Ah, that Bobby Ewing.
Fewer shower scenes outside of the one in Psycho and the one in N.Y.P.D. Blue have become quite so famous. Certainly there are fewer more contentious ways of ending a season than revealing that it’s all been a dream – although that’s a common trait in American TV. Season six of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, for example, explained away bad writing with an episode that suggested that the entire adventure up to that point had been the delusion of an institutionalised Buffy, and while the ending appeared to decry this, it still carried a note of ambiguity that always affected how I saw the rest of the show.
Red Dwarf got there first, of course, with the arguably more successful ‘Back To Reality’ – before revisiting the concept years later with the almost unwatchable ‘Back To Earth’. The it-was-all-a-dream ending was also used to amusing effect on Newhart, which concluded with Bob Newhart waking up in the bedroom he inhabited during his previous sitcom, whereupon we find out that his adventure as an innkeeper was a dream – an ending that directly parodied the bedroom scene in Dallas. Elsewhere, there’s St. Elsewhere, in which the camera pans up from the hospital to reveal [COLOSSAL SPOILER], while the final episode of Roseanne revealed the true fates of the characters in the book that the titular heroine had been writing.
Veterans of Brian of Morbius will remember that a while back I posted a video I’d done of an amended ending to the execrable ‘Wedding of River Song’ – one that shamelessly ripped off Airplane!, and which didn’t quite work the way I’d intended, but one that seemed to fit somehow. Which basically led us here. I’ve long since thought that a better ending to most of the Doctor Who series since the 2005 revival would be for [insert companion name here] to wake up in a hotel room where Sylvester McCoy / Paul McGann / Philip Glenister is stepping out of the shower. It’s thoroughly ridiculous, but arguably no less so than ‘The Big Bang’, in which Amy is able to reboot the universe by wishing really, really hard.
Gareth insists – and he keeps all our emails, so he’s probably right – that we’ve never discussed this. But I know I’ve talked about it with someone. Certainly ‘The Day of the Doctor’ taught us that the way the Doctor has chosen to remember an event that we took very much for granted, and which shaped the way we saw the character, was entirely wrong. It wasn’t so much a retcon as a reveal of new information, but I seriously wonder what Russell T Davies thinks about the whole thing. (Presumably his response would be something along the lines of “Quel Dommage!”).
When it came to putting this together, my options were limited. I didn’t want to just have Character A wake up and find the Doctor in the shower, so I had to fill in the backstory. The waking moment is preceded, as it turns out, by an explosion in J.R.’s office, and the department store in which Rose Tyler worked seemed an obvious choice. But Tennant’s sneaky jaunt through Adipose Industries in ‘Partners in Crime’ seemed much more appropriate than Eccleston’s fight with a plastic arm in a lift, while Jack’s run at the end of ‘Parting of the Ways’ adds a layer. What’s most interesting about this now is that Rose appears to have set off the bomb.
Anyway, here – for the sake of comparison – is the original Dallas footage.
(Start at 2:40 or thereabouts.)
Of course, there’s only one shower scene in the new series, and while I could have gone with Pertwee’s tattoos in ‘Spearhead From Space’, Matt Smith seemed a better fit. That caused problems, in that I had to expand his footage to make it flow better. If you listen carefully, you can hear the joins in the score. But it hangs together, just about, and as an academic exercise it works. And while I’m always going to be biased, I can’t help thinking it’s an improvement on ‘The Big Bang’.