The Doctor Who Companion

Get your daily fix of news, reviews, and features with the Doctor Who Companion!

Dear BBC, Take My Money: Mulling over Doctor Who Animations on Blu-ray

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here by saying the BBC is now focused on animating all the missing episodes. If it is a limb, it feels very sturdy. The purse strings that used to be tied up in Gordian knots seem to have been sliced open and it’s raining animation money out there. 

How do we know they’re starting to spend money hand over fist? In the past, once in a blue egg, they’d animate and finish off two parts of a story like The Ice Warriors or The Moonbase.

Now, they’re not only animating whole missing stories like Fury from the Deep and The Macra Terror but just for the sake of visual consistency, they’ve animating the entirety of The Faceless Ones, including the parts that already exist. That is a significant step that says there’s a growing appreciation of getting a better quality product out there.

To go one step further, they even spent more time and money on “improving” the animation in The Power of the Daleks — a story that was released in 2016. While it’s great that they upgraded the animation, is it worth re-releasing the thing now? I guess, if people buy it. How extreme is the improved artwork? I don’t know, I don’t plan on buying it. Maybe it would have been a better idea to wait and release the updated version when they collect all of Season 4 on Blu-ray? Perhaps, but maybe it’s just an indicator that that Blu-ray season collection is many years away yet. Maybe the time/money spent on improving The Power of the Daleks might have been better off spent on animating the remaining two episodes of The Crusades? I don’t know. But I guess the money there.

Currently, the Season 4 to-do list includes animating all four parts of The Highlanders, probably all of The Underwater Menace (including the two existing episodes) and The Evil of the Daleks (including the one existing part). 

Looking at the challenges for each — for The Highlanders and The Underwater Menace, they’ve already got stock animated heads of the Doctor, Jamie, Ben, and Polly. They usually grab photos of existing static backgrounds from scenes and run them through filters which saves time. So in both those cases, they mostly just have to focus on the extra characters and costumes for each, which would be the biggest time commitment. With Evil, they’ve got loads of Daleks from Power, plus Jamie and the Doctor, so again, backgrounds and extra characters.

Season 5 seems to be just as far away, if not a bit farther. They have yet to touch the 6-part Abominable Snowman, or the 6-part Wheel in Space. The Web of Fear is a sticky situation (sorry) when it comes to visual consistency. One episode is missing, existing only in telesnaps. Do you go to the trouble of animating the whole thing? Or raid the house of the private collector and start shaking him, forcing him to let go of episode 3 already? That’s a tricky one. Probably best just to animate that one alone. I’ve been carping on about it for a while but I think it finally dawned on them that spending the money on animating all the episodes will more than pay off when they release the entire seasons on Blu-ray. 

You cannot have even one episode represented in telesnaps on a Blu-ray disc.

They’re only missing most of The Space Pirates for Season 6. I can’t tell if we’re dealing with a win-win or lose-lose there.

With William Hartnell’s tenure, it’s all a bit more clear cut. Season 1: Marco Polo. Season 2: finish off The Crusades. Season 3… well, they’ve got their work cut out for them. The Myth Makers, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Savages, add The Smugglers to the list since I’m sure they’ll tack that and The Tenth Planet on to Hartnell’s final full season. I’m also pretty sure that will end up being the last season collection that comes out.

My main point here is that the BBC is finally spending significant cash to complete all of Doctor Who and to get stuff ready for future Blu-ray collections. 

Beyond the black and white era, there is one thing they have to do. 

A personal plea.

Hey, Beeb… I usually don’t re-buy the individual releases once they’re already out, but if you go in to Invasion of the Dinosaurs and replace the bad rubber puppets with convincing CGI dinosaurs, I’ll buy it again. 

And if you then go back in and upgrade them again to Jurassic Park quality and release it again? I’ll buy it. Again.

And then I’ll buy it again when the whole season’s out on Blu-ray. Because the story is that good.

But if you don’t fix the dinosaurs, I might not even get Season 11 on Blu-ray, because the entire season hinges on that. There, I’ve said it.

I’m sorry, but I’ll forgive just about any bad effect in Doctor Who. The Skarasen, the giant rat, the Foamasi; even the Myrka because it wasn’t even a great episude, and the karate move is priceless. 

But when it comes to those inexcusable dinosaur hand puppets, to quote Picard: “The line must be drawn here!”

Rick Lundeen

Dear BBC, Take My Money: Mulling over Doctor Who Animations on Blu-ray

by Rick Lundeen time to read: 3 min
%d bloggers like this: