Welcome to Altered Vistas
   Power Play (AV04)
Power Play AV04

Power Play sees alien slave traders arrive on Skaro, but the Daleks have their sites set on the traders' spaceship. With rebellion brewing amongst the slaves and the Emperor plotting behind the scenes, can anything stop the Daleks from mastering the secrets of space flight and conquering the galaxy?

Power Play was the fourth Altered Vistas Production, had more animation per minute than any of the previous projects and took far longer to complete. It was released in 2005.

DVD and CD-style covers and disc labels for the production can be found here.

   Power Play: Gallery
Dalek City
Emperor and Dalek watch telly
The Emperor in Concert
Krattorian Ship
The Emperor's first encoreDalek Tunnels
Dalek StationSala and Astolith
Daleks emerge from the sand
Dalek City Entrance
Uncle AndorSala
Dalek en masseDaleks observed
Dame EdnaThe Traitors!
Sweaty AstolithTreacherous Andor
   Power Play: Reviews

Daniel Pegg writes:

After the other releases, I was expecting something pretty good, but I still wasnt prepared for just how much of this new story was animated: even the people, and that's a big advance on the first story. I suppose I should have expected it though as there are such big advances between each story in terms of production and stuff like that so I shouldn't have been surprised really.

There's another lovely score for this. I've only spotted one little Doctor Who reference/in joke so far, but I'll keep looking out though as I am sure there will be many more hidden away in the shots.

The acting was all really good, especially the baddies (Andor and Kest) and the Daleks come over really well in this even though they're not on screen as much as in the other stories. My favourite bit is the massacre outside the spaceship and the fight with Kest on the mountain. That was so exciting.

I can't wait for the next story. Please don’t take a rest!!!!

Roger Smith (AKA Black Dalek) writes:

Well, what can you say? It's fantastic, goes along at a nice easy pace, the humanoids are a little slow with their mouth movement but nothing I cannot put up with. If anything I think it helps to keep the 60's feel to the stories and I love the jock at the end. If you need a Brummie I am your man!

As for the extras, first class I have seen cutaways before, but not going into the details you have put in.

Looking forward to the next instalment. I have the first 4 and would love more.

Have a good Christmas and I am looking forward to the new year, and it's not just the new series, it's also your work.

It has surprised me how many at my works have asked to see them once I told a few how good they are.

Andy McDonald writes:

I received my copy of Power Play today. It's every bit as good as the preceding discs and the Dalek 'extra' is terrific.

In addition, to the excellent visuals, I must say how good your work sounds. It is a very impressive package. I really do look forward to further projects. Thank you very much for all your efforts.

Bryan McCormack writes:

Power Play is the latest in Stuart Palmer’s ongoing Dalek Chronicles series of CG adaptations of the David Whitaker Dalek comic strips of the 1960s. Although the 2nd story of the strip, it is the 4th Altered Vistas production. Whilst not the best in the series so far (that honour still resides with Duel of the Daleks) it showcases the latest technical development that advances the animation to a new level.

In the first story, Genesis of Evil we had humanoid characters in addition to the Daleks themselves. But those characters were totally inanimate, in the "Loose Cannon" style. Here they move in most of the scenes they’re in and the production is much more watchable as a result. Pixaritis raises all our expectations, even of those with much smaller resources to call upon to support their creativity. Stuart now only needs to add lip-synch to make his animated humanoids as interesting to watch as his  Daleks.

The characters are well modelled and move fairly convincingly, apart from one bloke whom Kest must have captured during a raid on the Ministry of Silly Walks. Watch out for him during the Daleks’ attack on the slave ship, a very funny gag. The next story to feature humans, the upcoming The Pentaray Factor will I`m sure have even better characters than these.

Visually, the production is a treat. Lots of menacing shadows, a few nice transitions (including a Dalek shaped one I wish had been used more), a token Die-Hard style American hero and a purple Krattorian villain who must get his glasses from the same shop as Dame Edna Everage.

On the voice front, there are good performances all round. Each of the actors acquits themselves well. Apart from the rubbish Star Trek Scottish accent someone adopts for one of the slaves. (Note to Stuart: real thing in future please). Andor especially has a voice that is everything you expect in a villain. There is only one character whose voice doesn’t work and that’s Sala.

Whilst the performance is perfectly good, the voice files supplied to Stuart for the character are not. Their quality is so inferior to the other characters’ that it jars badly at every listen. The difference is so pronounced that I rationalised it by telling myself that Sala was related to Cally from "Blake’s 7" and she was communicating telepathically. Despite Stuart’s best efforts, it really doesn’t come off and pulls you out of the story.

