The first Fan Edit I ever did was a combination version of The Five Doctors + State of Decay that I did on VHS back in the Nineties. The second Fan Edit I ever did was this, back in 2007, and it was the first one I did on a PC. I revisited the edit four years later, in 2011, and now in 2016 I’ve edited it for the third, and final time! This latest version was, in part, prompted by having an editing error in the previous version pointed out to me, and partly by 2016 being twenty years later from 1996.
We all know the history of the TV Movie, and despite there being some occasional good bits in it, overall it`s a complete clunker. Trying to come up with a more watchable version of the story led immediately to the decision to do the edit episodically, which helps you miss what is unavoidable when watched in one sitting. As it happened the episodes all naturally came out at round about the standard 25mins Classic Series duration, which gave us three episodes in which to tell the story. Why it took until the dying days [!] of the JNT era for someone to finally realise that 3 eps are better than 4 when it comes to Who I’ll never know…
The first, and most obvious, difference between this latest version and the previous two edits of the story is that this time round we finally manage to get a quick cameo for Anthony Ainley as the Master before Gordon Tipple gets done in by the Daleks, which in this aren’t the Pinky & Perky versions of the broadcast version.
I’d always wanted to somehow work Ainley into the story, and had an idea of how it could be done, but there was never any footage that fitted the concept. Once there was, I was determined that I would work it into the edit in order to give some better context to the opening. As for what footage I used of Ainley and how I incorporated it into the edit, for that you’ll have to download part one to find out!
Having Ainley’s Master fulfill his final destiny and make his exit from the series before we get into the story proper helps make sense of the little urn McCoy puts in the casket at the top of the show. But before that we get the opening credits, which are here backed by the Big Finish version of the theme for the McCoy Doctor used for their Novel Adaptations. It seemed appropriate that McCoy’s farewell episode should use “his” version of the theme instead of McGann’s. The story is titled “Enemy Within” since that’s what Philip Segal said we could call it.
Cutting together the opening McCoy moments, minus the info-dumping narration, involved ripping the “In A Dream” song from the DVD and mixing from the rip to the broadcast version, something that proved tricky as they’re not exactly the same pitch. We still get from one to the other without too much trouble and the episodic format almost makes you think that this is the Beeb doing a Hartnell and having the old Doctor bow out at the start of his successor’s first series. All in all it’s a much better opening than the previous versions, showing you that it’s the Master’s remains in the urn instead of telling you.
In the original it`s a dreadful opening, and thankfully RTD gets it right with Rose nine years later but for now we`re still stuck in 1996 where they got it wrong. There`s not a lot you can do about it, you just have to pretend that this is the first part of a new season instead of a stand alone and the viewer knows what the Tardis is. After that it`s pretty much unchanged, but for timing reasons I did cut a few of the ambulance shots, Grace at the opera and some of the Frankenstein TV stuff. All of which gets us to the cliffhanger, which can only really be The Master throttling poor old Mrs Bruce, followed by the closing credits.
Unlike the original, which ran against black, here I knew I wanted the vortex running behind the credits on this so I made up a compilation loop of all the “clean” bits from the opening. I stuck the original cliffhanger-ending “scream” onto the TV Movie music and it works quite well. I put in a “To Be Continued” caption, made new caption cards for the main cast using the Post Antiqua font and followed them with the original scrolling credits, with the black background CSO’d out. Finally I had to find something to fit the music`s climax, so ran the explosion and the logo again, timed to the music as before.
The pre-titles recap was cut to the music intro, and I really like the way each “BOOM!” has something timed to it. Unlike the previous two versions where I put a full length shot of McGann into the titles, the one from that poster they released back in the day, for this version I took a leaf out of RTD’s book and left the sequence Doctor-less. This time we use the “proper” version of the theme, with the captions once again timed to match and as a result this version, like much else in these eps, works far better than in the previous two versions I did.
