Thursday, May 14, 2020

Andrew Cartmel Writes

One of my favourite active writers is Andrew Cartmel. His fiction and non-fiction works have me waiting for the next in line.

His blog, Narrative Drive, is a series of thoughts on books and movies, old and new. The Brit's infectious enthusiasm is apparent in the various postings, with the recent bits on a number of pulp crime novels making me want to explore the genre beyond the book covers....which are fab!

The "Vinyl Detective" series is now five strong, with the latest book scheduled to be released later this year. I've read the first two in the chain, and have reviewed them ("Written in Dead Wax"", "The Run-Out Groove"), with the third ("Victory Disc") sitting on the reading table waiting to be enjoyed -- Turk and Fanny await their biscuits, so get on with it, mate!

Script Doctor: The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986-1989 is an absorbing non-fiction work about Cartmel's tenure on Doctor Who, just as that long-running British science fiction series was winding down -- though they did not know it at the time, of course. (I rarely, if not barely, mention the new "Who". It does not offend me; it just bores me. I tried watching a few eps recently.) The show's encumbrance by a static budget, with a BBC "sixth floor" in stasis, makes one who is interested in TV production appreciate what DW's new script editor had to deal with when producing product. These television makers weren't the first to experience "if it's not one thing, it's another", so much a part of any production, big or small, and their tasking of reinvigorating and maintaining a series that BBC controller Michael Grade so vocally despised, albeit not always without reason, should make one realize that what went-out to your telly was often a simple reduction and compression of uncontrollable chaos. (Sitting in a pub till late at night instead of working on that special makeup might not sit well with those who hoped for more; even considering the restrictive budget. And in the control room, that televised cricket match may very well be more interesting than what's playing on the in-studio monitors.)

Script Doctor is outstanding. The fact that Cartmel drew much of the book's source material from a diary that he kept during Who's writing and production phases, makes for full-spectrum authenticity. I'm working on a review, with the initial draft coming fast: the piece opens with a background story on my relationship with the classic series. But I soon realized that I want to watch a few more stories from the so-called "Cartmel Masterplan" era before I publish the book review. Thank you, Britbox! They're all there.

The story's in process. I just need a little more time and space....

No comments: