The Doctor Falls

The ending of The Doctor Falls was always going to be the hardest part of the fan edit so that was the very first thing I tackled. The reason was that I wanted to radically change how the story ends. So to start work on the edit I just ripped the end of the episode from Twelvy’s Hero Scene onwards, the one where he’s sonicing Cybs left, right & centre.

I wanted to put together a rough cut to see if I could find a way to Kill Bill and have her stay dead. Since this part of the edit was compiled prior to the TX of Twice Upon A Time, I was editing blind, so to speak. Cutting Bill out in TDF might well be possible, but until I saw what part she played in the Xmas Special, I had no way of knowing if I could cut her out of that too. And there was no point in killing off Bill in TDF if there was no way to work around her resurrection as WetBill in TUAT. But that was what I wanted to do so I went ahead and tried it anway.

I’d already killed off another companion in a fan edit who survived on telly, so I wanted to see if I could do it again here. I wanted Bill to stay a Cyberman and die at the end as giving her a happy ending with Heather still feels gutless, even if The Moff says Who isn’t that kind of show. I felt then, and still feel now, that if you’re gonna kill them, kill them. 

But killing Bill meant I would have to mask out both Bill and Heather in the shot where CyberBill falls backwards to the ground. You can’t use the  previous shot where WetBill looks round as CyberBill starts to fall as there’s too much movement in the shot to be able to mask Pearl Mackie out. Maybe there would be with some sort of motion estimation software but I ain’t got none of that so I reluctantly had to cut that shot.

Masking Bill & Heather involved a lot of cloning of the parts of the image they weren’t in and cutting the shot back after CyberBill has fallen as the shot has some movement in it towards the end. And movement is always a dead giveaway that you’ve masked a shot, they only work if the shot stays static.

Having killed Bill so she stays dead, the next problem was how to get Capaldi into the TARDIS. That’s an in-story problem as well but the only solution is that the old girl finally manages to work her way down to where Twelvy is, slowly enough so as not to burn out her dematerialisation circuit like the Master did, and materialise around him. That meant I had to find a hi-res picture of the Police Box prop and then position it so that the bottom of the box was in shot where it would be from the viewer’s POV. Then all I had to do was fade in the Police Box over a reversed repeat of the shot of Capaldi’s corpse.

Having got Capaldi inside, when it came to the closing scene in the console room I was faced with a choice. Either keep the Logopolis style flashback to all the previous New Series companions but change the order in which they appeared, or cut it out. Having tried it both ways I concluded that it was better with them out. For one thing, the whole point of a fan edit is to do something different with the source material. For another, I always felt it was a fanwank too far. Not only does it ape the closing moments of Tom’s last episode for no good in-story reason, Moffat then goes on to have  a lot of Capaldi’s final lines be nothing but quotes from his predecessors. Meh.

But in order to cut out the quote from Robot [Tom’s very first line about Sontarans perverting the course of human history] I had to use a reverse of the glow on Capaldi’s forehead so the sequence made sense sans flashbacks. So now the glow starts, we see the TARDIS power up, the glow reverses and Capaldi wakes up. And no quotes other than the one from The Stolen Earth.

Looking over the rough cut I’d done, which had no soundtrack at this point, I noticed that in the earlier scene where Capaldi gets zapped by the Cyb, “Doc-tors are not re-quired”, he’s got a cut on the screen left side of his forehead. I thought that could be the cut that starts to glow later in the console room but the glow happens on the screen right side of his forehead. Since it was impossible to flip the shot so the glow appears on the other side I went back and added a new cut on the screen right side of Capaldi’s corpse to help sell the new way the material had been ordered and to make more sense of the glow that was now no longer a result of WetBill’s tears.

The actual order of these three fixes was 1] cut the flashback, 2] Mask out Heather and Bill, 3] materialise the TARDIS around Twelvy and 4] add the forehead cut. After that it was a case of turning the rough cut into a fine cut by adding in the Dialogue, Music and Echo tracks from the 5.1 and shuffling them about a bit to make them fit the new order.

Reviewing the fine cut footage I decided it was better to have Twelvy only get shot once by the Cyberman instead of twice. It’s rather brutal and not the sort of thing that normally happens to a Doctor, but at least we now know what that lamp on the top of their heads is for!

Another benefit of having Twelvy only get shot once is that it allows us to have Bradley Hartnell be the one to quote Richard Hurndall in saying that he’s the original Doctor. Twelvy saying it is fair enough, as for some fans he will indeed be the Doctor [certainly when he’s compared to his miscast successor…] but when Bradley turns up at the end and says the line again its impact is diminished. Yes, I get that Moffat is setting up the similarities between Twelvy and One for TUAT but I prefer a version which only has the line said by one faux Doctor quoting another.

