“but first here on BBC One, it’s time for the last in the current series of Doctor Who…
The White Guardian has sent The Doctor and Romana on a mission to collect the six disguised segments of The Key To Time. With only one more segment left to find, The Doctor must finally confront the agents of The Black Guardian”
And so we come to the grand finale of The Key To Time Season. The Shadow is a wonderful villain, even if he does wear a black stocking over his head, like some bank robber from an intergalactic version of The Sweeney. And John Woodvine is great as The Marshal, but overall, The Armageddon Factor is a bit of a let-down after everything that’s gone before.
The main problem with the whole KTT season is that there really isn’t enough made of the opposition – the Doctor and Romana have a pretty easy time of it in picking up each of the segments prior to this. It would have been nice if there had been more characters in their way but it’s only really Vivien Fay that gives any hint of being a Black Guardian agent.
After the last couple of edits, which were fairly easy, being done in a day each, I knew with this one that I would have more of a challenge. The first thing to do was to get the Doctor into the story as quick as possible – in the TX version of Part One it’s a full fourteen minutes before the Tardis lands on Atrios!
The Marshall’s Churchillian moral speech gets cut in half so we can cut away to the Tardis and the close up of the monitor gets brightened up a lot, as the original is way too dark. I also added in some extra sound fx for K9 shooting the door leading to Astra’s cell.
The whole “K9 in the furnace” sequence gets dropped, necessitating dropping in two sequences from scenes from further back in the story to cover the cuts to the long scene in the Marshall’s war room. The only scenes I could use were those involving Astra and The Shadow, which means he joins the story rather earlier than in the TX version.
There are lots of cuts and trims in this Edit, particularly to the time loop part of the narrative, which I think gets just a bit too repetitious in the TX version. This was one of those stories where you were unable to get rid of that much as, in all good Who writing, one thing tends to lead to another. That makes it hard to get rid of things without either the story no longer making sense or making it obvious there’s been a cut made.
Drax gets cut back, and I`ve done what I can to eliminate all that “Theta Sigma” nonsense, so there’s only one brief mention of it which you hardly notice. At the time, there were plenty of us who thought we`d just been told the Doctor`s name and as a nickname it`s pretty poor. I`ve always hated it so I`ve got rid of it as best I could.
I edited everything up until Drax appears and then I went to the end of the story and worked backwards to that point. The end sequence was always going to be the hardest part of the edit and I wanted to get that out of the way before I went back and worked out how to cut all that Theta Sigma bollocks to a minimum, since it was impossible to edit it out. The answer was to insert an extra repeat shot of the countdown, but this time only going from 10 to 6.
The hardest part to edit was the section where K9 arrives at the Shadow’s place with the shrunken Dr and Drax onboard, doing his Trojan Horse routine. It took ages to cut together, getting rid of K9’s coughing and comedy throat clearing. This section was also complicated by there being a semi-repeated shot of the Shadow. Like Flipped Shots, another pet hate of mine, Repeated Shots never work [remember the one of the Master in Logo Polis?] so I had to spend some time fiddling about with the two shots to make them into one.
After all that it was just a case of joining the two halves of the Edit together and taking a break [during which I redid the original Shada] before coming back to see what I could do with the ending…
The Black Guardian appears in negative twice at the climax of the story but the first time he`s more grey than blue, so I colourised the initial appearance so there was better continuity between the two. When it came to the BG appearing on the scanner, I knew I wanted to replace the original. The costume is pretty poor even by 1978 standards and so I wanted to replace the scanner sequences with some of the footage from Enlightenment so as to maintain some continuity with the Guardians` appearance. Completely unnecessary but what is the point of Fan Editing if not to do something different?
A simple crossfade between two screengrabs made a much better transformation – now the Black Guardian actually looks like the White Guardian that he’s pretending to be. The footage of Cyril Luckham had the contrast adjusted to help mask the fact that it comes from Enlightenment and I also added some Motion Blur, which harks back to his first appearance back in The Ribos Operation.
Putting this new footage onto the Tardis scanner meant I first had to mask out the old footage of Valentine Dyall. That was pretty simple to do, apart from 50 frames where the Doctor and Romana cross in front of the scanner screen, each of which had to be painted out by hand and re-inserted. Then, once I had that sequence exported as a clip on its own, it was simply a case of CSO-ing out the black of the scanner screen and using that as a mask over the Cyril footage. I think the new White Guardian sequences work well enough to justify their inclusion and I prefer them to the original.
The next thing to do was something I`d been wanting to tackle for ages – Romana`s regeneration!
It always seemed to me that Romana should have regenerated as a result of the BG attacking the Tardis, not just because she fancied a change of body! And so, to finish off the edit in style, I put together a sequence showing how Romana is forced to regenerate as a result of being zapped by the big bad Black Guardian. This involved some brand new shots, footage from elsewhere in the story and a short sequence from another story altogether. It`s a rather hectic sequence but it gets across the reason for Romana regenerating and I think makes it pretty clear as to what’s happening and why.
In terms of time spent, these last five minutes took almost as long to complete as the whole of the rest of the edit. However, as it provides an alternate climax to both the story itself and the entire six-story season-long search, I think it was well worth the effort, ensuring the quest ends on a rather more dramatic note than it did originally! It also allows us to go straight into Destiny of the Daleks without having to include any explanations of why Romana looks like Astra…
In this post I would like to acknowledge
for his help with the ongoing cost of hosting all these files. Thank you David!