Thursday, January 25, 2018

TV Review: The Power of the Daleks (1966)

The Power of the Daleks (1966) written by David Whitaker, directed by Christopher Barry

The first full story with the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) has been lost for nearly fifty years. The BBC tapes were wiped and foreign prints were destroyed. Audio versions of the episodes (six in all) exist, as do production photos. The story has been recreated as an animated version on this DVD release.

The new Doctor lands on the planet Vulcan (no relation to the Star Trek planet), which is colonized by humans. The colony has a few problems. Some rebels are stirring up trouble. A scientist has opened up a spacecraft that had crash landed a hundred years ago. Inside are defunct Daleks. The Doctor tries to warn him and others of the danger, but the revived Daleks (because that was bound to happen) play themselves as servants to the humans. At least until they are powerful enough to strike (because that was bound to happen).

The plot moves slowly but steadily and satisfyingly. Seeing the Daleks as sly and deceptive is an interesting twist for characters who are usually shouty and bloodthirsty. The Doctor's companions, Polly and Ben, have the challenge of dealing with a new Doctor whose personality has changed along with his face. This Doctor is not quite sure of himself at first, but he is also sly and deceptive. Troughton has a nice playfulness about him, even at the beginning of his run as the Doctor.

The restoration's quality is weak. The animation is very crude, almost like they had paper cut outs they moved around on the screen. The actors' performances are reduced to their vocal performances. No one moves smoothly or convincingly, making it hard to immerse oneself in the story. Worse, a lot of the sound effects (like feet moving, switches flipping, and background noises) don't match up with the visuals, making the restoration look cheap and sloppy. With how successful Doctor Who has been in the past decade, one would think they could put more money and effort into this restoration. It's okay for a filler episode here and there but for a whole series of episodes, it looks really bad.

Only recommended for Doctor Who completists. The story is a good one. Since I already love Troughton's Doctor and the Daleks, I was able to put up with the poor production values.

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