It’s an undeniable clunker, but Whopix has quite a soft spot for The Android Invasion. He used to live in South Oxfordshire, and East Hagbourne was only a 20m walk away from his house. Once he realised that the familiar looking village cross was indeed the same one where Tom had been tied up back in `76, and that his mate Paddy was one of the kids in the photos of Tom signing autographs on location there, his visits to the pub became somewhat more frequent!
In many ways, The Android Invasion is the odd man out from Tom’s second season. It feels terribly old school and just a tad out of place in the new regime’s way of doing things. It’s a bit like an unmade Pertwee story, and that’s not just down to the presence of the ghosts of UNIT, Benton & Harry. Perhaps if Nick Courtney had been free we might have a higher opinion of it, but instead we get Mother from The Avengers pretending he’s a soldier. Shame.
As for the Kralls, they’re okay I suppose but they’re as lacking in expression as the Vogans from Revenge of the Cybermen, which is strange when you remember that this is the same show that gave us Davros and Linx. Both of those characters had a mask that allowed for some expression, albeit somewhat limited, so it isn’t impossible. But the performances make them out to be a bunch of rhino-faced grumpy old men, so not exactly the most deadly threat then. They’d probably be more at home in TV Comic, facing off against Pat Troughton…
So, what are we to do about Dr Who And The Grumpy Old Rhino Men? It’s basic premise and plot strikes me as the sort of fantasy scenario you might find in the glory that was The Avengers, the classic Steed and Peel era of course, only in that version it would all be set on Earth, and the androids would be under the control of Enemy Agents, or another associate of Dr Armstrong from The Cybernauts, certainly not Alien Rhino Men! I did look at the possibility of rearranging the material to make this a completely earth-based story, but it’s simply not possible to do. You could do it in a comic strip version, replacing Col. Faraday with good old AGL-S for good measure, but you can’t do it without ripping the guts out of the story and having it make even less sense. Shame, but there you go.
On the plus side, I thought it might be interesting for all concerned, including me, if, just this once and for one episode only, I went through the editing process in a bit more detail than usual. Apart from anything else, with only twenty-five more edits to go after this one, it’s maybe a good idea to do this now before we run out of opportunities to go step-by-step through each cut and fix.
If you’ve never done a fan edit, then this will give you an idea of the kind of work that’s involved in putting one of these things together! What follows is a record of everything I did for the initial cut down of part one The Android Invasion, which is as good an example as any of a story that needs a fair bit of work to cut out the padding, tighten the pace and generally make the whole thing more watchable. It won’t be exactly be on a par with The Restoration Team, but I hope you’ll enjoy following the process.
THE ANDROID INVASION FAN EDIT
Part One Editing Notes
The first cut was to the resourceful Max Faulkner doing his version of the drunk giraffe, which unfortunately looks less like a malfunctioning android and more like a drunk member of Monty Python’s team of Camp Squaddies! To be fair to Max, though, it’s not the easiest acting exercise in the world, tricky to pull off even if you’re an actor and not a stuntman who can act a bit, which is what Max Faulkner is. Thank god they didn’t get Terry bloody Walsh to do it – now there’s a stuntman who can’t act!
The first fix was the opening shot of the Tardis arriving – the flashing light is out of sync with the noise and there’s a rather nasty flare mid-way through as the light level changes. Isolating the usable parts of the sequence, repeating them with a slow opacity change from one to the other helps give us a much smoother landing!
Next they find the body of the dead soldier and his mysterious all-newly-minted money, get shot at and leg it to the deserted village. Cutting the material together this way helps us to work around Tom Baker’s seriously hoarse throat, caused by the mucky pond they stuck him in later on. Interesting that Sarah takes a tumble here, in the same way that her android double will later on at the cliffhanger ending of part two…
A consequence of removing the material covered in CUT #2 was that the Doctor’s line about something having upset the androids again no longer makes sense, as it refers to action that took place in the cut material. So that line has to be removed and the sequence fixed to cover it’s omission.
The first step to fixing the sequence was to cut out all the shots of the androids, then locate the shots of the original encounter, insert those into the gaps and finally to add the sound of the fingerguns where necessary so the sound and pictures matched. At the end of the sequence, a cross fade covered the gap caused by the loss of the final shot of the androids looking for the Dr & Sarah.
Another cross fade gets the Dr & Sarah into Devesham village just that little bit quicker, for both reasons of pace and the avoidance, once again, of Tom’s sore throat. The other main consideration here was to avoid any discord in the music.
I cut the Dr’s lines with him calling “anyone about?” when he and Sarah are at the village cross as it’s a bit of a naff line and I didn’t like it. It also helps the atmosphere I think if we maintain the silence.
There’s no valid reason why the android should be standing beside the truck with his visor up, except for Sarah to see that he’s an android when he turns round. It’s a nonsense sequence so it gets cut.
