dalekboy (dalekboy) wrote,

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Doctor Who Original Series 18 - Galaxy Four

3.01 Galaxy Four Pt. 1 - Four Hundred Dawns Written by William Emms, Directed by Derek Martinus

Landing on a strangely silent planet, the Doctor and his companions meet the beautiful but warlike Drahvins.

A fairly lacklustre start to the story, and the third season. While not bad, the episode just isn't that interesting. I wondered if my thoughts on it would be improved by the viewing of the existing footage, but no. Apart from one interesting camera angle, that was dull, too.


"You want to be captured by those creeping, revolting, green monsters? You want their slimy claws to close about your necks? You fools! " - Stephanie Bidmead (Maaga)

3.02 Galaxy Four Pt. 2 - Trap of Steel Written by William Emms, Directed by Derek Martinus

The Doctor and Vicki investigate the Rill spaceship.

So dull! It seems to rely on the novelty of the chumbies to fill the story, with regular stops where nothing happens so the robots can wander around and beep at things.


"I noted, observed, collated, concluded, and then I threw the rock!" - Maureen O'Brien (Vicki)

3.03 Galaxy Four Pt. 3 - Airlock Written by William Emms, Directed by Derek Martinus

Steven attempts to escape, while the Doctor and Vicki make a deal with the Rills.

More happens this time, but still not very much. I have to say that I do like the Rills though. Fairly two dimensional, but still the most interesting thing in the episode.


"Not all the dominant species in the universe look like humans. Our appearance might shock you as it shocked the Drahvins." - Robert Cartland (Rill voice)

3.04 Galaxy Four Pt. 4 - The Exploding Planet Written by William Emms, Directed by Derek Martinus

Who will escape the planet before it explodes at dawn?

Definitely the most interesting episode of the bunch, but it's too little too late.


"Though we are beings of separate planets, you from the solar system and we from another space, our ways of thought, at times, do not seem all that different. It has been an honour to know you and serve you." - Robert Cartland (Rill voice)

Galaxy Four 4.25

The basic core of Galaxy Four is simple but solid - don't judge by appearances. This is further enhanced by the old standby for drama, a countdown to destruction. The problem with it is that it's not just slow, it's glacial. The last episode is by far the most interesting and exciting, it's where everything comes together and happens, and even that has a deliberate awkward conversational pause that goes for thirty seconds of screen time!

I think the problem is there's an over reliance on the robotic chumblies to fill gaps. Between them, the Drahvins, and the Rills, real character and interesting conflict has been dropped in favour of pretty things on screen. But this is mid-sixties Doctor Who, and it always works best with a solid story and interesting characters. In fact it's a rule that still holds true today of any tv or cinematic endeavour.

Now some may argue that the story has been hurt because it's being listened to on audio, but let's be realistic, no other missing or incomplete story to date has rated anywhere near this low. The nearest equivalent is The Space Museum and that suffers many of the same issues that hurt this story - poor pace and characterisation - but it exists!

The story is also hurt by the fact it was written with Ian, Barbara and Vicki in mind as companions. And in a weird piece of decision-making, it's almost as if they've given the merged Ian and Vicki parts to Vicki, and the Barbara part to Steven. This is another story where Vicki does mostly ok, but oh how Steven suffers! I don't mind Steven being beaten in hand to hand combat by Maaga, we have no way of knowing just how strong the Drahvin really are. But when a fully trained space pilot needs to have the workings of the airlock explained to him, that's getting ridiculous!

It's not all bad. I really like the Rills. I like their mindset and character and the way the story builds to them finally being seen. When they are it's fleeting, which plays to the strengths and weaknesses of the show. No monster is going to work if it's visible onscreen for too long, so build to it, show it briefly, and leave it at that.

Galaxy Four isn't really bad at heart, it's just way too long and slow in its realisation. I think it would have made a cracking two-parter though!

Basically, nice for the completist, but missable.

Tags: doctor who story reviews

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