This year marked 50th anniversary of the Doctor Who story Power of the Daleks. The original footage of this story has been lost and the hopes of finding it aren’t all the high. Given the anniversary and the missing footage BBC opted to celebrate by creating an animated version of the story. It was aired on BBC stations, iplayer, and in theaters. Since it wasn’t available on Canadian television I opted to attend the local Cineplex screening of the story.
I know it’s a bit of an obscure thing – an animation of a 50 year old TV program – but I was really surprised by the dismal turnout in the local theater. There was a whole five us. Despite that lack luster crowd I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This was the first time I was able to see any form of Doctor Who on the big screen and it was a neat experience. The animation was interesting to watch and it did really bring to life a solid story.
That being said watching a six part story in theater is not at all how the original content was meant to be viewed. It was produced as a weekly serial and the animation probably would have been viewed that way — which BBC America was airing it in six parts, which might have been a better watching experience. One thing I wish the film version had of done was include quick fade to blacks or the episode titles in the longer version. The sense that this was a six part story was completely lost in the film version and the cliffhangers that were built into the original story were greatly diminished in not giving the episodes space – even if that space was seconds, I think it would have worked better.
In terms of the animation, the daleks were wonderful. The TARDIS, Vulcan planet scenery, and the design of the regeneration sequence were solid. The human characters were a bit less so. The animation was done in a very realistic style but the physical movement of the people was a bit clunky. It also seemed as though substantially more time was put into drawing and animating the Doctor with companions Polly and Ben feeling very one dimensional in their drawing and the other characters even more so. That being said it’s a solid story and the animation doesn’t hinder it in any way. There was moment where a group of characters kind of side shuffle of screen that caused me to laugh out loud because of the awkward nature of the animated movement, but otherwise it mostly blended into the story.
I was also really impressed by the sound quality of the production. The sound was remastered from a fan created audio recording from the original airing. A recent Radio Free Skaro interview with Mark Ayres goes into detail about how this process took place and is a really fascinating look at how the audio for this project came together.
Overall I think this was a really interesting bit of the Doctor Who universe that’s been formatted in a new way and made more accessible to a wider audience. Plus seeing the classic Doctor Who opening and theme song on the big screen really made my day – it pretty much instantly put me a good mood.