The War Machines

Doctor Who Big Finish War MachinesWar Machines Radio TimesI love The War Machines.

It`s probably my favourite Hartnell story and it`s certainly the first episode of Classic Who that really feels like it`s set in the Sixties. It`s always struck me as the kind of story you could imagine The Avengers tackling in their own inimitable way and at times it feels like more of a dry run for the Pertwee Era than The Invasion! So when it came to Fan Editing it, this was one that I was really looking forward to.

Normally I start at the beginning of part one and edit as I go and then join the end of part one to part two and so on. But for this Fan edit I did something I`ve never done before – I decided the 71 edit would be a straight compilation of all four episodes, that I would then cut down. The reason for approaching the project this way was due to the opening credits for each episode. Like other serials of the time, such as The Tenth Planet, this show has bespoke opening credits in the form of caption cards that appear in the middle of the reprise. Working round them for a compilation edit was always going to be the biggest problem I`d face so I thought it best to tackle it first!

War Machines 1 Radio TimesPart one is easy as the caption cards come straight after the opening titles. I started the compilation from just after the “1” fades out and finished on the final shot of Dodo. That gives us 22m 51s of footage. One thing I hadn`t noticed until I joined the two sections together is that the background sound is different in the two versions of the scene, so I made a mental note to go back and fix that later.

Part two`s captions come after the famous” Doc-tor WHO is re-quired, bring him here!” line. This time Dodo doesn`t turn to face us but turns to her right and walks out. So I cut the final shot of part one, reducing that to 22m 48s and started part two with the shot of Dodo turning away. Director Michael Ferguson does a rather neat fade in for the captions on the door but he starts it just a little bit too quickly, which is why Prof Brett comes back pretty sharpish!

We start part three at 45m 28s, which means there`s 22m 37s of footage from part two to edit. We move into part three with the shot of Ben caught in the War Machine`s spotlight and backing away. Again, like the transition from 1 to 2, the sound effect in the background is different in the two versions of the scene. But with this one I managed a simple long cross fade from one to the other, making it much less noticeable. The end of part three comes at 1hr 6m 55s, giving us 21m 47s of footage from that episode.

Part four`s captions come right after the opening titles so we start with a close up of the War Machine, a shot that comes after the short scene with the two soldiers talking about “wombat missiles”, whatever they are. I can only assume they’re not some poor old wombat fired from a catapult on an unsuspecting enemy! Cutting the last shot of the episode just before the two extras walk into frame gives us a grand total of 1hr 28m and 34s worth of footage to edit down, comprising:

Part 1 – 22m 48s, Part 2 – 22m 37s, Part 3 – 21m 47s, Part 4 – 21m 39s

WAR MACHINES CD 2 - original by Alister Pearson

Having exported the compilation as a single file – the 71 Edit – I then intended to set about cutting it down in the usual way, removing anything that didn`t advance the story. The death of the tramp was one of the first things I knew was going to go!

But before I got to do that I had a moment of inspiration as regards the music. Aside from Doctor Who and  the Daleks, nothing sums up the Sixties on TV quite like The Avengers – Diana Rigg Era of course! – and so what better than to use some of Laurie Johnson`s fab cues from that show for this one. I got all the confirmation I needed when I noticed that they`d used an Avengers cue – “Chase That Car” – at the start of the “One Foot In The Past” extra on the DVD.

The first scenes I worked on were the opening and closing scenes of the story, just to make sure that it would work, and work it did. The opening cue is “Dead Man`s Treasure” and as for the end scene, what else could I use but the same music they used to close the final scenes in The Avengers – the “Tag Scene” Cue!

I was so pleased with how these two cues worked that I was now looking forward to working on the rest of the story even more than I was before I started! The last thing to do was to tidy up the Roll Back & Mix for both the Tardis` arrival and departure, both of which are pretty poor in the original. I then exported the whole, otherwise unedited, file again which became the 72 Edit.

Now it was time to start editing the footage down! I ended up with about 17m of part one in the final edit, which is quite a lot but there`s an awful lot of setting up to do in this first episode. Curiously, when Wotan tries to take over Dodo there`s no accompanying sound effect like there is for the other three – Brett, Green & Krimpton – so I added that in when she gets the phone call at the Inferno. I also added an effect when Wotan has a go at her initially when Dodo and the Doctor question the machine.

It was at this point that I decided to cut the infamous line – ” Doc-tor WHO is re-quired, bring him here!”, intending to re-record an amended version of it later myself. This is my second appearance in one of my own edits, the first being the radio announcer in “Inferno”. So no references to “Doctor Who” from Brett either!

