1/4 Tenth Planet = 2.5th Planet?

I recently re-watched the Patrick Troughton story, the Invasion, which included two animated reconstructions of missing episodes.

As many Doctor Who fans know, the BBC rather mercilessly erased many of the adventures of the first and second Doctor. Fortunately, all stories have surviving audio recordings. When they did the Invasion, a classic Cybermen story, it seemed that perhaps we would at long last be able to enjoy these lost stories in something at least approximating their intended form, but then nothing seemed to come of it.

This past week, the Reign of Terror was released again with two episodes restored. I’m waiting for my copy to arrived next week, but this first Doctor story is a straight historical (no monsters or aliens) and is… Umm. Lets say it’s not at the top of any fan’s list of episodes they want to recover.

The choice of the Invasion made sense. Not only is it one of the most iconic Cybermen stories ever made, it’s also the introduction of UNIT, a staple of the third Doctor’s tenure. The choice of Reign of Terror is mystifying.

We’ve been told the animation is very expensive. If so, surely they should concentrate on highly sought after stories, at least initially.

Here’s the story that, to me, seems like the biggest no-brainer of the bunch: The Tenth Planet. A four-part first Doctor story with only one part missing that not only introduces the Cybermen for the first time, it ends with the Doctor’s first regeneration! That’s a story at the top of fans’ lists!

About a week ago, information began leaking out that another missing classic, The Ice Warriors was going to be released to DVD using telesnaps recreations – that is productions stills displayed on the screen while the soundtrack plays on. This is massively disappointing. Why even bother? Worse, if they release animation of a unwanted and unloved episode, why screw over a classic like the Ice Warriors? It seems perhaps we’re not to expect more animated stories.

And then a wild thing happened, this weekend at the annual Gallifrey 1 convention in Los Angeles, it was announced that Tenth Planet is the next to be animated and restored!

Hurray! But what the hell are they thinking with the Ice Warriors? Lets hope they clear this up sooner rather than later. I’m quite prepared to purchase every animation-restored episode of Doctor Who!

Announcement of restoration of the Tenth Planet.

Edit: 2013-02-18 Here’s the official mention that Ice Warriors is a telesnap reconstruction. Hat tip to Simon for finding that.

13 thoughts on “1/4 Tenth Planet = 2.5th Planet?”

  1. Has it been confirmed that The Ice Warriors definitely will not include animation? The telesnaps have been officially announced but they are simply re-using what was on the VHS release, so might be a low-cost extra.

    Seems to me that there’s plenty of time before August for them to announce Ice Warriors animation, perhaps they saving it up for some Con. It would be such an obvious omission not to animate anyway, but with the monsters returning to the TV series this year it seems even more unlikely they won’t do it. However, I’ll admit that the DVD release choice have surprised me in the past, and may do again…

    1. That’s an interesting idea, which I hadn’t considered when I saw the announcement about the telesnaps. (Thanks, BTW for supplying the link, I’ve edited the original post to include it.)

      I thought I’d heard that the reason no other animations immediately forthcoming after The Invasion was because they found it too expensive versus the sales figures. If that’s so, by thought was telesnaps + animation = even more expense, but I suppose if they just chuck the old VHS version on there, it might not add much cost.

      Still, now that I see the announcement was on the office Doctor Who page, I do hope they weren’t expecting us to get all excited about the telesnaps version. The bar has been set at animation, anything less will seem like a half-hearted attempt.

      1. I agree telesnaps don’t seem exciting now. But, so far as I can see, no detailed info about extras is on that page and it was apparently already known that the telesnaps would be included. So the only new info is the release date, and full details of the release will presumably come out nearer the time. I’ll be sad if they don’t animate the missing episodes, but I have to admit that it’s Tenth Planet I really care about, so I’m still delighted about the main news this post is about!

          1. I’ve just found one more piece of information to add to this slightly off-topic foray into discussing The Ice Warriors: both Dan Hall (BBC Worldwide) and Austen Atkinson (Planet 55 Studios) will be at Whovention Gold this weekend according to Doctor Who News.

            Together, they will share exclusive behind-the-scenes material from the newly restored Reign of Terror DVD. And maybe a few other surprises…

            Could that mean Ice Warrior news within the week?

