potato' Scenes

Another one of the tricks of writing a spec script is knowing what the 'meat and potato' scenes of the show in question are.

These are the go-to scenes, things that happen every episode or bits that are so integral to the show that to NOT have them is going to start sending red flags to anyone who knows it.

It's like writing a CSI: Miami without without the dramatic shade pull and the bad pun that leads into the YEEEEAAAAAAH! of the opening credits.

Or the integral 'Barney' moment in every How I Met Your Mother.  It doesn't matter what he does, it'll always be some sort of outlandish plan/exclamation or dare.  A script without Barney being somehow Legen-- wait for it-- dary! is pretty much unheard of.

Well, in the case of Doctor Who the basic rule is that the Doctor should almost NEVER be left alone.  It can happen from time to time, but the Doctor works best when he's explaining the wonders of the universe to some poor mook who's in way over their head (sometimes that's even his own companions).

In the case of my current script, my original mook was Josie's father, William.  It was a great idea, in theory.  The man is in completely in over his head and he seemed like the perfect wall for the Doctor to babble at.  Except for the fact that it made two problems with my script.

1) He should be looking for his daughter.  He already lost his son down here - and believes he's dead - why would he be hanging around with this strange, babbling man?

2) The Doctor made William look stupid.  William is so uneducated that there's no way that he can reasonably respond to pretty much anything the Doctor says... except to nod along and look confused.

So, yeah.  What I thought would work in my head actually didn't work out in practice.

Though it did lead to the great note that it should be Josie in the room with the Doctor. (Thanks Deb and Priscilla).

It's a really good solution that, well, it does create ripples, but they're far more manageable.

The best thing about having Josie in the room is that she's a curious little girl.  You don't expect her to ask anything more than the kinds of questions a child would ask.  Better yet, maybe she can also use her child-like insights to help the Doctor in his quest (not sure if I'll actually do this yet...).

So I went to work on these scenes exclusively this morning, trying to see how it all would play out -- and so far, it's a great pairing.  So great that I wondered why I hadn't thought of this myself.  Which leads me to ripple effects.

The biggest ripple of this, so far, was that there are still 3 other people searching the catacombs for Josie (with a dragon stalking them).  To have them still out there looking for the little girl while the audience knows that she's safe and sound is okay for a short (short!) while, but the others need to find a new focus and fast.

What have I done so far?  Well, I managed to get them together into a group, which will help, and I set the dragon after them -- though, again, the ol' dragon chase is a card I can't play too often so I'm probably going to have to revisit this as well.

Other than that, there are also a couple of scenes that were integral to the plot that have to be reworked now that Josie's not in them, but I'm thinking that that's a bridge I'll cross once I get there (hopefully between now and then I'll find another, cooler, way to make the same general thing happen).

Right now it's all about trying to craft some really cool Doctor/Josie moments.

And the ripples?

Well, with any luck, they'll sort themselves out as I move forward.


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