Moving on to episode two I realised I could re-use Ben calling out to the Doctor before the Taxi arrives at the end of the story. When you look at that last scene, there`s no reason for the Doctor to look up and see Ben and Polly running towards him so adding in Ben`s call, slightly lower in the mix, makes sense of him looking up to see them. A pretty minor fix but one that was easy to do and it makes the scene better so why not!

war machines covers

complete-history-27After that it was time to say goodbye to the Tramp, who was pretty easy to get rid of. Most of the cuts were pretty straightforward throughout the first three episodes, with the first really complicated sequence being the gun battle between the War Machines and the soldiers at the end of part three.

There were three music tracks covering this section up to the original cliffhanger, the middle one of which was the aforementioned “Chase That Car”. In order to cut the sequence to fit the music I worked on this bit in isolation to the rest of the edit and then dropped the finished section back in.

The first thing to do was to edit the opening and closing moments of the scene, leaving the rest of the footage to be cut together in the middle. I had 2m 09s of music to fill from 2m 45 of footage. However, when you watch the sequence there are a lot or repeat shots in there so I ended up cutting the music back and shortening the entire sequence by about a minute.

The entire sequence now runs about a minute and a half and, to give you some idea of the work involved, this sequence had 16 separate cuts to it. The initial compilation edit had a total of 100 cuts made to it.

The War Machines by Adrian Salmon - DWM 296

Earlier I mentioned that the cliffhanger to part three came 1hr 6m 55s into the initial unedited compilation; it now occurs at 42m 55s, meaning we`ve lost exactly 24m worth of footage up to this point. Fifteen minutes later and the Tardis is leaving for The Smugglers, which gave me an idea…

The ending of this story as transmitted is simply the Tardis dematerialising but I wanted to do something a little bit different. Given that The Smugglers no longer exists on video, and that it follows straight on from this, I decided to include the audio from the opening Tardis scene. So as we see the Tardis leave we hear what`s going on inside. I think it works really well and rounds off the story nicely.

Once that was done the next thing to do was to export the file, making it the 73 Edit and once that was done, go back and put in the music cues and record my cameo as Wotan!

This was always one of my favourite stories but now, with this new musical “Avengers” version, I like it even more! And if, at 1hr 28m, the TX original`s not one of your favourites, well why not give this rather groovier 58m 51s Fab Fan Edit version a go – I think you`ll like it and if you`re an Avengers Fan you`ll love it!

War Machines DWM

WAR MACHINES CD 3 - original by Clayton Hickman



5 thoughts on “The War Machines

  1. Hi – I recently stumbled upon your blog and (as a Who fan since 1963!) was intrigued at once by the concept of refreshing the old classics and had to take a closer look. (Let’s face it, some of the sixties stories creak a bit in the harsh light of the 21st century…) I have now watched about half a dozen of your edits, this included, and must commend you on a superb effort. Keep it up, and I’ll be back for more. I very much approve of the Laurie Johnson soundtrack on this one, as the story is arguably quite Avengers-ish, so – well done on that score (in more ways than one!) I’m looking forward to watching more, and if I can work out how to request a couple that RS zapped out of existence, I’ll be back to politely ask. Till then, thanks again for your efforts!

    1. Glad you liked it. Always nice to get some encouragement, does wonders for your motivation!

      Yeah, War Machines just seemed to be crying out for Laurie Johnson as it`s exactly the sort of Brian Clemens-type plot that you can just imagine Steed and Mrs Peel tackling over on ITV. I`m a big fan of John Barry, he`s my sort of default Dudley Simpson for these things, but in this instance it would have been a crime not to use Avengers cues. I`m not averse to using him again, either, in the right story.

      As far as requests go, it`s very simple – just post your request on the “Contact Whoflix” page and I`ll upload whatever it is you’re interested in seeing.

  2. Thanks for the swift reply, and I’ll be more than happy to add a few more comments on the stories I’ve now whatched, if it’ll help to keep the edits coming!

    Back to the War Machines… I think this must be the first time I’ve heard a classic Who story with stereo music. If only NICAM had existed in 1966… oh, and colour of course (but that’s another story!) It certainly addds to the “swinging London” feel of the piece, and moves the action along very nicely, thank you.

    P.S. I’ll add my requests to the queue on the Contact page. TIA.

  3. I finally got a chance to watch this edit last night, and I thought it was brilliant! The addition of music from The Avengers was inspired! Great job.

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