Galaxy Four

Doctor WhoThe Doctor, Steven and Vicki, exploring the latest destination to which the TARDIS has brought them, encounter a primitive robot which Vicki nicknames a Chumblie. While it seems harmless enough, it soon indicates that it wishes the time travelers to follow it – and makes its wishes even more clear by demonstrating its ability to vaporize a nearby bush. Two statuesque, armed women ambush the Chumblie, and then take the Doctor and his friends prisoner for themselves. The TARDIS travelers are brought before Maaga, the self-proclaimed leader of the Drahvins. Maaga tells the Doctor that the Chumblies are the robotic servants of the vicious Rills, another alien expedition visiting this planet. Ever since the Rills revealed that the planet is just fourteen dawns away from destroying itself, the Rills and the Drahvins have been at war. The Rills’ ship is the only vehicle capable of leaving the planet in time, and the Drahvins intend to take it for themselves – with the Doctor’s help, which they secure by holding Vicki hostage. When the Doctor visits the TARDIS to see how much time this planet has left, however, he discovers that the Rills and Drahvins have less time than they thought to settle their differences.

Season 3 Regular Cast: William Hartnell (The Doctor), Maureen O’Brien (Vicki), Peter Purves (Steven), Jackie Lane (Dodo Chaplet)

Order this story on audio CDwritten by William Emms
directed by Derek Martinus
music not credited

Cast: William Hartnell (The Doctor), Maureen O’Brien (Vicki), Peter Purves (Steven), Stephanie Bidmead (Maaga), Marina Martin, Susanna Carroll, Lyn Ashley (Drahvins), Jimmy Kaye, Angelo Muscat, William Shearer, Pepi Poupee, Tommy Reynolds (Chumblies), Robert Cartland, Anthony Paul (Rill voices), Barry Jackson (Garvey)

Notes: The master tapes of this episode were destroyed by the BBC in the early 1970’s, and no video copies exist.

Broadcast from September 11 through October 2, 1965

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: One of the better specimens of real SF in the first Doctor’s era, Galaxy Four is sadly missing from the archive of Doctor Who episodes that still exist on video. Hence, this story has been reviewed by listening to the commercially available soundtrack recording and examining the scant remaining video and Galaxy Fourstill material. But in a way, that’s not a bad trade-off – the story itself is imaginative enough that it deserves the kind of special effects that exist in the mind’s eye. Galaxy Four truly stands alongside some of the sophisticated conceptual SF that most people only associate with Doctor Who’s later years.

While the style of some of the performances clearly dates Galaxy Four to the ’60s, the dialogue is mostly believeable – but there are occasional moments of clumsy dialogue and even a few hints of what would be viewed today, some four decades later, as outrageous sexism. (But no better and no worse than what one might find in the average Austin Powers movie, to be truthful.) There’s something interesting hinted at with Maaga, the Drahvins’ leader – she appears to be superior to them, and is withholding something from them, but aside from hints to that effect, we learn nothing more. (Perhaps William Emms thought there might be room for a rematch of some sort if he dropped a few vague hints like that.) But overall, the “don’t judge a book by its cover” motif at work in Galaxy Four is not only commendable, it’s carried off with a surprising degree of sophistication for this point in Doctor Who’s history. It’s nearly tragic that we can no longer see this story. Very highly recommended.