Some time ago now, when I was fast approaching the milestone of Fifty Fan Edits, thinking about it made me realise that I only had four Colin Baker stories left to do. And so I decided to finish off Colin`s Era and over the course of a fortnight knocked out Attack of the Cybermen, The Mark of the Rani, Timelash and finished off with Vengeance on Varos.
Looking back in time at this story from the vantage point of the Internet-led world of today, this Eighties story seems as eerily prescient as Nigel “Quatermass” Kneale’s Year of the Sex Olympics was in the Sixties. And this was years before YouTube, but maybe Philip Martin saw it coming… Quite apart from the fact that I`ve never understood the relevance of the title [just who`s having vengeance on who?] I`ve never understood why the story is so highly regarded.
Okay, so it`s a very clever commentary on the whole nature of TV and entertainment and I get the whole Video Nasties/Bread and Circuses bit and Arak & Etta as the Varosian Greek Chorus but the story`s a bit… well, shite really. Once again, the Doctor has very little influence on the plot and no input whatsoever into the story`s climax, which comes via an intergalactic text from Sil`s boss. So why was he there Mr Martin?
Yes, it`s quite a good script, better than most in Season 22 but, the social commentary aside, the actual plot is little more than a rather dull run-around. And there are some seriously duff performances, particularly from a rather wooden Jason Connery and Nicholas Chagrin as Quillam, so thank the stars for the glory that is Nabil Shaban’s Sil and Martin Jarvis acting everyone else of the screen. It`s a shame Arak and Etta are restricted to commenting on the action instead of becoming part of it, but on the plus side, for one last time we have the glorious sight of Nicola Bryant`s knockers bouncing around like two puppies on a trampoline!
Like certain other stories, I knew exactly what I didn`t want in this Fan Edit and so don`t go looking for scenes featuring Death By Acid Bath or Death By Poisonous Vine because they`re not in there. Like all those tedious Tardis scenes with the Doctor and Peri bickering. Again. On the technical side, normally when you cut a scene with a music cue leading into or out of it, you have to do a bit of jiggery-pokery to cover up the join.
But since there`s no isolated music track on the original DVD release that I worked from, I made use of the raw studio sound track to avoid some of those problems. This edit was done from the original release of Varos, which suffers from some terrible picture quality – it’s very washed out, lacking contrast, so I corrected the whole thing. Particularly bad are all the scenes in the set where the “and cut it…NOW!” cliffhanger takes place: the colour balance is terrible, with far too much Blue, so I’ve done what I can to correct the colour balance to make it a bit more natural.
And as for that title of this one, well, since Vengeance On Varos makes no sense, and The Viceroy of Varos isn’t much better, the only other relevant option was The Viewers Of Varos, so that’s what I called it. Why? Because, in more ways than one, it’s all about the audience!
And so this Fan Edit brings the Colin Baker Era to a close, for now anyway. I have no plans to edit The Two Doctors as I`ve already done that one as a Patrick Troughton story and I think that`s the best way to watch it; as for The Trial of a Time Lord, I`ve already done the individual stories Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp and Terror of the Vervoids minus the trial scenes and I`m in no hurry to tackle the Trial itself.
So aside from those two, the rest of Colin`s stories have been cut down into much more watchable, and as a result, enjoyable versions that are probably as close as we`ll ever get to what the Sixth Doctor could and should have been when he was on the telly. I challenge you to sit down and watch them all in order and see if your opinions of old Sixie change as a result. I`ve deliberately tried to excise all that Nasty Doctor bollocks and show him in a good light, or at least as good a light as the scripts, their production values – or lack thereof – and that bloody clown costume will allow.