The latest in our occasional series of revisitations of earlier edits, this was one that was prompted by some feedback which suggested I look again at the ending of this edit, which was done back in 2012. Let it never be said that Whoflix doesn’t listen to its audience, as, looking again at the ending of the story, I felt they had a point.
The edit originally ended on a different cliffhanger to the TX version. Instead of the freeze frame of “I’ll take you to B-” the edit finished with Peri escaping the catacombs as before but this time, by the time Orcini exploded his bomb, the Doctor hadn`t, suggesting that he may not have made it. And of course, in the real world he didn’t.
At the time I felt that was the right ending for the edit, and since there was never any doubt that the Doctor would get out in time I didn’t feel the need to include the rather flat coda, which only served to remind us all of the Cancellation Crisis. But four years on, I felt I was able to do something different with the ending and so I took the opportunity to revisit it, with the result that this 2016 update is the exact same edit as in 2012 only with the new ending. More of that later, but first…
Let`s be honest, Revelation isn`t really a Doctor Who story at all is it? I mean, the Doctor`s hardly in it for a start and, despite the title, neither are the bloody Daleks. Whatever Saward was thinking of when he wrote this, it certainly wasn`t Doctor Who! The Soylent Green stuff is very badly disguised, and you wonder why on Earth it was added into the script. This is meant to be a story about Davros turning the near-dead into Daleks, what the hell does turning the rejects into Kronkburgers have to do with it? But that’s Saward all over, he’s such a bad writer that he just chucks as many things as he can into the mix, hoping that somehow all the elements will work together to produce something new. Fat chance. If the elements of storytelling are combined like ingredients in a cake, then here they congeal into a stodgy, soggy mess.
Like many Eric stories, it takes ages here for the Doctor to get involved in the story, but worst of all, when he does, he makes zero contribution to the plot. Everything that happens would still have taken place in exactly the same way if he hadn`t been there, not something you can say about many Classic Who stories. It`s clear that Saward is having much more fun writing for the likes of Jobel and Orcini than he is for the Doctor and Peri. So applying the Fan Edit maxim that the easiest way to cut down the padding from a story is to remove anything that doesn`t involve the central character, then this was always going to be a Fan Edit that was going to come out on the short side.
When I initially edited this story it came out at 35m 22s. The second version came out at 40m 08s which wasn`t a great deal longer but those few extra minutes make a big difference. Part of the problem I had with my initial edit was that I made the mistake of trying to intercut the three initial plotlines.
Second time round, I used the Natasha subplot as a pre-credits sequence so that when she discovers her dad`s become a Dalek that leads us into the opening credits. When she and Grigory get captured they vanish from the narrative, having served their purpose.
That then left me free to intercut between Orcini and Bostock and the Doctor and Peri, making things much easier to follow. The Doctor and Peri still meet the mutant and see the statue but don`t meet Jobel. The Doctor gets captured and taken straight to Davros and Peri meets the DJ off-screen, mercifully reducing Alexei Sayle to a single cameo on the monitor when Tasembeker introduces him.
This edit tries to keep the focus on the Doctor, who is meant to be the central character and the one with the most screen time, not bloody pervy Jobel. Orcini is a great character and at one point in the catacombs, William Gaunt seems to be doing his best Oliver Postgate impression, but it`s not about him either. It`s meant to be about the Doctor, Eric! I can just imagine Colin doing a Pertwee and tearing out the script pages and splitting them into two piles – Pages I Am In and Pages I Am Not In – and then asking Eric why the “Not In” pile is bigger than the “In” pile…!
The 2012 version opens with the continuity announcement, slightly amended from the original to remove the reference to part one, and also features some of the CGI from the DVD which I wasn`t able to include first time round.
Having listened to the feedback, I decided to have another look at the ending. It’s funny realising how your tastes change over time, and that you might not make the same editing choices now as you did then. I still think the cliffhanger ending was the right choice at the time, one because it avoided the coda I didn’t like, and two we all know the Doctor is going to make it out in time. Another reason for avoiding the inclusion of the coda was that I wasn’t able to do anything with the “I’ll take you to -[Blackpool]” freeze frame at the end. Four years on, and with that much more editing experience, I realised there was a way to work round it, one that eluded me the first time around…
What a pity they didn’t keep the original version of that ending as a DVD Easter Egg, it would have made things so much easier! Instead I had to use a fair bit of ingenuity to try and recreate a version of the original ending as best I could. The first thing to do was to see if there was anywhere that I could find Colin either saying the complete line as it would have been or at least saying the word “Blackpool”. In the end all I could find was the single word itself, taken from the Lost Season DVD extra. I then joined that onto the end of the tv footage at the point where the freeze-frame kicks in. That required a short duplication of the background hiss from the tv footage to play under the word “Blackpool” so as to help disguise the join. So now I had the complete phrase “I’ll take you to Blackpool!” but at the final word the screen would go to black unless I could find some footage of Blackpool to cut to…
I found some audio I could nick from Big Finish’s version of The Nightmare Fair to act as a short teaser for that story and put that together with some Blackpool footage, and a shot of the 1980’s Police Box prop to make up a short little coda with the Tardis landing in Blackpool. Result? A new ending that gives us a nice glimpse into what might have been.
The updated ending adds two whole minutes to the running time, and I think it makes for a better take on the story than the two previous versions I did. Apart from anything else, since the initial edit of this we’ve had The Night of the Doctor and that says Big Finish is canon so why not include a link to their version of The Nightmare Fair! Fan Editing is as much about developing and improving your editing skills as it is about structure and storytelling and I`m not averse to doing something again if I feel I can do it better. If only Eric Saward had felt the same way about this story and done some re-writes!