Daleks, David Tennant

Evolution of the Daleks

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Sometimes a story you hadn’t really thought about tackling will suggest itself, like this one did. Three things happened in quick succession to lead me to editing Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks.

complete-history-1The first was my picking up issue one of Doctor Who – The Complete History, which features this story alongside Gridlock and The Lazarus ExperimentAlthough I’m still not entirely convinced that shelling out a total of £788.20 for what is essentially a collection of rewritten DWM Archives is really worth it, the books do contain the rather wonderful photoshoppery of Lee Johnson, of which Whoflix has long been a fan.

The second thing that happened was that the latest DWM at the time – 491 – had the Evolution artwork as a poster so when the Daleks were revealed as being in the series nine opener The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar it was clear to me that I ought to tackle this one next, so I did. However, working on this edit proved to be so frustrating that I left it to work on the orphan episodes of The Underwater Menace, The Space Pirates and The Crusade, as well as Face The Raven, before returning to it for another try. Sometimes the best thing to do with a difficult edit is to leave it and come back to it, which is what I did with this. Luckily, second time around, I was able to nail the bugger and get something I was happy with.

daleks manhattan evolution lee johnsonPoor old Helen Raynor really got it in the neck from Fandom for this one but if you look at her IMDb profile she seems to have emerged unscathed from the experience. In truth, you can’t really lay all the blame for it at her door. Remember, everyone with the singular exception of The Moff, got rewritten by RTD, so he has to take his share of the blame too. And the main problem with these episodes is that they overload the story with multiple instances of the same thing. Thematic unity is a sound storytelling principle but when done incorrectly, as it is here, you end up with something that doesn’t enhance the dramatic unity of the piece but instead has the opposite effect.

Mr Diagoras, whose name sounds like a hybrid between Pythagoras and Diagram, gets absorbed by Dalek Sec, who wants to stop being a Dalek octo-blob and become a Kaled-esque humanoid. Why they couldn’t just inject Diagoras with something and mutate him I don’t know, but instead of stopping there, with Frankenstein making himself the monster, the story ploughs on and repeats itself. And as a result it diminishes the impact of the Dalek Hybrid with Pig Slaves and Dalek Humans.  

Laszlo, and events at Hooverville, tell us that, instead of taking pigs and upgrading them into humanoids, the Daleks are taking men and making them into humanoid pigs, in a gene-splicing Human + Pig DNA combo. Fair enough, but my first question would be where do they get the pigs from in the centre of New York? And if their plan is to turn humanity into Dalek Humans, why make the Pig Men in the first place?

The whole thing is a bit reminiscent of the Humans With Dalek Minds nonsense we got in the Pat Troughton story The Evil of the Daleks and it didn’t work any better there either. Having two examples of the same thing, as we have here, is a bad idea as the one diminishes the impact of the other. Either have Pig Men or Dalek Humans, not both.

daleks in manhattan by Adrian Salmon DWM 460

And while we’re on the subject, why don’t the Pig Men speak? Even the bloody Ogrons spoke! Silent enemies in Doctor Who are nearly always a bad idea and the fact that all the Pig Men can do is grunt and squeak, like genuine pigs do, only serves to make them a bit silly. If we can’t hear them saying anything, they can’t interact with the Doctor and their only story purpose is therefore to provide some striking visual imagery. They do that all right, but for the wrong reasons.

Their appearance is a bit rubbish, as Pig Men in overalls is a bit silly and not at all Animal Farm. They look a bit scary I suppose, when lit correctly but imagine how much more menace they could have had if they had been able to speak. Think back to that scene in the sewers where they first meet one of the Pig Men. Now re-imagine that scene with the Pig Man talking! How much better is that scene now!

The fact that they don’t talk also robs the story of the potential for a conflict between the Pig Men and the Daleks if the Pig Men resent the Dalek Humans taking their place. Yes, I know the story is meant to be about evolution and change & adaptation but that’s exactly what’s wrong with it. Bidmead tried taking scientific principles as a basis for Doctor Who back in JNT’s day and we all know how well that turned out. Social development, a growing awareness of your place in society and the worth that society places on you as a result, is a story thread with far more dramatic potential these episodes never even consider, let alone attempt to explore.

evolution of the daleks by Adrian Salmon DWM 460In a story over-stuffed with examples of characters undergoing physical change, the only ones who go on some sort of emotional journey are Tallulah and Laszlo. It was the Laszlo subplot that was the real bugbear from me with these episodes. The poor bloke’s been turned into a pig-man, so having a subplot whose resolution isn’t him sacrificing himself to save Tallulah – tree ells anan aitch – but having him live out his days as The Pig Man Of Central Park is just nuts. That’s what made this edit so frustrating to do. There was no way to excise him from the story completely, so this turned out to be another one of those frustrating edits where things you wanted rid of stayed, just cut back to the bare minimum. As for what happens to him once the story is over, we leave that off-screen on the assumption that he simply snuffs it soon afterwards.

Having come back to the edit and managed to complete it, I had the idea of doing trying to do something a bit different with it. We all know that Terry Nation’s proposed Dalek series never got made and so I thought why not edit this as if it was an episode of The Daleks instead of an episode of Doctor Who

Both Altered Vistas’ animations and Big Finish’s audios have shown that a Dalek TV series could actually work and that idea proved to be the key to the edit. And if I was going to edit this as an episode of The Daleks, then I would need to come up with a title sequence. Knowing I would have to do that at the end gave me all the motivation I needed. Sometimes you need that extra reason to keep going during the editing process, which can sometimes be a bit of a slog, as it was with this one. Coming up with the title sequences for The Enemy of the World and The Talons of Weng-Chiang, to name but two, was as satisfying to do as the edits themselves. I really fancied the idea of doing something different to the usual Series 3 opening credits for this one, and doing something different is what fan editing is all about!

daleks big finish destroyersThe first thing I did was to use the theme music from Big Finish’s release of The Destroyers which seemed appropriate, and then it was a case of trying to think of something that could be a bit like a Sixties ITC type title sequence. To that end I spent a bit of time looking at the opening titles of lots of old ITC shows such as Man In A Suitcase, Randall & Hopkirk etc and then tried to come up with something that evoked that, whilst still being reminiscent of the “proper” title sequences.

After a fair bit of trial and error I settled on a series of Dalek silhouettes, whose origin I’m sure you’ll recognise, set against a vortex of stars. It’s a simple idea and evokes the feel of yer JNT titles whilst simultaneously having the sort of Sixties TV feel I was after. The central creative conceit was that this is the episode of The Daleks that comes between Doomsday and The Stolen Earth. I also used the Hartnell font and ran the closing credits against black for added authenticity!

Something else I did that was different was to take out Murray Gold’s music altogether. There were several reasons for this. One was simply to see what the episode was like, and how different it was, without the additional atmosphere the incidental music provides. The other was to allow my fellow fans the opportunity to add their own soundtrack to the edit. I’ve always been keen to encourage fans of my fan edits to do their own, and I think putting in your own taste in music is a good way as any to start on that journey.  I’ve been putting additional music into these edits for years – now its your turn!

As with most New Series episodes, I managed to get these down to roughly half an hour each, bringing in the 71 Edit of two of the weakest Dalek episodes for a long time at just over an hour and two minutes. I then added the new opening closing credits for the 72 Edit and then the opening credits for the 73 Edit. For the 74 Edit more of the final cuts and trims were made to the first episode since that’s where most of the padding and setup takes place, which brought the final running time down to fifty-seven minutes.

EVOLUTION OF THE DALEKS CD1EVOLUTION OF THE DALEKS CD REARRTD downloads

Patrick Troughton

The Space Pirates

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FAN EDIT #1 – AUDIO

Having fan edited the entire Classic Series I can tell you that the general rule of thumb is that the longer it takes the Doctor to turn up in the story, the worse that story’s going to be. It’s a rule that applies, mostly to poor old Colin’s time in the role, but it also applies equally well here. After finishing The End of Time, I fancied something a bit simpler for my next project – and what could be simpler than The Space Pirates! I had already edited most of season six, so it felt like the right time to get its only incomplete story out of the way. And what better challenge than to try and make something worth listening to out of probably the most tedious Classic Who story ever? And boy do I mean tedious, in the first episode it takes a full fourteen minutes before the Doctor finally shows up and part two is just as bad. See what I mean about that “The Longer It Takes…” rule?

