Many of the earliest episodes of Doctor Who have been lost.  I got to see an interesting solution to this problem with Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks.  While the episodes may be lost, possibly forever, the folks at BBC America did put together the audio from the 1966 episode -- and made an animated version of the episode!

The Power of the Daleks is significant because it introduced both the idea of regeneration (that when near death, a Time Lord could regenerate, gaining a new body and personality) and Patrick Troughton as the new Doctor, replacing William Hartnell.  Appropriately, this switch is reflected in the Doctor's companions: Polly (Anneke Wills) is certain he's still the Doctor, while Ben (Michael Craze) is skeptical.  The new Doctor seems silly: constantly playing a recorder, wearing a large floppy hat, and muttering to himself.

The adventure begins quickly, as the trio leave the TARDIS to wander around the planet Vulcan (no relation to Star Trek).  The Doctor meets a human who introduces himself as the Examiner -- who's promptly shot dead, with the Doctor knocked out from behind.  When the Doctor wakes up, he takes the Examiner's badge, posing as him to have full access to the human colony of Vulcan.  The colony has been having episodes of sabotage from unknown rebels.  The biggest discovery, though, is that scientist Lesterson (Robert James) has found a "space capsule" containing two apparently deceased/deactivated Daleks.  Lesterson wants to revive/reactivate them, to use them as servants; but the Doctor warns that doing so would doom the entire colony.  And there's evidence that there was a third Dalek that's gone missing...

The Power of the Daleks is a nice reminder of the clunky charm of the original series.  While the new animation keeps a lot of the original limits of the series (the humans in the "futuristic" colony use guns; the Daleks' beam weapon is shown by briefly showing a negative of the scene), the story is nicelty involved, with several threads -- Who killed the Examiner?  Which characters are rebels?  What is the master plan of the Daleks? -- that all come together.  It's a shame the episodes are gone, but nice that it was "regenerated" this way.
My one complaint with this was the animation: While the black and white matches the original series, the animation feels stiff, with shading rarely changing and usually only body part for one character moving at a time.  It feels artificial, and oddly reminiscent of the series Archer.  While that was distracting, it was a worthwhile sacrifice to get to see Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks.  And afterwards, there were interviews and behind-the-scenes with several folks involved with animating the series, plus Anneke Wills talking about being on the original series!

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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