Last week I had the unique opportunity to get an early viewing of the third season finale of the popular UK sci-fi program Doctor Who. I reviewed it for Associated Content and was completely satisfied with the episode on a whole. This past Friday night, October 5th, I watched the U.S. version on the cable network The Sci-Fi Channel and I was not only disgusted by I was also ashamed of how butchered the episode was. I understand time constraints, I am no idiot but the portions cut out were the real heart of the episode. For anyone interested read my original review of the season finale.
While looking at the running time of both episodes, the British version comes in at around 51 minutes long, whereas the U.S. version just below 43 minutes long. I understand, capitalism must reign supreme and heaven forbid we cut a commercial or two in order to get the full episode and up to this point I never knew what I was missing. Two cases in point that leave huge holes in the plot and also future plotlines are one of the opening sequences when the viewer sees how The Master has been treating his arch-enemy, The Doctor, for the past year and the second scene is at the end which has The Master’s human wife, Lucy Saxon shooting him.
Scene one, as the scene opens up The Master arrives on the observation and control deck of the UNIT vessel “The Valiant” to the sounds of The Scissor Sisters song “I Can’t Decide”. The Scissor Sisters, a United States band who has never reached the popularity that they have in the United Kingdom (with several hit songs, including “I Can’t Decide”, which despite not being released yet shot up to #64 on the charts based on being in the final episode of season three). The scene shows how The Master has been treating The Doctor for the past year. Keeping him in a make-shift tent with a food bowl marked “Dog” and keeping him leashed and collared. This whole scene was cut from the United States broadcast for time constraints. Requests to the Sci-Fi channel have went unanswered in reference to this editing.
The next scene in question, the killing of The Master is also another pivotal moment in the episode. Although not seen in the U.S. version, it is Martha Jones’ mother, Francine, who retrieves the gun and is prepared to shot, and kill, The Master. The Doctor, always the voice of reason and compassion, talks Francine out of this action and saves her from becoming a killer. This scene is never shown in the U.S. version. Instead it is skipped entirely and all you see is Lucy Saxon, the wife of Harry Saxon (the new Prime Minister of Great Britain and secretly The Master). As plot lines go, did Lucy kill him because he was evil or did she kill him as a “Plan B” so that The Master could escape The Doctor’s clutches and regenerate later in private? Only time will tell.
However, these two scenes, and a few other minor scenes were cut to make the time constraints. The show is also only seen on Friday nights, true they do show a repeat later that night, however if you miss such shows as Stargate, Flash Gordon, and any other Sci-Fi Channel show you can check your listings and you know you can catch it several times a week. Why is Doctor Who regulated to two viewings of cut-up episodes that leave important plot lines out of the picture? As a science-fiction fan I am outraged and hope that someone out there is as outraged as I am. Let me know how you feel.