This is another one of those rather dull six-parters that I can’t imagine, with one hundred and fifty-five other stories to choose from, would be one many people would choose to watch first. It’s six episodes of the Doctor playing pass the parcel with the Time Lords’ space football, visiting the caves of psychedelia, meeting some nice insect people and having a chat with a baldy bloke in a kaftan who looks like Dr Evil doing a Demis Roussos before the story gets brought to halt by a blatant Deus Ex Machina in the form of Ky The Rainbow God.
For a start, the business with the space football makes no sense at all. Why don’t the Time Lords just turn up and tell that young hothead Ky that what’s going on is nothing to worry about, it’s just some weird evolution-y mutation-y thing and there’s a crystal in that there cave that’ll make sure it all works out right in the end and just chill for fekk’s sake. But no. They send the Doctor off with a puzzle box instead and expect everyone else to work it out for themselves. It’s as if they delight in deviousness, the gits.
The other thing this story is infamous for is the terrible miscasting of Rick James as Cotton. That’s a blunder almost on a par with Aidan Murphy from The Time Monster, Jenny Laird from Planet of the Spiders and Matthew sodding Waterhouse. How any of that lot got cast I’ll never know, as none of them have any acting ability whatsoever and are so AmDram that they’re painful to watch and yet one more reason for not watching this any more than you have to.
And that’s part of the reason why, prior to working on the fan edit of this story, I’d only watched it the once, when I bought the DVD. And if I hadn’t been doing this fan edit, that would probably have been the one and only time I ever did watch it. And I suspect that’s true of plenty of my fellow fans too, unless it’s as part of the inevitable viewing marathon which, thanks to DWM’s Time Team is now almost a compulsory rite of passage.
Meanwhile, back in the present day, there’s the question of how to fan edit this bloody thing to make it more watchable. The first thing to do was to edit around Pertwee mucking things up in his first scene, by repeating his line “I couldn’t open it if I wanted to”, by cutting away after from the scene after Jo’s line about their assignment being exciting – if only it was! In all we need just under nine minutes from part one to tell us all we need to know about what’s going on and get Jo into the teleporter and down to Solos minus the Monty Python “It’s…!” man at the start. Once she’s gone we stick with the Dr’s half of the storyline to keep things moving as he’s the one who’s discovering the plot, so all we need from part two is the ten minutes it takes for the Dr to locate Varan, get his side of the story, bugger up the Skybase power supply and leg it to Solos.
The transition from part two to part three was complicated by the fact that, for some reason, that reprise is slightly misaligned with the original, meaning I had to cut from one to the other in the middle of the Doctor’s move towards the transmat cubicle, where it would be least noticeable. Part three is really just a lot of buggering about in the caves before old baldy turns up, with the transition from part three to four complicated by the fact that, unusually, there’s no reprise but a re-enactment instead from a different camera angle. Since the sound was different on both versions as well, the only viable option was to bung a short scene with the Marshall between the two.
There’s a terrible “mirrorlon” shot in part four that occurs slap bang in the middle of the scene in Sondy Gard’s lab, making it impossible to edit around, so I had to settle for distorting the image to get it as close to normal as possible. Why the hell they didn’t just wobble the camera I don’t know…
Part five has more footage than any other with about thirteen minutes making the final cut as the Dr makes it back to Skybase, Jo contacts the Investigator’s ship and has an abortive escape attempt as the Dr sort things out on Solos prior to the Investigator turning up in his silly “futuristic” copper version of a judge’s wig, which isn’t the costume designer’s best idea makes it hard by a long way. Twelve minutes later the Marshall has got his come-uppance, and it’s all over. Which comes as something of a relief until you realise that The Time Monster is what comes next…!