Having cut the sequence, the next thing to do was to join the two sections together to cover the gap. This involved adjusting the audio level of the lead in to the Doctor arriving at the Space Centre to ensure a smooth transition from one to the other.
When Sarah returns to the Tardis, she gets an attack of thickitis and does the equivalent of waking Dracula up in his coffin and asking him if he’s thirsty. Okay, so the android grabbing her is another one of those “shock” moments designed to keep things interesting but it’s completely unbelievable and so it gets cut, along with the initial scene with Crayford and Styggron. There’s no need to reveal that part of the plot just yet.
As before, two clips are brought together, the music helping to cover the join.
And that’s the final cut that I made to Part One, a fairly easy ep to do, apart from those two fiddly fixes early on. I knew I’d have to go back later on and do some fine tuning, especially as I knew I wanted to add in some additional music cues where I felt they were needed. Here’s all the initial cuts I made to the source material:
And here’s how all that material was cut together, giving part one 19m of material in the finished 71 edit, which is a heck of a lot but first and last eps tend to be the ones with less cuts, since they set up and conclude the narrative:
It’s usually the case that you are able to fine tune things as you go back through them, particularly where additional music is concerned, so I wasn’t too concerned about the length at this point. A 71 edit is only the first stage, with most of my fan edits being 72 edits due to trimming more of the story fat from off the narrative carcass. It would take far too long to repeat this for each of the four eps, and, to be honest, most of it would be more of the same. But I hope that gives you some insight into what’s involved!
Come part two we lose the section where Styggron makes his android copy of Sarah. Showing us the Kraals making an android copy of Sarah completely robs the later scenes of any drama as we know from the off that it’s not the real Sarah. Interesting that it’s the scarf that puts the Doctor onto it and not her slugging his ginger pop, which she said at the start she couldn’t stand! And again, the android’s tumble echoes the one Sarah herself took early on in part one.
The whole ginger pop [which the Doctor has never drunk on screen before or since!] business is just bad writing. If the Kraals have taken a copy of Sarah’s memory to make an android copy of her, the android copy would know that it hates ginger pop. So why does the stupid thing say it thinks it’s delicious? Yes, you could put that down to a flaw in it’s programming, but the truth is it’s a writer’s error, pure and simple. So when the Doctor confronts the android Sarah at the end of part two, it’s a scene devoid of any drama or threat, and the shock horror reveal that “Sarah” is an android isn’t very shocking at all as we knew from the start it wasn’t her. Fan fiction writers everywhere can take heart from the fact that even the so-called professionals aren’t immune from narrative cock-ups and sloppy plotting!
So that infamous sequence, of an android so fragile that its face falls off after a bit of a tumble, gets cut altogether. Instead, when the Doctor & Sarah leg it from the Space Centre, the Doctor draws the guards off, Sarah drops down from the tree, the guards double back, chase after Sarah and the Doctor gets grabbed by Styggron at the village cross.
I know it’s a famous sequence, used to decorate every cover of the story’s release, but it makes no narrative sense for Styggron to kill the Doctor at this point in the story, so in this version he gets grabbed and then analysed. Cutting that section out also helps us to keep things moving and gloss over the plot puzzle of the Kraals being able to duplicate an entire village and its people from Crayford’s memory. Crayford must have an eidetic memory for them to be able to do that, and he must have spent a helluva lot of time in the village pub…
In the end there’s only so much you can do with a story as structurally flawed as this one, and you can only assume that Robert Holmes was busy rewriting something else at the time, but I was able to fix one more thing and no, it wasn’t Crayford’s eyepatch. That makes no sense whatever you do. You can’t cut it as he’s involved in the defeat of Styggron at the end for one thing, and for another he isn’t wearing it in that scene! But I did manage to fix the plot problem of the Doctor jamming the androids by cutting away early from the fight between the Doctor and his android double.
In the original it makes no sense for the android Doctor to turn up in the rocket at the end, how can he when the Doctor has jammed all the androids with the radar? If the Doctor turns the radar off, then presumably all the androids come back to life. So the only way to get round that particular plot problem, caused by Terry Nation going for yet another pointless shock moment, is to not have the androids turned off in the first place. You still get the moment when the “Doctor” gets shot but at least now the sequence makes sense. Or at least it does if you ignore the fact that the Doctor manages to reprogram his android double really, really quickly…
With the editing of the video complete, the final thing to do was to augment it with some additional music, taken from the three Dudley Simpson tracks on the 11-disc Silva Screen set. That involved some fine tuning of a couple of sections of the edit to ensure a better match to the music, like the scene where the androids step down from the lorry and enter the pub in part one. That goes on for far too long, so that got trimmed back to match the music. There’s also a few other points in the story for you to spot where music has been added.
Overall, The Android Invasion is a flawed effort that could have been a lot better if there weren’t other calls on Robert Holmes’ time and attention [like rewriting Pyramids of Mars from scratch maybe?] but at least in this version it’s all over in less then fifty minutes!