The Power of the Daleks is about just that power, and how it can twist you. Central to this idea is the character of Bragen, the security chief of the colony on Vulcan, Lesterson, the colonys head scientist, and his assistant researcher Janley. Shortly after his first regeneration, The Doctor lands on the planet Vulcan with his companions Ben and Polly, and quickly discovers a human colony bristling with more political intrigue than The Manchurian Candidate or the American congress, whichever you prefer.
The Examiner from Earth is murdered quite literally just after introducing himself, and The Doctor, possibly hoping to bring the murderer to justice, poses as the Examiner to ingratiate himself with the colony and investigate the place himself. This would have made a pretty good plot for a story as it is, but the introduction of the crashed Dalek factory ship that cranks up the danger level. The Daleks play excellent manipulators here, deviously manoeuvring the humans into giving them the power they need to rebuild a (presumably cloned, judging from their manufacturing machinery) army of Daleks. The Doctors warnings of the threat posed by the Daleks go unheeded, as humanity has presumably never publicly had contact with Daleks before, so none of the colonists understand their nature as xenophobic killers.
But perhaps the most important reason why the colonists fail to understand the danger of the Daleks until it is too late, is because the principal movers and shakers on Vulcan see the Daleks as a means to further their own ends. Lesterson sees the Daleks as enormously intelligent servants who can help solve many of the economic problems of the colony, as does Vulcans Governor Hensell. Bragen and Janley, meanwhile, believe they can use the Daleks as weapons in their plot to overthrow Hensells government. All of them are destroyed when the Daleks, having gotten what they wanted, turn on their former protectors. Lesterson, Hensell, Bragen, and Janley all believe they have power over the Daleks. And that hubris destroys them, as well as Vulcan.
Bragen is the most nakedly ambitious of all the characters in Power of the Daleks. It is slowly unveiled during the course of the story that he is the one behind all the political problems on Vulcan. He successfully has his most dangerous enemy among the Vulcan government, Deputy Governor Quinn, imprisoned. We eventually learn that he masterminded the political instability on Vulcan, having turned a group of disaffected fellow colonists into an armed rebel group. The help of the Daleks allows him to speed up his plan for conquest, taking over from Hensell while the Governor is on a trip to the rural areas of the colony and killing him on his return. To add further to his status as baddest humanoid villain of this story, when he has established himself as dictator of the colony, he orders the murder of the entire rebel group who put him in charge, so that no challenges to his rule remain. The way writer David Whitaker slowly reveals Bragen as the source of all the political uprisings on Vulcan is brilliant, as you see layer after layer of his deception peeled away.
Janley is, I think, the most interesting supporting character in Power of the Daleks. We first meet her as the vocal leader of political dissent on Vulcan, trying to encourage Lesterson to join the rebel group, and going to ruthless lengths to use the Daleks for her own revolutionary ends. We see how fanatical her devotion to her cause truly is when she conceals Resnos death in an early experiment on the Daleks from Lesterson. Then uses it as blackmail to prevent the scientist from interfering with her plans. Later, when she is celebrating her victory with Bragen, he casually informs her that the rebels are all to be killed to consolidate his own hold on Vulcans government. She is crestfallen here, as she realizes that her ideals have only succeeded in putting a dictator in power. Yet she remains blinded by her original expectations of the Daleks. After the Daleks begin their massacre of the colony, she still believes that they could aid her in defeating the guards. It is Janley who leads one of the Daleks to her squad of rebels, expecting help fighting Bragens guards, and she is the most shocked when all her compatriots are exterminated. A minor note some of what Janley says about the problems of the colony can be interpreted as having vaguely communist overtones. Im not sure if this was intentional on Whitakers part or not, but communist revolutions on colonies in the future sounds like a good idea for the focus of some future Doctor Who story.