When I first edited this story it was on audio, since only the dire aforementioned part two survives, along with some film trims. Once I’d got my hands on it, the Doctor turned up in less than five minutes in the audio edit instead of the fourteen it took him on telly. Yes, I understand that Pat, Frazer & Padders were knackered by the time they were getting to the end of Year Six but this is a Doctor Lite story that forgets that the Doctor is still meant to be the focus of the action. It’s a lot of tedious buggering about in spaceships with a lot of equally tedious and irritating characters clogging up the screen instead of The Cosmic Hobo, Jimmy McKilty and Little Miss Cleverknickers. Yawn.

space pirates coversLike other audio Fan Edits before it, this one benefited enormously from keeping the focus on the Doctor. I mean, who needs all that bollocks with Hermack and Milo bloody Clancy, possibly the two most irritating characters in the show’s entire run. Clancy is an appallingly bad version of the Old Prospector character from countless Westerns and is more cringe-worthy than comic relief. And Hermack is far too fruity for his own good but then that`s Jack May for you. He`s the same in Adam Adamant Lives! and sounds as if he`s wandered in from a rep season of Noel Coward and Terrance Rattigan. With bad actors giving bad performances from a bad script, The Space Pirates doesn’t stand a chance, and if ever there was a story that, beyond any reasonable doubt, could be used to justify the concept of The Fan Edit then it`s gotta be this one…

It`s hard to imagine that this was written by the same man who would give us Spearhead From Space only a few months later but I guess everyone has to start somewhere, Robert Holmes included. The scripts he was asked to produce aren`t helped by the fact that the story seems purposely written to give the main cast a bit of a breather before the final epic slog that would be The War Games. So I`ve tried to keep the focus of the edit on the Doctor as much as possible, mainly because the rest of the cast are so uniformly awful!

At fifty minutes, the audio edit of the entire story is one of the shortest Edits yet for a six parter but on the plus side if you`re on a Viewing Marathon, at least with this version you can get on to Pat`s swansong a damn sight quicker!

The edit is preceded by a short intro clip from JNT, who worked on the story, taken from his Big Finish memoirs.

Space Pirates DWM

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FAN EDIT #2 – EPISODE 2

space pirates episode 2When I set out on the Fan Editing Odyssey that would see me completing the entire Classic Series in just six years [!] I never had any intention of tackling the Orphan Episodes. If a story was incomplete on video then the whole thing got edited on audio instead. Then I got round to The Underwater Menace and changed my mind. Given that the Beeb had put that story out without the missing episodes as animated versions, that screwed up my plans for the video edit of that story. And so I decided to edit the two existing episodes together, as if I was tackling the middle of a complete story edit, and forget about trying to do a Loose Cannon style cut down telesnap reconstruction. Too much time and too much effort for too little reward. But it did get me thinking that it might be fun to tackle the orphan episodes after all, so why not start with the worst of them, that way things can only get better!

So. Episode Two of The Space Pirates… 

Blimey but it’s bad. The Doctor and the kids don’t turn up for ages, triggering the application of the aforementioned The Longer It Takes Rule and on those terms, this one’s a stinker. It takes about twelve and a half minutes before Hobo, Kilty & Cleverknickers get their first proper scene, and there ain’t that many more of them before we hit the cliffhanger after possibly the longest twenty-four minutes in the show’s entire history, except for maybe episode three.  On the plus side, Padders is wearing an outfit that could lead to a change of nickname from Cleverknickers to Cameltoe, and she’s put on her kinky boots from The Krotons again. Enjoy it while you can as next time out it’s jodpers and a trenchcoat.

complete second doctorIf you take a look at The Complete Second Doctor and compare the production Schedules of Pat’s last few stories, you can start to see that maybe part of the reason why this load of old cobblers is so Doctor Lite is to give the regulars a bit of a breather before the final push for the finish line. That goes some way towards explaining why The Space Pirates is the way it is, but that still doesn’t forgive how bad it is! The regulars don’t appear at all in the final episode, except on pre-filmed inserts, so they can bugger about on a rubbish tip for a fortnight for The War Games instead. 

I can’t help but think that maybe episode two wouldn’t be quite so bad if Michael Hart had done a better job of casting the thing. If you’re going to ask actors to do dodgy accents, at least make sure they can do them properly. Take General Hermack, played by the gravel-voiced Jack May. If you listen to him in his early scenes, he has a slightly Germanic accent, which he quickly gives up on and defaults to his own fruity tones for the rest of the ep. Milo Clancy is just bad beyond belief and poor old Donald Gee doesn’t exactly cover himself in glory either. 

Space Pirates by Adrian Salmon DWM315

And the dialogue is atrocious as well, with some real stinkers like “that would be like looking for a single speck of dust at the bottom of an Argonite mine”. So nobody talks about needles in haystacks in the future then? Just what the hell are “martian missiles”? And don’t get me started on Clancy’s woeful wig or that Issigri woman wearing a plant pot on her head…! It’s also rather curious that they reused the music from The Seeds of Death, the previous story, as well as all that dodgy warbling from The Ice Warriors, which seems well out of place for a space story. All that music complicated some of the cuts but for the most part I was able to work around it, with the help of some additional cues from both of those Ice Warrior stories.

I managed to include the shot of the pirate ship leaving the beacon from the “film trims” stuff on the Lost In Time DVD, but the problem with that shot was that it was for Beacon Alpha 1 instead of Beacon Alpha 4. So stage one was to create a “4” to cover up the “1”, and then lay that over a shot of the beacon. Stage two was to make that image a PNG file, with a transparent area where the door closes. Stage three was to get the timing right so that it looks as if the door is rising up and closing. In the original the beacon recedes from the camera but getting Beacon Alpha 4 to match up with Beacon Alpha 1 was impossible. Having just put myself through 700+ frames of animation for Underworld I wanted to find a simpler solution. I found it by cutting away to the beta dart reversing, cutting back to the beacon reversing, a simple zoom out effect on the screen grab of Beacon Alpha 4, before cutting back to the pirate ship finishing its reverse and turning right. In the original we don’t actually see it zooming away but in the fan edit it does. Other than these fixes the rest of the edit was a case of cutting everything that didn’t have Pat in back to the bare minimum, and making the rest of the spaceships shift a bit quicker instead of having them crawl slowly across the screen. Thunderbirds this ain’t!

doctor who thunderbirds
After the opening credits, instead of going to The General and his boyfriend Ian [why else would he refer to him by his first name in a military outfit?] we go back to the beacon section where the Doctor is trapped. Splitting the scene, with the aid of a short section of “silence” from earlier in the scene to help cover the cutaway, gave me the chance to keep things on track but lose as much of the early guff as I could. In order to get to Hermack and Clancy as quickly as possible I made up a shot of the LIZ79, grabbed from the shot of it on telly on the V41’s flight deck, and with the call sign helpfully written on the side, to go before the shot of V41 that originally came after the episode caption cards. That enabled me to cut a lot of the stuff before Clancy’s ship gets boarded and he joins Hermack.

The gun Clancy shoots Jamie with is another one of those cheap BBC space guns that don’t fire a beam, so I stuck one on the close up shot as he  shoots Jamie.  After that it was a case of fixing the end credits so that they faded out to my closing version of the titles instead of running against black.

The Space Pirates is evidence that a Space Western is a bad idea. Or at least a Space Western as badly structured as this one is. Did no-one remember the proper Western they did with Hartnell a couple of years earlier, and how bad that was? As far as Space Westerns go, Frontier In Space and Colony In Space are bad enough but this is even worse. I think the real problem lies in the fact that it tries to be earnest and take things seriously, when the better approach might have been to go more for a Carry On Space Cowboy approach, given how grim the next story is going to be for the regulars and the audience. The Space Pirates is what happens when you are desperate for scripts and have to put something on screen, even if you know it’s going to be as bad as this. Luckily this version only runs for twelve minutes!

