If ever there was a story crying out to be Fan Edited then it`s this one. The Web Planet is unlike anything else but it`s also incredibly slow and one of the few Classic Who stories that had me tempted to hit Fast Forward when I first watched it. It`s probably the Sixties Who story that most feels like you`re watching a theatre production. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, these episodes should be viewed first and foremost as products of their time. If they were to remake the story today with all the CG available to them, would it make the story any more watchable? More sensational certainly, but would the story be any more engaging?
I decided to start off with the closing moments of the previous story The Romans as a pre-credits sequence, and the first major fix occurs just after the opening credits. The Tardis` arrival on Vortis showcases a spectacularly bad roll back & mix, so I took the opportunity to fix that. The bulk of the cuts to part one are the Vicki & Barbara scenes in the Ship. I tried editing around the nonsense with Barbara`s bracelet [and Ian`s pen] but it proved impossible to lose it altogether. For one thing the Animus` use of gold to control all life on Vortis gets referenced several times later on, so I settled for cutting it right back – a new music cue to heighten the atmosphere helped too. I tightened up the section at the monument too.
When I first started editing the story, I kept the focus entirely on the Doctor with no cutaways to any of the subplots. The key to any cut-down version of these stories is to keep the focus on the Doctor. The advantage of doing this was that I was able to see just how far I could get into the story before it became impossible to not cut away. That point came about forty minutes in when Vicki gets sent back to the Ship for the Doctor`s walking stick. I was then able to go back and decide where and when I wanted to cut away from the Doctor. This allowed me to only use the footage I really needed to; if you have some discretionary cutaways at your disposal that allows you a lot more creative leeway than obligatory ones.I`ve rearranged the material quite a bit to keep Barbara in the narrative – the first instance is the scene about ten minutes in, after Ian has been caught in the stinging web, where a Menoptra pops up behind Barbara. That scene is from episode two but it now appears before the cliffhanger to episode one. Since Barbara is absent from episode three I moved a lot of her scenes from episode four to earlier in the running order, alternating them with scenes of the Dr and the Animus.
By the time I got to the end of episode four I was ready to jump to the end of the story and work my way back. Sometimes I find this approach beneficial as you know what you`re building towards and it`s often easier to work backwards from it than towards it. The 71 Edit came out at just over an hour and a quarter.
Having completed the edit, the next task was to go back and add in extra music and effects. This is a curiously “bald” show aurally, which undermines what little atmosphere there is. Also, there`s an awful lot of Noises Off from the crew, lots of clunking and banging, so I did what I could to increase the atmosphere with extra music and soundscapes. I used one particular cue on a loop for all the scenes on the surface of Vortis and another one for whenever the Animus drops its “hairdyer”!
I also added in a few extra sound effects here and there which I`m sure you`ll recognise and corrected a Billy Fluff where he talks about “many light errs… light years from earth”. Luckily his mouth is obscured by the smeary camera lens so you don`t notice it. I finished everything off with some extra glow effects. The first of these is a slight pulsing glow when the Tardis is surrounded by web soon after landing to prevent it taking off again. That was a simple mask of the Ship with a glow effect added and then fading between the two. I also used a glow effect on the actual footage to enhance the closing scenes with the Animus. In the TX version these scenes are a bit of a let-down and on a par with Kinda`s infamous snake. But now the Animus is a pulsating glowing menace and not just a load of old foam strips draped over a dustbin lid!
After that I added some laser beams to the Menoptra`s guns for the brief battle when the invasion force is ambushed. They`re only a frame each as the Menoptra are moving in the shot but they`re quite effective I think. The last thing to do was the credits – there were so many Vortis performers to credit that I had to scroll the credits for most of them.