We all know that Benedict Cumberbatch would have made a superb Doctor (and almost did, and still might, one day). We also know that he plays Sherlock (and Moffat writes Sherlock) as a reclusive genius who is not unlike the Doctor. We also know that The Doctor’s aloof genius persona has probably, over time, been derived from that of Sherlock Holmes. We also know that Cumberbatch is friends with Matt Smith. So this latest incarnation is rather like Steve Coogan playing Tony Wilson in the same manner as he played Alan Partridge, who was inspired by the real life Tony Wilson.
But what if we were to make the crossover more explicit, and place Cumberbatch’s Holmes inside the TARDIS – accompanied by Freeman’s Watson – and make him the Doctor? Well, I’m sure it’s been done. It’s certainly been done visually –
(Acquired from this blog, and really quite inspired.)
I’m sure there are plenty of literary pastiches out there as well. And here is mine. It may be similar – indeed, nigh on identical – to a lot of the existing material, but I don’t have the time or inclination to look for any. There’s a danger that if you research similar material too much, it will start to influence your own. This is raw, and probably full of holes, but I wrote it in a hurry and am quite pleased with it.
– – –
INT. TARDIS CONTROL ROOM. DAY
[The ship hums gently as it travels through space. We pan across the console; panels fill with diagnostics and lights beep and flash. We can hear – somewhere out of shot – the tones of what may be a violin, but not one of this earth. Pan across: it’s the DOCTOR, debonair and arrogant in appearance, with a shock of black curly hair. He wears a maroon coloured silk shirt and is playing the violin slowly and senuously: an angular, atonal melody. All of a sudden he stops, holds the violin in one hand and picks up a pencil in the other, to make a notation on a piece of manuscript resting on a nearby table.
He has almost finished writing when a nearby console bleeps in alarm, as if giving off a warning signal. The Doctor loses concentration and his pencil slips; irritated, he scrunches up the manuscript into a ball and tosses it at the panel, whereupon the light goes out and the beeping stops. Satisfied, the Doctor lifts the violin once more to his neck and grasps the bow in one hand, but has played three or four notes when the console begins to beep again.]
Enter JOHN WATSON, in striped blue pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers, looking suspiciously like Arthur Dent, towelling his hair.]
John: Are you going to answer that?
The Doctor: Answer what?
John: The distress signal.
The Doctor: Perhaps in a while.
John: It’s been ringing for the last twenty-five minutes. Ever since I went in there.
The Doctor: Twenty-three and a half.
John: Have you been timing it?
The Doctor: No, I’ve been timing you. You always take exactly eleven minutes in the shower, I can tell because of the rise and fall in the water pressure. Allowing for disrobing that’s eleven minutes thirty. Six minutes to dry, of which you spent two shaving; you’ve missed a spot under your chin. Another four minutes to find your pyjamas, you wanted the pale blue ones because it’s Thursday and that always reminds you of the Thursday we went to the marine planet just the other side of Clom, you got sentimental about having to leave the mermaid piranhas so every Wednesday you always wash the pale blue pyjamas so K-9 can iron them in time for Thursday evening. You had to go to the walk-in wardrobe but you got lost because you forgot the TARDIS reconfigured herself last week – the specifics of trans-dimensional architecture never were your strong point. So that’s another two minutes walking round the ship the long way.
John: You know, sometimes I hate you.
The Doctor: No you don’t.
John: Are you composing again?
The Doctor: Yes.
John: After the last time? Music of the Spheres? Do you seriously not remember the fiasco that caused?
The Doctor: I take no responsibility for that night. The appearance of the Graaske had nothing to do with me. And it’s not my fault that the Royal Albert Hall has security to rival Strangeways.
John: Anyway. The distress signal. Are you answering it or not?
The Doctor: No, I’m fed up of solving dull and tedious problems for uneducated rabble.
John: How can you be sure this one is dull and tedious?
The Doctor: It’s the red light. That means it’s within twenty thousand light years. That narrows it down to one of seven planets that we know are either inhabited or contain any sort of life. None of them are interesting.
John: They still may need our help!
The Doctor: [sighs, puts down the violin] Fine. Get me the list.
John: The what?
The Doctor: It’s been going for three days straight, there’s bound to be a list.
John: If it’s been going for three days most of them are probably going to be dead by now, aren’t they?
The Doctor: Try engaging your brain at least sometimes, John, and take a look around you! Where do you think we are?
