Tuesday, 5 April 2011

18: Galaxy 4 - An Interesting, If Somewhat Flawed Twist On The Traditional Bug Eyed Monster Tale.

Written by: Williams Emms.
Companions: The Doctor, Vicki and Steven Taylor.
Monsters/Villains: Drahvins, Rills, Chumblies.
Brief Synopsis: On a disintegrating planet, The female Drahvins are at war with the Rills and their Robot pets.
Rating: 5/10.

Hello! Blogland? Here I find myself, blind, on an unknown, unnamed planet, which has only 14 dawns before it will explode. Surrounded by odd noise making R2-D2 rejects called Chumblies, and two races, the beautiful Drahvins and the mysterious Rills. I have entered the wilderness years, beginning with Galaxy 4.

I'm not really blind, but I might as well be as only the audio exists for this story, and there are very few telesnaps. Only a short section of episode one remains. For this outing I have opted to listen to the BBC Television Soundtrack. It works well as a radio drama. Oddly enough, none of the story takes place in Galaxy Four but on an unnamed planet. It's described as 'not the most attractive. The ground is black and smooth, with trees and plants flourishing between cracks in the surface.' Our story kicks off as the TARDIS materialises whilst Vicki is giving Steven a haircut. Vicki clearly used all that spare time only studying one hour a week to learn some barbering skills, and actually gets the line, "Well I've finished chopping this fellow, can we go out and see?"

The TARDIS crew encounter the Rills machines. 
(Vicki: LOL, Chumblies)
We then meet the first of what Vicki will insist on calling the Chumblies. Who sound a bit like the clangers. Vicki will take every opportunity throughout the whole of this story to mention her silly name for these odd robots. Literally every time they're mentioned she'll have a little laugh to herself, "ha! Chumblies." She even manages to get the Rills to refer to their creations this way. Why does she call them this you ask? Because apparently they have, and I quote "a sort of Chumblie movement." Right?!

Margaa and the Drahvins. Sounds likes a sixties pop band.
As the crew explore the planet the Doctor comments "This silence reminds me of the planet Xeros." If only we could see it too, Doctor. We're then introduced to the Drahvins. They are attractive, have long blonde hair, but no warmth in their faces. They wear plain high-necked green and white uniforms, and  carry large guns. And we actually get to see them as this is where the one remaining scene is. The Drahvins rescue the TARDIS crew, immobilise the ha ha Chumblie and take them back to their crippled ship. We then meet Margaa the Drahvin leader (played by Stephanie Bidmead), who explains that they are from the planet Drahva in Galaxy 4, which they left 400 dawns ago to find a new planet to colonise. Margaa is a real person whereas her Drahvin soldiers were cultivated in test-tubes, grown simply to fight and to kill. We also learn that the reason for their landing on this planet is due to an attack from the Rills; who Margaa describes as "Not people. Things, that crawl and murder." According to Margaa the Rills shot them down without provocation, but not before they could return the favour. She also claims that the Rills killed an injured Drahvin. A time scale is added to the story when we discover that the planet will explode in 14 dawns. The first cliffhanger is excellent aS the Doctor discovers that it is actually only 2 dawns until the planet's demise. "Tomorrow is the last day this planet will ever see..."

Peter Purves is Excellent as Steven Taylor.
The Doctor continues to re-iterate his passive nature, "I never kill anything. Neither do my friends." When the Drahvins agree to let the Doctor and one other go to capture the Rill spaceship, Steven bravely offers to remain, helping Vicki to escape. Peter Purves really is excellent as Steven Taylor. He's really filled Ian's shoes nicely. He has a great scene in episode 2 where he uses logic to try to win over one of the Drahvins, goading her in to taking Margaa's gun.

A Rill.
As the Doctor and Vicki arrive at the Rills ship they enter to see a huge pair of alien eyes looking at them through the glass. The Doctor discovers a machine that filters ammonia gas into certain rooms in the ship; from this he deduces that the Rills can't go outside. The chortle Chumblies enter and separate the Doctor and Vicki. The Rills assimilate Vicki's voice and language. As they communicate through thought, they use the guffaw Chumblies to tell her that they are not violent, they have offered to take the Drahvins with them in their ship. The Drahvins shot first bringing down both ships and Margaa killed her own injured soldier. 

Vicki returns to the Doctor in the nick of time to stop him from sabotaging the Rills ammonia gas air filter. The rills are reluctant to let the Doctor and Vicki see them, but when they do the Doctor, Steven and Vicki aren't shocked. They state, "Importance lies in character, and what use is made of intelligence. We respect you as we respect all life." In the end the Doctor helps the Rills to use the TARDIS to power their ship and escape, leaving the Drahvins to their fate as the planet explodes. 

Another Rill.
The Rills really interest me.  These are the only two pictures of the Rills that exist. They really remind me of the Guild Navigators in Dune. Huge ugly, bug eyed creatures who live in large tanks of gas. Dune was published the year after this story was aired. Coincidence? Maybe, or maybe not? Perhaps Frank Herbert pinched the idea from Doctor Who.

The Guild Navigator from Dune.
At the end of the story we get a really interesting cliffhanger. Back in the TARDIS Vicki looks at the scanner screen and comments, "Look at that planet, I wonder what's going on there?" We then find ourselves on the planet Kembel, where  Astronaut Jeff Garvey wakes up saying "I remember now. Must kill, must kill, must kill."

Galaxy 4 presents an interesting if somewhat flawed twist on the traditional bug eyed monster tale with the fairly simple moral message, Don't judge by appearances. The story is not one of the best, but the characters are interesting enough, and the reveal of the Rills, is timed well (even if we can't actually see them now).

At the end in the TARDIS the Doctor wishes for a break, well that's exactly what he'll get, as neither he, nor the TARDIS or any companions appear in the next episode. Join me next time for Mission To The Unknown.

Addendum: Christmas came early on Sunday 11th of December 2011, when it was announced that episode 3, "Airlock" from Galaxy Four had been discovered. This is currently the only extant episode from this story. Click here to find out more about the discovery.

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