The first incarnation of the Timelord from Gallifrey is dead. The Doctor has died, yet with his death comes regeneration, and the second Doctor is born. His companions don’t trust him, and his own confused-yet-playful demeanour doesn’t help matters. Yet there’s little time for explanations, as the TARDIS arrives at the Earth colony on Vulcan at a delicate time.
A civil war is brewing, and The Doctor passes himself off as an inspector from Earth to investigate the colony. The resident scientist, Lesterson, has discovered a capsule containing three inactive Daleks and plans on reviving them. Despite all objections from The Doctor about the threat the Daleks pose, experiments continue and before long the Daleks are becoming pawns in the colony’s political power struggles. But, as The Doctor knows well, it’s only a matter of time before the Daleks begin their own plans of conquest once again…
This has long been acknowledged as one of the strongest six-part DW stories out there, as well as one of the strongest Dalek stories AND one of the strongest “transition” episodes. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the least-seen in this day and age because, like many of the oldest DW episodes, copies of it no longer exist. It’s fitting that, on its fiftieth anniversary, this show has been re-issued – albeit in animated form, but using the original audio track which has survived intact to keep it true to its source.
The animated, jerky black-and-white style may not suit everyone, and that’s understandable. The Power Of The Daleks resembles a motion comic in fluidity at times, which may not impress anyone. However, it also looks incredibly genuine to the time and the 3D animated Daleks look eerily imposing and real. So once you get past that initial shock of how the animation looks, it’s back to what really matters which is the story. And in that regard, it’s a gem.
It’s a pretty basic plot, but the elegance of it revolves around how The Doctor is forced into a Chicken Little scenario, where he’s trying to convince everyone of how dangerous the Daleks are. Since everyone else is more concerned with their own petty power struggles, this brings about the disturbing Dalek statement “I am your servant”, something echoed in the more recent Victory of the Daleks, and is the first hint at how scheming these classic foes can really be. In this story, power is the recurring theme and occurs many forms, exploring the complex dynamic between servant and master.
The two-disc DVD set comes complete with commentaries and behind-the-scenes extras, but it’s really the story itself which stands out. Not only that, but given what’s been achieved in recreating this lost piece of history in the most intelligent way possible, this is a must for casual fans and collectors alike.