Tuesday, May 19, 2009

T1 - Four Hundred Dawns

What a cheat the first two seasons of Doctor Who are, in relation to the contents of the BBC Archives. After a good few weeks of relatively complete viewing (barring the odd missing or, in the case of Marco Polo, the odd missing story), one might be led to believe that the missing episode situation in the Doctor Who world has been blown out of proportion.

And then we hit Season 3, where the amount of complete material in the archives diminishes drastically. Over the course of the next three seasons, there are only four complete stories in existence to review, as well as a smattering of "orphaned" episodes. As I explained a few weeks back, though, thankfully reconstructions have been made for each and every missing episode out there, so we can at least enjoy a resemblance of the missing episodes.

Due to the qualms of the TV station that broadcast Doctor Who in my youth, I am on incredibly familiar terms with all Doctor Who stories originally broadcast from 1970-89. I only encountered the 1960's episodes in the early 90's, and so my photographic memory for a lot of the black and white episodes is nowhere near my scene-by-scene recalls for some of Peter Davison's episodes. I only stumbled upon the reconstructions in 2005, which led to an exciting prospect - experiencing new (to me) Doctor Who episodes that were made some 40 years ago. So, as I embark on this, the bleakest era of Doctor Who watching (in terms of quantity of existing episodes, and by no means of quality), a new buzz has hit me, as this will only be the third time through most of these episodes before things settle down a bit for the near complete Season 6.

The downside is that I have to start the journey with Episode One of Galaxy Four, which features cute little robots called Chumblies that look like the tops of giant ice cream cones and make what seems like only two or three different noises. All. The. Time. I'm sure they were a bundle of laughs in 1965, but they're tough as hell to decipher now without the benefit of moving pictures.

Less difficult to understand is the brutal, militaristic race of women called the Drahvins. I kind of like the concept of the Drahvins, as they could have been portrayed as the typical "planet of women" type of aliens, but their singular aggressive purpose and complete contempt towards the men of their own society makes them stand out. If this was a classic Star Trek episode, Kirk would have taken all his shore leave in one go on Drahva, as well as, with less success, Spock and, say, Chekov. Hilarity would ensue.

Not much hilarity going on in Galaxy Four, but the basic plot is hammered out in Episode One. The planet is dying, two different groups want to leave the planet, but can't. Oh, and the Chumblies are vicious little dollops of ice cream.


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