Unlike Sala, the Dalek voices are great to listen to and once again up to The Cushing Movie Standard, even if some of the early dialogue is delivered a little too slowly. I would really like to see an extra with Stuart demonstrating to us lesser mortals how he manages this technical marvel. The Restoration Team missed a trick in not giving us a similar feature on any of their Dalek release DVDs. Come on Stuart, stop hiding, get in front of the camera and show us your Ring Modulator!

Talking of the RT, this disc’s extra - Dalek Cutaway - should be on the BBC’s next Dr Who release of a Dalek story. It would not look out of place. Stuart should send the RT a copy immediately. I SAID IMMEDIATELY! OR YOU WILL BE ETC ETC ETC

Dave Aldridge writes:

Thanks for sending me Power Play. As always I am incredibly impressed! In a way I envy newcomers to your work, as now they can watch the Dalek Chronicles in order, whereas I was too impatient! I can only imagine that you released it this way to concentrate on humanoid animation, which I would guess is a lot trickier, but if that is the case then the delay was worth it! The characters really come to life. Congratulations again, and I look forward to more!

David John Barker writes:

The Narrator was a much better idea for the introduction and closing, the voice is spot on and the final comments both thought provoking and chilling.

The sound effects really make this episode, they capture the feel of the Dalek episodes of Doctor Who. The animation is not only present throughout most of the story, but is also of a better quality than the previous adventure.

I remember seeing a Dalek technical manual and your adaptation in the bonus feature is a very stylish  reworking.

RetroRobot writes:

Prog.1: Power Play (32:36)

2: Dalek Cutaway <bonus> Dalek Tech.Specs! (8:01)

Prog.2 review: "Dalek Undone By Wonderful Pun" (apologies to Mission To The Unknown)

A nicely-rendered depiction of the comicbooks' era of Dalek design-concept.

What's particularly interesting about this is the confirmation that from the very beginning the Daleks definitely were able to levitate for short hops (e.g. Upstairs!) which explains their flat base-profiles, whilst also rolling about on an omnidirectional driveball (which makes the little "Rolykins" Dalex strangely more accurate designs! – albeit lacking the 'levitational stabilization' effect of the Lifting Platform-Base itself).

The backing soundtrack to this is a nicely creepy piece of vocal soundsculpture combined with a suitably sci-fi 'technifex' mix.

Many of us, of course, have our own ideas about the internal layout and functioning of Dalek-machines (I know I do) so whilst i disagree with a lot of these (old fashioned) original ideas it is nonetheless very entertaining to see how some of these original notions work. For example, the idea that those ear-like 'headlamps' actually were 'ears'! (In one early Dalek Annual they are described as heat-exchangers: "…excess energy is released through these 'light bulb' safety valves…" [good grief!].)

Equally weird is the need for "Grav(ity*)Deflectors" to protect the Dalek Mutant from Skaro's "gravity conditions"!? (Mind you, Levity being the opposite of Gravity – whilst Daleks could scarcely be accused of Humour [other than 'bad'] – they probably would need a device like this to prevent them collapsing under the weight of their own Seriousness.)

[* I rather like the idea of "Grav(y)Deflectors" myself – something so delicious to humans is bound to be deadly for Daleks!]

The infamous(ly mysterious) 'Dalek Bumps' are revealed to be "Hostility Sensors" – it is not mentioned whether special internal shielding was necessary to prevent these being overloaded by the Dalek-machine's own occupant, however.

And just to inject some fun into these dreary technical considerations i wish to enquire of Stuart's backing band, the 'Skiffle Music Combo': "EMPIRE 6E9", just what the 'E' stands for – or have I got that the wrong way 'round? [You have - it's Empire 639! - Stuart]

Prog.1 review : "Executive Skit"

This episode, having taken so much more work to complete and/or being such a complicated production that it was left to later and became #4 in the production-sequence, jumps way ahead of Episode One (&3) in design and animation quality. This works well as an inadvertent Self Promotional effect as the sudden evolution/improvement gives a most encouraging 'feel' to the new viewer in contrast to the limitations of Stuart's (worthy)1st effort – and a subliminal sense of Significant New Developments appropriate to the series itself.

There are lots of extra (little) touches to this one: e.g. views of distant parading/manoeuvring Daleks; the workings of Dalek-indicators & screens; even the depiction of an absolutely traditionally appropriate and comixly-correct oversized bar-magnet for the heart of the Dalek-Magnetizer (which was not shown in the originals). The prologue's vision of the 3D-version of the original Dalek-City view provides us with a sneaky 1st glimpse of what I take to be the Black Dalek alongside the Golden Emperor as he surveys his new domain.