Space Pirates by Ben Willsher DWM502

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Patrick Troughton

The Underwater Menace

Dr Who Big Finish Underwater Menace
Underwater Menace Radio Times

Underwater Menace by Ben Willsher DWM443For a story that was already notorious enough within Fandom, the shenanigans around the eventual DVD release of Dr Who And The Fish People took that notoriety to even greater heights. Like the release of The Web of Fear before it, there was no animation for the missing episodes, just a trip back in time to the days of Loose Cannon and some telesnaps & audio. Even some sort of Motion Comic, like the start of the DVD’s photo gallery, would have been better than that. But no. And so the Dr Who DVD range came to a somewhat ignominious end, with an unsatisfying release of a dreadful story that’ s only a few steps a way from Meglos in terms of sheer awfullness. I’d made plans for the fan edit of the story when the DVD was first announced on the assumption that the missing eps would be animated like The Moonbase and other stories before it. But then we got The Omnirumour Omnishambles and 90 episodes turned out to be just 9 and it was telesnaps & audio for Dr Who Goes Underground Part 3, since some bugger had nicked it. And then it all went quiet on the Fish People front… and now we know why!

Yes, The Underwater Menace is bad, but it’s not as bad as Timelash. Most of the criticism the story comes in for is either for the Fish People or poor old Joseph Furst, who gets the piss taken out of him by fandom, unjustly in my view, for his performance as Professor Zaroff, the archetypal mad scientist. Yes, the performance is OTT but that is more the fault of both the script and the director than it is Furst. Watch him in some of the other things he’s been in, like The Saint, and he’s a perfectly competent actor. in this he’s giving the performance he’s been asked to give by the Director, a performance that was then sanctioned and approved of by the Producer. And I defy even Paul “Mind Probe” Jericho to deliver a melodramatic line like “Nothing in the world can stop me now!” and get away with it.

Underwater Menace by Roger Langridge DWM353

Very little about the story is up to scratch. Look at the costume design and the make up, they’re both atrocious, as are the sets. There’s no way you can create fish people on a Sixties BBC budget without them looking ridiculous, so why so it at all?  And why on earth do all the Atlantean men have those bushy Androgum eyebrows? And why is it just the men?

It’s as if everybody involved with the production knows it’s a clunker and can’t be arsed. There are plenty of other occasions in Doctor Who‘s history where the story is half-decent but badly realised but here you have a bad story equally badly realised, and the result is pretty disastrous. This would be quite at home as a Graham Williams story, but thankfully we’ve got Pat and not Tom sharing the screen with Zaroff.

Back when we were still waiting for the eps to come out on DVD, I thought that if the Beeb aren’t going to give us a release of the story this side of the sixtieth anniversary, then why not do one of my own? Having tracked down the unreleased and unrestored episode two on Dailymotion, I had the idea of doing a soundtrack & colourised telesnaps combo edit but then the Beeb let it be known that yes, the story would be coming out on DVD sometime soon so that put paid to that idea.

But all the hard work I did on my planned video version didn’t got to waste as, instead, I put together my own TV Comic version, which I call a Telecomic, and posted it over at Whopix. Knowing the anniversary of part four was rapidly approaching, I took the decision to edit the soundtrack CD, since an audio edit was the only real option at the time.

VERSION #1 – AUDIO EDIT

Both The Underwater Menace and The Ark are nothing more than TV Comic done as live action. Both stories are badly-scripted melodrama and would both work just as well as comic strips with John & Gillian, if not maybe a little better. The first two eps are got through in about half an hour, with pretty much everything in there, only tightened up and trimmed back as much as possible. My approach was to see the audio edit as a dummy run for when I finally got to tackle the eps on DVD, whenever it finally saw the light of day. Come episode three, we get out first major cut, losing the kidnapping of Zaroff. That required a slight re-ordering of the audio in order to make it work, meaning part three only lasts about eight minutes!

When it came to part four,  there was nothing for it but to stick with Ben and the Doctor, leaving Jamie & Polly out of it until we need to rejoin them. We don’t hear any more from Sean & Jacko and Damon & Thous either as it’s the Troughton v Furst finale that’s much more interesting to listen to. Ten minutes later and it’s all over. Hooray! 

The Moonbase edit was done long before The Underwater Menace and the mk1 version of that story started with the crew exiting the TARDIS onto the moon’s surface, so we could get straight into the adventure. At the time I thought ending this story with the start of the next one, where they see the moon on the scanner before we get a closing “Next Time: The Moonbase” caption, was a better way to do things. I’m a big fan of running the end of one thing into the start of another and my inner completist was happy with the original way we went from Atlantis to the Moon. But it wasn’t to be and so I had to go back to the original and keep the cliffhanger. 

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VERSION #2 – VIDEO EDIT

underwater menace itunesThe mysteriously scheduled then pulled DVD release, and the fact that everyone involved at the time seemed to be operating under the Official Secrets Act, only added fuel to the Omnirumour fire. Why was the story scheduled for release, with a Coming Soon trailer, only for it to then vanish from the schedules? Personally, I thought the reason was that Philip Maurice thought he knew where the other two eps might be and the Beeb were holding back until they knew for sure. Then they’d put it out in a Box Set with Enemy of the World and Web of Fear, complete with all the VAM for those two stories missing from the original vanilla releases. Which just goes to show you how wrong you can be…

Of course, now we know that the real reason we had to wait the best part of four years from Episode 2 being rediscovered to the DVD being released was that the Beeb wouldn’t stump up the grotzits to do the animation, the miserable lot. That in turn meant that my original plans for the video edit were out the window, with the result that this was going to be something of a patchwork edit.

When it came to editing the story for video, the first problem I had was how to tackle the missing episodes that bookend the story. A while back I’d had a bash at the start of The Power of the Daleks and did some rudimentary animation to cover the missing sections and, while it wasn’t ideal, it worked well enough for me to be happy with it. And being happy with your work is half of what being a creative is all about. If there isn’t a satisfying end result, then it gets binned and you either start all over again or move onto something else. Of course, if the episodes had been animated, as we all expected they would be, then there would have been no problem.

My thinking originally had been to start with telesnaps for part one, move to video via the first of the two Australian Censor clips from the Lost In Time box set for parts two and three, then back to telesnaps for part four and the second LiT clip for Zaroff’s demise, before finishing off with the animated opening of The Moonbase. But the Beeb screwed me over on that one by not animating the missing episodes of The Underwater Menace, meaning I would have to redo The Moonbase and reinsert the original opening.

Underwater Menace by Ben Willsher DWM493When it came to trying to cover the missing material for episodes One and Four, I would have liked to put together some sort of cut-down recon in the same way that the Beeb did for Marco Polo and Galaxy 4, both of which are little more than “official” fan edits anyway. But with just the Telesnaps and the narration from the CD release of the TV Soundtrack to work with for this one, try as I might, I just couldn’t come up with a shortened version of those eps that I was happy with. If that disappoints you, then remember I work solo on these edits, there’s not a whole team of us collaborating on them, and the pain has to be worth the gain. For this story it simply wasn’t. In the end I settled for editing the middle two episodes together as if they were part of a full-length version of the story. If I can find a way to edit the missing episodes, perhaps as some kind of motion comic, like the Beeb did for Death Comes To Time, then I’ll revisit them. But that’s another project for another day!

I approached the two middle episodes in just the same way I would if I had been editing all four. You can’t really lose the sacrifice in the temple so all the references to it get left in. And on audio I was able to cut the kidnapping of Zaroff but on video it had to stay. Both eps run about 15m each which leads me to believe that the whole thing would run about an hour.

There are only two surviving clips from the missing episodes and I decided to utilise the clip from episode one – of Polly being grabbed and forced onto the operating table – at the start of the video edit instead of the TV opening of Damon’s “one tiny jab”. Sometimes fan editing isn’t always about taking stuff out, and putting that scene in meant reordering the rest of the material in order to put something in-between the two Damon & Polly shots that we now had instead of just one as per the original. The only option was to bring forward some of the Ben & Jamie/Sean & Jacko material to plug the gap. Unfortunately the bloke who plays Jacko isn’t an actor, he’s a Bad Actor who’s clearly graduated from the same dodgy drama school as Cotton from The Mutants. Why they didn’t cast another Irish actor and have Sean & Jacko as a proper “Paddy & Murphy” double act I don’t know. Anyway, once the lads settle on their escape plan we don’t see them again until they turn up in the temple, losing all those padding scenes in the tunnels.

underwater menace dwmPart 2 ends with Thous giving Ramo & the Doctor his answer at about 16m in and here was the next problem – how to get from the end of part 2 to the start of part 3. As was the way back in the day with Sixties Who, the cliffhanger was re-enacted the following week, which sometimes results in a nasty jump cut when you try to cut the two versions together, which is exactly what happens here. In the end, the answer was to cut the final scene in the temple from towards the end of part 2 in half, that way Zaroff could turn up at the end of part 2, we cut away to the second half of the temple scene and then cut back to the start of part 3.