Lesterson too dreams of power, but scientific not political power. It is through this means that he is most amazed by the Daleks. He is increasingly impressed by their intelligence, and most horrified at his fairly early discovery of the malevolence. Lesterson begins the story just as arrogant and self-centred as the rest of the supporting cast. He doesnt care about the political instability of Vulcan simply because he doesnt find it as interesting as the Dalek spacecraft. He wants to use the Daleks as slaves, whether in the mines or as computer engineers. The way he speaks about the scientific breakthroughs he can make with the Daleks help shows that he is also keen for prestige in the scientific community, dreaming of a legacy like Einstein or Turing. Either way, he sees himself as holding power in the literal sense, as he initially controls their flow of electricity over the Daleks. When he finally sees the Dalek production line at the end of episode four, he understands that they are manipulating him. The Daleks, in allowing the power schemes of the other characters to come true, have taken his power away. Really, Lesterson is the first victim of the Daleks, even though he is one of the last in the story to die. He wants power over the Daleks, but by episode five, the Daleks have power over him. And this is what drives him mad. His last lines before he is exterminated is almost a mockery of the Daleks earlier facade of servitude, saying to them, in the Daleks own mechanical inflections, I am your servant. Lesterson admits that the Daleks have beaten him, but only while allowing The Doctor to destroy them once and for all.
Ah, yes, The Doctor. The most cartoonish of Troughtons facial expressions on the telesnaps just accentuate whats gone. But its his performance in this story that was the make-or-break moment for Doctor Who. The first ten minutes of Power of the Daleks is probably the most important ten minutes of the shows history, because if viewers couldnt maintain their faith in The Doctor, the show would never have lasted much longer. Ben and Pollys reactions are perfect for an audience getting used to The Doctors first change of character. Polly is flabbergasted, but eventually accepts that this odd little man is The Doctor. But Ben is skeptical for the first episode or so, and The Doctor almost punishes Ben for his skepticism by playing mind games with him speaking in the third person, rummaging through the chest as if it was someone elses, making up gibberish about a butterfly breaking from its chrysalis, irritating the hell out of everyone with his recorder. Once The Doctor discovers the Daleks, however, he is (almost) all serious. The mind games continue, but instead of his companions, his targets are the colony government and scientists, trying to convince them to destroy the Daleks and discover their motivations for working with the metal creatures. Here was the seed of The Second Doctors particular brand of manipulation that we would later see in full force in Evil of the Daleks and Tomb of the Cybermen. He doesnt only play the fool to put people off their guard about him, as in when he looks for microphones hidden in the fruit bowl in his quarters and tries to break the sonic lock on his jail cell with a dog whistle. But he also finds just the right words to get on the nerves of Bragen, Lesterson, Janley and others in just that way that they reveal their motivations to him. And when the Daleks finally strike against the colony, The Doctor rises to action, leading his friends back to Lestersons control room and overloading the Daleks power supply, blowing them all to pieces. Why does he take such extreme measures? Well, the Daleks are certainly extreme creatures, and as he put it, I like to do things MY way! This proved it once and for all. Hes still The Doctor, and you dont want to mess with him.
Ben and Polly come off quite well, with very good dialogue trying to get their heads around The Doctors regeneration, and when they find themselves embroiled with the increasingly violent Vulcan politics. Bens scepticism is an excellent mirror image of Pollys faith in the cosmic hobo. Polly has some excellent moments of righteous indignation at the unjust imprisonment of Quinn, and the rebels working with the Daleks when she is held prisoner in the factory ship. Ben gets a great showcase in episode four helping The Doctor infiltrate the rebel meeting and letting himself be captured so The Doctor can escape. But I think the best Doctor-companion moment comes at the very end, when Ben mentions that The Doctors warnings to the colonists about the Dalek threat were not really all that convincing. The Doctor only chuckles mischievously before they are on their way.
Fanwanky canonicity follows!
No one on Vulcan knew what the Daleks were, so The Doctor knew from this that it was before the Daleks conquered Earth in the mid-22nd century. Perhaps during The Dalek Invasion of Earth, he had done some research and discovered when humanitys first public contact with the Daleks was. And perhaps it was at this colony on Vulcan. The Doctor, having discovered previously that the Daleks all but wiped out the human colony on Vulcan before the main body of their invasion fleet moved on to Earth, knew that he had to let the massacre happen. It was an established part of history, so he couldnt interfere. He knew he had to do his best to minimize the damage and destroy this particular Dalek force. But its likely that the Daleks from the factory ship would have alerted Skaro when they were reactivated, and the Dalek war fleet set course for Earth for the first time.
