Coming in November: Power of the Daleks!

One of the great missing serials of “Doctor Who”, The Power of the Daleks, is completely missing.  All six episodes were lost in the archive purge, and have yet to be recovered in any overseas archives or private stashes.  (A few sporadic clips survive, trimmings from various broadcasters with odd censorship rules, or who merely required a shorter runtime.  Back then, of course, editing even videotape was a mechanical process, so cuttings were physically removed, which has allowed a few short clips to survive by being separated from their master reels.)  As with all the other missing episodes, however, the complete audio tracks do survive.

This is one of the most sought-after serials, coming as it does immediately after what is perhaps the single most important moment in the entire history of “Doctor Who” — the first regeneration.  When the story opens, Ben and Polly are grappling with the baffling nature of the man in front of them — the Doctor — who has just transformed from an old man, gasping for breath, to a young man with a mop of black hair, shorter than the Doctor they’d known before — and the audience grapples with it right alongside them, as Ben seeks to prove the man’s identity and he stubbornly fails to cooperate.  The Doctor himself is having difficulty adapting, a process which would become immediately familiar to modern fans but which was at the time the absolute lynchpin to the series’ very survival.

And it worked!  The Power of the Daleks is said to be one of the best serials in the history of “Doctor Who”.  Sadly, no fans not alive in 1966 have a basis for comparison, apart from its novelization and releases of the audio track. Certainly it impressed audiences enough back then to have kept the series alive, and laid the groundwork for its continuation in the face of complete cast changes.  But soon, we may all get a new opportunity to evaluate it, for the BBC has announced the upcoming release of a fully animated version, set to the surviving audio.  It will be released for digital download on November 5, or purchase the DVD starting November 21.  I have not found word on whether it will be released outside of Region 2, alas.

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