Recently, the BBC brought back one of the lost Doctor Who adventures in animated form. “Power of the Daleks” is one of the most essential stories in Who fandom, being the first post-regeneration serial starring a new Doctor, in this case Patrick Troughton, taking over for William Hartnell. It remains, arguably, the most influential of the stories, with everything from “Deep Breath” to “Victory of the Daleks” borrowing ideas from it.
Sadly, like many adventures from the first six seasons, “Power” was junked by the BBC to save money reusing tape, and to this date not a single episode is known to have survived. Audio recordings do, though, and it’s from these recordings that animated re-creations have been made.
I’m a big fan of the animated re-creations, with the final episode of “The Tenth Planet” being my personal favorite. I hope “Power” will be such a success that the BBC will continue the practice and we’ll see long-lost stories back on the screen. Here are five I’d like to see.
5. The Celestial Toymaker
One of the reasons I like the animated re-creations is that they tend to engage my daughter in the classic series more easily. Nothing cries out for the power of animation like “The Celestial Toymaker.” All but the final episode is lost, and its whimsical, strange plot in which the First Doctor outsmarts a childish but fiendishly powerful entity is perfect for a younger audience. Plus, it’s a rare episode in which color photos from the set exist, meaning it could be the first color-animated re-creation with those photos as a point of reference.
4. The Macra Terror
Easily one of the Second Doctor’s best outings, “The Macra Terror” has him, Ben, Polly and Jamie investigating a mysterious colony secretly controlled by crab monsters who feed on poisonous gas. It’s almost a Scooby Doo-esque story, with both a solid monster and great character interactions from the Tardis crew. It’s got everything that made “Gridlock” a great episode, but with a greater focus on 1960s levels of political paranoia
3. The Pescatons
This is actually a radio play from the 1970s. Though Doctor Who as an audio institution is now well established, this was a rarer vinyl release that was recorded concurrently with the series proper. It features the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane fighting a mutant shark invasion. It’s the only Four/Sarah Jane audio drama in existence starring both Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen, as Sladen died of cancer before Tom Baker agreed to return to Doctor Who at Big Finish. This adventure would be a joy to see on the screen, and a fitting tribute to one of the most iconic Doctor/Companion teams in the show’s history.
Speaking of Big Finish, I live in hope that one day we’ll see some of the company's most excellent stories adapted from the screen in animated form. I have two suggestions. The first is “Bloodtide,” a Sixth Doctor story involving Charles Darwin and the Silurians. It’s also a great introduction to the companion Evelyn Smythe, Six’s tetchy archaeologist friend who is literally one of the best things ever to come out of the series in any format. If you’re one of those people who judge the Sixth Doctor by his sometimes lackluster television run, this is his great redemption.
1. The Stones of Venice
The Eighth Doctor never got a proper television run, and that makes me want an animated adaptation of his fantastic Big Finish radio plays even more. I agonized over the choice here, but “Stones of Venice” would probably be the best bet. It doesn’t require a setup for companion Charley Pollard, nor is it bogged down in her larger story within her time with The Doctor. The tale of a drowning Venice trying to resurrect a dead countess to magically save the city while also fighting off a rebellion of amphibious gondoliers is fast-paced and gripping. It’s also one of the quippier stories, full of brilliant one-liners from Paul McGann’s Doctor.
All this is just one man’s wish list, but let’s hope BBC keeps the animation flowing!
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