Getting back to the story, the Daleks themselves are excellent. They are terribly villainous and devious for the first five episodes, manipulating the humans around them into helping them re-establish their power supply before going on a suitably frightening massacre. The scene late in episode six surveying a city full of dead bodies is suitably chilling, I think moreso with just Anneke Wills spine-tingling description over the stark incidental music. The music is another praiseworthy part of Power of the Daleks. Its spare as to be almost non-existent, and when it does appear, it consists of a low drumming punctuated by a stabbing, low-pitched electronic whistle. Its gorgeously atmospheric for the scariest scenes in the story, excellent to punctuate the regulars creeping around the Dalek vessel.
Incidentally, the planet Vulcan seen here in Power of the Daleks pre-dates the UK premiere of Star Trek, featuring the planet and race of hardcore logicians, the Vulcan. Star Trek first appeared in Britain on 12 July 1969, according to imdb.com, and Power of the Daleks, featuring the human colony world Vulcan, debuted in Britain on 5 November 1966. This is an entirely nitpicking concern I have over the originality of the word Vulcan in this story, which has been so overused thanks to Trek that it can never be mentioned in a new piece of literature for the rest of human history.
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Power of the Daleks is easily one of the better Dalek stories, both in terms of plot and characterization. I recently listened to the BBC audio with Anneke Wills providing narration where needed to cover the missing visuals. Ive also read the novelization and seen the existing clips from the story, along with the telesnaps. All of it falls somewhat short of actually watching the story, which is sadly impossible, but regardless I found that Power easily held my attention over the entire six episodes. This has to be attributed in large part to the variety of plot threads present in the story. A lot is happening, leaving little need for story padding. There are the Daleks of course, who spend the majority of the story biding their time until they can get the power they need. There is the political unrest in the colony and the power struggle between security chief Bragen and deputy governor Quinn. There is Lesterson, the scientist determined to unlock the secret of the Daleks and put them to work for the colony. And there is the newly regenerated Doctor.
It would be interesting to see this story without being as comfortable with the idea of regeneration as I am after seeing most of the series. As it is, its not difficult at all for me as the listener to accept the new Doctor right away. Had I been watching in 1966 I might have felt differently. The dialogue given to Ben and Polly in episode 1 is very good, since it has to mirror the reactions from the audience. Polly is ready to accept the new man as the Doctor while Ben is determined not to believe that its possible. The closest I can come to understanding the feeling of the contemporary audience is perhaps experiencing the switch in actors playing James Bond. I really like Pierce Brosnan in the role, and Im not eager to see someone else play it, but the new actor will probably do well and Ill end up enjoying his performance. I imagine that there was a similar reaction to Doctor Whos change of lead actor at the time. Its a credit to all involved in the show that the switch from Hartnell to Troughton was successfully executed.
Ben and Polly both get strong roles, even though both are missing for an episode. Ben is the voice of disbelief for the first two episodes. Hes very strong in his denunciation of the "impostor", but once hes convinced of the Doctors identity, hes as loyal to him as he was to his previous incarnation, even attempting to draw off the rebels at one point so that the Doctor can remain free. Polly accepts the Doctors change far more easily than Ben, and shows here, as in The Faceless Ones a strong sense of moral indignation and disdain for the violent and self-serving actions of the rebels.
Troughton plays the Doctor far differently in this story than he does later on in his mostly intact third year. One of the things Ive always enjoyed about his performance is the utter conviction he brings to the role, and that is very evident in Power. You can really believe that the Doctor hates and fears the Daleks, and considers them to be a major threat. When it comes to other topics hes evasive, often dodging questions about himself or his actions, even from Ben and Polly. He is single-minded in his purpose of thwarting the Daleks, even to the point of ignoring the politics of the colony. Some scenes of note in this regard are his warning to the Dalek at the start of episode 3 (ÒI will stop you. I will!") and his solution at the end of the story, where he is not content simply to cut the power to the Dalek capsule, but instead overloads it and destroys them. "I prefer to do things my way" he says at the time. He also adopts some of his eccentricities, such as his recorder, five hundred year diary and very tall hat, which thankfully seems to have been lost rather early on in his tenure. I liked his very loud checked trousers though, and its a shame they toned those down.