After one more review to make sure I was happy with the sequence visually and aurally, the next thing to do for the end was to add in the sound effect of the TARDIS materialising around Twelvy’s corpse. Assuming it wouldn’t be easy for the old girl to get to him, I rolled out our old friend the Woozy Tardis Landing sound effect one last time.

Something I hadn’t anticipated, but which came as a nice surprise, was that adding the TARDIS’ landing noise to the scene of Bill looking up from Twelvy’s corpse had the serendipitious effect of making it look as if it’s the sound of the TARDIS that makes her look up and then stand… only to then keel over and die! 

Of course, having done all that work, the Beeb then started releasing the promos for Twice which showed that, not only was Bill in the episode, she wasn’t turning up for a one scene cameo. That meant  she was probably playing too big a role in the episode to be cut. Pleased though I was at the prospect of a bit more Mackie, I thought perhaps all my hard work on my new ending had been a waste of time. But once I’d seen Twice I knew it hadn’t. If anything I think my ending actually makes more sense, given the role “Bill” plays in Capaldi’s swansong, than the ending we got on telly!

As far as the rest of the edit is concerned, the first thing to do was to put things in chronological order for the opening of Part One. So first we get Twelvy telling Bill his nuts idea to “test” Missy, then they land on the ship and Bill gets shot. And it’s all a pre-credits. I felt that was a better way to go than intercutting between the two timeframes of the narrative. Of course, once Bill gets taken down to the Cyber hospital at the bottom of the ship, the problem was how much of that material should be retained? My instinct was to cut back as much as possible, the idea being that the less Bill we have, the stronger the impact of CyberBill when she finally turns up. The only alternative was to cut that material altogether and have Twelvy see Bill get shot and not see her again until she’s a Cyberman… which is what I did.

The upside of the latter choice was that CyberBill has even more impact than the alternative way of doing things would have given her, but the downside is that you lose John Simm in disguise until he meets up with Missy. But that’s not such a great loss as we still get the reveal. It’s not until you cut the material together this way that you realise that Capaldi is hardly in World Enough And Time, with his scenes totalling only about one third of the episode. The other half hour is all Bill and Razor, and nice though those scenes are, we’re fans and we know what Cybermen are so we don’t need the gradual reveal Moff gives us in WEAT. And anyway, Spare Parts did it better…

And so the second episode survives more or less intact, bar the revised ending. I also inserted the pre-credits sequence from TDF where the ship crashes up into floor 507 into its proper chronlogical placement. The only really tricky bit was getting from ep 1 to ep2 since The Moff does what he always does and jump-cuts the narrative instead of concluding the cliffhanger he left us with. In order to do that, and keep everything else in sequence in a few places I had to patch the audio with cues from elsewhere in the episode.

One last thing to do was to try and fix the dirty great big hole that the Smurf Janitor blows right through Bill’s chest. I doubt anyone would survive that, no matter how good Mondas Medtech is, so I had to black out the hole to make it look as if it’s merely charred her flesh instead of blown a hole right through her. That was complicated by the fact there’s some movement in the initial long shot, making the use of the mask too obvious to be convincing. The reverse shot is okay as Mackie is still in it but I had to repeat the section from the start of the first shot, the bit with the least amount of movement, repeated and reversed to try and make the fix work.

At an hour and ten minutes, this is a much tighter cut of the Series ten finale that benefits greatly from the loss of the scenes the Doctor isn’t in.  

the doctor falls cd rear



7 thoughts on “The Doctor Falls

  1. Liked how you worked around Bill, it’s ten times more effective now when she drops to the floor. Also very skillful editing with the TARDIS materializing around Capaldi, looked very much a part of the episode and not ‘shopped in, it’s so easy to go cheap on that sometimes, so it’s good to see it handled like a skilled pro.

    Another great trick was keeping everything focused on Doc, Missy and Nardole’s rescue mission and not Bill’s friendship with the Simmster, which amounts to nothing once the betrayal occurs and there’s not much interaction between them in the next part, so it’s best we don’t see much of it, and it allows the black hole science stuff to unfold more dramatically.

  2. Yeah, this edit improves on the original. I watched it before I read your notes as I didn’t want any spoilers. You did cut out a lot of unnecessary stuff. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see David Bradley at the end as I had a feeling the ending was going to be rather different.

    • There is an edit that you could do which cuts straight from the end of The Doctor Falls to Twelvy’s regeneration and miss out the bulk of Twice Upon A Time altogether. But that’ll have to wait until the DVD comes out to see if it’s possible…

      At the time I put this edit together I had no idea TUAT would be as bad as it was!

  3. The speed with which the Dr apparently loses his companion is certainly made more shocking and sudden by removing the ep 1 material, but we’ve already seen very fast cyber-conversions at Canary Wharf, which unfortunately lessens the impact a little of the black hole time dilation effect. But the ending! Really interesting! It means we go into TUAT with a very different perception of Bill’s reappearance, much more uneasy, much more mysterious. An edit to one story fixes a problem in another, well done!

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