Tag Archives: Galaxy 4

The Seeds of Death

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The Doctor had long shown himself to be adept at time travel, however it was not until the 1969 serial The Seeds of Death that he was seen to man a more conventional form of space transportation, a rocket.  That the Doctor and his friends should find themselves on a rocket to the Moon should come as no surprise given that this serial was broadcast in early 1969 and the Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the Moon on 20 July 1969. What is more astounding is that in the world of Doctor Who rockets are perceived to be outdated and an anachronism.  In The Seeds of Death Professor Eldred is the curator of a space museum who spends his spare time secretly working on a rocket.  All transportation is now carried out by T-Mat, otherwise known as transmit, a form of instantaneous particle matter transfer. Even motor cars have become redundant and the T-Mat system is used to transport people and produce throughout the world.  There is a T-Mat relay on the Moon and it is from there that the Ice Warriors intend to commence their conquest of the Earth.

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

That there is no alternative transport to T-Mat is extraordinary, particularly as the sustenance of the whole world is dependent upon its operation. This extreme example of “putting all your eggs in one basket” was what led the Doctor and his companions to risk their lives in an untested experimental rocket.  It appears that together with world famine, local stock-piling of goods has long since ended. Although the details provided in The Seeds of Death are sketchy, it appears that the T-Mat system is operated, if not wholly owned, by a corporation named Travel-Mat.  What Travel-Mat’s relationship is to the governments of the world is not specified. Perhaps Travel-Mat is the world government? Travel-Mat certainly has some relationship with the United Nations as Professor Eldred describes Sir James Gregson as the United Nations Plenipotentiary.  Radnor clarifies this by saying that Gregson is the Minister with special responsibility for T-Mat. I suspect that the climate change sceptics with whom I frequently debate would revel in declaring The Seeds of Death to be an accurate prediction of their New World Order conspiracies. Come to think of it, most climate change deniers know so little about science that they’d probably think the mistaken “science” of The Ice Warriors is correct.  Distinguishing fact from fiction can at times be difficult for some, hence the premise behind The Mind Robber!

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

Arguably the most powerful person employed by Travel-Mat is Miss Gia Kelly, the Assistant Controller, who inexplicably is the only person who completely understands T-Mat.  Again the question arises as to what would happen to this world-wide transport system, on which the distribution of all Earth’s food is dependent, if Miss Kelly suddenly became indisposed. It’s a pleasant development in Doctor Who to have a women in such a powerful role and not be denigrated for her gender by fellow on-screen workers. Kelly even managed to escape the sexism inherent in the UNIT soldiers’ praise for Zoe in The Invasion, when they said that she was “prettier than a computer”.  That being said, I’m at a loss to understand why Kelly was portrayed as so officious and unable to smile.  What does this say about our perceptions of powerful women? Do women that attain the giddy heights of success necessarily relinquish all vestiges of humanity in the minds of others? Even a casual observer to Australian politics in recent years would be cognisant of sexist vitriol thrown at our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Being “deliberately barren” was perhaps the most offensive of them all.  I would posit that the writer Brian Hayles’ portrayal of Kelly is an example of this offensive stereotyping of successful women.

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat.  She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat. She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Unfortunately I have a concern with the Doctor’s ethics in The Seeds of Death. At the serial’s end the Doctor sent the Ice Warriors’ rockets onto an orbit close to the Sun by transmitting a fake homing signal.  When the Warrior Slaar told the Doctor that he has destroyed their whole fleet, the Doctor’s response was that “you tried to destroy an entire world”. Given that the Doctor believed these Warriors to be the only survivors of their species, he was effectively committing genocide. Whilst we all now know that the fleet didn’t comprise the last of the Ice Warriors, that’s not the point.  The Doctor acted in a similar manner to the Daleks in The Evil of the Daleks and to the Drahvins in Galaxy 4. In my review of Galaxy 4 I discussed in some detail how the Doctor’s apparent genocide of a race was at odds with his classic moral deliberations in The Genesis of the Daleks.

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

Akin to Brian Hayles’ problems with science in The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death is similarly tainted.  Remarkably, whilst the Ice Warriors collapsed when the temperate reached 60 degrees Celsius, the humans exhibited no ill effects at all.  Not a bead of sweat was seen to develop on a single brow. This story did, however, again exhibit Hayles’ apparent concern for things environmental. The plant consuming foam which emerged from the Ice Warrior’s seeds would eventually result in the removal of all oxygen and the death of humans as the atmosphere became more akin to that of Mars.

The Doctor discovers that water destroy's the Ice Warriors' seeds

The Doctor discovers that water destroys the Ice Warriors’ seeds

Technology had also caught up with Doctor Who by the Ice Warrior’s second appearance. Filmed inserts for episodes were by then being produced during the recording of the previous stories.  Because of the 1968/1969 Christmas/New Year break, some inserts were filmed up to six weeks prior to the recording of the episodes. It’s for that reason that careful observation will show that within the same episode the Doctor can at one point have particularly bushy side-burns, and the next moment has none.