Part 3’s most problematic scene was Sean convincing the Fish People to go on strike. Apart from the sheer pantomime awfulness of their design, the other problem with that scene is that there are clearly some fish people who are more fishy than others. A couple of them are nothing more than peeps in leotards with a set of swimming goggles on, not looking even remotely fishy. You have to wonder why they didn’t make that look consistent. The usual reasons of time and money probably explain that one, but the problem is that the more human fish people make the more fishy fish people look even more ridiculous than they would if everyone was equally fishy! Thankfully I managed to cut that scene down in such a way as to lose the human fish people, and also ditched their underwater ballet sequence. 

The only tricky part was the transition from ep2 to ep3, which involved a bit of jiggery pokery with the sound of Zaroff’s footsteps and a cut away from the end of ep2 to Ben & Polly in the temple before returning to the start of ep 3. Apart from that it was a fairly simple edit to do, and since this is only marginally less bad than The Ark, I gave another run out to my Lost In Space version of title sequence. It’s more or less the same as the version I used on that load of old Monoids except this time I decided to use the Pat titles instead of the Hartnell ones on the original. As before the sequence features LIS-style “Starring” clips for the regulars and Furst.

About the only really notable thing about the story is that it’s here that Pat arguably starts to play the Doctor for the first time. With Zaroff being so over the top, there was no way Pat could top his performance. And so here he does the only other thing an actor can do and starts to underplay it, making his Doctor just a bit darker than he has been in his first couple of stories. Okay, so he still dresses up, but at least it’s the last time he hides behind his clobber and starts to step forward as the lead actor, a process that he completes next time out with Morris Barry in The Moonbase.

And finally, I think the best line of the entire show isn’t that oft-quoted one of Zaroff’s. No. It has to be Polly telling Damon…

POLLY FISHdownload underwater menace

Peter Capaldi

Face The Raven

FACE THE RAVEN CDSeries Nine came to a close with a trilogy of episodes – Face The Raven, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent – that I could only really envisage tackling as one epic edit. Fan editing the stories individually held no appeal for me whatsoever, so a Movie Edit was always the only option. That presented certain challenges as none of them lead directly into each other but, given the circumstances of Clara’s departure in Hell Bent, the only realistic option was to start with the pre-credits section of that episode and then race through Face The Raven and Heaven Sent to get back to the diner as quickly as possible.

Since I was inspired to start editing once the finale was over, I started work from the TX versions, which I downloaded from the usual sources on the net and worked from those instead of waiting for the DVD Box Set.

Face The Raven

Stuart-Manning-Face-the-Raven-posterThe first cut to this ep was to lose the scenes in Riggsy’s flat and get him straight into the Tardis after his phone call, for reasons of pace. We lose the Doctor’s prompt cards, which I always felt were crass and pointless, in what was a tricky little section to cut together. We also lost all those the tedious shots of the cast wandering up and down the streets.

I initially cut the maps sequence as well but had to put it back in as it’s the only explanation of what a Trap Street is. That was typical of this ep, lots of sequences were retained that I would really rather have cut. That said going from one Tardis scene to another with nothing in between makes for an awkward jump cut so it’s probably just as well the map scene stayed. Try cutting it out yourself and see what you think. Better with? Or without?

Once we get to the Trap Street we lose the gratuitously self-indulgent and fanwank-y “Spot The Dr Who Monster” cameos, and the old bloke who gets Raven’d is no longer a Cyberman [sorry, but WTF?]. With this one there’s only so much you can cut before things stop making narrative sense but this was edited from the TX version, so it came out longer than I’d like. 

Clara’s death is a bit of a tearjerker, and it’s well handled by all concerned, with Clara’s pride, arrogance, and over-confidence proving her undoing. In some ways its a shame that the end she gets here isn’t her end at all but there is a certain inevitability about what happens as a result. As for who’s really responsible for her demise – Clara, Riggsy, Ashildir, Rassilon or the Doctor – isn’t really what’s important. What matters is that she got a brilliant leaving scene, and the closing shot of the bracelet falling to the floor led straight into the teleporter and Capaldi’s arrival in the confession dial…

Heaven Sent

Stuart Manning Heaven Sent PosterWhilst Capaldi is excellent in this ep, all we really need him to do is to solve the puzzle of where he is and get to Gallifrey so the fun can really begin. Capaldi going solo works incredibly well, making him the first solo Doctor since Tom in The Deadly Assassin.  As an idea for having a solo Doctor story it works really well and I wouldn’t mind more solo flights for Twelvy in the future – mind you, must’ve been weird for Peter at the readthrough, with him the only bugger on his side of the table!

It’s a pity that the return of Gallifrey was spoiled by the official synopsis put out by the Beeb themselves but even if it hadn’t been, the minute the Doc arrives on a planet with an orange sky, we knew exactly where he was. And was I the only one who guessed that it was the Doctor in the pre-credits before the opening credits rolled? 

It was while I was editing the opening of this ep that I thought that it would be better to use the pre-credits sequence as the closing scene of a two-part edit rather than a movie. The movie edit was going to turn out to be so long, due to the problems with cutting this back, that I concluded it would be too long and so settled reluctantly for a two part edit, utilising the closing scenes of Raven and the pre-credits of Heaven Sent as the opening of Part Two, the bulk of which would be the third episode in the Clara’s End Trilogy.

Hell Bent

Stuart Manning Hell Bent PosterIf you were a DWM reader, you would know that Clara was back in this ep, despite having died a fortnight earlier. So her appearance in the diner wasn’t quite the surprise it could have been. Quite why they chose the same diner from The Impossible Astronaut I don’t know, it all seemed a bit fanwank-y to me. But then that’s the tightrope the episode walks the entire time it’s on screen. Fan pleasing moments such as the return of the Classic Series TARDIS, nicked from An Adenture In Space And Time and painted white, were balanced against more WTF elements like the Sisterhood of Karn popping up on Gallifrey for no apparent reason. 

I can see the attraction of Maisie Williams and Jenna Coleman running off together to star in their own lesbian version of Doctor Who, but I don’t think Clara & Me is a series that is going to run and run, even if it does hold out the possibility of the intergalactic Thelma & Louise returning for the Sixtieth Anniversary.  I’m sure in time they’ll return via Big Finish if nothing else!

hell bent clara me tardis

Joining the start of this onto the end of Heaven Sent meant going from the shot of Twelvy pocketing the confession dial and looking up, at the end of Heaven Sent, then cutting to the opening shot of Gallifrey in Hell Bent with a mask over the lower half of the shot to cover up Twelvy walking away from the citadel and towards that bloody barn. In order to match the two I had to up the brightness & contrast on the Heaven Sent clip to match the Hell Bent one.

Next thing to go was the tomato soup scene, which I never got the point of. And where does granny come from anyway? There isn’t a single building for miles around the barn, so where do her and the rest of the wild west extras appear from? And why is the barn still standing when the orphanage it was attached to is long gone? Assuming it was an orphanage as the awful Listen seems to suggest.

When Twelvy spots the Riggsy graffiti TARDIS after Clara & Me have left, that gave me the idea of going right back to the start of the part two edit and adding in the shot of Riggsy finishing off his artwork and walking away from the end of Face The Raven. That helped tie the end of the edit to the beginning and was a neat way of summing up what had gone before without having to compile a “previously” recap.

But then I began to have second thoughts…

capaldi clara classic series tardis

Face The Raven was originally going to be a compilation edit of the final three episodes of Series Nine, tracking The Life And Death And Life of The Impossible Girl. Having revised that to go for a two part edit, as a result of the problems caused by the slow pacing of Heaven Sent, I realised that it was only this second episode of the trilogy that was causing me problems. If I was being compelled into formatting the edit in a way I didn’t really want to, maybe the answer was to think of another way of tackling Capaldi’s almost solo turn as the Doctor, trapped in his own confession dial.