The Daleks are at their best here. This story showcases their arrogance and xenophobia better than almost any other, as well as their almost joyful exuberance at the thought of exterminating the humans in the colony. They are hardly emotionless, and can barely conceal their real feelings, slipping up several times. "Daleks are bett... different than humans" being one example. Another occurs when the three Daleks join in a chorus in front of Lesterson saying "We will get our power!" over and over again. They also look forward to the coming exterminations at the end of part five when the Daleks sit around in a group and chant "Daleks conquer and destroy!" over and over again. One of the few clips we have from part two shows the Dalek chanting, "I am your servant" over the Doctors insistence that they be destroyed. There is slyness in the Daleks voice in several other places in the story that would not readily be apparent if the visuals were there to distract the viewer.
The other subplots keep the action moving along well. The rebels are, for once, not rebelling against an oppressive regime, but are themselves simply hungry for power. They want to use the Daleks to their advantage. The scientist Lesterson also wants to use them, though for more benevolent reasons. The main flaw in the story is that no one realizes for the longest time just what a danger the Daleks are. You could argue that each side is so caught up in their own agenda that they are blinded to the danger, and this is reasonable enough to make the story work until the light starts to dawn. Lesterson in particular undergoes a role reversal when he finds out for himself just what is going on and is pretty much driven mad with fear. As an aside, since no one knows what Daleks are, I have to assume this story takes place before Dalek Invasion of Earth in 2164, though the date of 2020 mentioned in the trailer seems unlikely. The Dalek Invasion trailer gets the date of that story wrong, so its easy to assume this one does too. Perhaps the Daleks learn of humanity in this time period and this leads to the invasion of Earth.
Mention has to be made of Anneke Wills narration, which is uniformly good throughout the story. I greatly enjoy Fraser Hines narration on the other audios, and he does an excellent job. However, its refreshing to hear Anneke for a change of pace, and she does have a lovely speaking voice. Power of the Daleks is unique among the Troughton stories in that it doesnt feature Jamie and so shes certainly appropriate here, but I hope that this is not her only narration job for the Troughton audios.
In my opinion, this is a better story than Evil of the Daleks, even though both are stories that put the Daleks in their best light. Power of the Daleks stands out strong even in a season that featured both the debut and return of the Cybermen, the first regeneration and another excellent Dalek tale in Evil. Id highly recommend this story. Get the audio, download the telesnaps from the BBC website, and enjoy a lost classic.
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When I reviewed Marco Polo I noted that some fans insist that the missing Doctor Who stories cannot be fairly judged on the strength of their soundtracks alone, since the visuals either add to or detract from the original story. This is a debatable point, but the fact remains that when I first heard The Power of the Daleks when its soundtrack was released on audiocassette in 1993, it rapidly became one of my favourite Doctor Who stories of all time, and subsequent viewings of the Loose Cannon recon only strengthened my positive opinions of it.