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

When Jamie suggested that the Doctor should use the TARDIS to travel back to the Moon the Doctor was quick to advise that “the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel”.  It’s a shame that the Eleventh Doctor  didn’t remember that  when he decided to take the TARDIS for a quick hop to the Moon to run her in during The Eleventh Hour (2010).  He didn’t come back to Amy until two years later!  The Doctor also seemed to have forgotten exactly how much of an unpleasant time he’d had when last he visited a space museum (The Space Museum). Quite naturally Zoe knows how to pilot a rocket so she necessarily went up in my esteem, yet again.  She also has a photographic memory.

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS was not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

With the conclusion of The Seeds of Death we say goodbye to the last monster story of Patrick Troughton’s tenure.  Not only is it the final monster serial of the 1960s but also of Doctor Who’s monochrome era.  Troughton’s penultimate adventure, The Space Pirates, has no aliens although it does have a space cowboy who is almost as bad, in a frightening sort of way!

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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The Ice Warriors

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Whether there’s a relationship between the resurrection of seemingly deceased Doctor Who monsters and the sale of Classic Series DVDs is an issue worth pondering. Released in late August in the UK and Australasia, and mid September in the US, The Ice Warriors DVD emerged four months after an Ice Warrior appeared in the Mark Gatiss penned Cold War after a 39 year absence from Doctor Who.  Prior to the episode’s broadcast Steven Moffat stated that a lot of persuasion was needed to convince him that the Ice Warriors should return.

Grand Marshall Skaldak, a 2013 model Ice Warrior

Grand Marshall Skaldak, a 2013 model Ice Warrior

“It was Mark Gatiss’s idea and it was very much his pitch – he’d been pitching the Ice Warriors for a while.  I wasn’t tremendously persuaded.  I’ll be honest.  I thought they were maybe the default condition for what people thought of as rubbish Doctor Who  monsters – things that moved very, very slowly and spoke in a way that meant you couldn’t hear a word they said.  Mark came up with a couple of very clever ideas, which he pitched to me over the phone in what was meant to be a Sherlock  conversation.  He had a couple of really stormingly good ideas, and it’s a great episode, an absolute cracker of an episode”.

One is left wondering if perhaps Moffat failed to mention that the marketing department of the BBC was instrumental in the decision to have the Ice Warriors return.

Trailer for the return of the Ice Warriors in 2013’s Cold War. 

Are the Ice Warriors the default “rubbish” monsters that Moffat suggests? They were certainly slow and unfortunately restricted by their large fin like feet.  In the special feature, Cold Fusion, actor Sonny Caldinez tells several amusing anecdotes about his time as an Ice Warrior and particularly the filming of The Ice Warriors. He had such difficulty chasing Deborah Watling through the ice caves because of his costume’s feet that they had to slow down Watling’s running speed. That the design of the Ice Warrior in Cold War very faithfully reproduced the 1967 model says much for the integrity of the Mark 1 models.

Victoria chased by Turoc (Sonny Caldinez)

Victoria chased by Turoc (Sonny Caldinez)

One of the “stormingly good ideas” that Gatiss had about the 2013 Ice Warriors was undoubtedly Grand Marshall Skaldak emerging from his armour for the first time. Strangely, the slightly jerky head movements of the original Ice Warriors, a little akin to a person with mild Parkinson’s Disease, is absent from the current model Warriors. Similarly, Nicholas Briggs toned down the hissing of Skaldak’s speech in Cold War.  There wasn’t anything much more shocking in The Ice Warriors then when Zondal says that Storr was “ussselesss and uneccesssssary” just before killing him.

The Scot Storr is killed by an Ice Warrior

The Scot Storr is killed by an Ice Warrior

Interestingly, the 50th Anniversary Special on 23 November features the Zygons in only their second appearance in Doctor Who.  Their first and only appearance was with the Fourth Doctor in the 1975 serial Terror of the Zygons, which incidentally will be released on DVD in Australia and New Zealand on 2 October 2013. Is this a coincidence?  Who knows.

The Zygons will be returning in the 50th Anniversary special in November

The Zygons will be returning in the 50th Anniversary special in November

With the Classic Series range of DVD releases quickly coming to an end I’m left wondering if Season 8 will see the return of The Underwater Menace’s Fish People. Rumour has it that the missing two episodes will be animated and the DVD released sometime in 2014.  I can only hope that all of Galaxy 4 is recovered so my long held wish for the return of the Chumblies might be granted!