Only he’s already given a confession dial to Ohila to give to Missy, so given that he pockets the one he was trapped in, is this the same one or a different one he gave to Ohila??? And is the Doctor really the Doctor any more or just a duplicate copy, given how many times he had to “kill” himself?  Yes it’s a very cleverly constructed episode, but when you stick it straight after Raven it slows things down far too much. If a two-parter wasn’t making me happy then maybe the only other option was to edit all three episodes as cut-downs, something I did think about but that would have been even less satisfying. In the end I came up with another, altogether neater, solution to my problem.  

Hell Bent isn’t without its pacing problems either. The opening section takes forever, and the old baldy bloke playing Rassilon, him from The Sea Devils and The Wheel In Space, only makes you long for Timothy Dalton instead. Only once he’s been got rid of do things start to get interesting, and do we really need to see that bloody barn again? And then it came to me.

The answer was to use Riggsy’ spray painting of the Tardis from the end of Face The Raven as a teaser scene at the very start, bookending the edit with the scene where all that paint falls off at the end of Hell Bent, then go from Riggsy to Twelvy arriving at the diner from the start of Hell Bent, flashback to Face The Raven and then when, Clara sticks her tits out in the street as the aforesaid raven is about to smash into her…

clara oswald tits

cut straight to the Doctor’s rescue from Hell Bent, and avoid Heaven Sent altogether! 

It was such an obvious and elegant solution to my problem that I wondered why it took me so long to think of it. 

In the TV version of Hell Bent, the minute we see Clara in the diner we know that she didn’t really die a fortnight earlier and the question then is how did the Doctor rescue her and why doesn’t he recognise her? In this version the question is why doesn’t the Doctor know who Clara is? As well as why are they in the diner from The Impossible Astronaut!  We don’t really need to know what happened to the Doctor between Clara dying and his rescue attempt, and this way it’s as much of a mystery to us as it is to Clara. It’s a simple, neat, quick way to get from Face The Raven to Hell Bent without losing anything important along the way and I like it a lot better than any of the alternatives.

Once that was done the only thing left to do was to sort out the opening credits, which are from Face The Raven and credited to Sarah Dollard. Only this version is also written by Steven Moffat, so how to add him in? The simple answer was to redo the credits and overlay that text on top of the footage so that the new text masks out the broadcast version. But it’s only when you do that on the normal footage that you spot that the text actually moves slowly towards the viewer, giving the game away. So the only way around it was to loop that bit of the titles before the Tardis arrives and  then time it so that the sequence cuts to the episode before the text starts to move forward. And the it was just a case of crediting both directors at the end and Face The Raven 2016 was done!

FACE THE RAVEN CD REAR

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Paul McGann, The Master

Enemy Within – the 1996 TV Movie

doctor who tv movie big finishThe first Fan Edit I ever did was a combination version of The Five Doctors + State of Decay that I did on VHS back in the Nineties. The second Fan Edit I ever did was this, back in 2007, and it was the first one I did on a PC. I revisited the edit four years later, in 2011, and now in 2016 I’ve edited it for the third, and final time!  This latest version was, in part, prompted by having an editing error in the previous version pointed out to me, and partly by 2016 being twenty years later from 1996.

We all know the history of the TV Movie, and despite there being some occasional good bits in it, overall it`s a complete clunker. Trying to come up with a more watchable version of the story led immediately to the decision to do the edit episodically, which helps you miss what is unavoidable when watched in one sitting.  As it happened the episodes all naturally came out at round about the standard 25mins Classic Series duration, which gave us three episodes in which to tell the story. Why it took until the dying days [!] of the JNT era for someone to finally realise that 3 eps are better than 4 when it comes to Who I’ll never know…

dr who tv movie covers

EPISODE ONE

Enemy Within Tom Connell Lee SullivanThe first, and most obvious, difference between this latest version and the previous two edits of the story is that this time round we finally manage to get a quick cameo for Anthony Ainley as the Master before Gordon Tipple gets done in by the Daleks, which in this aren’t the Pinky & Perky versions of the broadcast version.  

I’d always wanted to somehow work Ainley into the story, and had an idea of how it could be done, but there was never any footage that fitted the concept. Once there was, I was determined that I would work it into the edit in order to give some better context to the opening. As for what footage I used of Ainley and how I incorporated it into the edit, for that you’ll have to download part one to find out!

Having Ainley’s Master fulfill his final destiny and make his exit from the series before we get into the story proper helps make sense of the little urn McCoy puts in the casket at the top of the show. But before that we get the opening credits, which are here backed by the Big Finish version of the theme for the McCoy Doctor used for their Novel Adaptations. It seemed appropriate that McCoy’s farewell episode should use “his” version of the theme instead of McGann’s. The story is titled “Enemy Within” since that’s what Philip Segal said we could call it.

Cutting together the opening McCoy moments, minus the info-dumping narration, involved ripping the “In A Dream” song from the DVD and mixing from the rip to the broadcast version, something that proved tricky as they’re not exactly the same pitch. We still get from one to the other without too much trouble and the episodic format almost makes you think that this is the Beeb doing a Hartnell and having the old Doctor bow out at the start of his successor’s first series. All in all it’s a much better opening than the previous versions, showing you that it’s the Master’s remains in the urn instead of telling you.

In the original it`s a dreadful opening, and thankfully RTD gets it right with Rose nine years later but for now we`re still stuck in 1996 where they got it wrong. There`s not a lot you can do about it, you just have to pretend that this is the first part of a new season instead of a stand alone and the viewer knows what the Tardis is.  After that it`s pretty much unchanged, but for timing reasons I did cut a few of the ambulance shots, Grace at the opera and some of the Frankenstein TV stuff. All of which gets us to the cliffhanger, which can only really be The Master throttling poor old Mrs Bruce, followed by the closing credits.

downloadmcgann1Unlike the original, which ran against black, here I knew I wanted the vortex running behind the credits on this so I made up a compilation loop of all the “clean” bits from the opening. I stuck the original cliffhanger-ending “scream” onto the TV Movie music and it works quite well.  I put in a “To Be Continued” caption, made new caption cards for the main cast using the Post Antiqua font and followed them with the original scrolling credits, with the black background CSO’d out. Finally I had to find something to fit the music`s climax, so ran the explosion and the logo again, timed to the music as before.

EPISODE TWO

The Eighth Doctor by Adrian SalmonThe pre-titles recap was cut to the music intro, and I really like the way each “BOOM!” has something timed to it. Unlike the previous two versions where I put a full length shot of McGann into the titles, the one from that poster they released back in the day, for this version I took a leaf out of RTD’s book and left the sequence Doctor-less. This time we use the “proper” version of the theme, with the captions once again timed to match and as a result this version, like much else in these eps, works far better than in the previous two versions I did. 

When Grace gets the Dr back to her apartment I cut the badly dubbed “I have thirteen lives” line. And not only is it badly dubbed it’s also a gratuitous info-dump. Why does he need to tell Grace how many lives he has? He doesn’t, but it’s the writer putting himself into the scene, cardinal writing sin #1. There’s no need for Matthew Jacobs to let us know his fan credentials through the Doctor’s dialogue but its a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with the TV Movie. It’s far too referential of the past and, like JNT before them, the producers let that get in the way of telling a good story.   

The scene with the Eye of Harmony has always been a contentious one. I cut the “retinal structure of the human eye” nonsense because I dislike the idea of the Doctor being half-human. Yes, I know Twelvy talks about himself being the hybrid later in the New Series, which you can see as perhaps being an oblique reference to his mixed parentage, but as far as I’m concerned it’s naff and so it gets cut. As for how the Master knows that only a human eye can open the Eye of Harmony, let’s just say that making it a non-Gallifreyan retina is a security measure and move quickly on…

downloadmcgann2There`s nothing you can do with McGann`s info-dumping dialogue in the park, but at least this way it`s the first direct explanation the audience gets of why McCoy had that little urn full of gloop in the previous ep and how the Master got turned into gloop in the first place. Much better that the story takes an unavoidable info-dump here than at the start. I slightly trimmed the kissing scene to remove the second smooch – I think ending on Grace`s line “…now do that again!” is both funnier and better. And where else could the ep end but with the two Time Lords finally coming face to face!

