Hello everyone, the Historian here, as promised, along with our regular crew of Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo, MisterMother and our new member, Photobug! This week, we leave thirteenth century Palestine and arrive someplace completely different. Now, let's get to the summary!
Episode summary: First aired 24 April 1965. The TARDIS crew stands motionless, seemingly trapped, as the lights in the control room dim. The TARDIS materializes on an arid planet that has a number of spaceships standing as well as a large building in the distance. Inside, the crew--now suddenly in their normal clothes, instead of their Crusader costumes--seem to come alive again. The Doctor turns on the lights and everyone discovers their clothes have changed! The Doctor dismisses the others' questions and sends Vicki to get him a glass of water. As she starts back with the full glass, Vicki drops it. The glass shatters on the floor...and then, to Vicki's shock, comes together again, water and all, and leaps back into her hand! Back in the control room, the other three are using the scanner screen to see where they've landed. Barbara is taken by the spaceships and how quiet it is, wondering whether it could be some kind of space graveyard. Ian suggests a dumping ground or a large launching pad. Barbara, noticing the building, asks the Doctor what he thinks; he replies that there's no way to know without going out to check! Vicki, obviously shaken, brings the Doctor his water. She tries to explain what happened, but it's obvious that the Doctor doesn't really believe her. Examining the screen again, he declares that they must have landed at a museum. As evidence, he points out that the spaceships form a definite technological advancement.
Leaving the TARDIS, they note the barrenness of the place they've landed. The rocks appear highly eroded and the planet seems dead--although the atmosphere is "quite pleasant." The Doctor suggests they make their way to the building to find some answers when Ian points out something disturbing: the ground is covered with a thick layer of dust...and yet they have left no footprints at all!
After a short walk, the crew make it to the strange building, discovering it has only one door and no windows. Barbara has noticed something else: when everyone stops moving or talking, everything is absolutely silent. There is no noise on the planet at all. Suddenly, the doors open! The crew hides as two men in white uniforms walk out of the building. Unable to hold it in, Vicki sneezes just as the men are about to pass them--but neither man shows any evidence of having heard! The two walk away. The Doctor dismisses the idea that they could both be deaf, and suggests that they enter the building and try to find the answers inside.
Inside, the Doctor speculates that there could be something in the atmosphere that "has a slow destructive property," thus the lack of windows. The building is illuminated by some kind of florescent substance in the walls. Looking around, it is obvious that the Doctor was correct--this is a museum, with exhibits in cases. Entering another room, the Doctor is shocked to come face to face with--a Dalek! But it, too, is an exhibit, with a sign reading "DALEK-PLANET SKARO" hung on it. Vicki, having only read about the creatures in history books, is delighted to actually see a Dalek; to her companions' surprise, she thinks that the creature "looks quite friendly"! Ian tells her that she wouldn't say that if they ever met the Daleks again, which he thinks unlikely--or, rather, he hopes another meeting is unlikely! Just then, the Doctor warns everyone to take cover. They hide and see two men walk through the room, looking around them. The men stop and appear to talk with each other, but not a sound can be heard. After the men leave, the TARDIS crew speculate. Perhaps they communicate at a high frequency, too high to be heard? They move on.
In the next room, unseen by her friends, Vicki reaches out to touch an exhibit...and is shocked to realize her hand passes right through it, as though through air! She calls to the others and Ian tries to touch it with the same results. The Doctor is sure there must be a logical explanation for all of this...but before he can come up with one, and before they can hide, the two men, along with a third, walk up. Silently "talking" among themselves, and ignoring the completely visible TARDIS crew (one of them appears to look right at Vicki), the men walk into another room. Our friends are surprised, but Ian concludes that they must be invisible. The Doctor, however, isn't so sure.
Later, feeling as though they've walked for miles, the travellers enter a room to see a familiar sight--the TARDIS! Barbara, Vicki and Ian are all for leaving right away, but the Doctor does not think it will be that easy--and puts his hand through the TARDIS, as well as walking through it, to prove that. He has also seen what's set up against the opposite wall and draws his friends' attention to it: a set of display cases, each containing one of them, frozen and immobile! Somehow, they have become exhibits in a space museum! But how? Vicki arrives at the idea that the Doctor has already formed: they are in a different "time dimension" from the "them" in the cases, looking from the outside in. The crew we have been following are not really there in the museum, thus no footprints, no broken glass, etc. The Doctor, admitting that he's not good at "solving the fourth dimension," suggests that the TARDIS has "jumped a time track." But how will they get back to reality?
The Doctor has the answer: they must wait until the normal-time them arrive. Somehow, before being put into the cases, they must have arrived at the museum, yes? What they are seeing right now is a glimpse of their future; once the travellers "arrive," everything should snap back into the present. Vicki wonders if they can't just leave the museum and return to their TARDIS and get away, but the Doctor reminds them that the future shows them as exhibits. They must remain and try to change that future so they do not end up frozen in a museum forever! As to when they will arrive, it could happen any moment. They'll know they're really there when the exhibit cases disappear. Just as the Doctor says this, Barbara feels strange...something is happening....
There is a moment showing the crew in the control room, dressed in their Crusade clothes...the TARDIS lands....then they are dressed as normal...the glass falls and shatters...the two men we saw leaving the building arrive and notice the TARDIS and then see footprints appearing that lead towards the museum...and, as the crew stands immobile, the display cases fade from existence! The four come round and realization dawns....they have arrived.....
And now, Ketina's paraphrased transcript (patent not pending)!
K: Okay, that was trippy.
M: 15 seconds of story stretched out to 25 minutes. Nothing happened.
S: “Nothing happened my boy? Everything happened, just nothing yet.”