As outlined in my review of the First Doctor’s adventure Planet of Giants, I’ve always had a soft spot for Doctor Who serials with an environmental message.  The Ice Warriors is such a story, albeit one where the science is decidedly fiction and not fact. The Doctor, Victoria and Jamie find themselves at Brittanicus Base, one of a number of such bases established to stem the tide of ice glaciers which have been steadily engulfing the earth’s surface.  The New Ice Age which the Earth is confronted by is said to have arisen because of deforestation and the consequential loss of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Even a person as ignorant as myself in things scientific is aware that deforestation (and the burning of fossil fuels) is the cause of global warming, not global cooling. During photosynthesis trees convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar molecules and oxygen.  Less trees equals more carbon dioxide. I wonder where the writer, Brian Hayles, received his scientific knowledge on this one?

Although the Doctor can operate an artificial food dispenser (with retro telephone dial) he is a little confused about the relationship between plants and carbon dioxide

Although the Doctor can operate an artificial food dispenser (with retro telephone dial) he is a little confused about the relationship between plants and carbon dioxide.  He is pictured here with Leader Clent.

The obstinate leader of Brittanicus Base, Clent, outlined to the Doctor and his companions how this catastrophic environmental disaster occurred.

“You know how efficient our civilisation is, thanks to the direction of the great World Computer.  As you also know how we conquered the problem of world famine a century ago by artificial food.  On the land that was once used to grow the food we needed, we built up to date living units, to house the ever-increasing population … So, the amount of growing plants on the planet, was reduced to an absolute minimum. Then suddenly, one year, there was no spring.  Even then it wasn’t understood.  Not until the ice-caps began to advance”.

During the course of the conversation the Doctor added the comment ,”No plants, no carbon dioxide.”  Is it any wonder that when the Doctor met with the Ice Warriors, Zondal stated “You do not look like a scientist”. “Looks aren’t everything, you know” replied the Doctor.

Together with Ice Warriors, glaziers threaten the earth

Together with Ice Warriors, glaziers threaten the earth

Although the consequences of deforestation is the exact opposite to what The Ice Warriors claims, i.e. global warming rather than global cooling, the essence of the message is not lost on the audience. Human manipulation of the environment, even if at the behest of a “great World Computer”, has horrendous consequences on the planet and its human occupants.  Population growth is also shown to have negative effects. During the 1960s there was much debate about population growth and artificial birth control. Little more than six months after the broadcast of The Ice Warriors  Pope Paul VI released his much discussed encyclical letter Humanae Vitae on human reproduction. In reaffirming the Catholic Church’s traditional teachings against contraception, Humanae Vitae contradicted a report of Paul’s own commission, two years previously, which had recommended limited contraceptive use for married couples.

Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI

The Ice Warriors shares the anti-computer rhetoric of The War Machines. Leader Clent and Senior Control Technician Miss Garrett have an unwavering confidence in the great World Computer’s ability to answer all questions logically and in society’s best interests. As would be expected in 1967, the computer is futuristic and answers questions verbally.  It’s very difficult to understand, particularly in episode one where the soundtrack is very muddy.  The disaffected scientist Penley  shares the Doctor’s distain for them.  “I refused to be sucked into that computerised ant-heap you call a civilisation. I’m a man, not a machine”, Penley says to Miss Gifford.  When speaking to the Doctor, Penley delivered a further sentence of superior anti-computer verbosity when he stated  “You don’t expect me to face Clent alone.  That mouth piece of the computer? He’s got a printed circuit where his heart should be”.  It’s all very beautifully written and elucidates the same fear of computerization that I outlined in my The War Machines review.

Clent and Miss Gifford with the futurist great World Computer. The Brittanicus Base crew had the most fabulous close fitting outfits

Clent and Miss Gifford with the futurist great World Computer. The Brittanicus Base crew had the most fabulous close fitting outfits

The computer is revered almost as God like in its decisions.  “Our trust is in the great computer.  With its aid, we cannot fail”, Gifford stated.  As the story proceeds, however, it is evident that this deification is undeserved.  When Clent reserves the right to consult the computer on whether they should use the ioniser when the alien spacecraft is powered by an iron reactor, the computer spins and gibbers.  Jamie cried, “It’s as though it’s gone mad”. The final decision is left to the human Penley, who not surprisingly chose the best option.

In a rather clever premonition of Little Britain’s Carol, Clent says “The computer says no!”. Little Britain – The Computer says no.

The Ice Warriors succeeds because of its superior cast, magnificent set design and absolutely fabulous outfits.  Peter Barkworth as Leader Clent is outstanding as he shuffles around the base with his walking stick.  Barkworth would later go on to win two BAFTA awards for best TV actor. Peter Sallis generously plays the scientist Penley and is perhaps most famous for his 37 years spent as  Last of the Summer Wine’s  Norman Clegg. Most surprising of all is Bernard Bresslaw as the Ice Warrior Varga.  Bresslaw  was a comedy actor best known for his roles in the Carry On movies.  At 6′ 7″ tall Bresslaw provided the towering height needed for the Ice Warriors and is credited for creating their movements and hissing speech.

