17 September 2014

Happy Birthday, Jonathan Morris

my own Jonathan Morris collection
 Jonathan Morris is widely regarded by Doctor Who fandom as one of the writers of original stories over the last decade. And quite frankly, he's a legend. Anyone who's listened to a decent number and variety of Big Finish's output will most likely have heard something from the keyboard of Morris, and they will most likely have really enjoyed it. As you can see from the image above, his work by no limited either Doctor Who or Big Finish audios, and I've omitted quite a few covers because I couldn't fit them on!

For a mostly complete list of Morris' work for the Whoniverse, check out his TARDIS Wiki page here. Over the past couple of months he's found particular critical acclaim with his episode of Survivors - Exodus - and Psychodrome, the first full-cast story to feature the Season 19 crew since... well since Season 19. However, his sterling reputation goes back many years, all the way to his first commission Festival of Death. This is still listed by a great many fans amongst the best not only of the range but Whodom as a whole.

Morris is a highly prolific contributor nowadays too, with approximately fifteen hours of audio drama released each month. What's especially impressive is the quality of this output. The general consensus (fan 'wisdom' if you will) is that the lowest his work can be rated is 'above average', and even then that only applies to 0.1%. To pay tribute to this great man on his birthday, I've listed my top five things he's written below - and just to annoy him I've omitted any scores out of ten.

5. Doctor Who and the Waterloo of the Daleks

Lisa Greenwood's Flip's official debut. This is a great story about identity, and has the Daleks teaming up with Napoleon!

 4. Doctor Who and the Death to the Doctor!

A hilarious, Douglas Adams-style story in which an ineffectual bunch of aliens who the Doctor's defeated get together to try and turn the tables. A bit like the Road Less Travelled episode of Hustle before its time, and a bit funnier.

3. Doctor Who and the Golden Ones

Axons! UNIT! Japan! 2011! Eleventh Doctor! (and Amy) A really exciting, engaging action story that was inspired by a Mika song.  What more could you ask for?

2. Doctor Who and the Babblesphere

A hilarious, Douglas Adams-style story in which the Fourth Doctor and the Second Romana land on a weird planet, get split up and investigate stuff. There's an ineffectual bunch of aliens who are trying to turn the tables on their robot rulers. Very funny, imaginative and pacey.

1. Doctor Who and the Protect and Survive

A very serious, straight-down-the-line serial when Hex and Ace get stuck in one of the Doctor's traps, and have to work their way out. This is a standout, even in the company of Morris' other work. It's well written, directed and scored and is considered one of the best in recent years by many and the best of recent years by me. It's one of my favourite pieces of Doctor Who and drama in general ever, featuring an '80s apocalypse. Don't be put off by the duff cover.

If I'm unsure about trying a new range, I often buy something Morris has had a hand in to see whether I'll like it or not. Inevitably his work is so good I end up getting loads of them, but it's a strategy I recommend.

I'm not just saying all this - and not because he knows where I live either (really!). I have a massive respect for this man. Not only is he a standout writer (with approaching eighty hours of entertainment commissioned from him by Big Finish) but a fine bloke too, with a wicked sense of humour to boot. For evidence of this, just watch is hilarious Now and Then and Now and Then and Now series of videos here. I've stolen some of the jokes for this post, I hope he doesn't mind.

You can do a lot worse than purchase something with 'Jonathan Morris' plastered across it and thankfully there's plenty more Morris magic (as the man himself puts it) on the way. There's two further series of his own spin-off Vienna, an adaptation of Russell T Davies' Damaged Goods (my two favourite writers in one place - consider me sold!), The Entropy Plague and no doubt tonnes more. Outside of Doctor Who, he's also working on a screenplay for the Vendetta Vette US film project, due for release next year. I'm really excited about all of these, and hope they're a massive success. Perhaps one of his sitcoms will even get made before long too..?

My best wishes to Debbie and Alex, and of course to Jonny. A hero to me, and not just for your work. Thank you for all the hours of happiness you've brought me and countless others. Have a great day, you've earned it.

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