[There is a pause as John thinks this one through.]
John: Right! The list.
[He snatches a printout from a slot near the machine and begins to read.]
John: Missing colonists on Proxima’s second moon –
The Doctor: Dead.
John: Ghost freighter found drifting in the Delta Quadrant –
The Doctor: Boring. Next!
John: Possible bandits at Ursa Major, ship taking heavy fire –
The Doctor: Meteor shower. It’ll go on for an hour or so and then stop and the residual damage will repair itself. Next!
John: Bees found on Alpha Centuri –
The Doctor: Oh, for God’s sake! I’m better than this. I mean it, really. I am. [looks around] Where’s Mrs Hudson?
John: We left her in the library and said we’d pick her up in a month. You remember?
The Doctor: Vaguely. When was that?
John: Ten years ago.
[There is the noise of a sudden explosion somewhere outside the TARDIS, and the control room shakes violently. Both men are flung off their feet; John steadies himself on a console; The Doctor rebalances himself and then sits down in a battered leather armchair.]
John: What the hell was that?
The Doctor: Some sort of collision. Someone flying through the vortex in the opposite direction on the wrong side of the time stream.
John: [with obvious disdain] Only in this part of the universe.
The Doctor: Please don’t try and get smart, it doesn’t suit you. Just check the screens and see if there’s any damage.
[John punches a few touch-screen displays.]
John: Let’s have a look at you…nothing in the engine room, no sign of shields being impacted, just – ah. Doctor? I think you should come and have a look at this.
The Doctor: Can’t you just describe it to me? I’m not moving for anything less than a spontaneous wormhole.
John: It’s a spontaneous wormhole.
The Doctor: Well. The day just got interesting.
John: And the controls just broke.
The Doctor: What?
John: The panels are dead. Everything seems to have frozen, it’s a total lockout. Almost as if something else –
[There is the shimmering flash of a teleportation device, and a DALEK appears in the control room.]
Dalek: DO NOT MOVE. THERE IS NO ESCAPE. WE HAVE LOCKED THE CONTROLS OF THE TARDIS. YOU WILL OBEY US OR YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED.
The Doctor: And here was I thinking it would be a nice quiet evening.
Dalek: WE WILL ALLOW YOU TO PILOT THE TARDIS TO A LOCATION WE WILL SPECIFY. ONCE YOU ARE THERE YOU WILL SURRENDER YOUR DNA IMPRINT SO THAT WE MAY HAVE THE MACHINE TO OURSELVES. YOU WILL OBEY OUR ORDERS.
The Doctor: Is that a royal ‘we’?
Dalek: [processes this] EXPLAIN YOURSELF.
The Doctor: You keep using the third person, but as far as I can see, there’s only one of you. Why should I be threatened by only one of you?
Dalek: ONE OF US IS ENOUGH. ONE OF US IS ALWAYS ENOUGH.
The Doctor: Except…
John: Doctor, just…you know, it’s a Dalek. Be careful.
The Doctor: Except…it’s me, isn’t it? I mean, you know me. I’m your biggest nightmare. I’ve defeated you a thousand times. You talk about being the superior race when you’re really just a dustbin with a licorice whirl stuck on the end of a breadstick. You’re absolutely pathetic.
John: [to the Dalek] Please don’t exterminate him. I know how you feel, honest. Sometimes I feel like decking him myself. I’m sure you would, I mean, well – if you had any arms. So anyway, yeah, no exterminating yet, OK?
Dalek: YOUR ARROGANCE WILL BE YOUR UNDOING.
The Doctor: Or it may be my salvation. Because while you’ve been wittering on, I’ve been moving around you enough to notice a few things. That eye stalk is flickering every seven seconds, which is a sign it’s malfunctioning; you can’t see very much, if you can see at all, and certainly not enough to pilot your way through a wormhole. Faint traces of oil on the lower torso, you’ve undergone maintenance recently but you still leak, you’re battle damaged as the crack on your left side shows – self-repair should have fixed that, unless it’s not working….but the biggest clue of all that you’re not much of a threat to us is the simple fact that you cast no shadow. Which means that you’re not really here at all. Which means that I can do this –
[And before anyone can stop him, the Doctor runs his hand clear through the Dalek, which is obviously a hologram.]
The Doctor: – and oh look. Thin air. You’re a projection.
[And abruptly, the Dalek vanishes.]