EPISODE THREE

Again we start with a pre-titles recap montage. A bit harder to time this to the music but it still works. The Master being fire-extinguished is slightly trimmed to remove all that “get it off me” stuff [why does he say that? There’s nothing “on” him, it’s a CO2 extinguisher…] and to give McGann & Grace a quicker run to the motorbike cop whose bike they nick.

The party has some trims, such as the Dr & Grace`s abortive first attempt to get in. The Professor Wagg stuff is cut completely here too – again for timing but also to lose all that half-human nonsense, even if the Dr is being tongue-in cheek. This means once they arrive they get to the clock pretty quickly, cutting Gareth and his mid-term exam. In the previous version it was pointed out to me that I had left in a reference to his scene when the Dr & Grace get back to the Tardis, so I took the opportunity to fix that in this one.

Apart from anything else, the Gareth scene doesn’t advance the plot any. By this point in the story we’ve got that the Eighth Dr is a bit prophetic & able to see into the future. And since it doesn`t advance the plot, it`s more dramatic if Eight & Grace simply spot Chang Lee & The Master and leg it.

dr who tv movie tom connell lee sullivanWhen the Dr & Grace get back to the Tardis, there`s no dumb “motorcycle cop rides into the Tardis & out again” gag. Why would he be riding a bike with faulty brakes? Naff and not at all as funny as it’s meant to be, in fact, it’s not funny at all. Moving on… 

As per the previous versions we still end with Grace & Chang Lee in the Tardis. I like the idea that the three of them go off and have a load of adventures together and we end with a “Doctor Who Will Return” caption, since we now know that he will in 2005! Within the fiction of Dr Who storytelling, there’s no reason to suppose that the closing scene of the broadcast version, where the Tardis lands, in the rain, back on Earth next to that fountain in Andy Livingston Park, Vancouver, takes place, chronologically, right after the previous “thump the console” scene in the Tardis. There could have been all sorts of adventures between the two.

Fans, and Big Finish too come to think of it, are always shoving stories into non-existent gaps, so, if you are so inclined, there’s no reason to deny the three of them the opportunity of a trip or two together before Chang Lee heads off into the night with his bag of gold dust. You can think of the ending of this Fan Edit as being the start of The Season That Never Was…

downloadmcgann3The TV Movie Fan Edit Project was inspired by the idea that you could make it more watchable by cutting out all the things that make it unwatchable. And the success of the initial project was one of the things that convinced me that Fan Editing would be both fun and worthwhile. The plot still sucks, there’s only so much you can do to improve things, but I really do think splitting it up into episodes helps to distract you, at least a bit, from the clunky resolution, and I think the end result is something that now evokes the feel of “proper” Who.

So whatever the story’s many faults, that has to be a result!

dr who 1996 tv movie dwmENEMY WITHIN CD REAR

Tom Baker

Underworld

Sometimes you wonder what it is that attracts you to Fan Edit certain stories. In this case, I`m still not sure what it was. Maybe it was RTD`s Production Notes in DWM, maybe it was just a case of there being no point in putting it off any longer. Either way, Underworld is a dreadful clunker of a story that I had as little enthusiasm for editing as I did for viewing.

This is the second time I’ve tackled the story, and there were two reasons for that. The first was that I simply felt I could do a better job of covering the editing points [something my earlier, less experienced fan editing self didn’t always manage] and the second was to finally fix the annoyingly inconsistent viewscreen onboard the Minyan ship. First time around I had neither the time, energy or enthusiasm to fix the glaring continuity errors in the early part of part one. 

underworld cso chromakey doctor who

Sometimes it’s black outside, sometimes it’s green, and you can’t help but wonder how and why they botched it since the actual screen used for the CSO is blue! Fixing the error seemed like the obvious thing to do but I soon realised that the amount of work involved would mean too much pain for too little gain. But it always annoyed me that it got away from me and this time, with the fan editing of the Classic Series completed, I was determined to take the opportunity to go back, do a “Special Edition” and finally nail the bugger!

underworld coversGreek Mythology tends not to be a good basis for a Doctor Who story, at least not if this and The Horns of Nimon are anything to go by. For some reason that type of story template doesn’t translate that well to the show’s format. Quite why I’m not sure, it’s not as if those Greek myths are lacking in incident. Perhaps it’s the very fact that there are Gods involved, maybe that’s why Doctor Who stories involving those sorts of characters tend not to work. Think about all the God-like characters the show has had down through the years. I can’t think of one that has made for an interesting villain or, as a result, an interesting story. Sutekh is about the only one I can think of who “works” and that’s only really because he’s glued to his chair for almost all of Pyramids of Mars, and thus forced to work through his human agent, Scarman.  

I think the problem with stories about the Doctor meeting God-like beings is that the show works best when the Doctor is the cleverest, and by extension, the most powerful character in the story. Putting in a character who is even more powerful than the Doctor diminishes him as a narrative force. Look at the finale of The War Games. Once the God-like Time Lords turn up, the Doctor becomes a bystander as the story trundles on without him. The only real storytelling solution is to undermine the Gods of the story by showing them to either be nothing more than a little man hiding behind a curtain, as in The Wizard of Oz, or, as here, nothing more than computer with delusions of grandeur. As far as storytelling in Doctor Who is concerned, if its a choice between Gods and Monsters, let’s just stick to the monsters.

Of course, one thing you do with monsters is run away from them, and this is the ultimate “running around in corridors” story, although in this case the corridors are caves. Very dodgy CSO caves. But hey, you`ve got to admire their ingenuity and guts in even trying, even if it does fail miserably and results in a static story in more ways than one. Most of the eps are just a runaround with not a lot actually happening, and the story, such as it is, moves forward at a snail’s pace, with not nearly enough incident to help fill up the four episodes it’s got to play with.  

With this mk2 version I started from scratch, deleting the previous edit before I started so as to avoid the temptation to look at what I’d done before, and I ran into problems right at the start of part one. This was a complete pain in the arse to edit, and it took several attempts before I got a sequence of scenes that I was happy with. All the problems were caused by that bloody inconsistent viewscreen. I managed to get rid of all the Non-CSO shots except for two, only one of which involved a frame-by-frame fix, the other a static mask.

Underworld CSO Chromakey

The biggest problem with fixing the missing CSO frame-by-frame is that, no matter how you try, you just cannot get a static edge around Jackson as he moves in front of the window. The edges bounce around like a puppy on a trampoline but it’s still preferable to the alternative. The only way to do it was to duplicate the shot, use the chromakey tool on the top layer and put a black intermediate layer in between, giving you three video layers. The next step was to get the gravity whirlpool in there for consistency with the other shots in the opening scenes on the bridge.

shot fix 2To do that I had to make up a reel of all the shots of the gravity whirlpool with the Tardis or the Minyan ship masked out. Knowing that was all the material I had to work with, I was then able to use those one of those clean shots as an insert behind the viewscreen. Using the Chromakey tool in my editing software on the top video layer left a lot of gaps where the intermediate black layer was showing through, so to finish off the fix all I had to do was grab both video layers and then erase the missing sections frame-by-frame to give a frame with Jackson in front of a black screen instead of a green one. And it only took 780 frames to do it!

dr who underworld cso fx fixed

dr who underworld chromakey cso fixBut my viewscreen troubles weren’t over yet. When Tom & Leela turn up, the bloody thing goes from whirlpool to black and then back to whirlpool again. To make matters worse the shots with the black screen in aren’t static, making it impossible to key in the whirlpool. So the only solution was to have Orfe turn the viewscreen off by having it fade to black thanks to a simple mask, accompanied by a shortened version of the Tardis scanner sound effect. Since the Time Lords influenced the Minyan civlisation, and they know what a Relative Continuum Stabiliser sounds like, it seemed appropriate for their screen to make the same sound as that of their Gods!

underworld isolatorIn the end I had to make a slight adjustment to the finished fx shot, redoing the whirlpool to keep it as far away from Jackson’s shoulder as possible and darkening the shot slightly to help obscure the jumping edges of the animation. . Apart from the dodgy CSO, Underworld is infamous for two other things. Jackson’s helmet[!] and the Oracle’s robots. They are both ridiculous but it seems that the story’s Designer isn’t entirely to blame, though he is as guilty as anyone of not taking things seriously. It would appear he took his inspiration from a strangely familiar  1925 invention called The Isolator…

And speaking of things that just look ridiculous, RTD is right about the robots’noses, they make them look a little bit too cute. Picturing them without the nose, or at least holding your finger over it so you can’t see it, didn’t make it seem that its loss would make them any less daft than they already look. Of course masking them out would be an even bigger pain in the arse to do than blacking out the Minyan viewscreen but I did a test shot just to check he was right. And he was!

doctor who underworld robot noses

I deleted the original version before starting work on this one so that I wouldn’t be influenced by it. Although I no longer have that first version to refer to, I know for a fact that there are scenes in this version that weren’t in its predecessor, and there are scenes in the previous version that aren’t in this one. Your editing tastes change over time, but one thing that hasn’t changed is my opinion of the story, which is low on incident and high on run-around. That counts for its reduced running time of less than thirty-five minutes with this version yet, despite having a slightly different combination of scenes in them, both edits of Underworld have come out at more or less the same running time.

