Following in the footsteps of previous releases ‘The Power of the Daleks‘ and ‘The Macra Terror‘, comes ‘The Faceless Ones‘. Animation is now well established as an effective way of telling lost Doctor Who stories. So do Chameleon Tours fly high once again?
‘The Faceless Ones‘ is a great Doctor Who story with a particularly strong cast of characters. Again it probably suffers from being stretched to six episodes when it would’ve been better as four, but it still works well. Surprisingly the alien creatures are revealed fairly early on within the narrative. What actually generates the intrigue is the story. What is happening to the youngsters? Who are these alien creatures? Why are they making young adults disappear? As that particular onion peels away, it highlights the scope and imagination of 1960’s Doctor Who, something which is often overlooked. This comes across really well through animation, which provides a coherent telling of the tale.
Episodes are available to watch in a variety of formats. The existing episodes 1 and 3 can be watched with the remainder as black and white animations. Alternatively, those existing episodes can be watched with telesnaps and narration. Additional shots have also been created, closeup detail of the arm controls for example, to assist further in telling the story. All six episodes have been animated, even the existing originals, and can be watched in colour or black and white. The colour version makes for a particularly fun watch with some hidden Easter eggs for those paying attention. 1967 should’ve been bright and colourful and this version finally provides that.
The Faceless Ones
Particularly notable is the design of the Chameleons. Whilst there is pretty clear photographic reference, colour and high definition has allowed for some additional detailing. The final result, especially in colour, is very impressive. It is no wonder it features prominently on the DVD and Blu Ray covers. The ‘Face to face with the Faceless Ones’ also provides an interesting insight into the design.
As with the chameleon design there are some slight tweaks to the original production. These may be particular shots and subtle variations to the original design for instance. However after over 50 years since transmission it is hard to begrudge these edits. The reasoning behind such decisions is always the betterment of the story. Delivering impressive final results speak for itself.
Farewell to Ben and Polly
Companions Ben and Polly depart the series at the conclusion of the story. Unfortunately both characters have very little to do throughout ‘The Faceless Ones’, largely usurped by Pauline Collins’ effervescent Samantha Briggs. However they are given a proper sendoff, unlike Dodo Chaplet before them. Polly and Ben’s departure is very poignant and brilliantly captured with the animation. Both characters seem genuinely torn over whether to leave the TARDIS or not. Hopefully this particular goodbye scene will now join the ranks of other highly regarded moments featuring Sarah Jane Smith, Tegan Jovanka and Rose Tyler. That would only be possible through this animation.
A near 30 minute feature covers the production of the animated episodes. For those interested about this process ‘Face to Face with The Faceless Ones‘ is a must watch. If nothing else it proves that animators are great characters in their own right! Fans in search of more traditional ‘making of’ material concerning the original broadcast story commentaries and information booklet fill the void. That booklet could also have listed where to find everything across the 3 discs but that is a minor gripe. Surviving film clips, short though they may be, are also presented for purists to enjoy.
Also included are camera script PDFs and, in keeping with the Classic DVD range, a Coming Soon… trailer. Next up in the animation schedule is ‘Fury from the Deep‘. If the trailer is anything to go by then this will be another hugely successful release. Fortunately, there is plenty of watching of ‘The Faceless Ones‘ left to pass the time until then.