Fan Film Reviews – The Dark Dimension (Animated)
Story: Hawkspur (as he will be called), an alien menace in the far future manages to kill the McCoy Doctor, but gets defeated. However, the critter travels back along the Doctor’s timeline into the past. There, it interferes to prevent the fourth Doctor from regenerating, instead, packing him off to a mental institution, safely out of the way. With the fourth Doctor a drugged out has been in a mental institution, Hawkspur then proceeds with its plan for the destruction of the human race.
Meanwhile, the succeeding Doctors are in trouble as their timelines wink out. Sophy Aldred’s character, identified as Dorothy but really Ace, has to figure out what’s going on, The Brigadier gets involved. There’s a lot of jumping in and out of time vortexes, as the Brigadier and Dorothy try to help the fourth Doctor find himself, and travel in and out of time to meet the other Doctors.
Teaser: BBC Enterprises has the thankless task of selling the BBC’s productions worldwide, selling BBC videos and DVDs, licensing out tosh merchandise, whatever. For BBC Enterprises, Doctor Who is their big cash cow, their gold mine. It’s basically what they’re using to make money hand over fist. But its also cancelled. You can figure, that they’re a bit concerned about that. I mean, hey, huge back catalogue, lots of product. But the world moves on, and sooner or later, without new product, that catalogue is going to start looking tale and old fashioned. But for now, Doctor Who is making them lots of money and they love it.
The clock winds on. 1989 turns to 1990, which turns into 1991. Still nothing on the Doctor Who front, that hiatus just keeps on going. 1992 comes along, and now we are coming up on the thirtieth anniversary. So if for no other reason, excitement starts to mount, there’s a sense of anticipation.
BBC Enterprises, if no one else, sees an opportunity to make some real money. They’re marketing people. This is how it works. You look for occasions, opportunities to cash in, to sell product. Anniversaries are big.
But, it’s also around this time, that Tom Baker starts to feel a little nostalgic. The thing was, he played the Doctor for seven years, and seven years playing a single character… that gets exhausting. There’s a sense of boredom and frustration, there’s a sense of life passing you buy, opportunities coming and going untapped. He’d gotten pretty sick of it. So when he left, he basically wanted out. No coming back for the Five Doctors, no public appearances in the scarves. He wasn’t going to be Adam West, patching up the seams in his old batsuit. No, Baker wanted a clean break from it. To leave it behind.
But now… it’s eleven or twelve years later. He’s feeling a bit nostalgic. He lets it be known to someone, perhaps several someones, that he wouldn’t mind playing the Doctor one more time.
At this point, it’s not exactly clear what happens next or how it comes about.
The key character in this whole drama seems to be the improbably named Adrian Riglesford, who is in various eyes, the hero, the villain, the fool or a minor supporting player in the piece. As to what his exact role is, opinions vary, but I think he was more central than the official histories, what there are, suggest.
Riglesford’s claim to fame is that he wrote the script for Dark Dimensions. He has a smattering of other credits on the internet movie database, nothing to write home about. Mostly, he seems to have been a television and movie writer – doing ghostwriting for Peter Sellers and Brian Blessed, magazine articles, specialty books on Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, etc.. This is a respectable career as media a writer, pays the bills, but it’s also nothing to indicate that this was the guy to write the thirtieth anniversary story.
Did I say respectable career? Maybe not so much. In fact, it turns out that a lot of his media work seems to be sloppy and unsourced, lots of quotes from dead people, lots of errors. Rigelsford’s work was peppered with a lot of unverifiable quotes from ‘final interviews’ with persons since passed on. So he kind of garnered a reputation among the hard core fans as a bit of an idiot, or worse. Here’s a typical gag floating around from the day: Some fan says he was at a seance. Another fan asks, “Was Adrian Rigelsford there conducting interviews for his next book?”
Apparently, he published the last interview with Stanley Kubrick before his death… Except that no record or recording of that interview was found to exist, and it’s now considered to be fraudulent, particularly by Kubrick’s closest associates. There was a lot of this kind of thing.
There was also the matter of theft – apparently, he stole a few photographs from the Daily Mail/Associated Newspapers Archive library and sold them. Fifty six thousand pictures over eight years, to be exact, sold for seventy five thousand pounds. He spent eighteen months in jail over that in 2004. I’m kind of flabbergasted – 56,000 photographs? Even over eight years, how the hell does one manage that? That’s 7000 photographs a year. 600 a month. 20 a day. How the does that happen? Did he show up regularly with a suitcase?
Rigleford, deservedly, earned the reputation as a fraud artist, a thief, a dubious person all the way around. Which is a shame because it seems unnecessary. He seems to have had a career as a wunderkid. He was knocking out books in his early 20’s. The Dark Dimensions saga takes place when he’s about 23. He was getting professional magazine sales, which is impressive.
I think that in literary terms, Adrian would be what we call an unreliable narrator. But he also seems essential to the story. Anthony Frewin, an associate of Stanley Kubrick, the fellow who blew the lid on his fabricated interview (and my source for the Seance joke), had this to say about him…
“Anyone who has worked in the film industry will instantly recognise the type. They hover around on the margins. The Sammy Glick figure forever on the verge of the Big Break, no more morality than is strictly necessary, constantly hustling, chasing chimeras, talking up deals that evaporate at the 11th hour through no fault of their own. So, in this respect, Rigelsford is part of a great tradition.”
I think that’s probably spot on. I’ve met a few of those myself.
The truth is, that at its basic level, that describes a lot of the film and television industry. It’s almost random. Just atoms in a box, ceaselessly bouncing off each other, ideas, personalities, proposals, notions, every now and then, by sheer fluke, things coalesce and a project gels, and sometimes it breaks apart or disintegrates back to its contituent atoms, but once in a while, when the moon is right, everything lines up all the way to the end and something gets done, and the participants have maybe a better shot at another project. There’s the factory level of course – the money, the television stations and movie companies, the BBC, the established power players… But mostly, its just atoms randomly colliding, searching for the right combinations to amount to something.
What he really was, basically, was a hustler looking to make a connection… which in a sense, describes almost everyone in the business.
Wait for it!