Time Rift, Reviewed by Kathryn Sullivan
FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 8, Number 2 Fall 1996
The Price of Game-Playing
by Kathy Sullivan
"Time Rift", a four-part fan-made production, opens with the Doctor and Ace arriving on the outskirts of Washington DC on the eve of an unexplained explosion that totally destroys the city. The Doctor believes he’s been sent by the Time Lords to ensure that the explosion happens. But then things start appearing and disappearing, and suddenly more groups than just the High Council of Time Lords, UNIT and the CIA are involved.
There have been several good fan-produced videos in the past (Ryan Johnson’s series of videos starring the late Barbara Benedetti as a female Seventh Doctor comes immediately to mind) and "Time Rift" joins the ranks of the best of the best. The script, co-written by Jon Blum, A.C. Chapin, and Amy Steele, has a good mix of humor, action and a plot that has manipulation on a grand scale. It explores the limits of trust between the Doctor and Ace, and there is Angst aplenty as the Doctor learns the price of game-playing.
Acting performances vary, as is normal in fan productions, but Marsha Twitty, Itzy Friedman, Jon Blum, A.C. Chapin and Amy Steele have all done outstanding jobs at making their characters believable. Jon Blum should also be commended for his attempt to catch the Seventh Doctor’s accent and voice patterns – close enough so that when Sylvester McCoy watched part of an episode at Visions ’95, he thought it was his voice.
Since this is an amateur (not a professional) production, careful (or picky) watchers will see boom mikes appear in shot, hair styles and beard color (and there is an explanation nicely worked into a later scene for that!) suddenly change, and earrings and backpacks disappearing/appearing. Half-a-Dozen Lemmings has been working on this project for several years, and continuity problems are to be expected. But there is also a good deal of excellent film editing, both in the action sequences and heavy dialog scenes – which in some productions turn into static camera shots of “talking heads”. Actors walk while talking, different camera angles are used to intercut between the speakers, or the camera cuts away completely to show what is happening elsewhere before returning to the speakers. The changing camera angles meant actors were able to use expressions and body language to good effect: watch the Doctor’s face as the senator’s aide explains Washington politics and the art of manipulating people to him, Ray’s chilling blankness at the end of episode two, or Brigadier General Adrianne Kramer’s delivery as she lists UNIT investigations of UFOs and Elvis sightings. The editing between scenes shows a careful touch and helps move the story along at a brisk pace. The effects team also used some lovely CGI.
I also have to mention the music. Most fan productions heavily reuse music from the television show (or other television shows). Aside from the opening credits and one "sting", every piece of music in "Time Rift" is original. Neil Marsh’s music is fantastic, and I’m looking forward to the proposed release of the soundtrack at Visions ’97.
Whether you prefer DW action or angst, I recommend "Time Rift" as a worthwhile addition to any fan’s collection. At two hours, it is a good story with humor, references to DW past, surprises, and striking incidental music. If you already saw the screenings at previous Visions, this is the revised version, with additional new music, and some recut scenes and effects. The bloopers are also included at the end.
2005 addition. Now at http://www.6lemmings.com/