Series Nine came to a close with a trilogy of episodes – Face The Raven, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent – that I could only really envisage tackling as one epic edit. Fan editing the stories individually held no appeal for me whatsoever, so a Movie Edit was always the only option. That presented certain challenges as none of them lead directly into each other but, given the circumstances of Clara’s departure in Hell Bent, the only realistic option was to start with the pre-credits section of that episode and then race through Face The Raven and Heaven Sent to get back to the diner as quickly as possible.
Since I was inspired to start editing once the finale was over, I started work from the TX versions, which I downloaded from the usual sources on the net and worked from those instead of waiting for the DVD Box Set.
Face The Raven
The first cut to this ep was to lose the scenes in Riggsy’s flat and get him straight into the Tardis after his phone call, for reasons of pace. We lose the Doctor’s prompt cards, which I always felt were crass and pointless, in what was a tricky little section to cut together. We also lost all those the tedious shots of the cast wandering up and down the streets.
I initially cut the maps sequence as well but had to put it back in as it’s the only explanation of what a Trap Street is. That was typical of this ep, lots of sequences were retained that I would really rather have cut. That said going from one Tardis scene to another with nothing in between makes for an awkward jump cut so it’s probably just as well the map scene stayed. Try cutting it out yourself and see what you think. Better with? Or without?
Once we get to the Trap Street we lose the gratuitously self-indulgent and fanwank-y “Spot The Dr Who Monster” cameos, and the old bloke who gets Raven’d is no longer a Cyberman [sorry, but WTF?]. With this one there’s only so much you can cut before things stop making narrative sense but this was edited from the TX version, so it came out longer than I’d like.
Clara’s death is a bit of a tearjerker, and it’s well handled by all concerned, with Clara’s pride, arrogance, and over-confidence proving her undoing. In some ways its a shame that the end she gets here isn’t her end at all but there is a certain inevitability about what happens as a result. As for who’s really responsible for her demise – Clara, Riggsy, Ashildir, Rassilon or the Doctor – isn’t really what’s important. What matters is that she got a brilliant leaving scene, and the closing shot of the bracelet falling to the floor led straight into the teleporter and Capaldi’s arrival in the confession dial…
Whilst Capaldi is excellent in this ep, all we really need him to do is to solve the puzzle of where he is and get to Gallifrey so the fun can really begin. Capaldi going solo works incredibly well, making him the first solo Doctor since Tom in The Deadly Assassin. As an idea for having a solo Doctor story it works really well and I wouldn’t mind more solo flights for Twelvy in the future – mind you, must’ve been weird for Peter at the readthrough, with him the only bugger on his side of the table!
It’s a pity that the return of Gallifrey was spoiled by the official synopsis put out by the Beeb themselves but even if it hadn’t been, the minute the Doc arrives on a planet with an orange sky, we knew exactly where he was. And was I the only one who guessed that it was the Doctor in the pre-credits before the opening credits rolled?
It was while I was editing the opening of this ep that I thought that it would be better to use the pre-credits sequence as the closing scene of a two-part edit rather than a movie. The movie edit was going to turn out to be so long, due to the problems with cutting this back, that I concluded it would be too long and so settled reluctantly for a two part edit, utilising the closing scenes of Raven and the pre-credits of Heaven Sent as the opening of Part Two, the bulk of which would be the third episode in the Clara’s End Trilogy.
If you were a DWM reader, you would know that Clara was back in this ep, despite having died a fortnight earlier. So her appearance in the diner wasn’t quite the surprise it could have been. Quite why they chose the same diner from The Impossible Astronaut I don’t know, it all seemed a bit fanwank-y to me. But then that’s the tightrope the episode walks the entire time it’s on screen. Fan pleasing moments such as the return of the Classic Series TARDIS, nicked from An Adenture In Space And Time and painted white, were balanced against more WTF elements like the Sisterhood of Karn popping up on Gallifrey for no apparent reason.
I can see the attraction of Maisie Williams and Jenna Coleman running off together to star in their own lesbian version of Doctor Who, but I don’t think Clara & Me is a series that is going to run and run, even if it does hold out the possibility of the intergalactic Thelma & Louise returning for the Sixtieth Anniversary. I’m sure in time they’ll return via Big Finish if nothing else!
