Sunday, 13 November 2016

Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks: Film Review

Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks: Film Review

Cast: Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze

Missing for half a century, this six part 1960s tale of Doctor Who is one of the holy grails for fandom.

With telesnaps and audio recordings able to give some inclination of what it was all like when the Second Doctor met the Daleks for the very first time on the Planet Vulcan and when Polly and Ben met the new Doctor for the first time, there'd always been hope of it being found somewhere and somehow.

But, on the 50th anniversary of its transmission and in the lead up to it, the BBC announced a fully animated version of this serial to the delight of fans everywhere. Not only because it's the Daleks, but because it's the first time Troughton ever appeared as the Doctor after the regeneration of William Hartnell.

The story centres around a scientist named Lesterson is investigating a mysterious alien capsule found abandoned on the planet Vulcan. Inside it are three inert Daleks. And we all know what that means - trouble....

Remarkably tense and not often feeling its six part length, The Power of the Daleks is vintage 1960s Doctor Who. Set on a planet cut off from Earth, with various political factions at play within, the confused Doctor and the even more confused Ben and Polly are thrown into the middle of a minefield. Further complicated by the arrival of the Daleks, the Doctor's belief that carnage lies around the corner struggles to be heard by others.

The at times jerky animation, with its hues of greys, adds a lot to proceedings, though in fairness at times, it doesn't quite capture all of Troughton's exquisite facials and expressions to a tee - but it is to be commended for its relative faithfulness to what source material was used. It's the little moments that stand out in the animation, rather than the full scale recreations of the characters.

There are a few moments which juddered - the disappearance of a badge, the motion blurring of a nametag - but it's largely smooth and captures the atmospheric of the episodes. Troughton's performance, and to some degrees the animation thereof, comes into its own mid-way through the run, and it's almost as if he were there on screen again.

As for the malignant pepperpots themselves, they look wonderful in their on-screen execution, bringing levels to their sneakiness as they play the human factions off each other. There's much to love in their differing appearance from usual, though their race conquering comes to the fore eventually. It's clear to see why the writers used one of the most iconic characters to usher in a new era where regeneration was an unknown quantity - and while it's also the Doctor's story, it's very much a new story for the Daleks and their ways (even if their reason for being there and eventual scuppering are narratively conveniently papered over).

Ultimately, the animation and recreation (along with remastered soundtrack and audio) add a lot to bringing this to life on the 50th anniversary of its transmission. An extra at the end of the performance explains the 6 month creation period led to some haste being needed to be added, but all in all, Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks is fan-fulfillment at its best - and showcases animation techniques quite well too.

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