Bernard Bresslaw played the head Ice Warrior, Varga

Bernard Bresslaw played the head Ice Warrior, Varga

The Ice Warriors was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 November and 16 December 1967

The Ice Warriors was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 November and 16 December 1967

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCE:

Fraser McAlpine, “Steven Moffat On Zygons, Ice Warriors And A Trip Into The Tardis”, 21 February 2013, BBC Americahttp://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/02/steven-moffat-on-zygons-ice-warriors-and-trip-int-the-tardis/. Retrieved on 3 September 2013.

The Ark

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I let out an audible “Hooray” as I checked Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who: The Complete Series Guide and discovered that the next serial, The Ark,  was 100% complete.  For the first time since The Time Meddler, which was the last serial in Season 2, I could sit back and relax after I’d put the shiny DVD into the Blu Ray player. After two seasons with all but two serials alive, kicking and released on DVD, it came as somewhat of a drag to be confronted by an almost continuous stream of missing episodes and reconstructions.  The BBC did a superb job in reconstructing the three missing episodes of Galaxy 4  in condensed form which appeared, together with the recently found episode three, on The Aztecs Special EditionMission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, the epic 12 part The Daleks Master Plan, and The Massacre were all viewed on YouTube using Loose Cannon’s splendid reconstructions.  Only three episodes in that 21 week run from Mission to the Unknown  to The Massacre are no longer lost and available for our viewing pleasure on Lost in Time, the triple DVD set of orphan First and Second Doctor episodes.

Mark Campbell's Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial

Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial

It would be fair to say that The Ark doesn’t have the best reputation. Frequently dismissed as not a great  deal better than utter nonsense, it is nonetheless praised by some, such as Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke, for its originality and brilliant direction by Michael Imison. It’s generally the second half of this four part story which attracts the greatest criticism and it has been posited  by Ian K McLachlan that the serial is actually “two two-part adventures stitched together.”

Monoids and Guardians together in the control room of the Ark

Monoids and Guardians together in the control room of the Ark

Episodes one and two of The Ark are set in the far future, the 57th segment of Time, on an enormous space ship (the Ark) headed for the planet Refusis 2.  The Doctor estimates that they may be up to 10 million years in the future. As was the case with all of the First Doctor’s adventures, the Doctor was unable to programme the Ship’s route and it landed slap bang in the middle of the Ark. On board the Ark are the sole survivors of Earth who have left the dying planet for the safe refuge of a new planet.  Refusis 2 is 700 years travel from Earth and yet the closest planet with similar atmosphere and vegetation.  To ensure the human race’s survival millions of humans have been miniaturized and stored on trays for reanimation upon arrival at Refusis 2. The humans are  not Christian, Jewish or Muslim as they do not know the story of Noah’s Ark.  Also travelling on the spaceship are an assortment of animals and the Monoids, a peculiar mute race whose most  distinctive feature is their one eye.  This single eye is in their mouths, or at least what would’ve been their mouths if they had human anatomy. These eyes are actually painted ping pong balls which the actors held in place with their mouths.  Now that’s ingenious small budget special effects for you!  On the top of their heads is a long Beatles style mop top wig, whilst the rest of their bodies are clothed in green ill fitting garb. They have webbed hands and feet and move slowly.

The Ark is so large that it even has a jungle full of a vast array of animals, including this elephant

The Ark is so large that it even has a jungle full of a vast array of animals, including this elephant

The Monoids are the servants of the human occupants of the spaceship.  The humans are referred to as the Guardians, so named for their responsibility maintaining the human race. Not surprisingly for the 1960s, all of the Guardians are white and hardly representative of the earth’s racial diversity.  One can only assume that there are non Caucasians miniaturized and stored for later reanimation.  In the eyes of Doctor Who they clearly can’t be trusted to staff a space craft. The Guardians are of the belief that they treat the servant Monoids with respect, however their inferior status is profoundly obvious when the common cold, introduced by the new companion, Dodo, begins to decimate the population. The common cold had been eradicated in the 20th Century and as such none of the occupants of the spaceship have an immunity to it. Such diseases are said to have been one of the contributing factors to the decimation of indigenous societies upon the arrival of Europeans.  Even Steven, who comes for several hundred years later than Dodo, has no immunity. Notwithstanding the earlier death of a Monoid, it isn’t until the first death of a Guardian that the humans take action against the perpetrators of this crime against them, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo.  It is only with the Doctor’s assistance that a cure for the common cold is found and both the humans and the Monoids saved from extinction.  The Doctor and his crew are quickly forgiven for the destruction that the cold virus had wrought.