John: It was never here? In our heads or something, some kind of hallucination?
The Doctor: Oh grow up, what do you think this is? No, it was real all right, just controlled. We were supposed to think it was here, which would have made it a threat, but it was somewhere else. However. The life readings indicate something’s on board the ship, which means that even if the Dalek itself wasn’t real, the thing controlling it….most certainly…
Voice [off]: Oh, bravo! Bravo!
[Slow clapping as the owner of the voice – a sinister but mildly camp Irish accent – comes into full view. It is of course JIM MORIARTY, criminal mastermind.]
The Doctor: I wondered when you’d show again. I just can’t get rid of you, can I?
Moriarty: I’m like an erect member in the presence of a lovely man. I just keep turning up.
John: [staggered] But…he was dead. I saw the body, I saw his corpse.
Moriarty: Gunshot wound to the head, wasn’t it? John, I’m disappointed. You really didn’t think this through, did you?
John: Apparently not.
Moriarty: Well, maybe your gay lover has figured it out.
John: I’m not –
The Doctor: He’s not –
John: – I mean, we’re not – well never mind what I mean. What do you mean?
Moriarty: Doctor? Tell him.
[The Doctor is silent, hesitating. He appears not to know the answer.]
Moriarty: Well! This is a turn-up for the books. There’s me thinking you and I were on the same wavelength. I sell you a puzzle and you’re convinced it’s the truth. You’re getting complacent in your old age.
The Doctor: I’m 1153. Still young, by Time Lord standards.
Moriarty: Mmm-hmm. I can relate to that.
[John looks from one to the other in confusion, and The Doctor’s eyebrow visibly arches as he takes in this news.]
Moriarty: And the penny drops. There I was, using my real name and everything.
The Doctor: Except it was shortened. This time you reversed it. And switched to anagrams. Rich Book…Reichenbach. James Moriarty….
Moriarty: Back from the dead. Regeneration was a bitch this time round. I had to grow a whole new face. Well, that happens every time, but there’s usually something there to start with. It hurts. And I. Will hurt. You.
The Doctor: You were him…but your shortened name missed out three of the letters of Master. That’s why I missed it. Stupid. Stupid, stupid. [Facepalm]
Moriarty: And sloppy. Makes me think of you as terminally disadvantaged, like a kitten with one leg. I almost feel inclined to spare you as a result, but I don’t think I will.
John: What’s your plan?
Moriarty: You, are, basically, this gigantic thorn. Except it seems I can never quite pull you out. Because every time I do, you find a way to worm your way back into my bleeding hands. Oh, there’s a lot of blood on them. Some of it’s yours, some of it isn’t. Have you been to the library lately, Doctor?
The Doctor: The library?
John: Mrs Hudson.
The Doctor: If you’ve hurt her, I’ll –
Moriarty: You’ll what? You’ll get cross and shout a bit and then you’ll go into a three-day fug where you don’t talk to anyone and spend a long time standing on rooftops looking broody. You don’t think I can afford to have people watch you every second? Anyway relax, I’ve not hurt her yet. But I might. You could, of course, turn over the TARDIS and then let me kill you first. Or you could refuse, and while you’re gallantly thinking of a way to stop me I can snap my fingers and the sniper I’ve got rigged up in the library will pull the trigger.
The Doctor: You’re bluffing.
Moriarty: Maybe. Are you really prepared to risk that?
The Doctor: Yes.
Moriarty: I don’t think you are. Nor does your friend there.
John: Just…let her go. You can have the TARDIS, I’m sure we can –
The Doctor: No. [to John] Can you imagine what a lunatic like this would do with this machine? The only way we could stop him from destroying the universe last time round was by taking away his own TARDIS. We can’t even consider giving it to him. Not for a second.
John: But if we don’t, we’ll lose Mrs Hudson. And we can’t go back and rescue her, because that means crossing the timeline.
Moriarty: Ooh, clever. You’ve obviously been teaching him, it’s like watching a dog learn to play piano. So what’s it going to be, Doctor? You give me the TARDIS and you’ll probably find a way to stop me and then at some point I’ll kill you anyway, but God knows how much irreparable damage I’ll have done in the meantime. Or…
The Doctor: I stop you now…and Mrs Hudson dies.
Moriarty: Bimbo. You have ten seconds. Choose.
[Shot of John, looking from one to the other, bewildered. Then Sherlock, anxious, frowning, undecided. Then cut to black.]