‘The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy’ is finally here! This is the second episode in the Daleks! spin-off series, in which the metal mutants from Skaro flee from an amorphous blob. (Read our review of episode one here.)
In this episode, the Daleks are on the run from a mysterious green cloud that’s baying for their blood. After a fleeting trip to Skaro, the Daleks realise they need reinforcements – and fast. Fortunately, the Emperor remembers about his secret Dalek army, buried in a mountain and guarded by the Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy himself. He’s like Wall-E, but with attitude.
Inevitably, things begin to unravel once the eponymous Sentinel gets involved – and by that I mean explosions aplenty, and copious amounts of Dalek firepower. I found this to be a clever little story, with lots of scheming and out-manoeuvring despite its limited length. The Dalek Strategist, for example, is very well written, and does a good job at carrying the story (who’d have thought a Dalek could carry a story?) And as I mentioned in my review of the previous episode ‘The Archive of Islos,’ this Dalek is layered, and difficult to predict. He’s fun to watch, and brilliantly performed by Nicholas Briggs.
The manipulative nature of the Strategist harks back to the other Time Lord Victorious tale ‘The Enemy of my Enemy,’ in which he is shown to be equally duplicitous and untrustworthy. I also wonder if the mysterious green blob (not its official name) is also connected to this Eighth Doctor adventure? The rumours begin here.
But what of the animation in this episode? I had some reservations in ‘The Archive of Islos,’ and I still have them here. ‘The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy’ veers between visually stunning to Poundland cheap – but I will give the animators the benefit of the doubt and assume that the clunkier moments are due to time and budgetary constraints. The camera work is slightly better this week, though; there are a couple of hand-held shots which look really nice.
However, what’s really jarring is some of the low resolution texturing. There’s one scene that looks particularly PS2, when the Dalek Strategist and the Sentinel are trundling into a cave. The walls are very copy-and-paste, festooned with low resolution images of rocks. I’m guessing the animators ran out of time when it came to this scene – unless they were somehow aiming for a ‘vintage console’ look.
In fairness, they did have to create huge swathes of Dalek armies in ‘The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy,’ and for the most part, these battle scenes look great. And the moment where the Dalek Strategist awakens the buried army is particularly atmospheric, and eerily reminiscent of the Nazi’s Nuremberg rallies. I wonder if this was intentional?
Overall, ‘The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy’ is a great second chapter in the unfolding Daleks! series, and a welcome new addition to Time Lord Victorious. And whilst I do wish that I could – for once – watch a Doctor Who animation without having to apologise for the cost-cutting, I am still delighted that I get to watch the Daleks in their very own spin-off series. And for free!
But what did you think of ‘The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy’? Let me know in the comments.
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