ALTERED VISTAS 'THE
EPISODE ONE VCD
RELEASED IN 2009.
the Dalek Chronicles:
Altered Vistas are a fan production team, centred around Stuart Palmer, who
have been producing animated adaptations of classic Doctor Who-related comic strips for several years now. These productions, created using up-to-date rendering and animation software, are provided free of charge to anyone who requests them. These productions are made out of affection for the original strips, but the time and effort that must be put into them, and the quality of the finished product, is quite easily of a professional standard.
The main focus of the productions is the ongoing Dalek comic strip serial, originally printed in TV Century 21 in the 1960s, and later reprinted in Doctor Who Weekly in the early 80s. Collectively known to fans as ‘The Dalek Chronicles’, these strips, written by David Whitaker based on Terry Nation’s original concepts, charted the history of the Daleks, from their creation thousands of years ago, to the point where they were just gearing up to invade the Earth (as seen in the classic serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth). Genesis of Evil is the first instalment in this series, and it provides a rather different version of events than those described in The Daleks or seen in Genesis of the Daleks.
Genesis of Evil begins with a swift prologue describing the terrible world of Skaro, “deep in hyperspace,”, and its inhabitants, the Thals and the Daleks (not Kaleds! Not Dals!) Providing a sterling message of tolerance to impressionable minds of the 1960s, the Thals are described as beautiful and therefore peaceful, while the Daleks are ugly, and thus vicious and evil. To be fair, these humanoid Daleks aren’t really ugly at all; they’re just blue. But they certainly seem to be a nasty lot; with the exception of wise leader Drenz, they seem committed to the annihilation of the Thals.
The tale is told in a rather odd way. We never see the Thals, only hear the Daleks talk about wiping them out. War Minister Zolfian, a thoroughly nasty piece of work, sets about his final solution, stockpiling neutron weapon material, while his right hand man, Yarvelling, builds a force of war machines, with a rather familiar look about them. unfortunately for them, a meteorite strike causes the neutron store to explode, wiping out all Dalek civilisation on the continent of Darren (snigger). Only Yarvelling and Zolfian survive intact, hiding in a cupboard for two years.
Yet, we discover there are other survivors – mutated creatures, described as “all brain,” who are now using the war machines as life support carriers. The Daleks as we know them are born. Once they’ve made their presence known, they immediately decide they must conquer the universe, for some reason. What else would we expect?
It’s pulpy, it’s silly, the dialogue is terribly over the top and none of it makes too much sense
if you look closely at it. Which is just how we like it. A full adaptation only runs about twenty minutes, making this a fun, diverting piece of space melodrama. The best feature is the Emperor, a Dalek who takes control and gets himself decked out in a special gold casing with a massive head and six Dalek light bulbs, instead of the requisite two. He was clearly the inspiration for the similarly bulbous Davros Emperor Dalek seen in Remembrance of
the Daleks twenty-five years later.
Altered Vistas have done a marvellous job in recreating this story. This story formed the basis of their first release, but has now been recreated from scratch, with greatly improved animation and rendering. The original version was a fairly static affair, more like a partly animated comic strip, whereas the AV20 version is a fluid, striking animation. The performances are suitably over the top, and the Dalek machine voice are excellent. The new release also comes with several special features, including a brief but informative documen-tary on the original TV Century 21 comic, and a look at the era of the Dalek strips, high-lighting news coverage and chart music of the time, as well, more importantly, what episode of Doctor Who was currently on the telly. The release is rounded off with the truly dreadful 1964 Go-Gos single I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek, which tells the familiar tale of a friendly Dalek who come round for Christmas dinner. Fortunately, Altered Vistas have supplied an amusing piss-take video to accompany it.
Other releases in the series have included such features as filming at Doctor Who exhibitions, overviews of creatures such as the Mechanoids and Cybermen, reviews of classic Dalek comics, and, wonderfully, the heart-warmingly twee Give-A-Show slide projection stories. Of the productions I’ve seen so far, perhaps the best is AV19, Shadow of Humanity, in which a Dalek rediscovers the love of beauty, leading to wonderfully surreal images of flower-covered Daleks chanting “BEAUTY! BEAUTY!” and a truly trippy Dalek dream sequence. Beyond the main Dalek Chronicles line, other productions have included classic Doctor Who Weekly / Doctor Who Magazine strips such as the Cyberman story Black Legacy, the Abslom Daak stories and the cracking eighth Doctor strip Children of
the Revolution, as well as a few non-comic productions, such as an adaptation of the 1965 World Distributors novella Doctor Who and the Invasion from Space, which clocks in at around seventy minutes!
Anyone with a taste for nostalgia, or like me fancies a chance to see a part of Doctor Who history that was long gone before their own time, should really head over to the Altered Vistas website (link below) and have a gander at their various treats.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2009
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