November Books 21) Farewell Great Macedon, by Moris Farhi

This is a fascinating might-have-been, a six episode script for the first season of Doctor Who telling the story of a murder conspiracy against Alexander the Great, by Moris Farhi. It is moderately thrilling stuff: the plot is tight; the characterisation of the Tardis team, Alexander and his generals very good; the sense of historical predestination also consistent with Who as it developed.

But it could never have been made. It’s not because of the numerous hostages to continuity offered by Farhi’s script – language-teaching machine in the Tardis, the Doctor’s belief in God, Susan’s statements about their home time – these would have been weeded out in the editorial process. It is not even that the Tardis crew don’t really impact events (though that is a weakness of the story). It is simply that it is too sad: Alexander’s three closest friends all fall victims to the conspirators, followed by Alexander himself, leaving his realm to be divided between the complicit Seleucus and the loyal Ptolemy. As one of the commentaries in this edition puts it, Barbara and Susan shed more tears in this script than Rose Tyler does in her entire career.

We also have a bonus here, a single episode story (or perhaps the last episode of an unwritten longer story), The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance, in which the Tardis crew visits a planet where one of the locals literally dies of love for Barbara. It is also too sad to ever have been turned into a broadcast story, but I think that today’s fanficcers would love it – it’s totally in tune with the idea of takiing the show’s characters to places that the show’s writers never could.

So this is strongly recommended, though for slightly different reasons than I though it might be: good emotional character-driven writing, and a glimpse of how Doctor Who mght have been.

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1 Response to November Books 21) Farewell Great Macedon, by Moris Farhi

  1. nickbarnes says:

    O’Brien obviously intends it to be Kerguelen: it’s the right size, the right shape, and in the right place. If Kerguelen is north and west of Desolation, then Jack & co would have stopped at Kerguelen. In fact, some of the local geography of Kerguelen reportedly matches parts of the book. My guess is that some dedicated fan subsequently discovered something about Kerguelen which doesn’t fit with the book, so O’Brian decided to simplify the question by making the whole of Desolation imaginary.

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