Day of Armageddon

The Dalek Masterplan is another version of that old favourite Terry Nation’s Runaround, only this time it’s one that lasts a whole three months of screen time, making it far harder to endure then his two previous efforts, The Keys of Marinus and The Chase. And the better episodes are the later ones written by Dennis Spooner, not Nation himself. Marinus, Chase and Masterplan are essentially the same story told three different ways. If nothing else, you have to admire Nation’s ingenuity at managing to get the Beeb to pay him for the same thing three times over!

While a Dalek series could have been made to work, as demonstrated by the TV21 Dalek Chronicles comic strips, having the pesky pepperpots on screen for three whole months, doing the same thing each week, shows the limitations of the chase as a story/series format. And it doesn’t do the Daleks any favours either, making them appear rather ineffective as a menace. Yes, they’re plotting and scheming but David Whittaker wrote that sort of stuff much better than Nation did. So, given that we’re lucky enough not to have to sit through the whole thing in its entirety, how do you fan edit the three surviving episodes as cut-downs?

I’d already edited the entire story on audio, but video editing brings its own challenges as you are restricted by the visuals. On audio you can cut & paste, combine lines of dialogue and shorten the gaps between them to make scenes move faster, but on video you’re stuck with the slow pace of the originals and the need to avoid jump cuts. So when it came to editing these last three Hartnell orphan episodes, the question was how to tell the story, such as it is, as quickly as possible.

The first thing to do was to put together a slightly shortened version of the famous clip where Brian Cant get killed at the top of the episode. In the story itself, Courtney and Cant, playing Brett Vyon & Kurt Gantry, are on Kembel looking for what became of Edward De Souza’s Marc Corey from Mission To The Unknown. They split up, Brett Vyon finds the TARDIS, get stuck in the Doctor’s “magic chair”[!], the Doctor goes exploring and Kurt Gantry gets exterminated. Putting the Brian Cant clip at the start of the episode allowed it to serve as the reprise of the missing first episode, with the traditional first reveal of a Dalek at the end of episode one.

Although DMP is a dreadful B-Movie of a story, it felt right to try and include as much existing footage as possible, and it is a rather nice scene. When it came to the rest of Day of Armageddon, a misleading title if ever there was one, the first major cut was to lose the second half of the long scene where Chen and Zephon meet, as it’s nothing more than tedious chit-chat that doesn’t advance the story or reveal character.

The next long scene is the one with Steven, Katarina [the proto-Leela] and Billy. To break it up I inserted the start of the earlier scene where the Daleks are ordered by the Supreme to start Operation Inferno. Moving the scene to later in the episode helps disguise the fact that the two Daleks at the TARDIS have swapped voices between scenes!

During the scene where Brett spots the Daleks burning down the jungle, you can see Billy in the background, so that shot gets cut. Once Brett rejoins the Doctor there’s another scene of pointless bickering to pad out the episode instead of some meaningful dialogue. So the scene gets chopped before the bickering starts and the Daleks’ burning of the jungle gets moved up a bit to just after their pyroflames are ignited to break up the tedium.

The next complete cut was to the second dialogue scene between Chen and Zephon as they watch the burning jungle, and Zephon gets caught rather more quickly in this version as I managed to locate a moment where I could cut out the long walk he takes before Brett grabs him. It’s on the shot of his feet as they start to turn, allowing me to cut to the later shot where his body starts to turn, creating a shorter version of his approach. The later scene where Zephon is missing from the conference gets moved up so that it comes between the scene of the Doctor in the jungle fleeing the flames and the next one of him arriving at the city. Intercutting scenes that were longer in the original version is a better way of making the episode seem pacier where cutting whole scenes isn’t an option.

The conference meeting where Chen produces the Taranium Core gets the middle chopped out of it and the cut covered by the pan across the delegates from the earlier conference scene. We don’t really need to know where the hell the Taranium came from, just get on with the story!

Once Zephon manages to raise the alarm, everybody panics and runs around, forgetting that the Core has been left unattended, allowing a disguised Billy to grab it and leg it. Of course, this leaves us with the unanswered question of how Brett, Katarina & the injured Steven manged to tie up the two baldy blokes , and get them out of the ship, so quickly. But we can gloss over that as we’re more concerned that Brett is going to take off without him! Which we know he isn’t…

As with our previous edits, the end titles run against a loop of the unused test footage, with the Pertwee End Scream music. Since the credits on this episode are quite short I had to truncate the music to make them fit. A total of 34 cuts were made to this episode, bringing the running time down to exactly 16 minutes.

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