‘The Power of the Daleks’ has been recreated for a special release using animation. Timed to the minute of the opening episode’s premiere screening 50 years ago, this new animation became available to download and stream on BBC Store. The first 3 minutes was also streamed on Twitter by @BBCStore. So how is it?
ANIMATED The Power of the Daleks: Episode One
Short answer: Superb.
In a perfect world, we could all enjoy the back catalogue of Doctor Who in its original form. Sadly that is not possible. Once upon a time, television was like theatre. A performance happened and that was it. If you were really, really lucky there might be a repeat screening. But the idea that viewers could own and keep material was, at the time, as alien as the surface of the planet Vulcan. So television shows were junked, burnt or taped over. With very little original material remaining and many of the original cast sadly no longer with us, reconstructing the story using animation is a brilliant alternative.
Admittedly there are some flaws. Some of the movements of the characters are not as smooth as a real human being and it isn’t a brilliant likeness to Michael Craze. I did also notice a continuity error with Ben and Polly’s clothing but that’s a minor detail. In terms of storytelling, however, the animation more than delivers. One of the reasons why ‘The Power of the Daleks’ has endured for so long is the strength of the story. So for those unfamiliar with the tale, this release is perfect. With the new Doctor, an unknown planet, murder and a mysterious capsule all the ingredients are present for an utterly engaging plot.
The star of the show is, quite rightly, Patrick Troughton. The animators lead by Charles Norton have brought Troughton to the screen spectacularly well. His subtle little expressions and facial movements that made his incarnation a success are all present. This provides a fine tribute to the man who managed to keep Doctor Who going on this, the 50th Anniversary of his debut serial.
Servants & Masters – The Making of ‘The Power of the Daleks’
This documentary features interview material which seems to have been largely recorded for the ‘Dalek Tapes’ documentary which appeared on the ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ DVD released back in 2006. Whilst this, therefore, features contributions from Andrew Beech, Nicholas Briggs and Kim Newman made ten years ago, for instance, it does allow viewers to hear from the director Christopher Barry. Sadly Barry passed away in 2014 so could only be represented through archive material but his recollections are insightful and most welcome. Similarly, interviews with Bernard Archard and Tristram Cary are also featured providing more memories that thankfully were recorded prior to their passings. Curiously though the very alive and well Anneke Wills, who has been on promotional duties this week, is also represented by archive material rather than a new interview. Despite this, for 22 minutes everyone is talking about ‘The Power of the Daleks’ and that is just wonderful.
Happily, surviving original footage is available as a part of the purchase of the series of all 6 episodes on BBC Store. Further bonus features also include;
Patrick Troughton Title Sequence (1967)
An unedited presentation of the full original ‘Doctor Who’ title sequence, prepared using an all new re-master of the original film elements.
Surviving Material & Original Trailer
A compilation of short film fragments and clips from the original 1966 BBC television production – the only surviving footage to remain of the show’s original BBC1 run.
Plus; Photo and Animation galleries accompanied by incidental music from the story digitally re-mastered from the original music production tapes, 5 minutes of Animation Test Footage and the Animated Promo teaser trailer!
I make an open plea to every Doctor Who fan; support this project. Download it. Buy the DVD. Buy the BluRay. Animation is a fantastic way of bringing to life episodes of Doctor Who which have been lost in the mists of time. Whilst we would, of course, prefer to have the original material back, animation is a more than worthy alternative. Even if we were to ask the production team in Cardiff to remake the episodes it would take a significant piece of casting to match Patrick Troughton’s characterisation of the lead role. But through animation, these lost adventures and performances can be enjoyed once again and given the justice they deserve. There are some excellent stories and momentous moments from Doctor Who we could enjoy. ‘The Crusades’. ‘Mission to the Unknown’. ‘The Evil of the Daleks’. All of these would be welcome additions. But the only way that can happen is if it is financially viable to BBC Worldwide. So make it a huge success and we might get more!