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The Pandorica Challenge

I found this while poking around in my list on ffnet - I had completely forgotten about it!

History: Nearly two years ago now, ffnet user AnitaHoward and I were discussing a couple of videos of different classic Doctors reading the Pandorica speech and a video of an impressionist doing the speech as the Tenth Doctor. Now, we were completely aware that the classic Doctors (Davison and McCoy) had simply been handed the speech by fans at the con and asked to read it and so that's what they did, but we were both very disappointed by the performances, because, well, it just sounded like the Eleventh Doctor with the Fifth and Seventh Doctors' voices. Similarly for the Tenth Doctor impressionist, while the voice was spot-on, the speech simply felt wrong - that speech, as written, isn't the Tenth Doctor's style at all. The point we made was that different Doctors would have handled the situation differently, even if the final outcome would end up being the same.

Thus, we challenged each other to select a Doctor and write the scene for that Doctor, and this was my attempt. We called this "The Pandorica Challenge" because we were supposed to challenge each other, every other week, to rewrite other scenes for different Doctors, as exercises in writing style and voice, but we never did, sadly. Maybe I might work on that occasionally - looking at my notes, I had a number of ideas written down.

In spite of all of the spaceships hovering in the air outside and the disjointed bits of Cyberman that had tried to kill them in here, Nyssa was most disturbed by the change in the Doctor’s demeanor. Whereas a moment ago, he had dealt with the dangers with his usual cheerful, almost dismissive, manner, now his brow was creased with a frown as he stared at the Pandorica.

“What’s the matter, Doctor? What’s happening?”

“The final phase, Nyssa. It’s opening.”

With his hands jammed in his trouser pockets, the Doctor stood well back from the mechanism, watching it with interest. The circular panels of the large metal cube - two heads taller than himself - were sliding on its surface, revealing more panels and runes beneath them, with blue ethereal light radiating from the seams. Crossing his arms, he circled it, inspecting it up and down from all sides. He then knelt close, touching the panels as they moved, trying to glean any information he could from the shifting patterns.

He spoke into the communicator in his hand. “Get the TARDIS here. I need equipment.” His hand dropped back down to his hip as Turlough’s voice issued from the device with his acknowledgement. “What are you?” he murmured to the cube. “Everyone out there is here for you. What could you possibly be?” But no answers were forthcoming and he tore himself away.

He pulled his rolled-up hat from the pocket of his beige frock coat and, unfurling it, placed it on his head at a jaunty angle. With Nyssa following, he strode up the tunnel stairs and emerged onto the Salisbury plain, among the menhir. Thousands of spaceships, of all shapes and sizes, hovered above them, blocking out the night sky. Their floodlights illuminated the ancient stone circle and the fifty or so Roman soldiers who were staring up at the impossible array of floating vessels, petrified with awe and fear. With his hands in his pockets, the Doctor strolled around, taking inventory of the species represented, and Nyssa could see the boyish smile on his face. She trotted up next to him and spoke in a low voice.

“Doctor! Are you actually enjoying this?”

“Oh, quite, Nyssa. Have you ever seen such an assortment of sentient species in one place?”

Appalled, she tugged on his arm. “But these are all your enemies! And aren’t they all here to fight over whatever’s in that box?”

“Oh, yes. But they haven’t started yet, and that’s the important thing, really. All we need to do is keep them from starting.” He pulled the communicator from his pocket, fiddled with a few of its controls, then stepped onto the altar stone and raised the device to his mouth, his other hand back in pocket.

“Hello, Stonehenge.” Amplified as if by loudspeaker, he sounded like he was chatting with friends over a cup of tea. “You’re all here for the Pandorica, aren’t you? I have some bad news for you, though. It’s me.” He paused as a trio of ships buzzed low over the stones. “That’s hardly polite now, is it? Would you please settle down for a moment while I’m speaking?” He waited as the closer and faster ships stilled. “I thank you.

“As you all can see, I have the Pandorica. Are you coming down here to take it from me? Look.” He held his arms out wide and turned on the spot, so that all of the spaceships could see him clearly. “I’m not armed. I don’t even have a plan. But,” and his voice lowered to almost a whisper, “I also don’t have anything to lose.” His volume returned to its original conversational level. “So, do you still want the Pandorica? I’m the Doctor, and I won’t let you have it. I suggest that you think about who you’re up against. Then, do the smart thing.” He slipped his free hand back in his pocket and his mouth curved into a friendly smile. “Let someone else try first.”

He stood on the altar, communicator hand dangling at his side, and watched the ships. They hung motionless in the air, then, a few seconds later, they started retreating, flying back into the upper atmosphere. The Doctor smirked briefly, then hopped down to the ground. “That should keep them squabbling for a half an hour.” Motioning to Nyssa and the Roman legion, he strode back into the tunnel to the Pandorica.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2015 06:02 pm (UTC)
Well done! One comment, though, and this is what jarred me most about the classic Doctors taking this on. The part where he says "I also don't have anything to lose," I thought was referring to the fact that his home, everything he knew, was gone, so what else could he lose? Maybe it could be interpreted as something else, though.

I did nearly spit out my water at his comment, "That's hardly polite now, is it?" That's Five...

The whole original speech was really perfect for Eleven, but not the others. By design (at least I hope it was).
Sep. 23rd, 2015 09:03 pm (UTC)
Hm. I always interpreted that line from Eleven as more of a general threat, saying that he's willing to do anything to stop them, not that he's lost everything already. After all, Amy was standing, right next to him and the whole point of Eleven's run was that he was obsessed with her. (Is Moffat capable of having a main character who is not obsessed with someone else? Eleven -> Amy, Amy -> Eleven and Rory, Rory -> Amy, River -> Eleven, Clara -> Eleven, Clara -> Twelve and/or Danny, Twelve -> Clara...

But I digress.

Glad that that comment went over so well, and that you didn't choke to death... ;)
Sep. 22nd, 2015 10:19 pm (UTC)
Nicely done!! One of my favorite speeches by him, actually!!

Sep. 23rd, 2015 08:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It was fun picturing soft-spoken Five facing down all those spaceships.
Sep. 23rd, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC)
Interesting exercise!

And that Tennant impersonator is eerie. He's like, not exactly perfect, more like 99%, so it's landing on the edge of uncanny valley for me. (And Youtube thought I might therefore be interested in a video of John Barrowman doing his Scottish, which is also bizarre to listen to.)
Sep. 23rd, 2015 08:56 pm (UTC)
It's actually a rather fun thing to do! I found that I also had to imagine what had led up to this point, because you can imagine that it's not the same as what happened to Eleven, and that it would influence how the Doctor handled the situation. My friend who did this with me wrote this in two parts, setting up the whole situation leading into the speech.

Yes, I know exactly what you mean that he's not exactly perfect, and it made it eerie. I will need to go find that John Barrowman video now. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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