Underworld by Adrian Salmon DWM358For example, the mk1 version didn’t have the opening TARDIS scene but the mk2 does. Similarly, the mk1 version had the nose robots but this version loses them. Not only are they a rubbish token monster their unveiling is nonsense. Why on earth would they take their hoods off just to show Herrik, or Eric as I always want to call him, that they are robots with noses? It’s on a par with the similar moment in The Android Invasion, and is an example of bad writing and poorly constructed plotting. If anything the reveal should have come about like the unmasking of Greel by Leela in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, with someone else pulling their hoods off, wanting to know who they are. If there isn’t a story reason to for a “shock” reveal then don’t show us it, particularly when they fact that they are robots has no effect on the plot or contribution to its resolution. And anyway, it’s not a shock moment, like having a Zygon attack Sarah when she’s on the phone, it’s weak and undermined by the fact that their appearance is laughable.

RTD was right when he wrote in DWM that they would work better without their noses and I did briefly toy with the idea of trying to remove them. But the actors don’t stay still enough for masking them out to be practical. Not only that, having slogged my way through the 700-odd frames needed to fix the green screen shot at the start, that was the last thing I wanted to put myself through.

underworld dwmI did do another couple of quick fixes though. When Leela shoots the guard to rescue the Doctor at the end, there’s no beam from the gun, so I’ve added one in for consistency. They either forgot about it during the fx session in post production or they ran out of time. And when Eric gets shot on the bridge, the initial few beams go behind the uprights, as you would expect them to given where the guards are firing from, but then the last few shots go in front of the uprights. It looks wrong because Eric never changes the direction he’s looking or firing in to take account of being attacked from a different position. The whole sequence is completely inconsistent as far as the guns’ beams are concerned but once again to fix it would have been more trouble than it’s worth. The solution to the inconsistency was to use the uprights on the rope bridge as a mask. Laying that mask over the shots of Eric being shot meant all the shots that were now fired at him from inside the rope bridge. It wasn’t strictly necessary but to my mind having them all being fired from the same place looks a lot better.

On TV the rope bridge scene was followed by the abortive attempt to infiltrate the citadel via the rock crusher. Given that this forms the cliffhanger to part three and results in them ending up back where they started, a perfect example of a Classic Series Story Loop, it gets ditched as it doesn’t move the story forward. The consequence of losing the loop was that its loss was made obvious by the fact that the klaxon blaring in the background fades out in the part three scene only to suddenly reappear in the next scene from part four. In order to cover the join I had to make up a loop of the klaxon and lay that under both scenes so we could get from one to the other.

Underworld by Roger Langridge - DWM 315Aside from the rubbish robots, there are other inconsistencies and puzzling plot holes in the script that are never properly explained. Like why the P7E is carrying two explosive cylinders that look exactly like the ones that contain the race bank. Obviously the Oracle never thought the one would get mistaken for the other! And why has the Oracle, the P7E’s ship’s computer, gone all Xoanon anyway? How did she manage to knock up the nose robots given the low level of technology on display? Why are there only two of them? Why was the R1C dispatched in the first place to find the P7E? It’s never explained how the latter got lost or why there were two ship that left Minyos, but only one of them has a race bank onboard. Wouldn’t it have been safer to have a race bank onboard both ships, just in case? Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!

Why doesn’t the R1C have a ship’s computer? Is it Hoods On or Hoods off for the guards? No-one seems to know from one scene to the other. Where did the sword come from? And, perhaps most important of all, was it deliberate that Minyans sounds like Minions? One thing’s for sure, if the little yellow fellows from Despicable Me were running around those CSO tunnels instead of The Jackson Four, this story would have been a lot more fun than it is!

underworld-cd-back

downloadunderworld

Cybermen, Patrick Troughton

The Moonbase

Doctor Who Big Finish MoonbaseMoonbase Radio TimesDr Who On The Moon is the latest in our occasional series of Special Edition Revisitations of earlier fan edits. This edit was only done just over a year ago, but since then the Beeb have finally released The Underwater Menace come out on DVD. And we all know what a success that was…

As a result of what the Beeb did with TUM, I’ve had to revisit this edit, which is a crossover of sorts, based on the idea that, somewhere in an alternate universe, Sydney Newman never went to the BBC. Instead, his idea for what would become Doctor Who was taken up by Lew Grade’s ITC, following the success of Newman’s earlier show The Avengers. Just imagine if that had happened… all of Doctor Who on film, in colour, and still in the archive!

Back in the real world, I used to watch both UFO and Space: 1999 when I was a kid but neither of them came close to Doctor Who. Gerry Anderson was part of my TV childhood with both Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5 as well as all those old ITC shows – Randall and Hopkirk, Department S and the like. Years later, somewhere deep in my fanbrain I made the creative connection between the moonbase of The Moonbase and Moonbase Alpha from Space: 1999.

Question: What if the Cybermen had turned up on Alpha instead? Then you’d have a sort of alternate universe version of the story, where you get a crossover between Doctor Who and Space: 1999, resulting in a new version of the story called Moonbase: 1999!

I could just imagine Dr Pat having to help Commander Koenig sort out the Cybermen, who then set off  “the biggest bomb man’s ever made” and throw the moon out of orbit as per the original. And I loved the idea that the planet Koenig and his chums finally abandon the rogue moon for turns out to be Mondas…  A few years back I even made a video of what I though the Moonbase: 1999 title sequence might have looked like, replacing all the “this episode” stuff with clips of Cybermen and the like. And then the story was released on DVD. You can see where this is going, can’t you…

And so I embarked on my fan edit version of The Moonbase, a Doctor Who story done in the style of Space: 1999, and utilising the distinctive music of Barry Gray, who contributed music to the two Peter Cushing Movies back in the Sixties. Soundtrack Replacement is one of the more fun things about fan editing and lets you do something a bit different with the material than just a straightforward compilation.

In the original TX version, we had the reprise/conclusion of the cliffhanger ending of The Underwater Menace and then the Tardis crew buggering about on the moon’s surface before we head into the base itself where one of the blokes has come down with the lurgy. Of those three sequences – Tardis, Moon Surface, Base Interior – I didn’t think we needed the reprise as that could go at the end of the Underwater Menace edit [!] and we only really needed the Tardis arriving to lead us into the credits. So I started the mk1 edit off with an establishing shot of the moon, an establishing shot of the base, set up the infection and get poor old Ralph zapped in the stores to give us a nice dramatic lead in to the opening credits.

Space 1999 OSTI’d always told myself that if I was ever going to do Doctor Who in the style of Space:1999 there was no way I wasn’t going to do that fast cut opening sequence, only with Moonbase clips. It was great fun doing the credit sequence but tracking down suitable clips wasn’t exactly easy. Emulating the style of the original, down to including the “this episode” caption, I was quite pleased with the result of the part one version and this gave me the idea of possibly doing this edit as four cut down episodes instead of the ususual compilation edit. I had simply crossfaded between the animation and live action when I did The Reign of Terror so the first thing to do was to see how the transitions between them would work here. Depending on how they looked, that would determine whether I went for a cut-down episodic edit or not.

