Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Galaxy Four 1: Four Hundred Dawns


Originally Broadcast 11th September 1965

Written by: William Emms

In a nutshell: Hoping to relax for once, the Doctor, Steven and Vicki arrive on what they think is a deserted planet, where they find two races at war.

NB. As this episode is missing from the BBC archives, this review is based upon the surviving audio book narrated by Peter Purves. Telesnaps do not exist for this serial.

Review: I really enjoy when episodes open up with our characters caught up in everyday life or having adventures we don’t know about where they bond more. This episode opens with Vicki cutting Steven’s hair, creating a closer friendship between them. A lot of the time this sort of action is lacking from our characters, but the actors give the impression they’re on the best of terms on and off screen.

When Steven says to the Doctor “Do you think it wants us to go somewhere” after the Chumbley nudges into him, it reminds me of the Tennant joke “that means move in any language” from Planet Of The Dead. There are a few funny moments in this episode and they all spark from the TARDIS crew. Hartnell’s Doctor with Steven and Vicki are, I think, one of the most underrated TARDIS teams in the shows history and Peter Purves’ Steven one of the most underappreciated and thankless people from the classic era of Who, most likely spawned by the fact most of his episodes are wiped from the archives.

The Drahvins meet the Chumbleys in this lost episode
Purves’ is also quite funny near the end of the episode when he starts having to “yes, Doctor” through the script, he acts like he’s fed up of saying it and is only doing it to humour the Doctor, fully aware of what he’s doing. It works well and provides something new and interesting to the undynamic script.

When looking at the very unconvincing Chumbleys, you really have to admire the believability the actors have to put into this show at times, they really do their best to create panic and danger, sometimes succeeding as well, but the ‘monsters’ in this serial just don’t live up to the expectations of children.

The plot here doesn’t go very far at all, really, in fact, it’s very basic. The smartest part of the plot is the cliffhanger, which I have to admit is one of my favourite ever. Hartnell’s delivery is dramatic and shocking and the impact of the destruction of the planet is out of the blue and bloody brilliant. It more than makes up for the fairly standard plot up to that point and instantly makes me want to tune into episode 2, which, sadly, has to wait until tomorrow…

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