Saturday, 1 June 2013

Galaxy Four 4: The Exploding Planet

Originally Broadcast 2nd October 1965

Written by: William Emms

In a nutshell: The Doctor attempts to help the Rills leave the planet whilst the Drahvins prepare to steal their ship by force.

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: The best way to describe the final part of Galaxy Four is one big anticlimax. What exactly happens? Everybody’s rushing about to save each other before the planet explodes whilst the Drahvins take the best part of 25 minutes to get their asses into gear and attempt to steal a spaceship, which in the end, doesn’t happen! Where was our big showdown? Maybe it’ll be in the next story when interesting writing comes back as well.

There was a scene in amongst the rubble which had the potential to become one of those Doctor Who ‘shining moments’ in the same style as the conversation between the second Doctor and Victoria in Tomb Of The Cybermen. This time, Vicki is looking at the soon-to-explode titular planet with sadness.

Vicki: I can’t believe that at dawn all this will turn into nothingness.

She says with a frown. Here’s our chance for the Doctor to open up that grandfatherly lovable character Hartnell can play so well and give Vicki comfort.

Doctor: No, not nothing, child. Hydrogen gas.

Um, I’m not sure that’s exactly what we were looking for, Doctor. Still, what a comforting thought. It’ll turn into hydrogen gas. Great.

Another irritating aspect of the episode that wears itself away is the niceties. Everyone is nice to each other so often the dialogue may as well result into “You go first.” “No, after you, I insist”. At least Steven starts out sceptical of the Rills, although somehow even that feels stupid and a waste of time and dialogue before he decides he trusts them too, after three minutes of being convinced of their good intentions.

What is good here is the Rills’ description of how far the Doctor can travel. This feels like one of those overlooked moments where the Doctor is described as a force for good, travelling across the stars to save every world. I’m pretty sure this hasn’t been stated before and only crops up here for a line of not-blatant dialogue and it’s really nice.

The lead-in to Mission To The Unknown is also a nice touch, but ultimately I’m not impressed with Galaxy Four. It’s not the worst Doctor Who has ever given us and there is a clear moral to the story that isn’t steeped in mysteries and hard to find. There were also some good production choices, such as making the Drahvins female, but all this doesn’t work together with a mostly dodgy and tiresome script to become a Who classic. Disappointing.

Galaxy Four on CD. Sadly the only way to witness episodes 1, 2 and 4.

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