The Satan Pit

1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Revelation Ch20 (KJV)

Having completed The Final Test and The Day of The Clown, I wanted to do something to tie in with the upcoming release of the second volume of David Tennant audios from Big Finish.

Since we’ve only got 70+ edits left to do before we’ve done everything from An Unearthly Child to Twice Upon A Time, I’ve concluded that editing the two-part stories first is probably the best way to go. One, they require more work than their standalone counterparts and Two, getting them out of the way first will allow me a quicker run to the finishing line.

Another factor in choosing this one was the Internet blethering on about Whollowe’en all the bloody time so I felt that it would be appropriate on both counts, given that this is a David’n’Billie story, to tackle this one first. But what to call it? In the end I went with the title of episode two rather than episode one as it’s got a bit more of a chill factor than The Impossible Planet, which is more sci-fi than scary.

Since RTD is a homosexual humanist atheist, as a writer you would expect him to slip into the bog standard “religion is rubbish, science is the answer” shtick so beloved of the likes of Brian Cox, Alice Roberts and that knob Richard Dawkins. But in the end he’s pretty even handed and Matt Jones’ story plays the agnosticism card as effectively as it homages Dennis Wheatley.

The Devil Rides Out In Space is probably most famous for being the ep that introduces us to the spaghetti-faced Ood, but it also gives a run out to that old sci-fi standby of “Evil From The Dawn Of Time” and it does it well. Is the Beast the Devil or is he the Devil from the previous universe that survived into this one?

Fans of HP Lovecraft no doubt squee’d with delight when they saw this one, as the Ood evoke that Kloothoo octopus thing they’re always banging on about. It also reminds us of all the times the New Adventures tried this sort of stuff and failed. But the story hedges its bets by saying the Beast in the Pit isn’t the Christian Devil, but every Devil ever, something so evil that it’s where we get the concept of evil from in the first place.

For me, Ancient Gods and Ancient Evils never sit well in the humanist Doctor Who universe. Super-powerful gods almost always end up diminishing the Doctor as a storytelling force by having him be merely the cleverest humanoid in the room faced with a being of unimaginable power. Either that or they force him to reveal himself to have hidden godlike powers of his own, making into something he’s really not. Like all that Cartmel Masterplan bollocks…

The first cut was to get the Doctor & Rose into the control room to meet the rest of the crew a lot quicker, with the rest of the cuts to part one being those that don’t involve our heroes. For instance, we only really need one scene where Beasty talks to Toby, so the two get combined into one scene that does the job just as effectively.

Scooti Manista, played by the very tasty MyAnna Buring (who would later go on to do Ripper Street) is probably the only instance I can think of where the actress has a name just as weird as the character she plays. Was there really an Anna Burning in Equity already?

Anyway, daft name or not, she still gets done in by BeastyToby but we only need the end of the scene that leads up to it, after she contacts Zack about door 41. Not only does she suffer the same fate as “Lynda with a Y” that bit quicker as a result, it now happens off-screen. We know exactly what’s going to happen to her once the glass starts to crack so cutting away early from that scene makes the reveal of her lifeless body floating above the base that bit more shocking.

Scooti snuffing it is also the point in the edit where I used some additional music. I’m not that keen on the celtic-y music used in the scene so I bunged in the Series 2 OST cue from Midnight instead. Much creepier and a lot more effective.

All those cuts account for the usual ten minutes where the story isn’t moving forward, bringing The Impossible Planet in at almost bang on 34 minutes long.

When it came to The Satan Pit, there were a few deleted scenes from the story on the S2 DVD Box Set that I wanted to include.To do that I knew I would have to shuffle the Non-Doctor & Ida scenes around a bit. But looking at the available broadcast footage it soon became clear that there weren’t enough scenes to cut away to in order to accommodate them, and in the end the only one I included was the “Scissors Paper Stone” scene.

Most of the scenes with Rose and her gang running  from the scary spaghetti-faced beasty-posessed Ood have an audible echo of the music track on them. That echo meant the scenes sounded really weird with just an echo of the music in them instead of the music itself being present, only lower in the final mix. So I had to do a bit of jiggery-pokery to work around the cuts I’d made so as to cover the joins and make the music still work in those scenes. And there were plenty more audio challenges in these two episodes, as you’ll discover if and when you come to edit them for yourselves…

The biggest change to the second episode is that the end gets completely reworked, with the order of the scenes altered in order to make the Doctor more concerned with destroying the Beast than saving Rose. Okay, I know the humanist showrunner has either instructed the writer, or more likely re-written the episodes himself, to have the Doctor put his faith in human nature rather than a deity, but I prefer the Doctor being prepared to risk sacrificing Rose and himself to save the universe from the Beast instead.

One thought on “The Satan Pit

  1. Just watched this and found it very tightly edited, but not too frenetic; there were still a lot of character moments giving the support cast’s roles meaning and depth. I remember the televised version being a bit padded, particularly the second half with all the crawling through ducts, which felt a bit Aliens-esque to me at the time. Of course, Alien was very Ark In Space-esque (since Alien was filmed after the Tom Baker story), and what with rerouting the power from the rocket, and crawling through service ducts, Satan Pit actually seems to be recalling Doctor Who’s heyday.

    What I like about your edits is you spot a problem and then discuss why it’s a problem and then go on not merely to say what should have been done, you do it. You fix it. So then, as an amateur editor, I can come along and see the original and the improved edit side by side and learn from it. The Scooti scene is a case in point. The original Celtic music was a bit mournful and may have indicated the Beast was lonely and wanted a mate, but changes his mind when she rejects the offer. But since Toby is grinning like a madman through the whole scene, what works better with the performances as filmed is the faster paced and edgier scored version you’ve produced, omitting any suggestion of joining the Beast. Losing the false-start to the urn-smashing scene at the end also makes for a clearer ending, and losing Toby’s countdown (and several other Toby moments) removes some tropes and makes the villain more menacing. Very enjoyable edit!

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