Having completed the entire Classic Series [yay!] I had a look at what was left for me to edit from the New Series to see if there was anything that I felt like tackling. This was the only story that jumped out at me, for fairly obvious reasons which we’ll get to later.
This is, in part, the New Series version of the “Return of the Master” trilogy, and one which works a helluva lot better than the Classic Series version when Beevers became Ainley. Here, Jacobi becomes Simm and it’s a damn shame he’s only in the one episode as, like Sir John of Hurt after him, he effortlessly acts everyone else off the screen.
The casting of John Simm as the Master immediately invokes all sorts of Doctor Who Meets Life On Mars crossovers, though personally I’d much rather see Gene Hunt in the TARDIS than the Doctor facing off against Sam Tyler but there you go. Simmo is actually much better in The End of Time playing tortured and driven than he is here playing bonkers turned up to eleven, but he’s engaging enough. It’s just a shame he’s not Jacobi…
Sir Derek of Jacobi is the best actor to tackle the part of the Master yet and even his performance as Professor Yana is light years ahead of anyone else who’s ever been in the show who wasn’t the Doctor. So it’s a damn shame that he’s only “bad” for such a brief period of time before changing into Simmo. Knowing what we now know about The Time War from The Day of the Doctor, it’s a damn shame that the Hurt Doctor never met the Jacobi Master – if he had Doctor David would have recognised him right away – as I love the idea of the two of them facing off against each other. Still, at least there’s the alternate universe of Vicious to enjoy, where Sir Derek of Jacobi is joined on the couch by Sir Ian of McKellen as The Master’s other half!
But the real crossover is Doctor Who and The Bible, because this is nothing more than RTD ripping the best bits out of The Book of Revelation and sticking them into a Doctor Who script. Of course, he has form for this sort of thing with The Second Coming, but it’s interesting that, for a self-professed atheist the themes of a Biblical Worldview keep cropping up in his work. The Master here is The Beast, the coming World Dictator who uses his 666 mark instead of Tocalafane to enforce his rule. And as for the ending with everyone “praying”…
The first thing to do was to cut from Jack holding onto the TARDIS in the vortex to the Ship landing. It’s clear they only inserted the short scene with the cannibals that comes before the titles to get around what would otherwise be a rather awkward jump cut. So instead we go to the titles as the Dr and Martha run to see what’s outside, which is much neater.
Having done that, the next thing to do was to scoot to the third episode and fix the big problem I have with the story’s resolution. No, not the Flying Jesus Doctor, though it is a bit cringe-y. No, the thing that really, really sucks is the tiny little Dobby Doctor. WTF was RTD thinking of ???
The Doctor has already been backgrounded in the narrative, so why effectively remove him from it altogether? Taking the single most interesting character in the story off stage for most of the ep, results in a bit of a yawnfest. Freema Agyeman’s biggest asset isn’t her acting ability, so sticking her front and centre for most of the third episode is another mistake. Still, this is her last story so it’s not all bad.
Having the Dobby Doctor stuck in a little bird cage, like some Time Lord Tweety Pie to Simm’s Sylvester the cat, is just nuts. Would anyone really rather see a CG Dobby Doctor than David in his old man make up? Exactly, so in this version it’s Old Doctor David throughout. Cutting out the Dobby Doctor bollocks was the inspiration for editing this story, and luckily there are plenty of shots of Old Doctor David that you can use to plug the gaps left by the loss of the Tweety Pie version.
After that it was a case of going right back to the beginning and working my way through the story in order, with only the transition from part two to part three being problematic. The nice, dramatic music cue that ends the second ep is crashed by the end title music, which, in a compilation edit like this, makes it obvious a cut has been made. Like filming, often the one thing people forget about in editing is the sound. Get that wrong and it will pull your audience out of the story quicker than any dodgy visuals. I had a look through the rest of the music track and managed to find a nice heavy “boom!” to help disguise it, so that’s something for you to listen out for when it comes.
After that it was all plain sailing to the end, with the only complicated bit of editing being the start of Doctor David turning young again. That involved several layers of video and had to be the same duration as the original due to the music cue, otherwise I would have cut it back a lot more. But it works and helps sell the idea that Old David is rejuvenating, though how the hell 3 Billion people tapping into a psychic network can cause an alien to rejuvenate is beyond me. And speaking of things that are a bit nuts, the Face of Boe is Jack Harkness? WTF? How does evolution turn him from a human man into a big head in a jar without killing him along the way? Who builds the jar for him anyway? And most important of all, what happens to Jack’s vanity when his legs and arms wither as his head expands?
Apart from the sheer ridiculousness of that coda, the ending of the actual story is a bit on the weak side as RTD simply hits the reset button so that none of it ever happened but it is a rather bleak outlook for humanity if we are all going to end up as homicidal space footballs instead of turning into Gandalf The White. Still, each to their own and Whoflix recommends you check out RTD’s interview with Mark Lawson, still the definitive chat on the show’s return.