lost_spook: (s&s - silver)
[personal profile] lost_spook
For [personal profile] eve11 in the Fic Commentary Meme, this segment of Prospero's Daughter, a fic for Big Finish's Unbound series of AU Doctors (published to celebrate DW's 40th anniversary in 2003). This one was for Full Fathom Five, with the AU in that audio being essentially, what if the Doctor went dark? (With the Doctor in question being played by David Collings, so clearly it was a strange and explicable thing that I found myself listening to it, obv.).

I also have a bit of an odd relationship with the fic, because it was the first thing I wrote properly after relapsing with the ME in Jan 2011, and it left me with no mental concentration for a month afterwards, which was pretty terrifying. I thought I'd never write again, and even if it was probably only a month or two later I was writing a tiny tiny Sapphire & Steel ficlet, it felt like a lot longer, and it still took me another year before I could manage that many words again, and I panicked about whether or not it was any good afterwards. It became a Fic of Doom.*


Anyway, in short I both loved and hated the audio and desperately felt the need to write fic. I felt that, accidentally, nearly a decade earlier, BF had come up with something that was effectively a seriously twisted up version of the Eleven & Amy relationship (in some ways) - it was a bit fairy tale, but the really dark sort; the audio also makes more sense post New Who in that it's hard not to imagine Collings!Doc as being an alternate Ten or Eleven who really didn't take the Time War well.

Also while I have issues with some aspects of the audio, it is interesting. A lot of things with the Doctor being dark come across as being OOC, because there are limits as to how far you can go and remain Doctor-ish. The thing David Collings really brings to it is an ability to remain Doctor-ish while being dark; this embittered verison of the Doctor who uses all the same sorts of tricks, but has become essentially amoral; he's crossed a line. (I love David Collings; I have no idea where I'd place him as a TV actor, I just like him heaps, but as an audio actor he's very good - clever, effective, and expressive, and he's done loads of BBC Radio stuff, so he's also got a lot of audio experience, which shows in his BF entries, but, anyway, that's not the point here.)

My fic was backstory, a series of vignettes of Ruth growing up with the Doctor around because I desperately wanted more of that. The requested section is one of those pieces:

Finishing a spot of business that was no concern of a young girl like Ruth, he found he couldn’t see her where he had left her – but he could hear the taunting voice from round the corner; its owner hidden in a small alley between the shops. It wasn’t familiar, but in another sense it was: the eternal voice of the tyrant and the bully, ever the same from world to world. Ruth’s family had changed their name, but people found out, and whenever they did, there was trouble and hate.

The Doctor turned the corner sharply, in time to catch two boys standing over Ruth, huddled back against the wall, tearful but glaring fiercely. One of them darted away at the sight of him, but the other only shifted his ground and looked back at him with a gaze that said: so what? You can’t touch me.

“Ruth,” the Doctor said, moving past the boy as if he didn’t exist. He helped her up, noting that her hair was half out of her ponytail and she had gained scratches and marks that she hadn’t had when he’d left her. “Your mother is in the corner shop – I suggest you go and join her.”

Ruth took a shaky breath, also clearly trying not to put weight on one leg. “But, Doctor -”

“Now, Ruth.”

The Doctor paused for a moment, letting her leave before rounding on the teenaged boy with a swiftness that startled the aggressive confidence out of him. He pinned him up against the wall, much as this childish would-be tyrant had done to Ruth, and then drew back, pulling a paper bag from his pocket. “Want a jelly baby?”

“Wha-?” the boy gasped, and then tried to pull away. “No. Leave me alone. You’ve got no right – let me go!”

“I have every right,” snarled the Doctor, in his ear. “And you will have a jelly baby, because that’s what your sort do, isn’t it?” He pressed the sweet into his hand, the boy taking it in a daze. He resumed his more usual tones: “You take the soft, and the innocent, the weak, and the ones that are green-coloured and different and you bite their heads off, and swallow them whole. Go on. Show me. This is something you’ll want to remember.”

He lifted his hand and then muttered something that the Doctor only just managed to catch.

