Having just done The Celestial Toymaker, I was in the mood for tackling another audio edit before returning to video and fancied having a go at this one, prompted, probably, by the death of Barrie Ingham, which was announced just before I completed the Toymaker edit.
This is Carry On Troy with a dash of Asterix and Up Pompeii and I would probably have attempted another Audiobook & Soundtrack combo edit were it not for the fact that the audiobook isn’t a straightforward novelisation of the narrative. And so I stuck to just the soundtrack. And one of the first things I had to do was to alter the playing speed of some of the early sections of episode one. If you listen to Hartnell in particular, his voice sounds a little bit too low, but upping the playing speed slightly, from the normal 1.000 to a slightly faster 1.048, solved the problem and Billy once more sounded like he should.
Billy seems on particularly good form in this one, especially in part one, with only a couple of minor stumbles over his lines, though he and Paris seem to have trouble pronouncing Agamemnon. I’m sure I heard Aga-men-mon, Aga-mem-lon as well as Aga-ming-mong at one point! Deliberate, perhaps? You can also listen out for Billy saying “Olympius” instead of Olympus and Paris calling Cassandra “Cassannie” and Troilus “Trohlus”. I took the opportunity to tidy up several fluffed lines from various members of the cast.
At times it doesn’t help that Ivor Salter, from The Space Museum, who plays Odysseus Overthetopius, sounds similar to Frances De Wolff, from The Keys of Marinus [also known as Jedikiah from the original The Tomorrow People]. De Wolff, who always struck me as a cut-price James Robertson Justice, plays Agamingmong, meaning sometimes it gets a bit confusing as to which of them is speaking in scenes between him and Odysseus, something that’s not a problem on video. And no, I was never in the slightest bit tempted to cut down the Loose Cannon recon instead of doing an audio edit.
And anyway, television’s theatrical roots are well on display here, the whole thing sounding like a radio play. It’s all a bit dull and earnest in part one, though things start to get a little bit more comedic in part two with the arrival of King Priam which takes place here after about 16m. Priam is yer traditional Commedia doddery old Dotore, played up to the hilt by the wonderful Max Adrian, who you can see over on YouTube in Up Pompeii with Frankie Howerd, and he’s the best thing in this by a mile. Shame he never meets the Doctor before he snuffs it.
The edit is, as you might expect, pretty much all trims and tightening things up for pace until we get to the Doctor’s idea for “flying machines” which is the first sequence that gets cut so we can go straight to the horse idea. And we don’t really need the “romance” between Vicki and Troilus either, which gets a single scene at the end. As for Katarina, she only really jumps aboard the Tardis to fulfill Vicki’s role in the plot of the early episodes of Masterplan, and maintain the existing dynamic of the storytelling of the time. Once they’d come up with Sara Kingdom as an alternative, she’s gone.
Of course, it’s rather sobering to think that all these nice comic characters are all going to get slaughtered in the final episode, which we hit at around 36m in, and don’t you think the notorious Helen is conspicuous by her absence? Perhaps Cotton thought that yet one more character would be too much in the mix, but all the interesting stuff in the story takes place in Troy so the decision to leave Helen out of the narrative is a curious one. You could easily have dropped Agamingmong as he’s not even in the last couple of eps and had lots of comedic stuff with the bickering Paris and Helen instead.
The Doctor should have been in Troy with Vicki, leaving Steven to come up with the horse idea while he has lots of scenes with King Priam and the horrid Helen, who could easily have been portrayed as a high-maintenance pain in Paris’ arse. Yes, she’s a babe but she’s a trophy wife who’s more trouble than she’s worth, giving rise to a nice bit of narrative mirroring – Greece and Troy may be at war over the face that launched a thousand ships, but Menaleus, her husband, doesn’t want her back and Paris, her lover, can’t get rid of her. That would have been so much better than what we got but the fan edit does its best to emphasise what’s good about it.