The first notable aspect of The Power of the Daleks is of course Patrick Troughton. The manner in which the lead actor was changed in Doctor Who is a work of minor genius in my opinion. It is not unheard of for major characters within series to be played by different actors when the original becomes unavailable; the death of Reginald Tate after The Quatermass Experiment resulted in John Robinson taking on the role for Quatermass II, and he was himself replaced by André Morell (arguably the definitive Quatermass) for Quatermass and the Pit. All three actors however (and later Sir John Mills), were playing exactly the same role; with the transition from Hartnell to Troughton, Troughton is still playing the same character, but the characterisation is very different. By making the change part of the actual storyline, the production team allowed Troughton to literally make the role his own, rather than simply trying to recapture his predecessors performance. The new Doctor impresses immediately. The new Doctor is far more energetic than his previous incarnation, and immediately seems more erratic; as soon as he recovers from his transformation, he starts clowning around and generally teasing his companions, who are stunned by his change and (quite understandably) wonder if he is an imposter. Even when he is rooting through the trunk in his TARDIS and reminiscing about the items he finds within it, he refers to his former self in the third person purely for the benefit of Ben and Polly, with an innate mischievousness. Once on Vulcan, he is quick to embroil himself in events even before he knows of the presence of the Daleks (although there are hints that he deliberately steered the TARDIS to the colony precisely for that reason), leaping at the opportunity to impersonate the murdered Examiner and therefore set about finding out who the murderer is. His clowning continues, and it quickly becomes clear to the viewer that this new Doctor is going to be far more erratic and eccentric than his predecessor. Once he discovers the Daleks in the opened capsule however, his manner quickly changes; the scene at the end of episode one when he, Ben and Polly, find the dormant monsters shows Troughtons Doctor in serious mood for the first time, and he conveys the Doctors fears with a superb sense of urgency. When Lesterson and the others find them in the laboratory, he alternates between gravely trying to insist on the Daleks destruction and switching back to his habitual air of guileless, almost idiotic, innocence when Ben is in danger of saying more than he wants him to about what the travellers witnessed in the Dalek vessel, and this really establishes the pattern for Troughtons performance in the future. Most importantly, one of the Doctors crucial character traits is re-established; when Ben suggests that they leave Vulcan if the colonists dont want to heed the Doctors warnings, he refuses, explaining that he knows the suffering that the Daleks cause and cant simply leave the colonists to their fate. Finally, and very importantly to my mind, it is the Doctor alone who proves capable of ending the threat of the Daleks, overloading their power source and blowing them up right at the very end. The Doctors recorder, one of my least favourite musical instruments, is quite irritating, but them its clearly meant to be.
Ben and Polly are excellent here as usual, and play a vital role in helping the viewers to adjust to the new Doctor. Polly is far quicker than Ben to trust the new Doctor, accepting that since they saw him change he must be the Doctor. Ben is far less willing to accept this given that the apparent stranger doesnt even act like the old Doctor, and their debating over the evidence as they slowly come to trust the Doctor again provides the perfect opportunity for the Doctor to explain (rather obliquely) his transformation. This is testimony to David Whitakers skills as a script-writer, as is the fact that within two episodes any doubts the Doctor are dispelled, allowing the viewer to concentrate on the main focus of the plot. Bens shocked realization that the Dalek at the end of episode two recognizes his friend and that he must therefore be the Doctor is a powerful moment and one that finally resolves the issue. After the first two episodes, neither Ben nor Polly has much to do, as the new Doctor becomes the focus instead, with both Anneke Wills and Michael Craze taking it turns to sit an episode out, but even with their diminished roles they provide adequate support as usual. The relatively large guest cast is also uniformly excellent. Bragan is a suitably loathsome villain, especially when he orders the murder of his former allies in episode five. I never fail to take satisfaction in his refusal to heed the Doctors warnings about the Daleks, knowing that it is they that eventually cause his brief rule of the colony to come to an end. It is also fitting that betrayed ally Valmar, saving the life of Bragans nemesis Quinn, eventually dispatches him rather than him being exterminated by the Daleks. The slightly abrasive Quinn is a great character too, as is the cold and manipulative Janley and the pompous but ultimately well-meaning Hensell. But it is Robert James Lesterson who steals the best supporting character honours; his initial blind and childlike enthusiasm for the Daleks gradually gives way to uncertainty as they obsessively pursue their own power source, and he finally gives in to blind terror as he discovers the Dalek production line inside the capsule and realises that the Doctor was right all along. James conveys his characters panic incredibly well, especially during the scene in the Governors office as he tries to convince Bragan of the danger. In the face of Bragans refusal to listen to him, helped by Janleys lies as she tries to ensure the continued safety of her supposed allies, he gives in to complete abject fear and literally ends up gibbering, before he descends fully into insanity and is eventually mercilessly killed by the creatures he championed so passionately. One of Lestersons finest moments is when the Doctor reveals that the Daleks are not robots and adds that they can achieve anything given sufficient resources; Lestersons quietly horrified w- what? beautifully demonstrates the exact moment at which he realises what hes done.
