After my short break from updating the blog, the only thing that has changed is that the political geography of the United Kingdom has changed somewhat (for readers outside the UK, that means there is a Conservative majority nationally, but a majority for the Scottish Nationalists in Scotland – interesting times ahead …). In matters pertaining to missing episodes the crusade goes on (but sadly not the Season 2 adventure) and the fans remain clueless as to what is going on.
I have not completely lost hope that more missingepisodes remain to be discovered, but while we are waiting it is entirely legitimate to suggest to Auntie Beeb that they explore animating those episodes we’re currently not able to enjoy in their original glories. So over the next week I am going to make the case for three possible ways forward to take a big step and begin animating the back catalogue of missing material. And this week, I propose that the BBC should make Season 4 opener The Smugglers the first episode to animate from scratch.
The first reason I have chosen this episode is simple – to date the restoration team have (with good reason) concentrated on stories that were mostly complete, and only required at most two episodes to be animated. This would be a brave step to assert that a Doctor Who story lost in its entirety could be re-created from scratch, and still prove popular with the fanbase. This means choosing a story that has no extant material whatsoever.
But when then The Smugglers? Nine other stories satisfy the criteria of being wholly missing – of which Mission to the Unknown can be immediately discounted – not only does it not feature the main cast, it does not make sense to release the adventure unless it forms part of a Dalek Master Plan boxset. The Smugglers however possesses two distinct advantages.
Firstly, it is only four parts. While Marco Polo, Power of the Daleks and Fury from the Deep are presumably more sought after by fans, they run to at least six episodes. For a brave first venture, animating a four part adventure is a much more feasible undertaking than a full six or seven parts.
Secondly, many of the characters can be re-used – most of Ben and Polly’s adventures are completely missing, as is a significant proportion of Season 3 featuring William Hartnell. This makes The Smugglers the ideal crossover point to demonstrate how these characters could be re-used for further animations in their respective seasons. While it could be argued that The Macra Terror and The Highlanders also fulfill this requirement, no other story spans both eras in the same way that The Smugglers does.
Suffice to say, this type of animation would be similar to styles we have seen used so far in The Invasion, The Moonbase, The Ice Warriors and The Reign of Terror – and that we would hope to see in The Underwater Menace and The Crusades! The aim would be to pile costs in up front on character templates that could be easily redeployed to other adventures – making the project a launchpad for animating the other 93 missing episodes (note – technically 81 allowing for the other animations …)
Of course, The Smugglers is also one of those adventures it is rumoured has been found – so an added bonus to agitating for it to be animated is that it might force those in the know to reveal their hand – which I concede is somewhat wishful thinking on my part!