The main impetus behind this fan edit was the desire to join the end of this story to the start of the next one with the Daleks, so the first thing to do was to come up with a way of showing the TARDIS in the Time Corridor to intercut between the Console Room scenes, of which there are several too many. The solution was to combine a couple of pieces of footage from earlier in the show’s history – the spinning TARDIS from Full Circle along with the Tardis Tunnel from the unused Tom Baker title sequence. With that done, it was a simple case of making a couple of masks so that the Daleks can see Five and his chums in their crystal ball thingy as they make their way into the warehouse for a nice dramatic “Next Time” ending. Then all I had to do was try and make sure that wasn’t the highlight of the edit!
Bidmead may know his onions when it comes to science and computers and all that bafflegab but he knows fekk all about drama and how to write an exciting story. Luckily this is the one that comes closest to actually being halfway decent despite having another dull idea at its heart and an impractical idea for monster. You’d think, having been script editor, he’d know what the BBC were capable of and what the budget would stretch to but in his short time away he’s clearly wiped all that from his internal hard drive. Pity he didn’t install Drama 101 instead.
Still, it’s not all bad. We’ve got the dad from The Adventures of Black Beauty, that bird from Angels who turns up again in The Happiness Patrol and that bloke from The Onedin Line who spends the entire four episodes doing enough overacting to give even Paul Darrow a run for his money. Yay! Plus the fella who plays the nasty teacher in Pat Troughton’s CFF outing A Hitch In Time. Oh, and Five puts on his Brainy Specs, something I wish he’d done more of. Not only is it a nicely eccentric image, it’s also a handy visual cue to remind us of the Doctor’s actual age, via the device of having him mirror Mr Range…
If only Davison had carried on playing it that way after he’d started. You can see flashes of it in his first few stories but then it fades away to be replaced by Leading Man syndrome. Pity. And speaking or Mr Range, does he get his hair cut by IMC?
So, there’s this planet named Frontios [very Terry Nation!] and on this planet there are some human colonists and a bunch of Space Weevils who suck them off under the earth with their scary gravity powers. Then they use them to power the tunneling machine they’re using to hollow out the entire planet so they can use their gravity power to pilot it around the universe. Now where have we heard that before? Not exactly as bonkers as the Daleks’ plan for A Planet With A Bloody Big Engine In It but it certainly comes close.
The first thing to do was to put all the eps together into a movie edit, running 1hr 31m. The only difficult transitions were from part 2 to part 3 and part 3 to part 4, where, on both occasions, the music is slightly different, a problem solved with a very long crossfade. Then it was a case of working my way through looking to see what cuts I could make. I also did some colour correction on the matte painting of the crashed ship so it was a better match for the studio material.
Bidmead also makes some curious choices when it comes to the main crew members names – Range is a verb, Revere is a verb and Brazen is an adjective. Plantagenet has a surname for a first name, which means his full name is Plantagenet Revere [!] and then for some strange reason Range’s daughter is called Norna instead of Norma. The highlight of part one is a hint of sideboob from Tegan in the Tardis at about 3m in, the rest of it is Tegan, Turd-oh & Norma buggering about with a battery while the Doc is busy bickering with the boy-king.
The Space Weevils don’t turn up until the end of part two so the key to a speedy edit of this dull story is to get the Doctor down into the tunnel and meeting the Gravis as quickly as possible. Once that happens, everything that happens “up top” is of no interest whatsoever, so all that stuff to do with the rebels gets cut to the bone, allowing us to get four episodes down to the equivalent of two.
As a final thought, wouldn’t it have been a lot creepier if the Tractators enveloped their victims in a green glow instead of a pink one? The cave where Captain Revere gets sucked off underground at the start is all creepy green so what happened there then? Was the button for green broken in the post-production video effects session? If I’d had the time and patience and software I would have fixed that.
Oh, and Frontios is yet another crap title so I’ve renamed this one The Terror From Beneath as the one they should have used, that even gets a name check in the story, The Hungry Earth, has already been taken!