Finally, there are the Daleks. The Power of the Daleks is the first Dalek story written without Terry Nation and Whitaker handles them without peer. In The Daleks Master Plan they were effective because of the magnitude of the threat that the represented. Here, the stakes are much smaller; rather than an army of Daleks threatening the entire galaxy with a super weapon, here we have three Daleks threatening a single colony. And yet, they have never been this scary. It starts with the Doctor, Troughton excellently portraying controlled fear as he tells Ben that one Dalek could destroy the colony. We often saw the First Doctors suppressed hatred of his perennial enemies, but this is the first time the Doctor appears to exhibit trepidation in this way. Later, when he tells Lesterson that the Dalek will end the colonys problems because it will end the colony, the threat is reinforced; the fact that the Doctor truly believes that a single Dalek poses such a threat is very powerful. But what really makes the Dalek seem more dangerous here than ever before is their guile and cunning. The cliffhanger to episode two as the Dalek relentless chants I am your servant over the Doctors appeals to Hensell is one of my favourite cliffhangers of the entire series. Later, the Daleks continue to consolidate their power by manipulating the colonists, Lesterson in particular, as the viewer is afforded a glimpse into their true natures; a Dalek automatically proclaims its superiority, only to catch itself just in time (a Dalek is bet- is not the same as a human being), and on at least three occasions, their absolute loathing of the Doctor is made clear, particularly when one Dalek comes close to ruining its pretense of servitude to Bragan when he takes up the Doctors challenge and stops it from killing him. As the story progresses, we get to see just how much they are anticipating slaughtering the colonists, as they eagerly conspire together in the capsule and look forward to teaching the humans the law of the Daleks. The cliffhanger to episode four as Lesterson, and the viewers, first see the Dalek production line, is utterly chilling, the mechanical efficiency of the creatures contrasting horrible high-pitched screeching of the Dalek embryos being bred in their tanks. The Discontinuity Guide lists the Daleks endless repeating of Daleks conquer and destroy at the end of episode five as a dialogue disaster, but for me it serves as an illustration of why they are such effective monsters; unlike fellow part-machine monsters the Cybermen, the Daleks are not emotionless, they are utterly psychotic and motivated by hatred and xenophobia. They clearly enjoy massacring the colonists in episode six. So thoroughly monstrous are they in this story that their messy and explosive destruction at the climax is enormously satisfying and indeed a relief; the terminal power loss of The Mutants would not have sufficed here; by the end of the story, after numerous shots of corpses littering the colony, they really needed to be defeated as utterly as possible.
I really have no criticisms of The Power of the Daleks. Based on the recon and telesnaps, the production was impressive, with the mercury swamps and colony buildings looking highly effective (I particularly like the ornate bars of the prison cells that the Doctor and Quinn are imprisoned in). The sparse surviving footage reveals the obvious use of blow-up Dalek photographs, but that didnt spoil my enjoyment of any of the previous Dalek stories and if The Power of the Daleks was rediscovered tomorrow and released on video or DVD, I doubt it would bother me here either. Frankly, Troughton couldnt have asked for a better debut story.
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Episode One of Power of the Daleks is arguably the most important episode in the entire history of Doctor Who. So much was riding on the success of the story. Doctor Who would only continue if it was proved possible to replace the leading actor. If the audience could accept such a change then its longevity was assured. Even if it came off air for while it could always return, refreshed and updated. If the experiment had failed, if only William Hartnell was accepted playing the Doctor, then the series would wither and die, and would now be an obscure relic of the past.
Given it is such an important episode it is one that been viewed by relatively few people. The entire story has been missing from the BBC archives since the mid-seventies , just a few clips and telesnaps remain. Which make it such a joy that the story has now been animated, allowing a whole new audience to relive the excitement of the original broadcast.
The story is very well written, as would be expected given it was written by one of the creators or the original series, David Whitaker. He uses the change of the main character to push the story along, with Ben and Polly as confused as to who this strange man is as many of the audience would have been. The conflicting signals work well. The Hartnell reflection is contrasted with the ill-fitting ring. Is this man really the doctor? The recorder can get irritating through.
