From the Other Side — Power of the Daleks

In a year with little to none new Doctor Who, we’ve sure had a lot of it, and I’m not talking about the upcoming Christmas special. I’m talking about the new Power of the Daleks serial, which we’re seeing for the first time in 50 years.

The reason we haven’t seen the show in 50 years is because it was one of the almost 100 Doctor Who episodes that was lost when the BBC was in the practice(from 1967 to 1978) of destroying videotape and film stored in its engineering department and film libraries.

I know, right?! Why would they destroy any television show?

Well, apparently, it was to make room for new programs (remember this was before digital), as well as a belief that there was no value in retaining the information.

What a load of crap.

There is always value in saving things from the past. If for nothing else than to see how far a show (or anything else) has come since it started.

Anyway, when I found out about these missing episodes, I was intrigued. I meant there had to be copies of them somewhere. There are so many people who collect things in the world today, that somebody has to have at least some of them. Well turns out some people did, and the BBC has been able to restore some of the missing episodes. It’s also been able to piece other episodes together with the audio and still production photos. (Despite not having the video of all the Doctor Who episodes, the BBC did have the audio).

Six of those episodes are from the original Power of the Daleks serial, which are the second doctor’s (Patrick Troughton) first episodes and includes his regeneration scene. They also tell a grim and chilling story in which the Daleks’ evil ruthlessness is shown. (I’m not getting into details because I don’t want to ruin it for you). Since the BBC had the audio, and the production stills, it decided to do something different with these episodes. It animated them.

That’s right, Power of the Daleks, is a cartoon.

I was kind of nervous when I heard it would be a cartoon. I haven’t really been a fan of cartoons since The X-Men cartoon aired in the 1990s (great show!), and I mean can you really show the terror caused by the Daleks without real people and props? Or will it be so computer generated that all of that will be gone? Will the cartoons make it laughable?

Turns out yes you can really show all of that emotion and terror, and it’s not at all laughable because Power of the Daleks is phenomenal. The animation is simple and traditional, so the story isn’t lost in computer generated madness. As I watched it, I was scared at the Daleks and their extermination plans (at least as scared as I get when I watch non-animated episodes).

The story is just as good as when it aired in its non-animated form because it’s the exact same audio and story. You have the companions – Ben and Polly – who are trying to figure out who this new person is and why he calls himself The Doctor. They’re dropped into the middle of a different time and place and are trying to figure what’s going on, how to fix it, and how to get back home.

I’m only halfway through the serial (the next episode airs on Saturday on BBC America), but I’m already hooked on it and have a re-invigorated interest in the classic episodes of Doctor Who. I grew up watching them with my dad, but I haven’t been able to get back into them (except for the episodes with Sylvester McCoy). But now I want to watch them all.

In addition to the new animated Power of the Daleks, other countries have given BBC copies of the episodes that they had aired and film collectors had also happened upon some episodes and purchased them for their collections (they didn’t know they were missing when they bought them).

When I found out about the missing episodes, I was sad because I realized these episodes would most likely stay missing. Turns out I was wrong because nerds – especially Doctor Who nerds – should never be underestimated. Why? Because without them we wouldn’t be watching any of this.

Here’s to the final three episodes of Power of the Daleks and the growth of nerd power everywhere!

By Celia Goodyear

Celia Goodyear has loved all things geek since she first saw Superman issue #158 as a child. Today, she has embraced all things DC Universe, thinks Wonder Woman is more powerful than Superman and Batman combined, wishes The Bionic Woman would come back, and is anxiously awaiting the new Star Wars movie. She also enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and their dog.