Monday, 17 July 2017

TV21 25-32: The Penta Ray Factor

The Comic
Well, my first thought on seeing this is to wonder what the animation is going to do with all these humanoids. Still, I have the comic to review first. There will be SPOILERS!

When I was young there was a magazine called Look and Learn, a fairly earnest affair I used to pick up occasionally on holiday or in charity shops. It featured an ongoing strip called The Trigan Empire - a massively long-lasting strip which ran from the 60s to the 80s. It was kind of an SF version of Imperial Rome, and the artwork here reminds me of that; I do wonder if there was something in the air at the time. The Roman influence continues with the Cassandra-like seer and his magic future-scrying bowl, which made me think of the eleventh Doctor in The Wedding of River Song.

Now, the Hartnell era is a particularly magical one, with a feeling that anything could happen; but I haven't got the same vibe from the Dalek comics. As a result, this blatant fantasy element (there is no attempt at a pseudoscientific explanation) felt very out of place. I also figured out what the seer's arc was going to be quite early on.

Unlike other aspects of the story. There are some more obvious elements, like the traitor who decides to sell out his people to the Daleks; but this particular plotline goes in a completely unexpected direction. I don't think I've ever seen one of these cowardly traitor characters actually betray the Daleks and win! And then, when the Emperor gets called back to Skaro, the whole story is interrupted by another! Predictable this ain't.

Probably my one complaint about the story is that there isn't a lot to it, and it is in some ways just a rearranging of familiar elements. Still, my surprise at what it does with those elements is a distinct positive.

Comic: 7/10.

The Animation
I used to work in motion capture, programming equipment used by hospitals and the entertainment industry, and as a result I am particularly picky about the animation of human movement - which is one reason I am so pleased when we come to stories without humanoids! And, indeed, the movement here is... well... bizarre. There is more of it, and I'm grateful for that; but the scenes with Daleks, vehicles, and architecture work so much better. As usual, many of the panels from the comic are faithfully recreated, and there is even animated water, which surprised me. The comic has suitably unearthly technological design, which gives the animators quite a bit to play with.

The plot has been expanded, and the additions are generally good, giving people a little more character and filling in some of the more egregious gaps (though I still don't understand how the Daleks could manage to smuggle in a giant fake weapon and bring the real one out without anyone noticing). I wasn't so happy about the introduction of a love plot between Mirva and Jareth, though - just because he finally did something selfless doesn't mean he's suddenly likable.
Oh, and one other addition was just boggling. The statues in the throne room all seemed somewhat more, ah, well-endowed than I would expect to see...

Overall, then, still fun but not so good as last time (though for understandable reasons).

Animation: 3/10.

VCD Extras
Apart from an advert for the previously-released animations, this disk also includes "I Am the Doctor", a 1972 song by Jon Pertwee. Well, I say song, but he's actually just speaking the lyrics over a version of the theme tune. Although I knew of it I don't actually remember hearing it before, so that was fun; and the run-through of Pertwee's episodes in a diamond window reminiscent of a TV title sequence gave me something to look at. Nothing special, but it made me smile.

Dates: 10th July to 28th August 1965

Next Time:
Timeslip: The Fire in the Sky.

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