Friday, 15 May 2015

071 The Space Museum Episode 4: The Final Phase

EPISODE: The Space Museum Episode 4: The Final Phase
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 15 May 1965
WRITER: Glyn Jones
DIRECTOR: Mervyn Pinfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 8.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Space Museum/The Chase

"Well, it would appear that this little diversion will soon be over"

Right I can do this. In 25 minutes the Space Museum will be over, I'll never have to watch it again and the next story has The Daleks in anyway so it must be better than this right? Deep Breath.....

Ian isn't sure but he thinks he's seen this somewhere before The Doctor is held in a room where he lies immobile in a machine. Ian gets the Morok leader Lobos to reverse the process and revive the Doctor. The Xerons distribute weapons and prepare to make their move while Vicki returns to the museum to rescue the Doctor accompanied by Sita. Barbara is trapped in the gas with Dako. Lobos revives the Doctor, who was aware of everything that was happened while he was frozen. Ian is knocked out by the guards who creep up behind him. Barbara & Dako escape but are instantly captured only to be freed by Vicki & Sita. Sita & Dako are stunned by Xerons and the women are captured. All the Tardis crew are now captured and destined for the museum. The bulk of the Xeron forces arrive and storm the museum freeing the Tardis crew and slaying Lobos. They start to dismantle the Space Museum while the Doctor repairs the Tardis. He has persuaded the Xerons into give him a piece of the museum: A time & space visualiser that he thinks he can repair. Meanwhile on a devastated planet out in space The Daleks have monitored the Tardis leaving Xeros and promise that they will be exterminated!

Oh thank goodness that's over. Twenty odd minutes mucking about followed by a dreadful explanation of what caused the trouble in the first episode:

DOCTOR: Well, there you both are. That’s it. That’s the little thing that’s been giving us all this dimensional trouble.
IAN: Just that?
DOCTOR: You know, it’s a funny thing how it happened. It got stuck. I don’t know whether you’ve gone into a room and switched on the light and had to wait for a second or two before the thing lit itself up.
BARBARA: Yes, I have. I think most people have.
DOCTOR: Well, this is the same kind of problem, you see. We landed on a separate time track, wandered around a bit, and until this little thing clicked itself into place, we hadn’t actually arrived.
IAN: Ah. Well, thanks very much for explaining it.
Does this device have a name ? How about telling us what it is and what it's supposed to do? It's almost as bad as the stuck spring in The Edge of Destruction. At least then we were told it was part of the Fast Return Switch!

That’s the little thing that’s been giving us all this dimensional trouble. Our greatest enemies have left the planet Xeros. They are once again in time and space.  They cannot escape! Our time machine will soon follow them. They will be exterminated! Exterminated! EXTERMINATED!

The last few minutes of the story are probably the best: the Doctor gets his new toy, the Time Space Visualiser, and we get a glimpse of the redesigned Dalek. It's the same Dalek seen in episode two but since then it's been modified with the "power slats" added and has lost the hinge: you can still see the holes in the dome where it was attached. For more details see Dalek6388's Space Museum Page. With the Dalek comes one of the voice artists, Peter Hawkins, and one of the operators, Murphy Grumbar, both of who worked on the first two Dalek stories.

The addition of these two brings the total cast for the story to 16 and incredibly they all appear in this episode. This has happened previously, notably the middle two episodes of the very first story An Unearthly Child. But the guest cast there was five strong there's several more in this story.

Choose your next witticism very carefully Mr Morok, it may be your last Death Star toy by Palitoy

In the middle of this episode there's a piece of machinery making it's Doctor Who d├ębut that we'll become familiar with. The dome shaped thing was originally created for Curse of the Fly.

curseofthefly003 curseofthefly001

Here it powers the Xeron freezing equipment but later on it's be in the Warehouse in The War Machines, the X-Ray laser in Wheel in Space, in the Tardis Power room in The Mind Robber and in the Lab in Spearhead from Space.

The War Machines Wheel In Space Mind Robber Spearhead from Space

For viewers of my age it really stands out due to it's resemblance to the Palitoy Star Wars Death Star playset!

This episode also features one of the unintentionally silliest lines of dialogue in the series:

Have any arms fallen into Xeron hands?
Oh dear.

But over the four episodes it's the worst story so far by a country mile. I went and dug out the results for Doctor Who Magazine's Mighty 200 poll and this story ranked 190. I've looked at what's bellow it and if I were voting I think it would rank a bit lower than that. Interestingly (!?) it's only real competitor so far, The Sensorites, was rated 183rd. But the same poll ranks Horns of the Nimon at 189 and that's just WRONG! There is a connection between The Sensorites and the Space Museum: both are directed by Mervyn Pinfield so it's tempting to lay blame at his feet. He was planned to direct another story, Galaxy Four, later in 1965 but fell ill and died on 20th May the following year.

The Space Museum was novelised by it's television author Glyn Jones and released in June 1987. The story was released on VHS with the two surviving episodes of the previous, but unconnected, story The Crusade. One episode of the Crusade, the third The Wheel of Fortune, had been out previously but the other, the first The Lion, was a recent recovery. You might think it an odd pairing as apart from being consecutive there's little to link the two stories. But The Chase, which the Space Museum leads into, was already out in a Dalek boxset with Remembrance of the Daleks and if a recovered missing Episode won't shift copies of the Space Museum then nothing will! For DVD the Space Museum was finally paired in a boxset with The Chase and that makes much more sense. Cos the DVD range is sensible and wouldn't do anything silly like pair The Gunfighters and The Awakening *then* release Frontios, or try to put the Ambassadors of Death & The Sunmakers in the same box.....

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