This week the BBC & Fathom Events hosted an exclusive nationwide cinema event screening of Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks. This was the first time Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks had ever been shown in North America. Lost since its premiere on the BBC 50 years ago, the full six-part story has now been meticulously animated and features added bonus content including interviews with members of the original cast.
Reigning title holder of the World’s Youngest Doctor Who reporter and reviewer, our own resident Whovian Lindalee Rose headed to a local theater with some fellow Whovians to check out this exclusive cinemas event, 50 years in the making!
The Power of the Daleks makes it’s official TV debut here in the United States on Saturday November 19th on BBC America.
About the movie:
Thought to be lost forever, The Power of the Daleks is the missing third serial of the fourth season of Doctor Who. No complete film recordings or master negatives of The Power of the Daleks are known to have survived an archive purge in 1974. This brand new animation is recreated from original audio, photographs, and surviving film clips.
The Power of the Daleks is one of the most celebrated Doctor Who adventures. The six-part adventure, presented in its entirety here as a single, feature-length event, includes the regeneration, or as it was then called “renewal,” of First Doctor (William Hartnell) into Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). The Time Lord and his companions Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze) do battle with the Daleks on the planet Vulcan.
Having grown up with the Doctor’s in the 1970’s from Jon Pertwee, on, my viewing experience of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton episodes were scarce over the years. The opportunity to see not only a lost series of episodes was exciting, as was seeing the first “renewal” (aka ‘regeneration’) of the 1st Doctor into the 2nd. The trailers leading up to this teased very little of the movie, and the anticipation was clearly there to see what the BBC actually animated and assemble from the rumored various bits and pieces which were pieced together to make this film up.
The animation…well it was a very interesting choice with what they went with. Now while Patrick Troughton’s expressions were skillfully reconstructed from actual facial expressions he emoted over the years in the episodes, the actual animation itself was almost…South Park’ish in style. Very blocky, stiff, awkward at times, many people in the audience laughed more at the strange jerky animated movements then I had expected. With today’s CGI and fluid animation abilities, this unique visual choice to tell the story is one I am still questioning as to why? The Daleks on the other hand looked great and their movements were almost as naturally fluid as you’d see in the modern day episodes. I enjoyed learning that originally the episode used cardboard cut-outs to fill in the background for the presence of more Daleks in the scene, but with today’s technology, this re-creation had every Dalek in the frame moving about.
Having the film in Black and White certainly added an extra sense of Who history and a feel that the past was coming back to life in a bigger then normal way. The audio was top-notch, no distortion, dropout, crackling or popping. The fact that this was salvaged from fan recordings and pieced together is remarkable. I was irked at times that there was animation that insinuated moments of needed sound effects, yet none were present. I was curious on why a little present day enhancing and added foley wasn’t added to enhance the experience, especially since such an effort was made with the animation. Overall the quality of the production was impressive for all the technical feats that went into this.
Story wise it felt very similar to what many of the Doctor Who episodes of those early years seemed to regurgitate in their plots; political wars and conflicts between the governments and the rebels with generous helping of stuffy, long-winded and pompous characters. Then of course you had the then brand-new Doctor played by Patrick Troughton. Still fresh in his body it wasn’t very long until he was already off onto another adventure and taking his 2 companions Polly and Ben with him to the planet Vulcan. The dynamic of the 2 companions played great for what the audience must have thought back in the day of a character “renewing” into a new body. Polly was optimistic that this was the old Doctor and seemed to identify traits from Hartnell’s character, yet Ben was in disbelief and questioned if this new faced time-lord was in fact the real deal or a lunatic imposter.
An interesting note was that the film starts with “Episode 1” leading you to believe that of the 6 episode arc of Power of the Daleks, that we’d see the intro into each episode as we may have when they originally aired…but we didn’t. From that point on we never saw a chapter/episode division, it was just one solid and seamless movie until the end. While the movie flowed, it still seemed a bit long and could have used some trimming in parts. Once the Daleks really take control of the situation towards the end, did the film really get exciting and give you those edge of your seat, gripping of the arm-rests moments.
What Lindalee enjoyed was seeing the film in Black and White, a lost visual form of presentation that she’s rarely exposed to. She was also intrigued with the amount of people who died in this, because as she says “there is not a lot of dying in other episodes”. The appeal of seeing Daleks disarmed without their laser she thought was cool. Seeing the adventures of a new Doctor Patrick Troughton, was both educational and entertaining to her, not to mention she enjoyed watching him zone out in thought and play the flute during the film. She seemed to get lost during the political rants and excessive exposition which for an 8 year old made the story a bit hard to follow. But being that the Daleks are her favorite Doctor Who villain, given the odd and deceptive “personality” of the Daleks in this film along with their repetitive deadly laser blasts to the Planet Vulcan citizens, she loved every on-screen moment of them.
This certainly is something worth the watch if you’re a true Whovian, for the sense of Doctor Who nostalgia and, well the Daleks definitely make it all worth while. The Power of the Daleks will premiere on BBC America on Saturday, November 19 at 8:25pm ET.
US Dates to Note:
November 19, 2016 – Available to watch weekly on BBC AMERICA. For more info, visit www.bbcamerica.com
BBC AMERICA will make the colour version available exclusively on their digital platforms towards the end of November.
January 24, 2017 – Available on DVD exclusively from Barnes & Noble (includes color version).