There are several things that everybody knows about this story. The first is that, as “The Miniscules” [not exactly the catchiest of titles], this was meant to come much earlier in the show’s initial run than it eventually did. That it got made at all is a miracle of sorts, and given that Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants with its bigger budget provides a rather unfair point of comparison, you have to admire the very fact that they did it all.
Second, everybody knows that it was cut down from four episodes to three at Verity Lambert’s insistence. And third, everybody knows that the cut material has been recreated on the DVD release of the story, though quite why anybody other than Dame Levine would want to, gawd only knows. If Verity thought the original was too slow in 1964, it was going to be interesting to see just how much more we could lose in 2013 in trying to turn this clunker from a Sunday Driver into an F1 Racer!
And the way to do that is to cut out everything that doesn’t directly involve the Tardis crew, this is Doctor Who after all, not Dixon of Dock Green! Oh, so there’s been a murder, has there, constable? Sorry, couldn’t care less. Don’t suppose you’ve got any Daleks, have you? No? Hmmm, what about some giant insects, they’ll do…
We’re not long into part one before we get our first cut, Susan and the Fault Locator. The Tardis’ landing gets re-jigged slightly to cover the studio sound of Hartnell talking that you can hear on the model sequence of the landing. And since things were going wrong landing-wise I employed the good old Woozy Landing effect. When the Dr and co explore the garden there are numerous cuts for pace and when Susan overreacts – as per bloody usual – to Ian’s disappearance, I was glad she only had one more story to go. Carole Ann Ford gives a perfectly good performance but blimey, her character can be irritating. No wonder she left, I’d get fed up doing that every week for a year too!
Fifteen minutes is all it takes to get us to the cliffhanger where the Tardis crew get menaced by a giant moggie and if it wasn’t for Babs getting infected with DN6 I would have been tempted to end the story there and have them all leg it to the Tardis and away, making this the shortest Fan Edit ever!
The DN6 plot-line only really matters to us if it’s relevant to the crew and, once we’ve established that the insecticide is what’s making Barbara ill, we don’t need any more of it in the edit. Apart from anything else, the whole story seems like something of a missed opportunity, with precious few obstacles getting in the way of getting Barbara back to the Tardis before she dies of her DN6 poisoning.
They could really have racked up the tension, and given Jackie Hill some proper acting to get her teeth into, but instead they do the exact opposite – instead of hurrying back to the Tardis, they fanny about trying to bring the baddies to justice. Not only is that a Mission that’s Highly Improbable [see what I did there?] it tells the audience not to worry about Babs as she’s not in any real danger.
But it’s impossible to edit around the DN6 stuff altogether, given that the resolution of it fills most of the last Tardis scene. So I resorted to the old standby of cutting everything right back instead, which means that Barbara and Ian climb down the plug chain just twelve minutes after their encounter with the cat. And next thing you know, they’re back in the Tardis, the departure of which gets fixed, and then they’re away. So Verity cut 4 episodes down to 3, and I’ve cut those 3 episodes down to 1!
At a little under half an hour, Planet of Giants is one of the shortest Edits we’ve done yet, and includes something for you to look out for right at the end – a short “teaser” for the next story…