Nerd’do Well: Doctor Who – Now In Color

World Geekly News came into the world the same way most of us did – through love. A different type of love – less wet and sticky, though surprisingly involving the same amount of heavy breathing, it is love none the less.  We all love the same weird imagery things. More importantly we love to talk about them.

While some of the contributors came to us through more professional outlets, most came through nerdy happenstance. We all liked the same stupid things and could spend hours and hours discussing and debating every detail no matter how inane. It is the same fabric of nerd relationships everywhere that holds this site together. And, it helped form one of our main edicts “if you can be passionate about it, it can bee geeky.” It is in that spirit that we bring you our newest column- Ne’rd-Do-Well.  In Ne’rd-Do-Well we will highlight all you weird little geeks who put the rest of us to shame with your dedication to a particular passion. So, without further ado….

There are over a hundred missing episodes of Doctor Who. As the series has moved from low budget labor of love to international zeitgeist the BBC has made efforts to rectify the issue best they can.  Episodes like Power of the Daleks and the never completed Shada have been given the animation treatment. Recently BBC announced that the 2nd Doctor adventure The Macra Terror would be getting an animated release as well. If sales are good and Jodi Whittaker continues to boost ratings as the 13th Doctor we could see more of these. There is no telling how many lost adventures may still be in the works.

In the meantime, forty year old graphic designer Scott Burditt has provided us with the next best thing. Scott has taken it upon himself to restore, colorize, and even do 3D conversions for bits of classic Who. The results, as the Doctor would say, are….

via GIPHY

The concept of colorizing film has, historically speaking, been a contentious one at best. Some prominent figures like John Huston, Woody Allen, and (somewhat ironically) George Lucas spoke out against the process when it rose to popularity over thirty years ago. Lucas actually spoke, quite poignantly, at a congressional hearing about the issue in the Eighties. The argument then was more about copyright, artistic integrity, and the legal protection and preservation of art and artists. But as technology has changed and anyone with the time and the know how can alter images the arguments too has changed.  “I think the perception will always be one of unnecessary meddling with the past and a general fear of the original prints becoming redundant.” Say’s Burditt, whose efforts are a far cry from that of the studios and corporations in the 1980’s.

Whereas previous attempts at colorizing old films have been little more than a cash grab, Scott’s work is clearly a labor of love. Using Adobe Photoshop Burditt says “It takes me about 2 months in my spare time to complete one [15-30 second] clip. I usually work on several at the same time to alleviate the problem with staring at pretty much the same image for hours on end…” Joking that he wished he got paid Burditt seems more than content that other people simply enjoy his work.

And it is easy to see why they would. Instead of trying to supplant the originals Burditt’s efforts capture part of the essence of what makes shows like Doctor Who so wonderful; the blissfully engaging question “What if?” It is clear that Burditt is not trying to revise history by altering art works. In fact, in many ways, these colorizations stand as a work of art themselves. Severing as a sort of time capsule, these technologically astounding clips allow us to revisit the past, but in a whole new light. It is the same basic concept that drove Peter Jackson to create his new documentary They Shall Not Grow Old.

Burditt has been working on these long before Jackson got the notion for his film. One simply has to peruse Burditt’s YouTube page (the aptly name Wheel in Space) to get a glimpse of the breadth of his work. And there is some wonderous stuff there, the classic Troughton era story The Wars Games is a must see. The frenetic intro now has an even more ghastly, apocalyptic feel to it with the blinding yellow and orange explosions. The colorization is so sharp and clear that Burditt’s versions actually look better than some of the later Pertwee or Baker era adventures which were originally broadcast in color.

While it is the colorization of The War Games that caught the attention of frequent Doctor Who contributor and collaborator Mark Gatiss (who tweeted about it sometime back) it is the work on The Dalek’s Invasion of Earth that really stands out. There is something totally giddying about seeing classic Dalek’s rendered in full color. Viewing the sets and the monsters in the bright almost gauche colors indicative of early sci-fi, is deeply gratifying.

Burditt hasn’t stopped at just colorization either. There is also a brief 3D clip from Fury of the Deep and Web of Fear that harken back to the days of Universal Monster movies and gimmicky sci-fi movies of the era. I haven’t had a chance to watch them, but the creator assures me that it works “if you have the Red/Blue specs… Well, sort of… “

While Burditt has been working on these for some time, he has no plans to release any full episodes. Obviously, this would open him up to litigation under copyright laws. Which is an absolute shame. Burditt’s work stands well above some of the official releases that the BBC has put out in the past. Knowing that the potential is there and we will never see it to its full extent is a bit bitter sweet.

You can see more of Scott Burditt’s work here on YouTube.

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