The Doctor tends to the ill Commander.  Beside him is the commanders daughter and a Mark 1  Monoid sans voice box

The Doctor tends to the ill Commander. Beside the Commander is his daughter and behind the Doctor is a Mark 1 Monoid sans voice box

A very obliging Mark 1 Monoid assists the Doctor as he attempts to find a cure for the common cold

A very obliging Mark 1 Monoid assists the Doctor as he attempts to find a cure for the common cold

Having effectively overcome the damage they had caused, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo depart the spaceship, which is now known affectionately as the Ark, at the end of episode two.  It is with surprise, therefore, that upon the Tardis materializing it is immediately evident that the Ship has landed in the very same spot it had left from. Making their way back to the control room of the Ark, the Tardis Crew are unable to find any of the Guardians. It is only upon seeing the enormous statue that the Guardians had been building that they realized that something was very wrong.  During their first visit to the Ark, our heroes had been advised that the massive statue would take 700 years to construct.  The statue which the Doctor and his companions were now staring at was not only complete, but had a head of a Monoid, rather than a human’s. At least 700 years have passed and the Ark must now be nearing its destination.

The statue, which took 700 years to carve, has been completed with a Monoid head

The statue, which took 700 years to carve, has been completed with a Monoid head

All is soon revealed. The Monoids can now talk.  Not having a voice box (presumably because they have an eye in their mouths) an artificial one was invented by the Guardians during their time as overlords.  The voice box looks not unlike a badly made paper necklace. The Monoids are now in control and their usurping of the Guardians was not, as one might expect, the consequence years of oppression but rather because of a mutation of the common cold which in same way had effected the will of the humans.  The Doctor and his companions, therefore, have more to answer for than originally thought.

A Monoid complete with voice box

A Monoid complete with voice box

The tables have been reversed and the humans are now enslaved by the Monoids.  Most have been killed, although a small number have been spared and are imprisoned in the “Security Kitchen.” That has to take the cake for the most imaginative portrayal of  a prison. In the Security Kitchen the humans cook for the Monoids, although preparation is now more efficient.  There’s no need for real potatoes as a tablet dropped into water immediately produces beautifully peeled ones.  The special effect is very well realized and made me wish for my own bottle of food producing tablets!  Any humans that are out of line are executed, without trial, by the Monoids’ heat guns.   The Monoids use of martial law evidences the deterioration of order in the society and their “payback” for the years of enslavement to the Guardians.  The manner in which they treat the humans is far harsher than the Guardian’s treatment of them previously.

The Guardians, with their appalling dress sense, are now slaves of the Monoids

The Guardians, with their appalling dress sense, are now slaves of the Monoids

So aggrieved are the Monoids at their past treatment that they intend to relocate to Refusis 2 without the humans, and to blow the humans and the Ark up with a bomb which has been hidden in the head of the statue.  In cute looking shuttles the Monoids and a few human slaves leave the Ark to scout out the previously unseen Refusis 2. Unknown to all, the planet is inhabited by benevolent (at least to humans) but invisible creatures.  Needless to say, the arrogance and aggressiveness of the Monoids soon sees them almost embark on a Civil War, with Steven contemplating that they might soon wipe themselves out.  From being rather quaint non-threatening creatures in episodes one and two, the Monoids have become the typical malicious monsters.  Perhaps because speech is such a new phenomena to them, the Monoids have the most annoying trait of explaining their devious plans out loud. Intelligent creatures they certainly aren’t.

The Monoids have placed a bomb in the head of the statue

The Monoids have placed a bomb in the head of the statue

Having won the confidence of a native Refusian, the Doctor has the invisible creature pilot one of the space shuttles back to the Ark.  It is there that the Refusian’s incredible strength comes in handy as he lifts the statue from the ground and throws it out of the escape chute.  It explodes in space shortly thereafter.  The humans have been saved from destruction, but how will they deal with  the murderous Monoids on Refusis 2?  The Refusian and the Doctor both offer the humans some advice.

Steven and Venussa.  The Doctor has advice to offer the Guardians

Steven and Venussa. The Doctor has advice to offer the Guardians

REFUSIAN: We’ll do everything we can to assist you in settling on our planet.

DASSUK: Thank you.

REFUSIAN: But one thing you must do.

VENUSSA: What’s that?

REFUSIAN: Make peace with the Monoids.

DOCTOR: He’s right.  A long time ago, your ancestors accepted responsibility for the welfare of these Monoids.  They were treated like slaves.  So no wonder when they got the chance the repaid you in kind.

REFUSIAN: Unless you learn to live together, there is no future for you on Refusis.

DASSUCK: We understand.

DOCTOR: Yes, you must travel with understanding as well as hope.  You know, I once said that to one of your ancestors, a long time ago.  However, we must be going.  Goodbye.

After facilitating peace our heroes depart

After facilitating peace our heroes depart.  Dodo, the Doctor and Steven.

