Astonishingly, 97 Doctor Who episodes are missing. While some have been rediscovered, others remain lost forever, with only audio recordings and, in some cases, short clips surviving.
But the BBC has decided to bring one of those lost serials back to life in animated form, and it’s no surprise that they chose to revive Patrick Troughton’s first adventure as the Doctor on the 50th anniversary of his debut.
In ‘The Power Of The Daleks’, the Doctor and his companions Polly and Ben arrive on a human colony, where a scientist is experimenting on a mysterious spaceship containing some not-quite-dead Daleks. Extermination inevitably ensues.
The remastered audio – dialogue, sound effects and music – are from the original episodes, but the animation laid over the top of it is new, and done under serious budgetary constraints. The animation is clunky, with characters walking with all the finesse of those in South Park, but it’s stylistically lovely.
The designs are excellent, and the use of crisp black and white works well in this noirish tale. The Daleks look wonderful – their clean lines and the eerie audio track make them scarier here than they have been in live action for years. There are some nice animation moments – cobwebs blowing on the deactivated Daleks, an un-shelled Dalek skittering under a door – but on the whole the animation is perfunctory, merely a means of delivering the real point of these episodes.
And that, of course, is Patrick Troughton’s debut. Based on his vocals alone, it’s an incredible performance. He’s joyous, stoic, sinister and always every inch the Doctor. He sets the tone for all subsequent post-regeneration performances.
Even in this new form, you still feel like you’re watching a piece of television history.