This is the penultimate Whoflix Classic Series Fan Edit and, like Dan Hall before me, this one ended up being one of the last releases in the range. I started this the day DWM488 came out and it was strange to be reading about the end of the BBC DVD range at the same time as I was about to end my own. It wasn’t a conscious decision to leave this to near the end, the only order I ever tackled these edits in was whichever one I felt like doing next. That this ended up at the end of the run was just the way it worked out…
After a minor trim to the opening scene, with the stereotype Scotsman banging on about bloody haggis as his polystyrene oil rig collapses around him, we go straight to Huckle and the Brig waiting for the Doctor to turn up. The first glimpse we get of Tom and his chums is when they get out of the Duke’s Range Rover, as we really don’t need the padding of them tramping over the moors. After the fade to black when the model rig is destroyed, the Tardis arrives, utilising a reverse of the shot at the end of part four when it departs. The next cut is to the scene where Harry finds the bloke from the rig on the moor. And the cuts to this story are limited, not just by the consequential plotting but also by the score, which is bloody everywhere!
Like The Seeds of Doom, also written by Bob Banks Stewart and also directed by Dougie Camfield, meaning they effectively bookend Tom Year Two, this also has a spooky Geoffrey Burgon score and, although it makes a nice change from Cuddly Dudley, I do wonder what this would have been like if he had scored it instead. Luckily the Burgon score exists on the DVD as an Isolated Music Track, which makes always makes covering the joins a lot easier – it’s audio track 4 if you’re planning on ripping it to edit your own version.
I also wonder what this would have been like as a Pertwee story, since that’s what it is in all but name. Although Harry & Benton will be back in The Android Invasion, this is the final bow for UNIT and the Brigadier for several years, and it could well have been Zygons and not Spiders that triggered Pertwee’s regeneration had he stayed one more year.
And I shudder to think what this would have been like under Nathan-Turner – no doubt there would have been the usual gratuitous continuity references to The Highlanders and they’d probably have had Frazer Hines playing the Duke with his own accent…
Aside from the stunning design of the Zygons themselves [am I the only one who thinks the original is actually better than the update?] the story has two other memorable images – “Harry” threatening Sarah with a pitchfork in the barn and the model Skarasan chasing the Doctor over the moors. I doubt you’d get away with the pitchfork scene today and as for the model work, about all you can do is reduce the brightness and make it as dark as possible to try and disguise it as best you can! It’s actually quite a good model, and a lot better than the Dinosaurs that Pertwee tangled with, it’s just badly shot. Why they didn’t make this a night sequence I’ll never know.
We close with the Tardis taking off and the Duke’s reaction, losing his naff “mean Scotsman” gag. Apart from anything else, the ending makes no sense – if they’re already in London when they defeat Broton why travel all the way back up to Inverness just to pick up the TARDIS and head back to London? Why not just get it sent down?
The tag scene would have made more sense if the energy conference had been held in Dundee or Aberdeen as they both have rivers the Skarasan could have popped up in but no, it had to be London. And one final thought – despite the excellent mask &make up job for Broton and his chums, the scariest thing in this story is actually Sister Lamont!
As the Doctor and Sarah leave Scotland for UNIT HQ, so do we. Next up, it’s the grand fan edit finale with our final Classic Series story – Pyramids of Mars! Stand by for the hand of Sutekh!