          2. Okay, so disappointingly the animation of The Ice Warriors was not announced at Whovention but an announcement was announced.

            Dan Hall also confirmed that an announcement on whether the missing episodes of the forthcoming The Ice Warriors DVD would be similarly animated will be announced in the near future

            Doctor Who News

            I am optimistic in considering alongside the statement that it is ‘not feasible’ to animate more than two episodes per serial on the current business model (and therefore two episodes, one presumes, might well be feasible).

          3. Presumably there’s a per-animated-episode cost above and beyond restoration of normal episodes, which factors into BBC Worldwide’s total price calculation of the disk – and two episodes or more must price them out of the range they think can generate viable sales.

            My hope would be that these comments are a bargaining technique designed to get the animation studio to drive down their price.

            Honestly, at this stage, if they want to animate all the stories with 1 or 2 episodes missing first, I’m on board with that. I don’t even know which episodes that would encompass but at least that would have some justifiable logic in how they picked the episodes to animate. Perhaps by the time they’re done, prices will have dropped so that 3 episode missing stories would be viable.

            Further, I wonder if there’s any appreciable savings in animating stories based on cast of characters or is the cost negligible? For example, once you’ve made 1st Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan animation models, would that factor in to how much could be done?

          4. I think you’re right about the business model. I’m sure lots of us are thinking Power of the Daleks but if they needed to charge £30 per disc for a completely animated 6 parter they just wouldn’t get the sales, and if they charged the usual £15 they wouldn’t cover costs…

            I doubt the animators need any encouraging to drive down costs (they are fans after all) but won’t advances in technology make it cheaper over time…? As for re-using models, I think I read somewhere after The Invasion was done they’d be looking at doing another 2nd Doctor story (if they did any more) for precisely for that reason. Since it’s a different animation house now, that wouldn’t have been a factor in choosing Reign of Terror to animate, but if their real goal had been Tenth Planet and they’d picked the serial on the basis of it needed to be another 1st Doc, well then it was either that 6 parter or the 4 parter The Crusade

            Even so, if re-use saves them enough to animate a few minutes more, it doesn’t necessarily give them enough for a whole third episode… so no Celestial Toymaker until animation becomes cheaper, or unless sales of part-animated serials perform much more strongly than anticipated…

          5. So, yes to Ice Warriors http://www.doctorwho.tv/whats-new/article/the-ice-warriors-animated-for-dvd-exclusive-first-look (h/t @Eugene Glover).

            Not surprised, but pleased, that it’s happening. I am surprised it’s a different animation studio, but given our comments about re-use, there is no overlap between Reign of Terror/Tenth Planet and The Ice Warriors in terms of actors. Again, that probably means they’re not thinking about Power of the Daleks since Planet 55 have Ben and Polly while Qurios have the 2nd Doc…

  2. Here’s another thought that crosses my mind.

    I postulated that the order of reconstruction/animation (re-animation?) was illogical. For a fan point of view, yes, I think it is; however, there are at least two (not one as I imply in my article) technical reasons why you might pick one story over another.

    The first is simply the amount of animation that needs be done. While we might suppose that’s just “how many minutes” need be animated, there might be other factors – such as how well documented the sets and visuals are for the missing episodes.

    Second is the soundtrack. My understanding is that every story has the soundtrack available, saved by fans who recorded the show when it originally aired. The quality and difficulty restoring the soundtrack might play a big factor in determining which story to re-animate.

    However, if the soundtrack of Ice Warriors is good enough for telesnap DVD release, it must be of reasonable quality.

    1. Here’s another factor. Animation technique/style is going to improve with practice (e.g. compare season 1 of The Simpsons to any of the others…). Cosgrove Hall, already well established, had done Doctor Who in the form of Shalka by the time they tackled The Invasion. But Planet 55 Studios is new(ish) and from an interview with Haigh-Ellery in the most recent Vortex magazine, they had to adapt their style considerably to suit the requirements of BBC Worldwide. If they were going to commit do two or more stories (and I hope it’s more) perhaps it makes sense to first animate a ‘lesser’ story, during which wrinkles can be ironed out and the style develop. The most watched stories in this animated legacy will then be the most polished…?

Leave a Reply