Yes it’s a classic but it’s more of a classic for what it means within the history of TV Doctor Who than for what it actually is. In many ways the later Cushing Movie version is a lot better but, at seven episodes, which is probably one too many, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
The first thing you`ll notice that`s different about this Fan Edit from the original is the title sequence. Hartnell was the only Classic Doc who didn’t get his face in the titles as Aunt Verity thought the test was too scary for the kiddies, one of her rare lapses of judgement. So I’ve rectified her error and included Hartnell`s face in the sequence courtesy of a specially constructed headshot and a crossfade to the footage of Tony Halfpenny from the title sequence test footage on the DVD. I think it`s pretty close to what it might have looked like if Verity hadn`t vetoed putting Bill`s face in and I`m really pleased with it.
Like the previous story An Unearthly Child, for this Fan Edit I`ve included some extra music cues. And where else could they be from but the Movie Version Soundtrack. I`ve always wanted to combine the two and now I`ve got the chance I`m happy to say that it works just as well as I hoped it would. And anyway, I`m no great fan of that myooseek konkrette bollocks they used in the TX version so I`ve replaced those wherever possible or put them as low in the mix as I could.
Putting in extra music can be really rewarding when you find a cue that just fits perfectly, and really frustrating when you can`t! There`s no recap from the end of the previous story, it`s straight out onto the surface of Skaro and thank you Silva Screen! Although the majority of cues are from the first film, there are some from the second which I`m sure you`ll spot!
Just as we had no cavemen-skull-bashing in the previous story, or electrocution of your companions for that matter, here the Doctor doesn`t sabotage the Tardis just to get a shufti at the city. I`ve edited the sequence to make it look like a genuine Tardis fault, which the Doctor simply takes advantage of. That helps to bring the Doctor’s character that little bit closer to the one we know now that little bit earlier than the next story, which is where the real change starts to take place.
If you’re one of those white left-wing liberals who see everything through the filter of race then go ahead and knock yourself out with this story. Personally I find that whole argument both highly suspect and incredibly tedious, I really don’t care if it’s about National Socialism or Pacifism versus Justified Aggression. I think it’s a story about a whole lot of things and race is only one of them, to say otherwise is simply wrong.
What’s much more interesting to me is that the Food Machine suddenly appears in the console room in Part One. It wasn’t there last time we were in the Ship so where the hell did it come from? Of course, that’s one of the things you would never have noticed if you viewed the original one at a time, a week apart. There’s a lot to be said for going back and rewatching these eps the way they were intended to be seen, instead of consuming them all at once.
For instance, the recap of the famous part one cliffhanger is rubbish – they cut it off far too early, losing Barbara’s scream. And it sounds like the cast are all wearing those little metal things for “tap shoes” to make it sound like they really are walking on metal instead of the concrete floor of a TV Studio.
Something else you can notice if you look closely at the Dalek casings, is a series of short horizontal lines between the two metal bands around the midsection. Each Dalek has a different number of lines, clearly how the production team attempted to differentiate between the four of them, so they knew which one was meant to be where!
Despite my best efforts to cut things down to something a bit more Cushing Movie sized, in the end I realised that, the way it’s told in this original version, there’s far too much story here for that to be feasible.
Working with pre-existing material like this brings its own challenges and there’s only so much you can do to increase the pace without it being obvious that you’ve made cuts, so two parts it had to be.
Part One ends with them escaping the cell, with Ian disguised as a Dalek. And we end Part Two with the line “there should have been another way” instead of the Tardis take-off as it’s a more dramatic end to the whole piece, with the Daleks seemingly defeated…
Having re-watched this story for my Fan Edit Viewing Marathon I was struck by how loud the Peter Cushing Movie Music is in places. Clearly my younger self had a lot to learn about balancing additional incidental music against existing dialogue. You can still hear what they’re saying but I did feel it was a little too loud in places, and so I took the opportunity to go back and adjust the balance between the two, which involved ripping the relevant sections from the DVD, getting them in sync with the original edit and then lowering the level of the music and boosting the level of the dialogue to get a better mix between the two. Fiddly to do but worth it. I also made a few minor cuts to a couple of editing choices that, six years down the road, I wasn’t happy with, and as a result both these edits are now a few seconds shorter than the 2010 originals, but are otherwise intact – 10secs shorter for Part One, 17secs for Part Two.