The Serial (5/5)
Of all the great tragedies in visual media history one of the greatest has to be the BBC purges of the mid-1970's. In that period so many great episodes of television were wiped from existence (and to paraphrase Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space) NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN! This included well over 100 episodes of Doctor Who. Fans and the BBC have spent the decades in between searching archives and private collections around the globe trying to find any episodes from these years. A few years back a fellow named Philip Morris found 2 Patrick Troughton serials (well almost complete, Web of Fear 3 was still missing) while in Africa. But since then things have been quiet. The BBC finished the line of classic Doctor Who DVD's with a release of the Tenth Planet finishing episode 4 with animation, and then aside from a few special edition re-releases it was all over.
That is until now.
Unfortunately, for the Doctor Who faithful no new episodes have been found, but as animation has been happening sporadically over the last few years to fill in missing gaps for episodes. The BBC have been kind enough to fully animate one of the most tragic of all missing episodes Patrick Troughton's debut serial The Power of the Daleks. Of all the still missing serials/episodes of the show Power of the Daleks alongside Tenth Planet episode 4 (William Hartnell's regeneration into Troughton), and Web of Fear 3 (the first appearance of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) may be the most significant so it is wonderful to finally have it in watchable form. The fantastic thing about these animated versions is due to off-air recordings by 60’s Who fans we are able to actually hear the original vocal performances by the cast, while seeing the animated motion of the Who characters.
The episode sees the newly regenerated 2nd Doctor and his companions Ben and Polly on an Earth colony Vulcan. This colony is split politically, and become even more so when they find some ancient Daleks in storage. These Daleks are taken, studied, and soon reactivated. They start acting as the servants of the Vulcan colonists, which makes the scientists among the crew less likely to believe the Doctor's warning of the danger they actually present. Meanwhile, the Daleks are secretly increasing their numbers in an attempt to create a Dalek army to take over the colony.
Power of the Daleks was an absolute blast. The serial could be considered a sort of prototype for the base-under-siege stories to come, but done with excellent conflict and suspense elements. The retained vocal performances from the original voice cast are excellent, and though I wish I could be watching the real thing, the animation proves to be a worthy substitute. Admittedly, the animation is not going to impress animation fans, but it is much better than photo recons, and is the best way to watch these episodes going out. I certainly hope the BBC continues to animate missing episodes.
The BBC provides a 16:9 widescreen presentation that is decent. There is some issues with banding throughout the presentation and some minor compression issues. Detail is decent, and line detail is fine.
Audio is presented with a 5.1 Surround Soundtrack in English everything sounds alright here. But the audio was recorded by fans so there are issues.
We get a making of the episode. audio commentaries with Toby Hadoke, test footage, a photo recon, photo galleries, the original title sequence, a original Dalek voice recording session, some surviving footage and MORE.
Since the likelihood of finding more episodes decreases with each find, animation is becoming the best option to get missing episodes of Doctor Who on home video. This is an exciting release, and I hope sells well enough to get more out there. The DVD looks solid, and comes with some exciting extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED