This week Whovian Leap rejoices in “The Power of the Daleks”
I have always had a strange relationship with Doctor Who’s black and white episodes. They were broadcast before my time and when I was growing up videos and DVDs didn’t exist. When I finally saw stories such as “The Time Meddler” I shamefully have to admit that I had a problem with their pace and their production values.
Years later I would buy the “Lost in Time” DVD and was able to witness the only remaining episodes from the many junked stories of the Hartnell and Troughton eras. I was intrigued by the bonus material, but I couldn’t get into the actual stories themselves. How could I? They were incomplete, so following the plot and getting to know the characters was nigh on impossible. The obvious exception of course is “The Web of Fear” – “Part One” which left me immensely frustrated at its conclusion, as the full horror of the nature of “missing episodes” struck home. I would never ever see the whole story! Little did I know…
The sometimes clunky fan-made missing episode reconstructions were not for me. I preferred not to watch them. Strange to say but part of me wanted also to leave that glorious era of Doctor Who shrouded in the mists of time. There was something holy and sacred about those stories, so I wanted to revere them from a distance. I was at first reluctant to read Target novelisations of the missing stories for the very same reason. However my imagination would then always restore them to – and even beyond – their original glory.
Professionally animated episodes have helped me change my mind. They are incredibly easy to watch. Until now they have only completed partially missing stories. These animations have motivated me to watch the whole story. I had never seen the existing episodes of “The Invasion” and “The Reign of Terror” until the animated episodes came along.
The advantage of being almost wantonly ignorant of the missing episodes has meant that “The Power of the Daleks” is effectively brand-new Who for me.
The feeling of excitement that the animated release of “The Power of the Daleks” stirred within me was indescribable. It reminded me of the power that “Doctor Who” itself holds over me, its ability to send me into a frenzy – one which normally only seizes me for regenerations, missing episode discoveries and re-appearances of Classic foes and Doctors.
Downloading “Part One” of ‘Power of the Daleks” last night was one of the joys of being a Whovian. It was wonderful to see the Second Doctor’s first scenes brought back to life. Obviously nothing can compare to Patrick Troughton’s original performance but this is as close as we can possibly get, until that one impossible day when the actual story is finally found.
The animation and sound is superb. Maybe Ben comes across as a little too aggressive in his animated iteration. I doubt if the much-missed Michael Craze gave such an unlikeable performance in the original episode and the telesnaps do go some way to show that.
The tale itself is a wonderful collaboration between David Whittaker and Dennis Spooner. The former was responsible for the carefully crafted plot with its utterly believable characters. The latter polished up the script and worked on the characterisation of the new Doctor. Their combined efforts make for a magical mix of enthralling television.
Now we hear that very soon “Power of the Daleks” will be released in colour. This is mind-blowing! We have never had Sixties Doctor Who in colour, except for the Dalek movies. Colour animation will bring a dusty old black and white story back to life, accessible and exciting for a whole new generation of fans. Just think of the potential! What if we had Marco Polo in glorious colour?! Sixties Who might become the new Doctor Who, as popular and as exciting as the modern series. Maybe we will have to coin a phrase – “Nu Classics”! And what if they were then presented by the Twelfth Doctor himself, as he recollects them?
So, just like the row of Daleks who famously trundle along in Power’s famous conveyor belt scene, all I can say right now is – roll on next Saturday!