And so ends The Ark.  The above was a succinct summary of the story’s moral however it was all rather unsophisticated and infantile.  We have no idea if the Monoids would accept the need to co-operate with their former overlords.  Given their actions in episodes three and four it’s just as likely that would maintain the rage and continue their devious plots for vengeance. One can only hope that the human’s enhanced understanding of stewardship will facilitate a reciprocal abatement of hostilities by the Monoids.

The Ark was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 March and 26 March 1966

The Ark was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 March and 26 March 1966

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCES:

Mark Campbell, Doctor Who: The Complete Series Guide (Robinson, London: 2011).

Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, Running Through Corridors.  Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines, Iowa: 2011),

The Peculiar Case of Vicki’s Quick Exit

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I have to admit I really liked Vicki. Young, perhaps no more than 17, she had a vibrancy that had been missing in her predecessor, the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan.  As a former secondary school teacher I envied the way she was schooled. In The Web Planet Vicki incorrectly assumed that Barbara had taught at a nursery school because they “worked upwards from the three Rs.”  The curriculum of Coal Hill School in 1963 seemed like child’s play to her.  At the age of 10 she took a certificate of education in medicine,  physics and chemistry.  When asked by Barbara how long she spent in the classroom Vicki was totally perplexed.  She’d spent almost an hour a week with a machine.  Life in 2493 must have been a child’s dream existence!

A rare photo of  Maureen O'Brien as Vicki in colour

A rare photo of Maureen O’Brien as Vicki in colour

Vicki was a member of the Tardis Crew  in episodes which screened from 2 January 1965 until 6th November 1965.  In just under 12 months Vicki had gone from an orphaned girl stranded on the planet Dido to the love interest of Troilus, son of the King of Troy. During that time, however, there was little in the way of character development. Save for when we met Vicki in The Rescue and she was clearly suffering from the effects of Bennett/Koquillion’s abuse, she remains a vibrant and forthright young woman throughout. As I have previously lamented, it was a shame that the opportunity wasn’t taken to examine the long term effects of this abuse on Vicki, however my concern for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder plainly comes from a 21st century perspective.

Koquillion and Vicki

Koquillion and Vicki

This absence of character evolution says much about the 1960’s perception of women, particularly young ones.  In the 1960s the median age of first marriage for women was around 20 years of age.  Career opportunities  were limited and pay was not equal.  Although unable to locate figures for the United Kingdom, Australia as a Commonwealth country would have been reasonably similar. Until 1966 the Australian Public Service required single women  to resign from their positions on the eve of their marriage. Equal pay was not granted until 1972. Is it any surprise, therefore, that women were portrayed as either children or mothers?  With women having perhaps only five years between leaving school and marriage, this period between childhood and motherhood was marginalized and frequently forgotten.

Maureen O'Brien

Maureen O’Brien

When we first meet Vicki she is in a stereotypical role as carer for Bennett.  As Bennett is supposedly crippled and unable to work, Vicki is compelled to undertake all the chores including collecting water, cooking and cleaning.  She isn’t seen to complain about this notwithstanding the absence of any thanks from Bennett.   Once a member of the Tardis Crew, Vicki  is somewhat of a companion for the Doctor – a faux grand-daughter, if you like.   The Doctor has someone to fuss around, care about and instruct.  She provides him with moral support  and most probably a sense of identity.  She is close by his side in The Romans and The Crusade and does not distance herself in any great manner until The Space Museum, where she becomes involved with the young Xeron rebels and seems to start a revolution for fun.  A potential love interest comes to nothing. Although coupled with Steven for much of The Time Meddler, Vicki is back at the Doctor’s side during Galaxy 4.  In her final serial, The Myth Makers, Vicki  is again separated from the Doctor but only because he’s compelled her to remain in the Tardis because of a sprained ankle.  As was the case with both Susan and Barbara, female companions in Doctor Who are overly susceptible to wrenching their ankles.  They require time to recuperate from such injuries, unlike Ian who was frequently knocked unconscious and seemed able to get up, and shake it off, each time.

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Quite phenomenally Vicki is capable of falling in love with Troilus in less than 24 hours, most of which time she was a prisoner in a dungeon.  This love affair was even quicker than Susan and David’s in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Having pleaded with the Doctor in The Crusade not to leave her as the Tardis was her only home, Vicki was extraordinarily quick to leave its confines in The Myth Makers. The television audience is not even privy to Vicki’s farewells to the Doctor as they take place out of camera shot inside the Tardis. The Doctor, nonetheless, appears satisfied with her explanation which seems to have been that she didn’t want Troilus to think she had betrayed him.

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Although spending one’s life travelling in a blue wooden box through time and space may appear somewhat aimless, it’s certainly more secure than with a bloke you’ve only known for a day; in a time several thousand years before your own; and in a land where your love’s home City has been destroyed.  Ever quick to point out logical flaws in a witty manner, Wood and Miles in About Time 1 couldn’t help but extrapolate on a grave problem that Vicki and Troilus would be confronted by.  As the Tardis translates languages for the benefit of the Crew and persons they meet along the way, once it had left then the two lovers would be unable to communicate with each other.  Unless, of course, Vicki had learnt Ancient Greek, the language that Homer attributes to the Trojans in Iliad, in school!

