'Doctor Who: The Animation Collection'
(David Tennant, Tom Baker, Patrick Troughton, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)
Overview: Spectacular color animation and technological wizardry bring you a TARDIS-load of thrills in five brilliant animated Doctor Who releases!
DVD Verdict: So, the story goes that decades after a strike stopped production of Shada with Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, new animation has come to the rescue of all devoted Whovians and filled the gaps and solved the mystery of the prison planet!
Indeed, by following the original soundtrack of lost episode The Power of the Daleks with Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, master animators have now also recreated the Doctor's first regeneration, just in time to fight his oldest enemies!
But wait, there's more, for Dreamland and The Infinite Quest with Tenth Doctor David Tennant are your tickets to wild adventures in the American West in search of a legendary lost spaceship!
And in the remastered webcast Scream of the Shalka, the Doctor (with the wondrous voice of Richard E. Grant) saves the Earth from alien-led ecological disaster!
Delving into a couple of these, the big one here for us Whovians is the brilliant Shada. In truth, when it came out remastered and overhauled in 2017 its update from the previously available version of this great lost masterpiece was instantly heralded as rather breathtaking.
Including new model work, subtly polished effects, and a few newly filmed live action scenes, all joined together by these aforementioned pleasing digitally animated comic style sections that filled in all the missing acted bits, it also served to open up the settings far more than I'm sure the BBC would have been capable of achieving originally.
In 1974, the original tapes for Power of the Daleks were wiped from the BBC Archive. After 50 years, the BBC has animated this lost serial for a new age in 2016.
In the original, the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) has just regenerated or has been "renewed". His companions, Ben (Micheal Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills), are unsure of this new man. Is he the old man they departed London with?
But the TARDIS lands on the planet Vulcan, and soon the Doctor and his companions are mixed up in the death of an Earth examiner, a colony from Earth and a rebellion against the colony's current government.
But, a scientist named Lesterson (Robert James) had foolishly tampered with powers he can't control. Now, the Daleks are planning on destroying the colony, and only the Doctor can stop them!
For me, realizing that all six episodes of this serial were erased from the BBC archive in the late 1960s and the 16mm prints made for foreign markets were destroyed in 1974 and yet fans at the time recorded the soundtrack directly from the television which meant they could then pair those with newly created animation in an attempt to reconstruct the missing episodes from this serial just makes me smile (phew!).
In truth, the animation is very limited and reminiscent of the "motion comics" that were not very successful about 10 years ago.
The BBC also chose to do it in black and white instead of color. I mean, given that the original was also in black and white it makes sense and adds a little homage to it, I guess.
The last one I'll dig into is the brilliant Infinite Quest from 2007. Here the Doctor and Martha Jones trek through space and time in a race against the galaxy's greatest despot, Baltazar, to follow a complex trail of clues to discover the location of the legendary lost spaceship, the Infinite; which, according to myth, can grant anybody their hearts desire.
The plot is reasonably good and allows for the location hopping and for, in theory, the creation of another nemesis for the Doctor (assuming the animation went on from this one-off).
The voice work is not that great though, but the presence of Tennant and Agyeman is a bonus, of course - but they don't manage to produce anything as good as they do in the series itself, sorry.
To my mind, Tennant is a wee bit too wacky here though. I mean, Head has a good voice for his character, but people like Liza Tarbuck, Calyton, Meo and Morgan stand out too much without giving good performances at the same time; if that makes sense.
So, what's the overall verdict? Well, from a Whovians point of view I have to say the animation is good, but not top notch. I mean, we're not talking Avatar, but then again we're not talking original Space Ghost either!
Breaking it down, at times it's more animatics than animation, and at others it veers more toward the early flat and 2D look, to be quite frank.
For the most part it's exactly what the box art showcases it to be, so you can't be too pissed at it once you have unwrapped it and put the DVD into your players, no can you.
Some on screen patterns, much like the Doctor's trousers never move no matter how much urgency he puts into escaping an ongoing Evil, his and other bystanders' limbs stiff and when they do move, they don't move naturally.
But, and again, it has to be paid mention to that all this can be garnered from the front and back cover art so please don't come banging on my door when the animation isn't "blowing your minds"!
In closing, visually they all offer locations beyond the budget of the normal series, include actors and plot points that would have been hard to pull off on screen in "real time," but the animation is, as aforementioned, low grade, flat, old school even ... and yet remarkably brilliant at the very same time! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and has a run time of 7.5 hours.