If there’s one Missing Story that possibly intrigues me more than any of the others it’s this one. Sure, we all want Power of the Daleks back, but if there was to be another double find by Philip Morris, then I vote this one. along with The Macra Terror, to be the other set of eps that gets returned.
As a kid, we were all electric in our house, but I can imagine this story might well give you the willies if your mum and dad’s place had gas, as Seaweed Monsters are just the sort of thing to get a kid’s imagination going, especially if they leave near the sea, and to this day I can’t look at a bit of seaweed on the beach without thinking of Pat in his bobble hat.
The first cut comes right at the start as I think the Tardis landing – and floating – on top of the sea is just silly, so that gets the chop. The only other cuts are to the Maggie Harris scenes, which we don’t really need as we can find out that the seaweed is dangerous later on when it attacks Victoria. First episodes usually have more material than any other in a fan edit, due to the amount of setting up they have to do but part one of this story has a lot more than most, nearly nineteen minutes. And it’s interesting to hear that Fury was there first when it came to a scream leading into the end credits, which is probably where JNT got the idea from for Terror of the Vervoids…
By comparison, we only need six minutes from Part Two, with, again, most of the cuts removing the material involving Maggie Harris and once again getting two episodes down to the equivalent of one. Part three gets ten minutes of material in the final edit, mostly because we stick with the Doctor as he investigates the weed since there’s very little happening back at the refinery after Robson gets gassed and runs off. Some may think it’s a shame to lose sequences such as Mr Oak & Mr Quill gassing Maggie or her infamous walk into the sea, but to be honest, they work better on video than audio and after all, the whole point of a fan edit is to do something different. Apart from anything else, the loss of those scenes doesn’t impact on the main narrative at all as they don’t actually move the story forward, they’re simply atmospheric set pieces.
Part Four has the two sequences in the impeller shaft that, thankfully for us, fell victim to the Australian Censor’s scissors. As such we only need ten minutes to cover these sequences and the arrival of Megan Jones before we get to the fifth episode at just under fifty minutes in. Part Five mostly concerns itself with Robson kidnapping Victoria and legging it to the control rig, which is nothing more than a story loop. That should get cut, but it’s impossible as their return from the rig gets referred to in the midst of the Doctor’s explanation of the guard’s recovery from the weed due to Victoria’s screaming. And since that’s the means of destroying the weed creature, you can’t omit the reasoning behind it without the whole thing not making sense.
We hit Part Six at an hour and two minutes in, and the defeat of the weed creature only takes another ten minutes. After that it’s time to say bye bye to Victoria, and it’s interesting that Maggie Harris, the Wren from The Sea Devils, whom we haven’t seen since the end of part three, turns up at the end but Van Lutyens doesn’t. Perhaps John Abinieri had another job to go to…
Victoria is one of those companions that I’ve never really felt any affection for, probably since she’s a hysterical peril monkey like her equally annoying predecessor Susan. Although Deborah Watling was much more memorable in that chalet scene in That’ll Be The Day with David Essex, she never really did much for me in Who. Still, she does get a nice leaving scene, with the chance to do a bit of acting for a change, and the sheer amount of screen time devoted to her departure looks to me to be less like a deliberate decision than an excuse to pad out the final episode. The story started to run out of steam at the middle of the previous ep, which is why you get the story loop of Robson kidnapping Victoria. So giving over the last fifteen minutes or so to her departure probably came as a welcome relief to Victor Pemberton, as there was very little left he could do with the main story.