Timelash is a clunker and a half and it’s even more poorly regarded by Fandom than Meglos, which is saying something. Both these stories are best thought of as the TV Who equivalent of one of those comic strips in DWM that`s clearly not meant to be taken seriously as part of the ongoing Canon. You know the ones I mean, those Roger Langridge ones like “TV Action”, that`s the best way to approach Timelash and what better Fan Edit Challenge than to try and make this not only watchable but enjoyably watchable!
Like The Horny Nimon, it`s one of those stories that they say you have to be in the right mood for, which is code for “best watched when you`re pissed”. And if it helps you to enjoy it, you can certainly imagine that Maylin Tekker really is Kerr Avon, who somehow survived the end of Blake and ended up on Karfel, completely insane due to the events of Gauda Prime. That works just as well as what we’ve got here and I do like the idea of Tekker skulking in the shadows of Dr Jon and Jo’s original visit.
This is the second time I’ve edited Timelash, and revisiting the story was prompted by some feedback which made me look at it again. That edit was done four years ago and, although I still agreed with most of the editing choices I made back then there were one or two places where I had to admit I would take a different approach now. That, combined with one or two glitches that I spotted convinced me that I would be as well to revisit the story again.
And so this 2016 mk2 edit retains the bulk of the earlier 2012 version but with several differences, which I’ll leave for you to spot if you were one of the peeps who downloaded the first version. But they have both attempted to turn Timelash into a story that`s perfectly safe to view when sober. If, on a scale of one to ten, the original scored about two or three, then I`d give this seven or eight. Of all the Classic Series edits that I’ve done, I still think this is the one that’s been improved the most.
Like most S22 stories it takes ages for the Doctor and Peri to get involved properly in the story, which in this instance means completely cutting everything before the TARDIS arrives on Karfel. And sadly for Glen McCoy, doing that means you lose absolutely nothing of the plot. Tekker tells the Doctor, and us, all we need to know about what happened before Sixie turned up, so there’s no need for us to see it. Hooray!
We don’t need the duplicate Borad either. Or Pertwee’s portrait. Or Jo’s locket. Or the Sixie and Herbie Tardis scene. I could go on…
If it had been down to me I would have stopped at the Borad`s demise, that would have given us a nice dramatic high point to end on. But one of the challenges of working with pre-existing material is that the way the scene has been cut together means that doing so would be just too abrupt an ending. Additionally, stopping there would leave Herbert`s identity unexplained. All of which meant that I had to keep in the business with the Bandril missile but I have cut it right back. Not only that, taking it out altogether makes editing the closing scene almost impossible. The last shot should of course have been a close up of Herbie`s calling card so I`ve got as near to that as I could by having a photo of the real HG Wells lead us into the closing credits.
Without wanting unduly to add to the vitriol heaped on the show already, I have to say that, as an actor myself, it reminds me of the final year production of a not particularly good Drama School intake, with one star pupil, another playing the starring role and another who thinks he`s the star! Bob Ashby is excellent as the Borad and does everything that Darrow should be doing but isn`t. Eric Deacon isn`t bad but as for Jeananne Crowley, she`s not just wooden, she walks around as if she`s stoned out of her nut. Or maybe they actually wanted Vena to be played as a complete space cadet, who knows…
The 71 Edit of the 2012 mk1 version came out at 35 minutes but by the final 73 Edit I had managed to lose another 6 with various trims and cuts, mostly to Paul Darrow`s lines for obvious reasons. It`s never clever for an actor to be self-indulgent in order to get through a sub-standard production that he probably regrets agreeing to do. Even if he did need the money and exposure – it was his first telly since Blake’s 7 finished three years earlier – for someone like Darrow to be so blatantly unprofessional is disappointing to say the least. On the plus side though, there is the sight of Nicola Bryant being tied up… The 2012 edit came out at 29 minutes 8 seconds, whereas this 2016 version runs just 15 seconds longer!
Okay so I know they had no money but are you seriously trying to tell me that it was cheaper to make a puppet cobra than to employ an actor? They went to all the trouble of employing Martin Gower to voice the bloody thing so why not just spend the cash that went on the puppet and have him in vision? I did toy with the idea of replacing the Bandril Ambassador with the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, the very idea of which makes me laugh without seeing a single frame, but in the end I decided against it and kept that particular idea for YouTube…
The puppet is a bit rubbish so I thought about what I could replace it with, something that was made possible by there being one usable shot of the blank comms screen that I could use as both a background and a mask. The only question was what to replace the puppet with. The solution was, in the end, pretty obvious. Dennis Carey. The Karfelons are human so why shouldn`t the Bandrils be human too? Shots of him on the monitor screen already existed so it was just a case of adding some fx and modulating the original voices down a bit. Result!
When the pictures were finalised it was time to add the music. Adding in extra music is always one of the most satisfying parts of any Fan Edit. As the “cheap” story of the season, no doubt to pay for JNT`s jolly to Seville, the lack of cash is evident in every department, including incidental music.
There`s no isolated music track on the DVD but there is some of Liz Parker`s music accompanying the Photo Gallery on the DVD so I`ve used that as much as I can to make up for the lack of atmosphere in the original. And in that department, as in so many others, this is a story that needs all the help it can get!
I’ve amended the title slightly, with the addition of a “the”, which improves the title no end, although I`m still quite taken with “Into The Timleash” [remember “Into The Labyrinth” with Pamela Salem & Ron Moody anyone?]. I`ve left the original title unchanged on the spine of the CD cover though. There are a few new “fx shots” that I`ve added, though nothing too spectacular. Using masks I`ve covered up a few of the joins in the edit, including a couple of shots where you can see a boom mic shadow.
When the Guardoliers break into the Timelash room I`ve added some beams to the guns, something else skimped on in the original. But by far the fx fix I`m most pleased with is the Bandril Missile sequence. Now you actually get to see the TARDIS block the missile. It`s pretty basic but compared to what I`d have liked to do if I had the equipment, time and money it still works. No doubt Pennant Roberts felt the same!