Monday, 11 April 2016

The E-Space Trilogy: Spotlight on "State of Decay"



Who doesn't like a good vampire story? A castle apon a hilltop, a nearby village with terrified peasants and a traveller who arrives from a far off land and ends up slaying the vampire. The usual description of an a-typical vampire story already sounds like the blueprint for a Doctor Who story doesn't it? It makes you wonder than why it took the series so long to do a vampire story with a Doctor Who spin on it in the first place. This was one of the earliest T.V shows or movies I saw that had Vampires in it and I really enjoyed it, I thought State of Decay was a fun story the first time round I saw it. I pretty much still do. It seems funny looking back on the first time I saw State of Decay and how my ten year old self didn't think "hang on what are they doing sticking vampires in a science-fiction T.V show like Doctor Who?" but if that thought had entered my head back when I first saw State of Decay it sure didn't stay there for long because of the science fiction spin the writer (Terence Dicks) did on vampires to make them fit into Doctor Who. I especially like the fact that Terence Dicks made the vampires of the Doctor Who universe ancient enemies of the Time Lords which expanded on what I knew about the Time Lords history at that point (here's a link to a scene from the story which explains that history - https://youtu.be/Ih17YLr7VvQ).



Originally State of Decay was going to open Tom Bakers fourth season (1977) as The Doctor. At the time, State of Decay was going to be called The Vampire Mutation, and was going to feature Lela with the Doctor instead of Lala Ward's Romana character, but then the classics department at the BBC decided to do an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula with a French film star called Louis Jourdan playing Dracula and Suddenly the higher ups at the BBC told the Doctor Who production team and the writer (Terence Dicks)  "No Vampires in Doctor Who because they'll think you're making fun of us", as if they would! Later on when the new script editor for Doctor Who "Christopher Bidmead was getting scripts together for Tom Bakers last season as the Doctor in 1980, he found that there was a dearth (lack of) of scripts in the Doctor Who script editors office. But he then talked to the producer John Nathan-Turner and he told Christopher Bidmead that there were already a couple of scripts that had already bean commissioned and one of them was the original finished script for The Vampire Mutation. John Nathan-Turner had been reading a pile of scripts for the show that hadn't been used and the only one that he liked was the Vampire Mutation script. Christopher Bidmead didn't like the title and it was changed to State of Decay, originally he wanted to change it to The Wasting but mercifully that title was rejected and State of Decay became the new title. The director for State of Decay was to be Peter Moffatt who would be making his directorial d├ębut to the series with State of Decay. John Nathan-Turn had sent Peter the script and he had loved it. So Peter Moffatt replied to the producer that he'd love to direct State of Decay. Time went by and Peter Moffatt received a new version of the script, which had been entirely changed from the original script. Christopher Bidmead had made a number of changes to the script to make it more scientific and gave it to the director who then said, "what is all this nonsense? Give me Terence's original script back". Peter Moffat phoned John Nathan-Turner and said that he wasn't doing it because what he had originally been shown was something that the producer had know that he would have wanted to do and the new script wasn't, so John Nathan-Turner got the old script back and let Peter Moffatt do that one instead. So what reached the screen was pretty much what Terrence Dicks had written.


I liked State of Decay, I thought the story was good and that it was atmospheric and haunting when it needed to be. However, I don't think that the horrific elements in the story were explicit enough and we should have seen at least one person having their neck bitten. All in all I think State of Decay is a story worth seeing. It takes a little bit of a pause in terms of the overall E-Space story arc which runs through Full-Circle, State of Decay and Warriors Gate. Here's a link which will take you to a page which will tell you more about the E-Space trilogy story arc - http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/espacetrilogy.shtml. There's one or two things in State of Decay I think could have been better, namely "the Great One" but I still enjoyed myself when I rewatched it last Saturday. In my next blog post I will be talking about "The Keeper of Traken".

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