Vicki - I hope that tasted nice!

Vicki – I hope that tasted nice!

Aside from the characterization failures in Doctor Who, the reality of Maureen O’Brien’s hasty exit from the role of Vicki appears to lay in programme’s change of producer.  According to Howe, Walker and Stammers in The Handbook, O’Brien had been cast by Verity Truman having been suggested by one of her former drama teachers who then was in the employ of the BBC. The new producer, John Wiles, replaced Truman beginning with the production of The Myth Makers, although he had shadowed Truman during the making of Galaxy 4. Wood and Miles argue that “Wiles had noticed her tendency to pick holes in the dialogue during rehearsals for Galaxy Four, and made arrangements to have her removed while the cast were on holiday”.  It was on her return from a week’s break given to the regular cast whilst Mission to the Unknown was filmed  that O’Brien heard of her dismissal. Although the new character of Katarina was going to replace Vicki it soon became evident to Wiles and story editor, Donald Tosh, that Katarina’s Trojan naivety would make her an unsuitable companion.  It’s for that reason that Katarina was just as hastily written out of Doctor Who in the fourth episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan.

A recent photo of Maureen O'Brien

A recent photo of Maureen O’Brien

So ends the less than a year long tenure of Maureen O’Brien as Vicki.  This was but the beginning of a revolving door of companions which would grace the screens of Doctor Who over the next several years.

Vicki as we first meet her

Vicki as we first meet her

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

 

References

David J Howe, Stephen James Walker & Mark Stammers, The Handbook. The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Production of Doctor Who. Telos Publishing Ltd, Surrey, 2005.

Tat Wood & Lawrence Miles, About Time 1. The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who. 1963-1966 Seasons 1 to 3. Mad Norweigan Press, Illinois, 2009.

Galaxy 4

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Galaxy 4 cover

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then no better example could be found than in the premiere story of Doctor Who’s third season, Galaxy 4.  It’s at this stage that you’d anticipate me summarizing the moral thesis of the story as my opening catch phrase alludes to.  Not so!  The beauty to which I refer bears no relationship to the relative physical characteristics of the Drahvins and the Rills, but rather to the viewer’s appreciation of the serial.  In their book Running Through Corridors, Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke approach a marathon watch of Doctor Who with the intention of finding the good in each and every story – even the downright shockers.  Despite their best endeavours,  neither Shearman or Hadoke could find much to endear them to Galaxy 4. I beg to differ, and as such am perhaps one of the few fans who genuinely love the serial.

Even Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke had difficulty finding the good in Galaxy 4

Even Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke had difficulty finding the good in Galaxy 4

It’s probably because I’m a woman that I find the concept of a female dominated alien race somewhat appealing.  The Drahvins, natives of the planet Drahva in Galaxy 4, are a most practical bunch.  When the Doctor and Steven ask the leader, Maaga, if all their race are female, Maaga’s response if most abrupt – “Oh, we have a small number of men, as many as we need.  The rest we kill.  They consume valuable food and fulfil no particular function.”  I almost squeal with delight whenever I watch that segment, but please don’t tell my sons.  They’ll probably find it hard to sleep at night!  The Doctor responds cheekily by saying, “Yours must be a very interesting civilisation”.  If ever there was an understatement, that’s one.  When Maaga later offers to free Steven if he takes the Drahvins off the planet in his ship, his retort is classic.  “Oh, yes, yes.  But even assuming I believed you, that on the way you didn’t decide that I was eating too much food, there is a snag … I can’t operate it”, he states. There are no flies on Steven.  He’s a bright one!

The Drahvins with a Chumbley

The Drahvins with a Chumbley

The Drahvins that the Doctor and his companions meet are small in number and comprise only four in total.  All have long blonde hair and wear unflattering green and white uniforms.  All but the leader, Maaga, are drones.  Bred purely as soldiers, the three are without intelligence and cultivated in test tubes.  Whilst Maaga is a living being, she considers the soldiers to be mere products, and inferior ones at that.  “Grown for a purpose and capable of nothing more”, she says, “To fight. To Kill”.  The soldiers are programmed to obey all orders on command and to offer themselves up to death if they fail in their mission. Like the Tribe of Gum in An Unearthly Child, the Drahvins cannot understand human kindness and why a person might sacrifice their life for another.  While Maaga eats real food, the soldiers subsist on tablets only.  Steven endeavours to reason with one of the Drahvin and convince her of the inequality of this class based system.   Before he can succeed Maaga enters the room and stops the conversation.

The Drahvins in colour.  Their dresses were actually green.

The Drahvins in colour. Their dresses were actually green.

