Episodes 68, 69, 70 & 71: The Space Museum, The Dimensions of Time, The Search. The Final Phase

Written by Glyn Jones
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield

Lets get something straight: I am someone who likes their art a bit on the experimental side . Yesterday I found out about jazz metal musician Felix Martin, inventor and player of the fourteen string guitar. I’m still pretty excited about this now. Having been raised on a solid diet of Philip K Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Grant Morrison, I often drift off a bit when stories make too much sense. It was with great delight, therefore, that I watched the first episode of this story, The space Museum.

Due to a faulty component in the console, the TARDIS ‘jumps a time stream*’ and the crew find themselves wandering around somewhere they haven’t arrived yet. So far, so trippy. It gets worse for them though, when they stumble across their own future: trapped inanimate inside a glass case – an exhibit in this gargantuan museum. Bummer.

This episode represents classic Who at its finest, and sets up the whacky and mind bending stuff that has been the hallmark of the current (11th, at time of writing) Doctor’s adventures. It raises some excellent questions about the nature of causality, and is altogether a gripping story. Its a shame that it didn’t last.

After the first episode, the travelers catch up to themselves, and it turns into a pretty run of the mill Dr Who story albeit with slightly wobbly sets and slightly worse acting. Actually, thats not fair. All of the core cast and most of the guest cast give perfectly solid performances. I don’t like to be mean on this blog, in fact I try hard not to be, but there is, however, there is nothing good I can say about Richard Shaw’s attempt at playing Lobos. Its rare that a performance stands out as being so bad that it really takes me out of a story, but it happens here.

Not that the remaining three episodes are devoid of interest. The image of the Doctor emerging from the empty dalek armour he was hiding in remains one of the best comedy moments of the era. Hartnell, in fact, is great throughout the story, getting some great Doctor moments, such as confounding the Morok’s mind reading machine with sheer willpower.

This episode also marks Who’s first bumpy-head guys. Its pretty impressive that they managed to run for coming on two years without any of them. The Xerons are pretty mild examples of this, and their rubber eyebrows don’t really leave them looking alien enough, just  a bit silly. Nothing like as good as some of the other Who aliens. The Daleks, for example. unlike the youth on Britain at the time, watching collectively from behind the sofa, Vicki seemed to find the Dalek in the museum rather amusing. Would the Daleks be able to retain their impact if the demand for them was met? We’ll find out next time, in The Chase.

*No, I don’t understand either, just go with it.

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