Friday, 31 May 2013

Galaxy Four 3: Air Lock

Originally broadcast 25th September 1965

 Written by: William Emms

In a nutshell: The Doctor and Vicki learn more about the Chumbleys and their mysterious masters, the Rills, as Steven tries to escape the evil Drahvins.

Review: There’s something extra special about this episode, in the same manner as The Underwater Menace 2. As soon as the opening titles begin I’m instantly more pulled in and excited because the episode is there. It exists, it’s real. It already has a bonus on the last 25-minute instalment of poor writing. In fact, this episode is actually pretty good, although, as I say, it could be the biased “it’s new” feeling in me.

The first thing that surprised me was just how sprightly Billy Hartnell is in this episode. We’re about two-thirds of the way through the first Doctor’s tenure and it wouldn’t be long before reports of his declining health kicked in, so it’s brilliant to get a surviving episode where he’s really on top form without having to feint or palm off lines onto other actors. Granted, we have The Gunfighters and some of The War Machines he shows his strengths in, but this somehow feels more special, as the latter stories in the series are over swamped with tales of his unbearable attitude on set.

The Rills are pretty well done as well and it’s a clever move that we don’t get to see too much of these enigmatic creatures although the voice isn’t the greatest we’ve ever had for an alien race. They are here to give us and the TARDIS crew a big info-dump about the plot and menace of the Drahvins though, which gets a little tiresome but they give us what, I think, is the first ever Doctor Who flashback. Now, I’m not certain here and I haven’t looked into it, but were we aware the scene of Maaga killing one of her own was a flashback before the episode was discovered in 2011? It’d be a great and fascinating discovery if we didn’t.

At last, a Rill!
 I think it’s impossible to talk about the episode further without sounding nasty toward it, which is a shame, as I did really enjoy all the scenes with the Doctor, Vicki, the Chumbleys and the Rills. If we look at the other parts of the episodes, basically anything with Steven or the wooden Drahvins, it falls apart. They are merely there to fill time and make sure we don’t forget they’re still going to be a part of the story next week. Purves could have just gone on holiday for a week and the script would be stronger without having to flip to Steven’s part of the story, but Peter Purves does wrestle well with what little he’s given to work with and shows he’s a strong actor with terrible material.

I can’t say I’m excited to be going into the final part of this story, but it isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, it just needed a stronger sub-plot whilst we’re being fed the back story. This third part is definitely a strong episode for the most part, with episode one and it’s a story I think the Who team can be proud of, it’s just bog-standard though, not being a classic and not being a nightmare.

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