Monday, 7 March 2011

15: The Space Museum - A Parody Of Itself.

Written by: Glyn Jones.
Companions: The Doctor, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, Vicki.
Monsters/Villains: The Moroks.
Brief Synopsis: The TARDIS jumps a time track and arrives on Xeros before it's supposed to.
Rating: 6/10.

Welcome back faithful reader, things are going to be a little different this time around. I have (somehow) persuaded three of my good friends to take up my invitation to watch a totally random episode of Doctor Who. Not the best episode, not the most iconic, just a bog-standard one. The Space Museum seemed like a perfect choice for the Hartnell era. 

So let me start by introducing my three hapless buddies. This is Laura, Robin & Holly. They've all watched some modern Who and Robin might have been in the room while I've watched an episode or two, but aside from that they are all Classic Who virgins. I love how random an introduction this will be for them. What will they make of it? 

As we kick off, Robin sings along to the theme tune. Some things never change. I'm a little nervous that my three friends might find this a tad dull. We sit in silence for a while and then to my surprise all three start to laugh and I realise that this a comedy again. Laura's the first to speak: "I feel like I'm watching a play."

The others agree. Then Robin points out the story trope; the Doctor doesn't know how to fly the TARDIS so they never know where they will arrive next in order to precipitate the adventure style. We all have a little laugh at Vicki noticing the erosion. Robin points out how very slow it is in comparison to modern television and how everything could happen much more quickly. Laura says it has an improvised feel to it. Perhaps due to the fact Bill Hartnell is probably ad libbing a little because he can't remember his lines. Robin's response to this is to suggest that they could have found people who can ad lib through the fluffed lines. Robin says that he likes the Doctors costume.

Then everyone begins to question the point of the story and the show. I explain at this point it was a children's adventure serial that went out at 5.15. Holly pipes up, saying that back in the 60's maybe just going to an alien planet or time traveling was enough without a more all encompassing aspect.

Robin says he thinks the Doctor is believably his age and that's why he feels like he should be telling people what to do. Holly says he isn't super smart like the Doctor is now in the new series. I point out that even though his physical appearance is older than that of Matt Smith the character is actually a lot younger at this point.

As we reach the first cliffhanger where the crew come across themselves as exhibits in the museum we all discuss what would happen if we met ourselves. We also debate for sometime what exactly has happened with the TARDIS jumping the time track. Laura questions that this is meant for children and says that she's an adult and she's confused. However, everyone agrees they like the cliffhanger and that it comes at the right place.

On to episode two. Then to my shock Laura says "She is awful," about Barbara. I don't say anything. Robin replies "they're all awful," and Holly adds "except the Doctor," to which the first two agree. I am shocked. It seems so odd to hear people put down the supporting cast who so often carry Hartnell. Perhaps the status of being 'The Doctor' gives him a free pass and he is allowed to be the 'good' one for that reason.

Both the girls point out the fact that the Xerons have two sets of eyebrows; their real ones and the character ones. As the Xerons discuss their predicament Robin says "this scene is better than the last episode, it actually has a point to it, they're not just talking for the sake of it." After a while Robin changes his mind and decides that in the role of the 'action hero' he likes Ian.

We learn the Xerons are trying to win back their planet for the Morok agressors, who have turned it in to a massive museum of the history of their wars. The Xerons kidnap the Doctor in order to ask his help. They leave one Xeron on guard and when they return the Doctor has escaped and tied up his captor. Robin says, "this is the first time I've seen the Doctor do something awesome. In the new series he just brags about stuff like this that he's done." I find that interesting as this ruse takes place off screen so we don't actually see it happen anyway.

Holly who's been quite quiet comes out with a corker. "Clothes are a really big issue in this!" She points out that the stuff with their clothes changing at the beginning, Ian's lost button, and the labyrinth idea to use Barbara's cardigan as a ball of wool to stop the gang from unwillingly having to retrace their steps.

At this point I realise that this episode is a parody of the series thus far. There's a dalek in the museum. The Doctor hides inside it, almost mocking it. Just as Ian did with the Thals, Vicki persuades the Xerons to revolt. The Xerons are the planets locals who are being oppressed by the Morons, sorry Moroks. Who are rubbish at oppressing. The Xerons leader Tor is also rubbish and seems to always have his hand on his hips. The story may not be the strongest but it is certainly challenging all three of my friends. They're asking questions at least.

Tor is ready for anything, he's got his hands on his hips.
As we reach the end of episode two I give them the option to stop but they are happy to carry on. Robin points out a hilarious moment where a Morok guard discovers Ian, Barbara and Vicki and the three speak secretly for ages, even thought the guard albeit off screen is only a few feet away. It's truly brilliant.

In the scene where Vicki persuades the Xerons to revolt, we are all distracted by the odd food and drink they're eating. It looks like chocolate and fake Guinness. The Xerons leader, Tor is played by none other that Jeremy Bullock a.k.a Boba Fett. Robin finds it really funny when the Xerons claim that they are really great planners. Laura says "yeah, they throw great parties." Holly is the only one who notices that the Doctor is entirely absent from episode three.

Look Tor's got his hands on his hips again. It's so you can
tell him apart from the other Xerons.
As we push on into episode four we all question why Barbara and the Xeron guy wake up when they're still in the gas even thought they've passed out. In the end the Xerons win out and destroy the Moroks and quickly go about dismantling the space museum. The Doctor comes out of the TARDIS and explains that there is a small part of the ship that hadn't clicked into place, and that is why they hadn't really arrived and were able to walk through things, not be seen, and leave no foot prints, because it hadn't properly clicked into place. The Doctor then uses the simile of a lamp that doesn't turn on straight away, and Ian says "thanks for explaining it Doctor." We all just look at each other and laugh. Unbeknownst to my colleagues this is perhaps a little reminiscent of the unpressed button incident in The Edge of Destruction.

Tor is ready to make a plan. They're really good at making plans are the Xerons.
As Vicki and Tor say their goodbyes before the TARDIS departs Laura entreats: "kiss, kiss, kiss!" I really like that she has picked up on this very subtle romantic plot and even though there is no way she can know, this is surely another parody of all the times this has happened in the series previously. We all agree that the final cliffhanger with the Daleks is superbly to the point and therefore effective.

My only real criticism of this story is that it is clearly intended as comedy or parody but it hasn't been directed in this way. As the credits roll I ask each of my friends for their opinion and marks out of ten.

Laura says as a girl who doesn't like Doctor Who, I quite enjoyed it, but it was quite slow and gives The Space Museum:


Holly says the effects are simple and dated, but they must have been amazing back in the sixties and gives it: 


Robin says he thinks the story telling was unnecessarily sacrificed for effects, but that he is looking forward to seeing what the next guy does with the role and gives it: 


A big thank you to my three blog-a-teers for their time and thoughts. Join me next time for The Chase.

1 comment:

tigerna9 said...

Oh, those awful white uniforms - I think they returned later. The set was like being 'lost in the psychodelic sixties!'