The soldiers’ lack of intelligence is the cause of constant frustration to Maaga.  Charged with finding a new planet for colonization,  she was lumbered with soldiers to assist her.  All thinking is left to her and the drones lack even the intellect to imagine the Rills dying on a white exploding planet.  Death and destruction are things Maaga intellectually craves,  but killing is undertaken in an automated and routine manner by the drones.  They are incapable of enjoying the process of killing. Maaga is one sick and twisted psychotic individual!

The Drahvins in combat mode

The Drahvins in combat mode

It is little wonder that the writer, William Emms, saw fit to have the Drahvins all killed at the story’s end.  They’re not nice people, even if the thought of a planet with limited men might appear momentarily enticing.  Both the Doctor and the Rills’ failure to rescue the Drahvins, although logical, is morally troublesome.  The Rills had long offered to transport the Drahvins home, notwithstanding their longstanding aggression against them.   Earlier in the serial the Doctor had even stated to Maaga that neither he, nor his companions, kill.  And yet, the Doctor leaves the Drahvins on the planet knowing full well that within minutes it will explode.  Compare this, for a moment, with the Fourth Doctor’s classic moral dilemma in The Genesis of the Daleks.  The Doctor is afforded the opportunity to destroy the Daleks forever, and yet he hesitates.  Does he have the right to commit genocide, even though the Daleks are evil reincarnate and will cause death and suffering to millions of people?  Sarah Jane certainly considers it morally acceptable but the Doctor is not so sure. By the Seventh Doctor’s tenure, however, such moral  concerns appear far from his mind when Skaro is seemingly destroyed in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Is it morally correct to kill the Drahvins?

Is it morally correct to kill the Drahvins?

That Galaxy 4 featured humans produced by test tube, 13 years prior the first in vitro fertilisation (IVF) birth in 1978, is quite marvellous.  The story canvassed the moral issue of cloning three decades before the birth of Dolly the Sheep in 1996.   Future science, rather than science fiction, was at the core.

Maaga, the Drahvin leader, isn't a clone

Maaga, the Drahvin leader, isn’t a clone

I opened with the phrase  “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  This, undoubtedly, was the major theme of the writer, William Emms.  The beautiful people in the serial, the Drahvins, are actually morally bankrupt and psychotically evil.  Given their blonde hair, I suspect the Drahvins to be modelled on the Nazis.  Not unlike Hitler, their leader  Maaga rallied her troops’ support by openly lying about the “enemy”. The Nazis lead the German people to incorrectly believe that the Jewish people were the cause of Germany’s economic woes. Maaga convinced her people that the Rills had killed a Drahvin soldier and were necessarily evil.   Maaga had actually killed the soldier herself.

Steven, the Doctor and Vicki encounter Chumblies for the first time

Steven, the Doctor and Vicki encounter Chumblies for the first time

The Rills are the “ugly”  of the story and even consider themselves to be physically unbearable to all but their own kind.  They are great big green blobs that can only breathe ammonia. They are, however, the good and the just of the story.  Notwithstanding having their spacecraft shot down by the Drahvins, they offer assistance to the stranded women when both peoples are marooned on the planet.  They continue to offer the hand of friendship almost to the end.   They immediately forgive the Doctor for sabotaging their equipment and attend to the repair without seeking the Doctor’s assistance.  Like the Sensorites, the Rill communicate telepathically.  Having no vocal chords they speak through the robotic Chumblies.

A Chumbley with four Rills in the background

A Chumbley with four Rills in the background

I cannot end this review without mention of Chumblies.  I love the Chumblies.  They’re cute and chumble around in a most endearing fashion.  So named by Vicki for that very reason, it’s somewhat amusing that the Rills had no problem using this adopted nickname when referring to their robotic assistants.  Surely they already had a name for them!  “Bring back the Chumblies” I say to BBC Wales, and while you’re at it, a big stuffed Chumbley would look rather nice on my bed!

Maaga, Steven and Vicki

Maaga, Steven and Vicki

Only episode three of Galaxy 4 exists in its entirety, having been rediscovered in 2011.  A reconstruction of the missing story, using off-screen stills, audio recordings and animation, together with the recently recovered episode three, was included in the special features of The Aztecs Special Edition released in 2013.

The Doctor and Vicki realize that the Chumbley poses no threat

The Doctor and Vicki realize that the Chumbley poses no threat

A reconstruction of "Galaxy 4", including the complete episode three, is included as a special feature of "The Aztecs" Special Edition DVD. "Galaxy 4" was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 September and 2 October 1965

A reconstruction of “Galaxy 4”, including the complete episode three, is included as a special feature of “The Aztecs” Special Edition DVD.
“Galaxy 4” was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 September and 2 October 1965

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

 

REFERENCE:

Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, “Running Through Corridors.  Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who” (Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines, Iowa: 2011),