H: “Well Chesterfield… “
Sc: The Floverestent lights…fla…
H: One of the things about this episode is that it’s all build up. It’s similar to the first episode of the Daleks. It’s all build up and atmosphere, but nothing is going on.
M: Only it didn’t make any sense.
H: But the time travel stuff was there.
M: That was the 15 seconds. It was trippy and all…
Sc: I liked it.
M: They have the arc of the episode. They materialized, and the cases disappear. But it didn’t make any sense, and it just seemed like filler for the 20 minutes between.
H: It made sense to me. It’s just the “Billy Fluffs” make it hard to understand, but the Doctor and Vicki do attempt to explain it.
K: I wish they just left the full explanation to Vicki. The rest of us might have understood it.
P: The only way I could figure out was going on, was that I incorrectly assumed the planet was running backwards in time.
M: Or maybe they jumped a time track and they were drifting backwards to where they attempted to be.
P: But they weren’t walking backwards.
M: Too hard to film.
S: I submit that the audience is also unstuck in time. Here’s why. We are not the original audience of this episode. The original audience is not jaded with years of time travel stories in science fiction. We are. Seeing time sliced up is an original idea at this point.
H: This is the first time Doctor Who is actually experimenting with the idea of time travel.
M: I get the sense of doom and all that, but the episode was badly done. The “Billy Fluffs” weren’t the only thing. It was bad enough that I was worried they were going to fall into the set pieces.
H: Welcome to Doctor Who filmed in Lime Grove Studio D, about the size of this dining room we’re in.
S: You liked it Sc.
Sc: I’m willing to roll with it. The one thing I would like to say is when Vicki dropped the glass and it bounced back, I was like “drop it again and see what happens!”
H: I think the intent of this episode is to be “what’s going on? What’s going to happen?”
P: I thought that going into the building and hiding when anyone shows up was very unlike Doctor Who. Why wouldn’t they want to talk to anyone?
H: But they don’t know what kind of museum it was, was it dangerous?
M: The writers were working on making something ominous.
H: I liked the Dalek scene. Once again Vicki tries to turn something horrible into a pet. First there was the creature in the Rescue, then the Zarbi. She has a thing for horrible creatures.
P: She’s going to have a doomed marriage.
R: Everything she sees is “chibi” [Ketina: ‘chibi’ is basically a Japanese term for small and cute]
P: I thought it was disturbing that she appeared to be more informed than the Doctor about anything.
H: I don’t think she was more knowledgeable. I think it was that she figured it out at the same time as he did, and the actress was better at delivering the lines.
M: I found it hard not to laugh at the script.
Sc: They didn’t explain the clothes changing thing.
H: I guess the idea is that if they hadn’t jumped the time track they would have changed clothes but… ah…
K: Well, it still didn’t make sense. Anyway, I want to say, that I thought the soundtrack was nicely done. Okay, most of the time.
R: Dun dun dun! Look out, there’s someone walking in the hallway!
K: Okay, the music itself wasn’t all that great. But I really liked the way the sound track cut out entirely to emphasize the absolute silence of the place.
H: I thought it was interesting that the TARDIS model is distinctly different than the TARDIS prop. The shield, for example, was on the model but is no longer on the prop. It doesn’t show up again on the prop until this year. [I meant in the 2010 series, for those reading this in years to come! --H]
M: I thought it was interesting that they redid part of this story 40 years later in the Eccleston story Dalek, where they also end up in a museum and see a Dalek.
K: That was cool.
H: And there’s even a reference to The Space Museum in the new episode “Amy’s Choice”.
H: I actually thought that from a 1965 point of view that the hands through the objects was a really good effect.
S: Not the TARDIS effect. But the first time with was really good. I didn’t see that coming until she put her hand through it.
H: Did you like the episode MiniSpoo?
H: You looking forward to seeing it next week?
S: What did you like about the episode, MS?
MS: I don’t know.
M: Well, I thought Hartnell was all over the map. Some parts he was great, but the middle of it was like he was drunk.
H: The beginning it felt focused. But yeah, in the middle things went downhill. They would film it all in basically real time, so he was probably getting really tired by then.
H: Anyway, anything else?
R: Flock of Seagulls? [Referring to the aliens' hair...I think!--H]
H: Oh yeah, the shoulder-ma-pads! [Again, the costumes on the aliens.]
J: I thought it was cool that they weren’t really walking on the ground when they were outside.
H: The effect of the footprints appearing was cool.
R: But as a geologist’s child, I was like what the hell with the “I’ve never seen erosion this advanced!”
H: And cold associated with extinction was odd. Was the science back then was all “the dinosaurs died because the planet got cold?”
P: As the new guy, you depended on a lot of information from the previous story.
H: Not a lot of information.
P: But they did carry over a lot from the previous episode. I thought that was pretty cool.
H: They did a lot of that during the early stories. It’s only between seasons that they take breaks.
[Things kind of ended here]
Ketina here. Just in summary, the Historian and I have both seen this story before, but most of the other’s had not. I had a lot of fun watching everyone else’s reaction to the weirdness. :-)
The Historian back with you again for a final note. It seems odd, but I discovered that running through an episode transcript and writing the summary, the whole thing actually felt like it made a lot more sense than it did simply watching the episode. Certainly the "jumping a time track" explanation made more sense. I think that lends a bit of credence to our discussion above, about how the script confusion, combined with some very bad Billy Fluffs/Hartnellisms made this episode a bit more impenetrable than it might have otherwise been. Will that trend continue next week, or will things settle down to a more understandable adventure? Join us and find out! Until then, I remain
NEXT WEEK: "THE DIMENSIONS OF TIME"