“They’re not poisoned,” said the Doctor, with a twitch of amusement. “Of course not. Why should they be? It’s a jelly baby, that’s all. Just a defenceless creature you’re going to stand here and eat.”

The boy pressed further back against the bricks of the wall and did as he was told.

“And the next,” said the Doctor, looming over him. “All of them, one by one, until you’ve got that lesson into your brain. I trust you have a brain, despite all appearances to the contrary?”

The bully might have tried to say something about him being crazy, but he couldn’t quite get the words out properly, in between jelly babies.

When he was done, the boy looked up, definitely queasy by now, in the unspoken hope that the madman was going to release him. The Doctor did, and then reached in his other pocket for a second bag of sweets. The boy blanched at the sight; his face having turned noticeably green around the edges.

“There,” the Doctor said, pushing the bag into the bully’s hand. “And do understand how lucky you are. I’ve decided you’re young; you might yet change. Let me see you preying on the weak again and you will regret it. Consider the sweets a warning – and don’t forget. Don’t ever forget, or I won’t be responsible for what happens next time we meet.”

The boy tore down the road, too terrified to worry about hiding the tears.

The Doctor watched him go, and then wondered if he had been growing inexplicably lenient in his old age.



It's quite funny that [personal profile] eve11 pulled this out, because I was so unsure at the time whether or not it was going too far or just being too silly, but apparently not, according to other people, which is a relief. Evil jelly baby usage is fine! (Maybe.)

It's probably the most obvious example of taking a typical DW trait and twisting it a bit, which runs through the fic. The Doctor is still handing out jelly babies; he's still in favour of justice and fairness, but he's that bit more ruthless about how far he'll go, or what he'll sacrifice along the way and I did really enjoy playing with that here.

Anyway, I had all the feelings about Full Fathom Five; all the feelings pretty much always = fic. (I think the plot is kind of rubbish and I hate the ending, but I also really really like/am fascinated by lots of the rest of it, and Ruth and the Doctor, and I want them as they are, and also what the good version of them would be like, which would obv. be Battlefield-future-Merlin-Doctor**, and whyyyy didn't BF do that, since they had snagged David Collings, and even if they couldn't do it, then why isn't there AU fic where that's what happens instead? etc. etc. etc. *coughs*)

tl;dr: I am rubbish about talking about my thoughts on things. It's lucky I can write fic at least, because then people seem to get what I'm on about.



* Yes, there are others.

** The future Doctor in Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of Battlefield is red-haired, which is probably what RTD was riffing on re. the Doctor and being ginger (because he loves Battlefield an amazing amount). And since Ben Aaronovitch may well have been referring to David Collings, then something of a fan favourite for the Doctor, it's therefore perfectly legit to assume that every time the Doctor complains about not being ginger that he's in fact complaining that he never got to be David Collings.

Date: 1 Jul 2017 10:10 am (UTC)
aralias: (tardis!)
From: [personal profile] aralias
it's therefore perfectly legit to assume that every time the Doctor complains about not being ginger that he's in fact complaining that he never got to be David Collings.

\o/

it's good logic, too, and stands up :) although obviously he probably wouldn't want to be this doctor, despite the fact that he is david collings.

v interesting fic, and v interesting commentary. i dont think it's going to far, given what happens in the audio.

Date: 1 Jul 2017 10:12 am (UTC)
ashlyme: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ashlyme
I liked this a lot. I was half expecting the jelly baby to get shoved down the kid's throat...

*also what the good version of them would be like, which would obv. be Battlefield-future-Merlin-Doctor*

HUH. Can we see DC in an Afghan coat?

Date: 1 Jul 2017 01:02 pm (UTC)
shannonsequitur: (Doctor Who - Nyan TARDIS)
From: [personal profile] shannonsequitur
One of the greatest things (to me, anyhow) about Doctor Who fandom is that I've been in it for a little over ten years (!) and still learn new stuff. "Battlefield" is my favorite Seventh Doctor serial (as I've mentioned before), but I had no idea that RTD also loves it or that the future Doctor in the novelization is specifically stated to be ginger.

