Part of The Five Faces of Dr Who repeat season in late 1981, this was the first time anyone had seen this story since it first went out. I remembered it vaguely, and of course had the Target book, but nothing can quite convey what it was like to watch old Who back in those pre-VHS days. Quite simply, Five Faces was event television if you were a fan.
An Unearthly Child was a great first episode followed by three rather dull ones, seen for the first time in twenty years and many fans’ first glimpse of Hartnell in action, mine included. The Krotons was a bit silly but Pat was great fun to watch, the other Doctor I knew next to nothing about back then. There was more Pat in The Three Doctors, which was brilliant, and then there was this, four episodes of Glam Rock Doc looking incredibly Seventies, and instantly taking you right back to 1973 and Top of The Pops etc
Of course, the unintended side effect of all those repeats was to highlight just how poor the JNT eps were compared to their predecessors, thus giving fans their first opportunity to compare stories from different Doctors.
Up until TFFODW, we were all going on the memories and hearsay of others who said they’d seen them when they went out, and trusted that their memory wasn’t cheating. Five Faces was the first chance we had to see for ourselves if they were right, with the Hinchcliffe-Holmes Era conspicuous by its absence. Wary of the potential for unwelcome comparisons, JNT neatly avoided the possibility by giving us The Three Doctors instead of Pyramids of Mars.
Carnival is unusual in that it’s got a longer cut of part two on the DVD, as well as Barry Letts’ Director’s Cut of the ending which is possibly the earliest example of a Dr Who Fan Edit! So with all that extra footage, you won’t be surprised to learn that some of the longer cut of part two ends up before the part one cliffhanger so we can keep the timelines, both inside and outside the scope, in sync. That involved using a repeat of part of Jo’s close up from later on in the cargo hold scene to make the sequence work. So in this version the giant hand grabs the Tardis at 18 minutes in, Vorg says he’s found a bit of bric-a-brac, the Dr & Jo leave the cargo hold, and Vorg puts it back in the machine, but not in the ship, otherwise Orum wouldn’t be able to find it later on.
The first sequence to get cut is the Doctor’s fist fight with Andrews from part two. Apart from being a bit naff, it helps keep the pace moving as we know the Doctor and Jo are inside the machine, so the sooner we get them out and interacting with the other characters the better, after an encounter with the Dishrags, of course!
They pop up from the marsh at 37 minutes in, after shuffling the TX and “new” footage around to make a cut that has the best bits of both. Part three is mostly padding, and the only challenging section was cutting down the resolution of the Drashig scene to lose Jo getting stuck in the mud, the silly girl. Once again, this is the story treading water, albeit very entertainingly, until Dr Jon stumbles out of the scope at the end, which happens just 12 minutes later.
After that it’s a case of cutting things back, mostly the action onboard the ship. There’s a moment where Pertwee mangles his lines explaining to Shirna how he’s going to fix the scope, which I would ordinarily have tried to fix but the shot stays on Pertwee for the entire line, making that impossible.
However I did manage to change Pertwee’s line about the marsh gas from “probably highly inflammable” to the much more accurate “probably flammable”, otherwise why would he try to ignite it to allow him and Jo to escape from the Drashigs later on?
As for the ending, I was in two minds about taking out the shots of Pletrac’s dodgy wig, as it’s not the only one – Kalik and Orum’s are just as bad in places and on a par with Mavic Chen in the unconvincing make up department. In the end, I decided the closing scene did work better without those shots and took them out. You have to wonder why nobody thought of simply making the mask cover the entire forehead, right down to the eyebrows, thus avoiding all the problems of being able to see the join, something you can do throughout all four eps, never mind at the end!
Now that this story has been edited, that leaves us with our Fan Edit Final Five – Evil of the Daleks, Wheel In Space, The Daemons, Terror of the Zygons and Pyramids of Mars. Whoflix will be taking a break from the Classic Series for a few weeks to allow us to concentrate on other projects, but we will carry on working our way through the 2005 Season before returning to fan edit those final five.
150 down, 5 to go!