There were several reasons for tackling The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, one was that, having done Davros’ return with Dr Capaldi in The Magician’s Apprentice/ The Witch’s Familiar it seemed to make sense to edit his return proper to the series with Dr Ten-Inch. I’d also just been listening to Only The Monstrous and Infernal Devices from Big Finish, featuring John Hurt’s War Doctor versus the pesky pepperpots of death, which got me thinking about whether the baldy old kaled git would ever turn up there. Hope so.
And so the time seemed right to tackle this story, which is the Ultimate Fan Finale if ever there was one, with both the spin-off shows, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, crossing over into the parent show for the one night only. Simply joining the two eps together wasn’t an option as it made no sense for Ten and Donna to be rabbiting on about Rose with no explanation, so I tagged on the very end of Turn Left with a “Previously…” caption to start things of and give a bit of context since, like the year before, this is a three-part finale cleverly disguised as a single followed by a two-part conclusion. And, like Derek Jacobi’s all-too brief turn as The Master, it’s a damn shame we don’t get more of Ten and Donna than the one year. So it’s just as well Big Finish are bringing them back too!
Having started with the end of Turn Left, we then get a slightly truncated opening scene before plunging headlong into The Stolen Earth. As a fanfest finale, featuring all your favourite characters as well as Martha Jones, this has the tricky task of trying to balance five plotlines – Ten and Donna, Rose Seeking Ten, Captain Jack & Torchwood, Sarah Jane Smith, Davros & the Daleks. It’s a testament to the skill of RTD that he manages to pull it off as well as he does, and if he had been hit by a bus and the Moff had been called on to step into the breach with the shame shopping list of contracted characters, the result would, I’m sure, have been a lot less pleasing – give me RTD’s emotional gutpunches over the Moff’s Timey Wimey-ness any day. Most of the time it’s far too clever for it’s own good, and nobody likes a smartarse…
Of all the companion characters in the story, Martha Jones is far and away the least interesting so she gets the Adric treatment. All that Osterhagen key stuff complicated things somewhat but I cut her contribution back to the bare minimum.
And as for the Shadow Proclamation, that’s got Blatant Padding written all over it, so that gets cut as well. After that the editing was simplified by removing the music track once the Daleks turn up. The hardest thing in these New Series edits is always working around Murray Gold’s music, so here I saved myself a lot of trouble by simply taking the bloody thing out until the gang were getting ready to call the Tardis. It’s only once you take the music out altogether that you realise just how important a part it plays in helping create the atmosphere of the show. To help plug the gap I used a couple of tracks from the Series Four soundtrack, until the gang get ready to call the Tardis. Then the episode’s music returns, ten minutes later it’s regeneration time and part one is done in just over half an hour.
The regeneration that wasn’t was a complete shocker back in the day and well done to the production team for managing to keep it secret. If only they’d been able to do the same with Eccles. Of course we all overlooked the fact that Ten’s Handy Spare Hand was there in the Tardis all the time – the camera even takes the time to pan across it during the first Tardis scene.
But the resolution to that regeneration would cause fanboys the world over all sorts of confusion further down the line when it came to the subsequent numbering of the Doctor’s regenerations. When it came time for Smiffy to bow out a few years later, Whopix is proud to be able to say that he called it right when others said he was wrong.
And so, unlike the DWM fake regeneration, which was equally shocking when it happened, here we get two incarnations of the Doctor who both look like David Tennant. Quite why each of his successors didn’t just chop off their hand and keep it nearby in case of accidents to stop them having to change I don’t know…
The transition from the start of the regeneration to the end was just a simple crossfade. What instead turned out to be the hardest part of the entire edit was getting from The Stolen Earth to Journey’s End once the regeneration was over since the episode credits were all over the resolution of Sarah being ambushed.
The only way to work around it to avoid having a two part edit was to zoom in on the opening shots to cut the credits and mask them off with a new set of black bars. After that, part two survives, as you might expect given how much is going on, more or less intact. The only cuts were to the Martha Jones scenes – all we need her to do is teleport to the Osterhagen station for the finale – and the guilt trip Davros lays on the Doctor. I’ve always found that sort of stuff a bit yawnsville if I’m honest.
Finally, I did toy with reinstating the deleted scene on the beach with the Tardis coral but the raw sound is just too poor to make that work, it really pulled you out of the edit as the drop in the quality of the audio was so noticeable. Which just goes to show how much of that location stuff they shoot gets ADR’d later on. As a finale, this has to be one of the best the show has ever done. I certainly can’t think of one I’ve enjoyed more, even if it is a bit heavy on the fanboy side of things. And even though I know it’s coming, and that Donna will forget all about the Doctor and all they ever did, that ending still gets me.