Friday, 18 May 2018

207 The Wheel in Space: Episode Four

EPISODE: The Wheel in Space: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 May 1968
WRITER: David Whitaker from a story by Kit Pedler
DIRECTOR: Tristan de Vere Cole
SCRIPT EDITOR: Derrick Sherwin
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 8.6 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Volume 5 (1967-1969)
TELESNAPS: The Wheel in Space: Episode Four

"Now, now listen, listen everyone. The Cybermen are here, in this Wheel!"

The Doctor explains that the Cybermen are threatening the Wheel, but the commander Bennett will not listen to him. The Cybermen hide themselves in a box of the much needed Bernalium fuel rods as Bennett questions how they will enter the station. Laleham and Vallance spacewalk back to the Wheel bringing the fuel rods and Cybermen with them. Bill arrives to help with the repairs to the X-Ray laser. Gemma speaks to the Doctor about her concerns for Bennett's mental health. Chang goes to fetch some fuel rods and is killed by a Cyberman. A Cyberman brings Bill under it's control. The Doctor deduces the Cybermen came aboard with the Bernalium. Tanya checks to see if any of the crew are under control of an outside force: Bill Duggan who has recently entered the room stands revealed. He attacks the communication equipment but is shot by Leo. The Doctor instructs Leo & Tanya in how to build jamming devices for the Cybermen's control. As the Doctor and Jamie investigate the loading bay a Cyberman appears....

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This is a bit more like it, the Cybermen are finally on the station and up to something, even if they don't appear that much and their crucial final shot is missing from the telesnaps - I had to borrow a frame from episode five to represent it above! But I think the damage has already been done by those first few episodes. I'm finding it difficult to care for the majority of the base crew at all. There's a few too many of them for a start.

The exception is, of course, Zoe. This is mainly because I know what's going to happen to her at the end of the story and, like Victoria staying with the Harris family in Fury from the Deep because she's unhappy about the dangers of travelling with the Doctor, Zoe's frustrations with life on The Wheel and a desire to be elsewhere are well stated here:

CORWYN: He's getting worse.
ZOE: Is he ill?
CORWYN: I don't know yet.
ZOE: Well, if he is he's chosen a rather inconvenient time, hasn't he?
CORWYN: Do you ever feel anything emotional, Zoe?
ZOE: Emotional? Do you know, that's the second time I've been asked that in the last few hours. Leo Ryan said that I was all brains and no heart.
CORWYN: Yes, it's your training. I shouldn't worry about it.
ZOE: Oh, but I do. I don't want to be thought of as a freak. Leo said I was like a robot, a machine. I think he's right. My head's been pumped full of facts and figures which I reel out automatically when needed, but, well, I want to feel things as well.
CORWYN: Good. Unfortunately the parapsychology unit at the City tends to ignore this aspect in its pupils. Some of them never fully develop their human emotions.
ZOE: You don't think I'll be like that, do you?
CORWYN: No. No, you seemed to have survived their brain-washing techniques remarkably well.
ZOE: Oh, good.
Once again Zoe's lack of emotions gets a reference and we find out that this is due to her upbringing and schooling.
BENNETT: Well, what are these Cybermen then?
DOCTOR: They were once men, human beings like yourself, from the planet Mondas, but now they're more robot then man.
BENNETT: You mean half and half?
DOCTOR: Oh no, more than that. Their entire bodies are mechanical and their brains have been treated neuro-surgically to remove all human emotions, all sense of pain. They're ruthless, inhuman killers!
BENNETT: You really expect me to believe that rubbish!
DOCTOR: It's not rubbish! They'll kill anyone who stands in their path. You've got to believe me. You've just got to!
The two Cybermen in this story have some Doctor Who connections: Jerry Holmes had an uncredited role as a Parisian man in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve. Gordon Stothardis a regular extra at the time having already played a Robot Yeti in The Web of Fear, he'll be back in The Invasion and Mind of Evil. His Invasion appearance catches the eye of Toby Hadoke in "Running Down Corridors". He appears without disguise there and is seemingly the same actor that played Grun, the King's Champion, in The Curse of Peladon. That role is credited to Gordon St. Clair who has no other credits elsewhere and was never traced. If it's another actor appearing under a different name then that would explain it!

Peter Hawkins and Roy Skelton provide the Cyberman voices. Hawkins fulfilled the same role on all three of the Cybermen's appearances so far. Skelton worked on the first, the Tenth Planet, and we last heard him voicing the computer in the Ice Warriors.

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The first death in this episode is that of Chang, played by Peter Laird, who went onto play Greville in Sapphire & Steel Adventure Five: Doctor McDee Must Die

The second death, a typically Doctor Who negative effect over the demise of Australian Bill Duggan's, survives courtesy of the Australian Censor and can be seen on the Doctor Who - Lost In Time DVD.

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