When Grace gets the Dr back to her apartment I cut the badly dubbed “I have thirteen lives” line. And not only is it badly dubbed it’s also a gratuitous info-dump. Why does he need to tell Grace how many lives he has? He doesn’t, but it’s the writer putting himself into the scene, cardinal writing sin #1. There’s no need for Matthew Jacobs to let us know his fan credentials through the Doctor’s dialogue but its a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with the TV Movie. It’s far too referential of the past and, like JNT before them, the producers let that get in the way of telling a good story.
The scene with the Eye of Harmony has always been a contentious one. I cut the “retinal structure of the human eye” nonsense because I dislike the idea of the Doctor being half-human. Yes, I know Twelvy talks about himself being the hybrid later in the New Series, which you can see as perhaps being an oblique reference to his mixed parentage, but as far as I’m concerned it’s naff and so it gets cut. As for how the Master knows that only a human eye can open the Eye of Harmony, let’s just say that making it a non-Gallifreyan retina is a security measure and move quickly on…
There`s nothing you can do with McGann`s info-dumping dialogue in the park, but at least this way it`s the first direct explanation the audience gets of why McCoy had that little urn full of gloop in the previous ep and how the Master got turned into gloop in the first place. Much better that the story takes an unavoidable info-dump here than at the start. I slightly trimmed the kissing scene to remove the second smooch – I think ending on Grace`s line “…now do that again!” is both funnier and better. And where else could the ep end but with the two Time Lords finally coming face to face!
Again we start with a pre-titles recap montage. A bit harder to time this to the music but it still works. The Master being fire-extinguished is slightly trimmed to remove all that “get it off me” stuff [why does he say that? There’s nothing “on” him, it’s a CO2 extinguisher…] and to give McGann & Grace a quicker run to the motorbike cop whose bike they nick.
The party has some trims, such as the Dr & Grace`s abortive first attempt to get in. The Professor Wagg stuff is cut completely here too – again for timing but also to lose all that half-human nonsense, even if the Dr is being tongue-in cheek. This means once they arrive they get to the clock pretty quickly, cutting Gareth and his mid-term exam. In the previous version it was pointed out to me that I had left in a reference to his scene when the Dr & Grace get back to the Tardis, so I took the opportunity to fix that in this one.
Apart from anything else, the Gareth scene doesn’t advance the plot any. By this point in the story we’ve got that the Eighth Dr is a bit prophetic & able to see into the future. And since it doesn`t advance the plot, it`s more dramatic if Eight & Grace simply spot Chang Lee & The Master and leg it.
When the Dr & Grace get back to the Tardis, there`s no dumb “motorcycle cop rides into the Tardis & out again” gag. Why would he be riding a bike with faulty brakes? Naff and not at all as funny as it’s meant to be, in fact, it’s not funny at all. Moving on…
As per the previous versions we still end with Grace & Chang Lee in the Tardis. I like the idea that the three of them go off and have a load of adventures together and we end with a “Doctor Who Will Return” caption, since we now know that he will in 2005! Within the fiction of Dr Who storytelling, there’s no reason to suppose that the closing scene of the broadcast version, where the Tardis lands, in the rain, back on Earth next to that fountain in Andy Livingston Park, Vancouver, takes place, chronologically, right after the previous “thump the console” scene in the Tardis. There could have been all sorts of adventures between the two.
Fans, and Big Finish too come to think of it, are always shoving stories into non-existent gaps, so, if you are so inclined, there’s no reason to deny the three of them the opportunity of a trip or two together before Chang Lee heads off into the night with his bag of gold dust. You can think of the ending of this Fan Edit as being the start of The Season That Never Was…
The TV Movie Fan Edit Project was inspired by the idea that you could make it more watchable by cutting out all the things that make it unwatchable. And the success of the initial project was one of the things that convinced me that Fan Editing would be both fun and worthwhile. The plot still sucks, there’s only so much you can do to improve things, but I really do think splitting it up into episodes helps to distract you, at least a bit, from the clunky resolution, and I think the end result is something that now evokes the feel of “proper” Who.
So whatever the story’s many faults, that has to be a result!