I only just now watched last week's episode, and this made me a lot less grumpy.

Date: 1 Jul 2017 05:34 pm (UTC)
shannonsequitur: (Doctor Who - Nyan TARDIS)
From: [personal profile] shannonsequitur
When I posted about "Battlefield" in 2014, I mentioned in a comment that

"...I forgot that it ends with Morgaine and Mordred being taken into UNIT custody. Which just makes me imagine that all this time, they've been sitting in plexiglass cages in a UNIT prison a few thousand feet below a tiny island in the middle of the ocean."


Since the current production team is apparently so fscking obsessed with flat-out stupid levels of continuity references (*grumpy*), here's my pitch for a "Battlefield" sequel/prequel combination: Morgaine tricks her way out of her plexiglass (or whatever) prison and vows her revenge on the earth. (If Jean Marsh—happy birthday to her, by the way!—isn't up for it, Morgaine could always just take over some random UNIT personnel's body or something.) In order to save the world, the Doctor has to become Merlin in the alternate universe in the first place.

Or, you know, it could still be a Big Finish audio drama with David Collings (also less likelihood of having to replace Jean Marsh).

Date: 1 Jul 2017 02:51 pm (UTC)
liadtbunny: (DC Script)
From: [personal profile] liadtbunny
Scary, belivable jellybabies!

I haven't listened to Full Fathom Five as I'm not sure I can handle dark Doctor DC.

Yes, not being ginger David Collings is something to complain about;p

Date: 2 Jul 2017 03:22 pm (UTC)
liadtbunny: (Blake seat driver)
From: [personal profile] liadtbunny
Oh I dunno, I avoid all those depressed detectives looking for missing kids shows!

Date: 1 Jul 2017 06:46 pm (UTC)
eve11: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eve11
It definitely struck me as the defining moment of the fic, just wickedly twisted. I also like in FFF how the whole amorality takes a little while for you to realize; it creeps up on the listener, and you captured that sentiment very well in the story. I didn't realize that the actor was David Collings though, until you mentioned it. I am sorry it became a Fic of Doom (tm) but your fears were misplaced! And anyone who has enough DW expanded universe canon under their belts to click on a Full Fathom Five backstory has the right sentiments to appreciate the tone and the way you build up the characters.

Date: 1 Jul 2017 07:37 pm (UTC)
persiflage_1: Pen and ink (Writer's Tools)
From: [personal profile] persiflage_1
I might have to give FFF a re-listen then re-read your fic.

Gotta admit, the David Warner Unbound audios are the only ones I've listened to more than twice (and I'm overjoyed that he's getting further outings now with Benny!)

Date: 1 Jul 2017 08:40 pm (UTC)
persiflage_1: 10th Doctor Martha Hugging (10 Martha Hands Hug)
From: [personal profile] persiflage_1
Yeah, that's a TOTAL mystery! LOL

I think my feelings about David Warner are a bit like yours about David Collings, but not to the same degree of intensity.

Date: 2 Jul 2017 07:56 am (UTC)
auronlu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] auronlu
That is a wonderful creepy portrait of the Doctor and it reminds me of johann's drawing of The fourth doctor as Zagreus, taking Tom's unnerving grin and making it just a little more unnerving.

Also, I feel like David Collins was lLegolas (as well as Mawdryn? Will have to look up later.) In the BBC audio LOTR which I love best. I'm sure he''s done a ton of other things as well which I should know about, but anyway because of that association I find it amusing when he's playing somebody ruthless even though the elf could be pretty damn fierce when needed – – see "you would die before your stroke fell."
Edited (Fixing Siri's stranger transcriptions) Date: 2 Jul 2017 08:00 am (UTC)

Date: 2 Jul 2017 04:55 pm (UTC)
auronlu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] auronlu
Oh, wow. S2 J&L is part of my huge BF listening queue of audios i haven't yet gotten to, but that one with Patrick Troughton is a toughie.

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