Devious (Trailer)

Doctor Who

This is afan-made production whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.

Somewhere between his second and third incarnations, an “intermediate” Doctor is dispatched by the Time Lords to do battle with the Daleks yet again, attempting to foil their most ambitious scheme yet, but the cost in the lives of innocent bystanders is high. Before his mission is even complete, the Time Lords then catch up with the Doctor yet again and complete his sentence, forcing him to regenerate fully into his third persona and sending him into exile on Earth.

written by Ashley Nealfuller & David Clarke
directed by David Clarke
music by Martin Johnson

Cast: Tony Garner (The Doctor), Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Peter Tuddenham (Voix), Hugh Lloyd (Scribe), David Clarke (Auriga), Anthony Townsend (Callisto), Lynette East (Adreinna), Stephen Cranford (The Covellitor), Ashley Nealfuller (Chancellor Chaldor), Arthur Harrod (Aturo), Heather Cohen (Observer Aquilia), Chris T. Kirk (Observer Vardrah), Ian Edmond (Ralib), Richard Kingshott (Nilan)

Appearing in footage from The War Games: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor)

Notes: Technically, since his scenes were taped after he recorded the BBC radio play The Ghosts Of N-Space, Devious represents Jon Pertwee‘s final performance as the third Doctor before his death in 1996 (Pertwee’s scenes were filmed in April 1995). Other “name” guest stars include the late Peter Tuddenham, famous for voicing most of the sentient computers in the 1970s BBC space opera Blake’s 7. Filming on Devious began before filming began on the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie starring Paul McGann, and work on Devious continues even into the Matt Smith era. A “highlights trailer” was included, with the participation of the filmmakers, on the official BBC DVD of the second Doctor’s final regular story, The War Games (the UK release date for which is used as the premiere date for this trailer). The film’s official web site, including photos of many scenes not included in the War Games DVD trailer, can be found here.

Review: It’s hard to judge Devious on its own merits when all that’s available is a trailer. Devious is a sort of unfinished symphony: an epic work that doesn’t look like it’ll be finished anytime soon. And yet, it’s almost a part of mainstream Doctor Who folklore. It’s been in production for over 15 years, it marks Jon Pertwee’s last appearance as the Doctor, it fills in an intriguing gap in Who mythology, and Pertwee’s filmed scenes provided his surprising posthumous appearance in the 40th anniversary Big Finish audio story Zagreus. Devious is something that everyone’s heard about and, until the extended trailer appeared on The War Games DVD set, no one had seen.

Doctor Who: DeviousThe first impression is that it’s actually rather impressive, given the low budget that was obviously driving the whole thing. On their website chronicling the still-in-progress project, the filmmakers even admit to cheaping out on major elements like their TARDIS console room set – at least until they managed the impressive casting coup of Jon Pertwee, at which point it became “bring your ‘A’ game” time. Pertwee’s appearance is documented almost in full in the trailer that appears on the War Games DVD, though this has the side effect of making it look as though the entirety of Devious is trying to plug a minor hole in continuity (namely, the fact that we didn’t actually see Patrick Troughton regenerate into Pertwee, even though it’s pretty safe to assume that this must have happened in there somewhere). There’s more to it than that, but the War Games DVD trailer obviously concentrates on the scenes filling that gap.

Devious‘ own original Doctor, Tony Garner, is a good choice for the role – he really does look like a transitional stage between Troughton and Pertwee. (Thanks to the somewhat gutsy decision to repurpose a clip of Troughton from The Two Doctors, we actually see Troughton transform into Garner and, later, Garner transform into Pertwee.) And to give some credit where it’s due, the props made for Devious are impressive. (If you’re wondering how anyone can possibly know that, don’t worry – you have seen the props from Devious, whose TARDIS console room set and full-sized Daleks were used in the Rowan Atkinson charity spoof The Curse Of Fatal Death.)

Will Devious ever be completed? It’s tempting to just shrug and say “no,” given that the 1996 TV movie had yet to be cast, let alone filmed, when work began, and we’re now six years into a new series which hit the air in 2005, and Devious still isn’t done. But the filmmakers behind it insist that work is continuing, and one would assume that a dream project like this – I mean, c’mon, recruiting Jon Pertwee himself to play the Doctor at a time when there was no reasonable expectation that anyone else would ever play the role in front of a camera again? – won’t be left for dead. In any case, by way of Zagreus, Fatal Death and other fannish projects that have used Devious’ astoundingly well-built prope, the production has already left a lasting impression on the Doctor Who mythos… even if it’s just unofficially.

Don’t give up on it, guys. It looks really cool.