(WARNING! 'The Spoiler') "Great Dalek Logos, CyberBat!". Also a moment of lovely Dalek-byplay (Significant Looks Dalek-style) over certain "loaded terms' to watch out for!

Just what does "INSLI" mean anyway – anybody know? Or is it open to interpretation? [See the Chronicles Encyclopedia for the definitive answer!]

Time for some criticizm: there are occasional disappointing failures-of-the-imagination (seemingly… one must always allow for difficulty-of-execution Production-Time Constraints) such as not depicting a magnetic field-pattern for the sand to be drawn around which might then slump or vibrate to settle the sand into an innocuous heap – OR – leaving magnetic ripples that would look like windblown rills…

A missed opportunity to show a Dalek "Control Arm" holding something light, like paper (or plastic/metallic sheet) while the Emperor is studying the captured spaceship's schematics (from the 'Dalanalysis Machine' [my 'contribution']). However this scene has rather weirdly been rendered as looking like (him) standing in front of some sort of foodwafer production line with the Emperor shown ready to start munching on one, but is either too busy talking or is waiting for his Dalek-Icecream* (Thal flavour) to arrive! In the original strip he's clearly holding a page of diagrams (which would have been a nice design opportunity and fun to see). [* marketing opportunity there!]

And now, inevitably, we come to that infamous flaw in the sound-quality of the character Sala's voice. Perhaps she doesn't 'spikka-da-lingwich' and uses that golden ring around her head as a translator device, thus the strange sound of her voice!?* (This is, of course, a silly suggestion as she's surrounded by relatives in the story!) [* PERSONAL ASIDE: I love making enjoyable excuses for flaws in productions – these actually add to my enjoyment by providing openings for a bit of co-creative input of my own into them. I have a rule for movies though: if I can't rapidly-rationalize a logic/info-gap without being 'thrown out of the story' or losing track of the plot/narrative or missing following dialogue then it's a definite flaw/failure that has inexcusably disrupted the experience.]

Apart from her 'vocal-impediment' though, this Sala'nimation is one Hot Babe! Most fitting for the Boy's-Joys of the contemperotic – sorry – contemptorary comix-age (I myself being of an highly con-temptable "comic age"). Perhaps "Sala" is short for 'salacious'?! My thoughts certainly often were – a definite sensation of Dalek Lust re CyborGirl fantasy! (And the way the Emperor says "…WOMAN…" – oooh! Phwoah!!)

N.B: VoiceActor Millie Brookes (Sala) would also make a good Sophie Aldred (Ace) replicant.

This is also the first episode to show any degree of divergence from the faithful reproduction of original dialogue where a seemingly needless editing occurs in the final scenes (which nitpick only goes to show how consistently it was preserved throughout Episode One that such should stand out now!).

However, this ep. is particularly impressive for the quality of the extra narrative and dialogue that has been created to flesh it out. This skill was intimated by that of Ep.1 (AV01), but here it's in full swing. Whole additional backstory & subplot elements are seamlessly added here to Episode 2 (AV04) and it's a real surprize to discover what isn't in the original stories as it all seems so organically integral to the prime material!

Overall this is a great episode with high production values, groovy special effects, some cool wipes – and I even spotted some of those "in-jokes" this time (ref. other reviewers).

Steve Swales writes:

This begins with the Daleks' magnetic sand shield and continues with the arrival of the slave traders. Again, high proportions of difficult to animate humanoids appear but by this time (the 4th to be made) Stuart has added much more motion and Sala actually looks fairly fanciable (...errr, for a cartoon!). Kest however looks like he's wearing a bright yellow pair of Dame Edna's finest "face furniture" and is hard to take seriously.

There are some accomplished slo-mo extermination sequences as the Daleks double-cross everyone. In the end they succeed in learning the secrets of space flight but don't get it handed to them on a saucer (ouch).

The extra Dalek Cutaway brings to life the documented schematics from the books and annuals effectively and with a nice industrial soundtrack.

Nick Mellish writes:

Following Stuart Palmer's superb adaptation of Genesis Of Evil for his series The Dalek Chronicles (based on the comic strip of the same name), the story continues with Power Play. It is a pivotal story in the saga, providing the Daleks with the means to go on to bigger and better things, but is also a very nice story in its own right.

I had originally planned to spread out watching the instalments of The Dalek Chronicles over a lengthy space of time, but having been very impressed with Genesis Of Evil, I scrapped any notion of waiting and quickly settled down to continue watching.

