I’ve been re-watching some of the Davies era of Doctor Who, because I’m a glutton for punishment, and something has struck me. The series is incredibly formulaic when you get right down to it. So here is my guide to writing an episode of the relaunched Doctor Who under Russel T. Davies.
- Choose an impressive setting for your story. There have to be as many eye-catching visuals as possible.
- Decide on whether you want a new and ridiculous enemy, or a traditional (and ridiculous) enemy.
- If using a traditional enemy from Who‘s past, remember to use the monster’s catchphrase at least twice per episode. If it didn’t have a catchphrase, give it one (“Sontar-ha!” indeed).
- Reduce the motivations of everyone in the script to something a five-year-old can follow. If this means dumbing-down the traditional monsters so they are 2D representations of their past selves, all the better.
- Someone must fall in love with the Doctor.
- Choose a plot device that will wrap the story up in 2 minutes flat. It doesn’t matter if this makes it feel like you’re cutting the episode short, this is just a kid’s show, remember.
- Give the plot device a really impressive name. If possible, make sure the name actually means something totally stupid when you understand the meaning of the Word Salad Title you give it.
- If you can’t think of a name for the plot device, pick two or three really, really impressive sounding words and string them together. The Regurgitation Drive or the Doomsday Cephalothorax Transmogrifier are fine examples. The kids will be impressed at the big words, and that’s what counts.
- Dump your plot half way through the story, in favour of lots of running around between explosions.
- Oh, you didn’t have a plot? Someone’s running a conspiracy to take something over, then. If you can’t think of something for them to take over, the world will do.
- Throw in some witty one-liners, and cast every soap star you can get the phone number for.
Now sit back and wait for the BAFTAs to roll in. It’s not like you have any actual competition, is it?