Welcome to our second William Hartnell Wednesday. This week`s upload is The Gunfighters, a story that`s arguably one of the least well regarded in the entire canon. But, whilst most Fans have a poor opinion of it, myself included, it`s actually not that bad if you take it for what it is instead of what we’d all rather it was. And I do like the bloke who plays Doc Holliday, he’s probably the only person on screen other than Hartnell himself who’s in any way engaging.
I think part of the problem with this story in the eyes of many fans, aside from the obvious drawbacks caused by limited budgets and actors of limited ability, is that, tonally, it`s at odds with the normal pitch of the Hartnell Era. Just imagine what it might have been like if Season Sixteen Tom Baker had turned up in Tombstone instead, the story would probably have worked a lot better!
We tend to like our Who to take itself seriously, and although the Douglas Adams/Graham Williams style has its fans too, they`re not in the majority when it comes to Best Era Ever. And taking yourself seriously wasn`t something the show always did back in those early days. Back then they could – and did – tell any kind of story they liked, unrestricted by audience expectations, concerns over continuity or a self-awareness of a particular perceived house style. There was no artistic reason why the show couldn’t alternate between serious, comedic or downright weird, like the story immediately before this one…
Since the end of The Celestial Toymaker leads directly into the start of The Gunfighters I always intended to use it as a pre-credits sequence. It’s not exactly a huge loss to fandom that the story doesn’t exist in it’s entirety as Hartnell is absent for most of it. And can you imagine the harm it would have done the show if they really had brought him back looking completely different and played by someone else? I doubt the show would have survived a change like that so it’s just as well those ill-conceived plans came to nothing and Bill staggered on.
So, since the full story doesn`t exist I thought it would be nice to at least get some of the footage in there somewhere! And the final episode is probably the best one of the four as far as I can tell. All we really need is the climax of the Trilogic Game but the dialogue is so involved that it made it difficult to start too late into the sequence. The answer was simply to get the Doctor straight into the Tardis and take it from there. I used a music cue from earlier in the episode to cover the join.
When it came to the dematerialisation of the Ship, in the TX version, the sound effect starts before Steven hits the switch so I fixed that. I used a slow fade to both finish the game and to vanish the Toymaker which I think is much more effective and let the full take off sound effect play out underneath the rest of the scene. The last thing to do was to slow down the final shots to fit with the music cue that leads into the opening credits.
It`s probably the quickest way you can recap the previous adventure and still have it make sense to anyone who missed it. It`s only four and a half minutes but I`m really pleased it`s in there. Having got the Toymaker into the Edit it was now time to tackle The Gunfighters itself!
Sometimes you have an idea of what you want to do with an Edit before you start, and for this one I knew I wanted rid of that silly bloody song. The first time it appears is right at the top of the show before the Tardis lands so I cut that out and put in the clean landing effect, leaving a silent gap to be filled with music later. As I worked through the episode I ended up with a whole series of these gaps which would need filling in.
On the whole editing the song out wasn`t too problematic, despite the fact that the dialogue usually starts as the song is ending. That meant you had to get into the scene after it had finished, which was easier with some scenes than with others! The first problematic instance was the end of part two/start of part three, where they plan to lynch Steven. That required some ingenuity and audio patching from elsewhere in the episode to cover the join. The gun battle at the end was tightened up considerably to make it fit with the music, which, as ever, was the most challenging part of the edit.
Since this is a Western I initially thought of using “straight” movie music but the tone of the show is all wrong for that. I tried it but it just didn`t seem to work with the visuals; it`s more Carry On Cowboy than The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! In the end I decided to bookend the show with two “proper” pieces of Western Music – which I`m sure the movie buffs among you will recognise right away – and plug the rest of the gaps with Tristram Carey`s silent movie style piano music from Dalek Masterplan. It seemed to fit better than anything else and, while it echoed the original, it was a huge improvement on it.