Joining the start of this onto the end of Heaven Sent meant going from the shot of Twelvy pocketing the confession dial and looking up, at the end of Heaven Sent, then cutting to the opening shot of Gallifrey in Hell Bent with a mask over the lower half of the shot to cover up Twelvy walking away from the citadel and towards that bloody barn. In order to match the two I had to up the brightness & contrast on the Heaven Sent clip to match the Hell Bent one.
Next thing to go was the tomato soup scene, which I never got the point of. And where does granny come from anyway? There isn’t a single building for miles around the barn, so where do her and the rest of the wild west extras appear from? And why is the barn still standing when the orphanage it was attached to is long gone? Assuming it was an orphanage as the awful Listen seems to suggest.
When Twelvy spots the Riggsy graffiti TARDIS after Clara & Me have left, that gave me the idea of going right back to the start of the part two edit and adding in the shot of Riggsy finishing off his artwork and walking away from the end of Face The Raven. That helped tie the end of the edit to the beginning and was a neat way of summing up what had gone before without having to compile a “previously” recap.
But then I began to have second thoughts…
Face The Raven was originally going to be a compilation edit of the final three episodes of Series Nine, tracking The Life And Death And Life of The Impossible Girl. Having revised that to go for a two part edit, as a result of the problems caused by the slow pacing of Heaven Sent, I realised that it was only this second episode of the trilogy that was causing me problems. If I was being compelled into formatting the edit in a way I didn’t really want to, maybe the answer was to think of another way of tackling Capaldi’s almost solo turn as the Doctor, trapped in his own confession dial.
Only he’s already given a confession dial to Ohila to give to Missy, so given that he pockets the one he was trapped in, is this the same one or a different one he gave to Ohila??? And is the Doctor really the Doctor any more or just a duplicate copy, given how many times he had to “kill” himself? Yes it’s a very cleverly constructed episode, but when you stick it straight after Raven it slows things down far too much. If a two-parter wasn’t making me happy then maybe the only other option was to edit all three episodes as cut-downs, something I did think about but that would have been even less satisfying. In the end I came up with another, altogether neater, solution to my problem.
Hell Bent isn’t without its pacing problems either. The opening section takes forever, and the old baldy bloke playing Rassilon, him from The Sea Devils and The Wheel In Space, only makes you long for Timothy Dalton instead. Only once he’s been got rid of do things start to get interesting, and do we really need to see that bloody barn again? And then it came to me.
The answer was to use Riggsy’ spray painting of the Tardis from the end of Face The Raven as a teaser scene at the very start, bookending the edit with the scene where all that paint falls off at the end of Hell Bent, then go from Riggsy to Twelvy arriving at the diner from the start of Hell Bent, flashback to Face The Raven and then when, Clara sticks her tits out in the street as the aforesaid raven is about to smash into her…
…cut straight to the Doctor’s rescue from Hell Bent, and avoid Heaven Sent altogether!
It was such an obvious and elegant solution to my problem that I wondered why it took me so long to think of it.
In the TV version of Hell Bent, the minute we see Clara in the diner we know that she didn’t really die a fortnight earlier and the only questions we have are how did the Doctor rescue her and why doesn’t he recognise her? In this version there’s only one question: why doesn’t the Doctor know who Clara is, since we know how he rescued her. Or at least most of how he rescued her.
We don’t really need to know what happened to the Doctor between Clara dying and his rescue attempt, and this way it’s as much of a mystery to us as it is to Clara. It’s a simple, neat, quick way to get from Face The Raven to Hell Bent without losing anything important along the way and I like it a lot better than any of the alternatives.
Once that was done the only thing left to do was to sort out the opening credits, which are from Face The Raven and credited to Sarah Dollard. Only this version is also written by Steven Moffat, so how to add him in? The simple answer was to redo the credits and overlay that text on top of the footage so that the new text masks out the broadcast version. But it’s only when you do that on the normal footage that you spot that the text actually moves slowly towards the viewer, giving the game away. So the only way around it was to loop that bit of the titles before the Tardis arrives and then time it so that the sequence cuts to the episode before the text starts to move forward. And the it was just a case of crediting both directors at the end and Face The Raven 2016 was done!