What better way to ease in an unfamiliar Doctor than with a familiar enemy? The Daleks return in a six-part serial ‘The Power of the Daleks’. Unfortunately, every episode was lost, so the whole thing is reconstructed. There are varying quality of reconstructions, but I ended up watching fan-made audio-narrated ones on YouTube.
It’s a particular shame that these episodes were lost. Firstly, because it’s one of the best Dalek stories yet, reminding me of ‘Dalek’ (2005) and a little of ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ (2012), in which they are actually a threatening presence that should not be awakened, rather than a powerful army already in full force.
On a remote planet Vulcan (no pointy ears here), a crashed Dalek ship, several hundred years old, is recovered. Scientists are unaware of the dangers within,* and the Doctor finds the inhabitants dormant. But things are not as they seem, and as the scientists reactivate the Daleks and attempt to turn them into slaves, a rebel group seizes control and uses them to take-over. Of course, the Daleks are simply playing along, secretly building more of themselves and attempting to regain full power again.
We briefly saw what a Dalek looks like on the inside during their first encounter in The Daleks, but it was very vague and hidden away. This time we see them in full (albeit from the available telesnaps), being grown in vats, injected with machinery and inserted into their armour shells, as the construction line churns out more and more of them. It’s marvelous.
The other reason it’s such a shame these episodes are lost is because it is of course Patrick Troughton in his first appearance, and actually seeing a new incarnation of the Doctor finding his feet, feeling his face, and discovering just who exactly he is, is one of the very rare pleasures of the Doctor Who franchise.
Even so, from what I’ve seen, I am already a big fan of Troughton’s Doctor. He has a, frankly, AWESOME voice, and he plays a bloody recorder!
Yes, he’s eccentric, as Hartnell’s version was, but instead of a crazy old man, he’s sharper, seemingly more on-the-ball, intelligent, witty, and gets more involved in the action.
A simple change of lead actor has transformed this whole show into something ten times as watchable. I’m looking forward to more adventures.
* Point of contention, Earth was invaded by Daleks in 2150-ish. I didn’t catch a date for this story, but either it’s set earlier than 2150, or set so far away from Earth that the inhabitants are blissfully unaware of what a Dalek is. Or there’s some timey-wimey stuff going on. Shrug.