Despite being the second comic strip, this is the fourth animation from Altered Vistas, but I decided to watch in chronological order story-wise rather than order of release.

As with Genesis Of Evil, the adaptation from strip to screen is flawless and remarkably faithful to the original TV Century 21 source material and it is hard to distinguish between Stuart Palmer's embellishments and David Whitaker's original words, which is a touching fact that reminds you of just how much thought has gone into the making of The Dalek Chronicles.

Overall, Power Play triumphs over Genesis Of Evil for many reasons. Firstly, the advances made by Stuart Palmer are clear for all to see- the animation is a lot more, well, animated. There are sudden bursts of static moments, but on the whole this is a fully moving, active animation and this small difference alone makes the quality of the production even better than its already high standard. Only one effect doesn't quite work and that is when characters run. Compared to the other animations in the Episode, this one stands out a bit as being less successful, with Uncle Andor's run down the Dalek city being particularly odd to watch; not that this detracts from the Episode; if anything, it makes it more memorable. Secondly, and rather unfairly I suppose, the story is simply much better. More occurs here, and the supporting characters are genuinely interesting, even if they are arguably a tad on the two-dimensional side. Thirdly, the Directing here is just as good as before, but by working with better material it is made all the more noticeable. In particular, there is some nice lighting to contrast the expansive wastelands of Skaro with the dimly lit corridors of the metallic Dalek city.

The voice artists once more show themselves to be brilliant, with special mention having to go towards Millie Brooks who plays Sala. One of the reasons why I was so impressed by her is that the quality of her dialogue is notably different to the other characters, but rather than be an irritant it becomes noticeable only when consciously looking out for it since her performance is good enough for you to ignore such trivial matters and instead concentrate on her work.

Empire 639's musical score is again perfectly matched to everything it surrounds, with a nice dramatic sting when the Emperor Dalek is revealed to Sala being particularly memorable. In fact, the whole sequence when she walks past rows of Daleks parading is very well done and the sound effects and music here work better than ever.

The Dalek voices seem to have been treated differently, or so it would appear to my ears at least, and I found it a nice and welcome improvement. The Emperor Dalek sounded very commanding indeed and left you in little doubt as to who was in charge of proceedings.

As with Genesis Of Evil, there is an extra on the VCD that does exactly what it says it does (it's called Dalek Cutaway). Whilst definitely more for the Dalek fan than the extra that is found on the Genesis Of Evil VCD, it is still very nice to have and nicely presented. It is certainly where I shall be looking next time I wish to see a Dalek anatomy as it will save me trawling through my various Doctor Who reference books!

In all, Power Play builds on the quality established by Genesis Of Evil and manages to top it in many different ways. I will be interested to compare Power Play with the next instalment - Duel Of The Daleks - since that episode was made before this one, and so a proper relative comparison in terms of improvements will be able to be made.

Regardless of what I then discover though, Power Play is something that I would recommend to anybody and it certainly whet my appetite for the next instalments.

Scott (AKA undercoverfanboy) writes:

Having now gotten used to this format ... this just runs so smoothly. The Dalek city is really well done… not being too crash hot on that sort of thing, I don’t think I even want to imagine the sort of work required for this.

Actually I did really like the way they are here presented initially – almost inverse to everything else we get on the Daleks. I mean a Dalek city hiding from a possible aggressor? But still having seen this space slaver with his awesome Dame Edna glasses – I can understand why!

Daleks plotting to attain space travel. Now that is awesome! After so long it is almost odd to be seeing back to a time where the ruthless Daleks are giving their “all” so to speak to gain something that, after years, we consider something as second nature – I mean you kind of need that in order to be a galactic scourge.

Oooh, the obligatory bald-headed evil man plotting with Dame Slave Trader and the Daleks looking to outwit everyone. And facing off against this wall of malice is our busty hero and his fabulously figure-hugged sidekick with a head band. Very Olivia Newton John - yummy!

All good stuff … what is really getting me here is those backgrounds. Buildings, scenery, inside and out. Awesome stuff. I especially like the idea that probably much of the Dalek city has no real need of being brightly lit. Again, after years of brightly lit corridors on Doctor Who this really lends a certain grittiness to the  production.

Special Extras

Ooooh! Special compu animation of the famous Dalek Special’s cutaway! And all in the neon green – oh I am suckered here. Ever since my being hooked on the blue scheme in the game Syndicate Wars years ago (oh how I miss it!) I have been a fool for dark rooms lit with cobalt and/or neon green. The older computer fonts also are grabbin’ me by the proverbial short and curlies.

This background soundtrack is also just perfect. The sort of conspiracy vibe with just a hint of implied tune just for added tension.