Classic Doctor Who With A Modern Musical Score Makes For A Surreal Experience

By David Wharton | 7 years ago

Regardless of how you feel about the direction Doctor Who has taken in recent years, there’s no question that it boasts some much more impressive production values in its current incarnation than it did back in the classic era. The Who creators had to stretch every shilling back in the day, which is why The Doctor’s adventures across time and space so often involved wobbly walls and rubbery aliens. One element of the show you might not even consciously notice making a difference is the score. Musical director Murray Gold has been shaping the soundscape of Doctor Who since its 2005 resurrection, and even if you couldn’t name any of the work he’s done for the show, compositions such as “I am The Doctor” are both instantly recognizable and inextricably associated with the feel of the modern series. So what if he’d been scoring the classic Who episodes? They might have looked a bit like the video up top.

The video was created by Nick Acosta, who said on Vimeo that “watching ‘classic’ episodes from the 60’s and 70’s makes me wish they had the beautiful musical score that it’s modern day incarnation has.” So he decided to perform a little experiment and re-edit footage from one of the classic Doctor Who serials. He chose the 1972 Third Doctor outing “Doctor Who and the Sea Devils,” along with bits of “Terror of the Autons,” to create a seven-minute action sequence backed by Murray Gold’s iconic score.

The finished results are more interesting than tonally successful, I think. It’s jarring to see the roughness of a 1970s episode backed by the polished sonic excellence of Gold’s score. It’s sort of the audio equivalent of dropping one cutting-edge modern CGI character into the episode, but only one. It’s just inherently going to make everything around it look shoddy and cheap, even if that comparison isn’t remotely fair to the material that’s four decades old at this point. Still, it’s an intriguing exercise.

Which isn’t to say there’s no room for the classic Who episodes to benefit from a modern touch. Honestly, the cheap effects and microscopic budget is part of the old episodes’ charm, but I think it could be fascinating to see some classic Who given the same sort of treatment as Star Trek’s Original Series episodes, maintaining the integrity of the show while updating some of the visuals that are showing their age. The process worked amazingly well for Trek, so why not Doctor Who? As far as I know, there’s no plan whatsoever to do so, but it’s interesting to speculate about. It’d be downright trippy to see William Hartnell facing off against an army of crisp CGI Daleks…still in black and white, mind you.