The transition from the animated part one to the live action part two was a fade over the shot of Jamie which worked quite well after a little judicious warping of the animated version to more closely match the “real” version. And going from part three to part four was again, a nice fade over a shot of the mutliple cybs. But the transition from the live action part two into the animated part three was another matter. In the animated reprise of the cliffhanger, the captions are all over the action where you would otherwise fade from one to the other, which meant a rather sudden transition as the cyb throws back the bedsheet and jumps down off the bed. In the live action version the end credits come in really quickly and the aforementioned captions in the animated version made the changeover the only one that gave me any trouble.

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The only possible way to do it was to see if I could block out the captions in the animated version, that way the fade wouldn’t be so jarring. And so I masked out the “By Kit Pedler” caption as best I could, one frame at a time, as we fade from action to animation. Time consuming? Yes, but at least I only had to work on every second frame!

With the pre-credits taking care of a lot of the set up, part one saw a couple of sections where I retimed the animation to fit the dialogue. When the Dr, Ben & Polly meet Hobson there are a couple of shots that look less like the kind of thing that Morris Barry would have shot and more like the kind of thing that was easier to animate! So I re-used some of the face shots of the characters to try and make things a little more genuine. I have a real problem with non-authentic shots in these animations, to my mind the point is to replicate the missing episode as closely as possible, and let’s just say that Planet 55 haven’t always achieved that and move on.

Moonbase covers

The eps on the DVD have a slight bue-ish tinge to them so one of the first things to do was to greyscale them to match the live action eps. The knock on effect of having Ralph get done in before the credits was that Ben couldn’t get sent to the store to help him so that sequence got cut completely, as did the earlier shots of him in the control room as Hobson is doing his spiel, another reason for cutting that stuff back. Cutting that sequence in turn meant that we had to lose the next scene where Ben says he can’t find him just before the Doctor enters and says Evans is dead. So we run the two sick bay scenes together to make one – the Doctor exits, Polly screams and the Doctor and Hobson run back in. After that it’s cue The Phantom Piper and we’re into part two.

Having completed part one, I actually edited part three next before moving back to part two. I felt it was probably best to get the animated eps out of the way first, since they were likely to involve more work fixing inappropriate shots than the two live action ones. In the end, unlike when I edited Reign, none of the shots needed replacing, making things a lot easier. What I did do, however, was to reorder the scenes slightly, with most of the cuts coming to the “Polly Cocktail” stuff, as well as losing the padding of Benoit being chased outside the base by a Cyb. And sailor boy Ben shows a surprising level of scientific knowledge here that he’s never shown before and never will again. So I’ve cut all that so that in this version he’s a bit less of an info-dumping clever clogs.

moonbase shawcraft cybermen

The other thing to notice in part three is how little the Doctor actually does in this episode, Pat has got very few lines to learn this week and spends most of his time twiddling the Cybs’ knobs and lurking in the background. You have to wonder whether that was an intentional decision to give him a bit of an easy week for a change or a deliberate attempt to give Ben and Polly a bit more to do.

The final ep to be edited, part four was fairly straightforward, the biggest challenge once again being the credits sequence. The model cyberships are rather naff and come in far too quickly so I slowed down both arrivals and masked out the rather obvious wire the model is suspended on for both clips, meaning more frame-by-frame work.

This is the point at which it becomes terribly clear, if it wasn’t already, that this is just a straight rewrite of The Tenth Planet, with the cybs sending the relief rocket into the sun just like they did last time out. Here they don’t melt when Mondas absorbs too much energy but they do get thrown out into space thanks to the gravitron so it’s a similar fate. Only thing is, Cybermen don’t need to breath so they’re not destroyed, they’re just floating around in the vacuum of space until their ships can pick them up once they’re free of the gravitron’s influence. I wonder if any of them went astray or got picked up by a passing spaceship…

One of the reasons for the final ep being so long is that one thing leads into another, making it almost impossible to cut. For instance, all the puncturing a hole in the dome stuff would have gone if it wasn’t for the fact that you can see the patched up hole later in the ep. And cutting it would also leave you with no reason as to why Hobson has suddenly taken his coat off, so that’s an example of not being able to lose something you otherwise would.

Having edited all the eps together the next thing to do was to put together a set of closing credits, making sure that everyone involved in the animation got credited, correcting the cock-up on the DVD release. That involved a bit of jiggery-pokery to create the missing names from the letters of the existing ones in order to put together a complete set of caption cards. There were so many credits to include that it felt very rushed when set against the standard closing theme so I used the seldom heard longer version, with the middle eight, from the Devil’s Planets CD. Then, with that done, it was time to add in the Barry Gray music. The Space:1999 DVDs have got isolated music tracks on them but in the end I found it was less time consuming just to use tracks from the Year One CD release that I managed to find online.

And, just in case you’re wondering, in the Gerry Anderson original the moon was blasted out of orbit on September 13th 1999, which was a Monday. In 2070 – the year in which The Moonbase is set – September 13th is a Saturday!

Doctor Who Big Finish Moonbase 1And that was it, or so I thought. And then the Beeb went and released The Underwater Menace without animating the missing first and last episodes. That meant the opening sequence of this story, which I had edited to be the end of Dr Who And The Fish People, wasn’t going to see the light of day, there was far too much work involved in covering the missing eps to make it worth the pain of doing it. And so I quickly realised that I was going to have to update my original edit and reinstate the original animated opening. Bugger.

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The edit of The Moonbase was completed ages before The Underwater Menace finally came out on DVD but once it was done the very next thing I did was cut together the opening of the former to use as the close of the latter. I’ve always been a fan of ending one story before starting another and wanted The Moonbase to start with them stepping out of the Tardis onto the Moon’s surface, which is how the original Fan Edit started. But without an animated demise for Professor Zaroff to precede it, I had no choice but to include it here instead and amend the audio edit of The Underwater Menace so that it ended with the original cliffhanger.

Moonbase opening fan edited

Here’s how I initially cut together the animated intro from The Moonbase. The TARDIS’ landing gets adjusted and uses the proper landing effect instead of the take-off one used in the TX version. I also edited out Polly’s fluffed line. The next thing to do after this was to cover up the episode credits.

The first thing to do was to cut together that end sequence and get it out of the way, since it would be the easiest part of the edit to do. I reordered the material slightly, and redid the landing of the Tardis, in order to keep the sequence as tight as possible. After that it was a case of getting rid of the episode captions, the most time-consuming part of the entire edit of this sequence.

They appear over three juddering separate shots of the console, the lever, and the the Doctor’s face. The shot of the lever was fairly easy to fix as the shot gets repeated when the “Episode 1” caption fades out, so I simply dropped in the repeat of the shot and matched it to the original. Easy, or at least the easiest of the the three.  The next shots to do were the two shots of the Doctor’s face. There were other sections with a “clean” version of each shot so I grabbed those and pasted them over the captions, frame-by-frame, resizing them to match the originals and cover up the captions. All in all it took 51 frames to fix those two shots, which only left me with the hardest ones to do, the long shots of the console.

Covering up the credits was complicated by the sheer amount of movement in both shots, resulting in lots of patching with “clean” sections from other points within the two shots, requiring another 37 frames. The next thing to do was to truncate the resolution of the cliffhanger slightly in order to eliminate the two short gaps that were too time consuming to patch. They only cover 33 frames of the action so their loss isn’t exactly noticeable.

Next I had to engage in a bit of jiggery-pokery in order to insert the DVD opening into my original Fan Edit opening. It actually turned out to be fairly easy to do, requiring only one short section to be re-ripped and a couple of music cues to make it look as if it had always been that way! The original edit ran just under 57m but the addition of the opening sequence only adds another couple of minutes of material. Apart from the new opening section this edit is exactly the same as it was first time around. 

The Moonbase is arguably where the Pat Troughton Era as we know it begins, after all the nonsense of stove pipe hats, baggy trousers and pointless disguises. The trousers and pixie boots went after The Highlanders, the hat and disguises after The Underwater Menace. Pat’s performance started to change once he found himself opposite Josef Furst but it’s mostly Morris Barry we need to thank for getting Pat to finally step up to the plate and play the lead role of Doctor a lot more centre stage. After all, the show is called Doctor Who, it isn’t called The Adventures of Ben & Polly is it!

MOONBASE CD REARdownload moonbaseMoonbase by Ben Willsher DWM470