With The Tenth Planet finally coming out on DVD this week, complete with it’s animated episode four, I thought now was as good a time as any to upload the first of the Classic Who stories completed via animation. And since it was the first one, it’s full of errors and mistakes that Dan Hall should have fixed before this was released for sale, but he didn’t. So it looks like it’s up to Whoflix to give you an idea of how it should have been done!
Like many other Fans I’m sure, I was delighted when I first heard that The Reign of Terror was going to be released with its two missing episodes animated. Then, like many other fans I’m sure, I was equally disappointed when I saw the episodes themselves. Okay, so the style was strikingly different from what we`d got on The Invasion but it looked pretty good in the preview clips. What a pity they turned out to be the best bits…
The main problem is that the animated episodes do not even attempt to recreate the missing episodes they are substituting themselves for. The whole point, to my mind, is to recreate the missing episode as closely as possible so we can see what it would have looked like. Otherwise, why do it at all? This isn’t – to my mind at least – meant to be an exercise in creating your own version of a missing episode.
Admittedly, if the missing episodes had existed as Telesnaps that would have made things easier, but how on earth Dan Hall let them away with what they did, and why he didn’t make them work to a camera script, is beyond me. And if the camera scripts no longer exist, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out roughly how many shots there would be and what they probably were. And surely that in turn would have made the animation easier and therefore cheaper to do?
That in turn, one assumes, would make future projects more cost effective and correspondingly more likely to happen. If it was me I would have made them do it over again, but, since I can’t, we’ll have to settle for me doing what I can with what we’ve got to try and make these animated episodes more like the missing originals than Planet 55 did!
I knew before I started that the animated episodes would require more work than the rest of the story put together, as it was impossible to compile the edit from the existing live action footage alone. The first thing to do was to put together all the sequences I needed from the animated episodes and then export that as a single file. Next I had to cover the transitions from live action to animation and back again. I hoped it would be possible to do a simple crossfade from one to the other but no – frustratingly, they didn’t bother matching the animation to the existing bits so the start of episode four doesn’t match the end of episode three and the end of episode five doesn’t match the start of episode six.
In order to make a smooth transition from three to four I had to slightly re-order the material. The live action scene of the Doctor and LeMaitre heading off to see Robespierre now cross fades into the animated scene where they arrive. In order to make that work I had to split the Robespierre scene and insert the “evidence of a traitor” scene that originally opened the episode.
Going from five to six was a lot harder. In the 71 Edit I had an animated Ian and Barbara look at an animated door which suddenly becomes a live action door! However, with a bit of jiggery-pokery I was able to transform the animated version to more closely match up with the live action original. I then timed the crossfade from the one to the other as best I could.
Next thing to do was to Greyscale the animated footage – the original is slightly sepia – and then it was time to get down to the tricky business of editing the animated section. This involved over one hundred individual cuts, involving retiming certain shots and removing others altogether, replacing them with repeat shots that were re-timed to make them fit the dialogue.
Some of the likenesses for William Hartnell work better than others, a few are quite good and one is particular is so bad that I resorted to re-using other shots instead and retiming them to fit. I think you know which one I mean, it’s so bad that I didn’t really care how much extra work I was giving myself in replacing it. It`s still there in a couple of shots but not ones where Bill is speaking!
After that it was on to the live action episodes and part one loses all the argy-bargy in the Tardis at the start after the Doctor went in a huff at the end of The Sensorites. We open with the crew approaching the farmhouse instead and ten minutes later the Doctor is left for dead inside.
We get as far as we can into episode two before we have to cut back to find out how the old boy escaped. Quite how Jean-Pierre managed to get Billy out is beyond me, the little fella must be stronger than he looks! Be that as it may, once LeMaitre crosses Ian’s name off the execution list, we join the Doctor on a short journey to Paris that doesn’t involve clobbering a bloke over the head with a shovel!
Although Susan and Barbara get carted off to the guillotine, in this version we don’t see them getting rescued – we hear about it at the same time the Doctor does, which is rather more dramatic. One of the reasons for keeping the other plot thread involving Ian, Barbara and Susan “offstage” is that it isn’t nearly as entertaining as the scenes with the Doctor, LeMaitre and the Jailer. I did have to include the scene between the Physician and the Jailer though, otherwise Susan and Barbara’s re-appearance at the prison makes no sense, but that was my only concession to the other plotline.
Nowadays we are used to New Who made as single camera, cinematic telly but these old multi-camera Classic Who productions are more like theatre plays that have been filmed. So why not make a virtue out of it and have the action of the “B” plot take place “offstage” instead of on screen? As these Fan Edits have proved time and again, it’s not as if we lose anything. And apart from anything else, keeping the focus of this Edit on the Doctor helps to keep the animated section as short as possible!
When it came to the end credits, I decided to simply screengrab the captions straight from the DVD and use them instead of creating my own as usual. And since the credits have to cover both the surviving episodes and the animated replacements, I used the full closing version of the theme with the little-heard middle section, giving me enough time to fit them all in.
Out of a total running time of about an hour and seven minutes there’s about fifteen minutes of animation in this Edit. It was a complete bugger to do but I think you’ll agree that the effort was well worth it, the animated part of the show is now a helluva lot easier on the eye than the rather manic and unauthentic original. I only hope the other stories with animated episodes turn out to be a damn sight easier to edit than this one!