The first thing the new Doctor witnesses, outside the TARDIS, is a murder, which gives the team a focus and serves to push forward the story, with The Doctor being mistaken for an Earth examiner. By far the most anticipated part of the story was the reveal of the Daleks. The tension is ramped up and we get our first view of the metal monster, glinting in the darkness, draped in cobwebs.
Patrick Troughton nails the character of his Doctor from the start. His performance is superb and you certainly feel the mystery and the impishness of the character. This man may not be the character we are used to, but he certainly leads the action, keeping everyone guessing as to his motives. Troughton was a superb character actor, at the top of his game, and it shows.
He is well supported by the two companions, the first to witness a regeneration. Ben and Polly, played by Anneke Wills and Michael Craze are very underrated, by virtue of so much of their contribution to the series being lost. But they make a good team and you can sense the confusion of two young adults plucked from 1960's London and now witnessing their only friend changing before their eyes.
The animators have done wonders bringing the story back to life. The project has been intense, with budgets tight and deadlines always looming, but Charles Norton and his team have achieved something special. Some characters are realized better than others. The older actors, with defined jawlines and rugged features, lend themselves to animation more than the younger members of the cast. The Doctor is superb with the characterisation spot on. The planet Vulcan is eerie and mysterious with pools of mercury bubbling away.
Full marks too to Mark Ayres for his heroic work restoring the soundtrack. It's difficult to believe the original source was a domestic tape recorder plonked in front of a domestic television. The dialogue is now crystal clear and Ayres has used the original music and sound effects tapes to create both a stereo and 5.1 mix.
The announcement of a colour version of the animated story is a surprising development, especially given Norton expressing his opinion that the story works best in Black and White. I suspect many fans will double dip and get both versions and if the colour version being more young fans to the delights of the Second Doctor, then it is a worthwhile investment.
Overall the Power of the Daleks is a supurb story, and well worth adding to any Doctor Who Library. And who knows, if sales are healthy enough, this could just be the start.
Filters: Second Doctor Series 4 The Power of the Daleks
Power of the Daleks
Written By: David Whitaker
Starring Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze
Released July 2020 - BBC Studios
In 2016, BBC Studios released an animated reconstruction of the first Second Doctor serial Power of the Daleks. This was not the first animated reconstruction of lost episodes, but it was the first time that an entirely lost story was animated. Previous stories had just been one or two lost episodes in an otherwise complete serial. It also marked the start of the project being overtaken by BBC Studios, as the earlier projects had been animated by various different studios.
Power was animated on a limited budget and time constraints. As a result there were elements the creators wished they could improve. When they tackled The Macra Terror, they had more time and a slightly bigger budget. This made them want to go back and improve their first effort. And four years after the initial release, they have done just that. It is easy to wonder why they have decided to re-animate a story they’ve already done, especially when there are so many adventures left missing...but my guess is the cost to redo the animation here was minimal. I was struggling to see too many changes, so I went back to the first attempt to see where the changes were.
In the end it seems that there are a few cosmetic improvements, but it does seem like a minor spruce up at best. I would guess that they reused 90% of the elements from the first one, it is just all around more polished. It is certainly a story that deserves to be given a more polished effort. It is a very important story in the history of the show, so it doesn’t deserve a more shoddy animated reconstruction than, say, The Faceless Ones. I applaud the effort to improve this very important adventure, even if the end results aren’t shocking.
In terms of Special Features, having some more of the newly discovered footage of the original is certainly a bonus. It's nice that they use this release to add as much new content as they can. As a collector, I'd probably be just as inclined to wait until the inevitable Season 4 boxset for "The Collection" range that will no doubt contain everything on this release and more.
If you bought the 2016 version, I find it hard to recommend upgrading. This is certainly an improvement...but is it really that much of an improvement? Not really. If you missed it the first time around and aren’t sure which to get...the 2020 version is the better looking presentation. Beyond that it is just a collector’s game.
Power of the Daleks Special Edition can be ordered from Amazon
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