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I'm Mark & I've Been a Fame fan since 1982. This blog is dedicated to the incredibly talented cast of the show and is a place to share music, videos and pictures. To contact me please send emails to: mark1814uk@googlemail.com

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Monday, 2 December 2013

Doris Schwartz Time and Again Season 1 Ep 1 Commentary


I'd never considered writing fan fiction until a couple of years ago when I received emails asking about what "Fame" fan fiction was available and about the possibility of adding some to my website. 

Initially I wasn't keen on the idea. Although, I had always been interested in writing and story telling. As a teenager I'd even written my own Soap Opera but I was more of the ideas person. I could come up with story lines and ideas but actually putting them together and doing the hard work of creating a full story for someone else to read was something completely different. 

Maybe it was a lack of confidence, maybe it seemed like a lot of work to put in just to result in one post, but I didn't think it was for me. However, it also presented me with a challenge and the idea started to appeal more and more, until I eventually thought what the heck, lets give it a go.

It was then a decision of what to write about. The obvious way forward was to write about our favourite characters now and catch up on what happened in their lives since leaving the school. I've often come up with individual ideas for some of the characters but I wasn't sure I could turn that into anything worthwhile. Also, I'd seen other fan fiction doing that and I didn't just want to duplicate what was already out there. 

So the other idea was to write stories for the past and how the characters were at the school and come up with individual stories that could slot into the existing seasons. The latter idea appealed the most but still something held me back. If I was going to do this I wanted to come up with something unique and not just rehash what had already been done. 

Suddenly it hit me and I came up with the idea of mixing the two but with a twist. I love TV shows like "Lost" with a big ongoing story arc mystery and I wondered if I could do the same with "Fame". I envisaged a new TV show that utilised the original TV episodes and mixed it with new material to make something new. I liked the idea of doing a mystery and mixing past and future together so decided this is what I needed to do in written form. 

Once I hit on the concept, the idea of sending a character back in time came very quickly and instantly I knew it had to be Doris. Doris had been friends with, and had really strong connections to, every character from the first four seasons, which are my personal favourites. So it would be easy to incorporate her into story lines using those characters. Also Doris had connections to lots of guest characters that I could utilise. Imagine trying to tell the story using Julie and instantly it becomes apparent that would limit the story.

 I'd often thought about how life may have turned out for Doris and realised I could use some of those ideas in this story. The ideas for the background came thick and fast and it felt exciting creating something new. 

When I started to write I had no idea what had caused Doris to go back in time and just thought I'll write a couple of episodes and see where the story takes me. Of course when anything strange happens in any story the opt out clause is to make it all a dream. Even on "Fame" we'd had Doris dream she was in the land of Oz and Danny dream he was Sherlock Holmes as well as the countless dream musical numbers. I knew I had to come up with something better than Doris dreams it all as that just felt like one big cheat. So from the very start, the one firm decision I made, was this wasn't going to be a dream! 

I had a couple of possible explanations kicking around my head but nothing concrete and was hoping the ideas would just come as I wrote the stories. Thankfully they did! 

 Having been listening to some "Fame" songs a couple of lyrics had jumped out of me that I could use for episode titles. As this was going to be a concept story I decided that as part of the concept I was going to take all the episode titles from the lyrics of the "Fame" songs. That's not always been the easiest thing to do but somehow I made it work. 

"All My Past Behind" comes from "Starmaker" and was one of the lyrics that struck me, I would have to use. It seemed appropriate for the first episode and serves a dual purpose. Firstly it establishes Doris is revisiting the past but secondly it also refers to her future, which as a reader we have yet to discover but for the character that is also behind her and some how she has left it, escaped it if you like. The big questions are Why? and How? 

I also decided that I wanted to write this as though it were actually a TV series. By breaking it up into seasons, with each season building to a season finale. As much as possible I also wanted to end each episode on a cliff hanger and I wanted each season to have a slightly different flavour.

So into the writing of the first episode, I was in no doubt that I needed to start in the Pilot episode. Not just that episode but at the very beginning of it in the opening scene. The fact that Doris wasn't originally in that scene was a statement I was making to highlight that this wasn't a dream. Doris couldn't dream exactly what happened if she'd never been there. Also it helped add to the confusion of the character not knowing where she was if she'd never been there before. 

I guess it could be said that nothing happens in this first episode and it's just a set up for what is yet to come. What we do get is a little glimpse of Doris' character and  life now and a sense that perhaps she isn't happy in that life. We see that life hadn't turned out the way she dreamed it would. When the very last episode aired and Doris had a baby I always felt she would never become a star and that family would take precedence. 

Doris had always loved the school and I think that connection was always portrayed more than for any other character. It seemed right to me that Doris would return somewhere she had been truly happy, particular if she was going through a difficult time. She was back where she belonged and now felt safe.

We learn a little that she had maintained friendships with Montgomery and Bruno and re-established a connection with Julie. I also think it was important to establish that Shorofsky had died and that life (and death) had moved on for some of our characters. I hoped that his presence would help highlight that this story was going to be different to anything else out there and add to the mystery. 

Looking back at this first episodes makes me realise just how much the story has grown over the last few years. This part seems so much more simple when compared to what comes later. Maybe that is a natural progression with any ongoing story, to build the foundation to be able to add to it in the future. I just know it's certainly been an enjoyable ride for this novice writer!

Read "All My Past Behind"

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