And so to the next of this year’s classic Doctor Who releases. This set contains two consecutive stories shown between April and June 1965, and star William Hartnell as the Doctor, William Russell as Ian, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara and Maureen O’Brien as Vicki. In the usual way, I’ll deal with each story separately.
The Space Museum
A rare attempt for the time at a real bit of science fiction. Not a terribly good attempt, perhaps, but it deserves full credit for trying. The TARDIS lands on the usual kind semi-deserted planet, where the first sign of oddness is that when they walk across sand, they leave no footprints. The next sign is that the guards in what turns out to be a museum apparently can’t see them. But the really odd thing is when they get into the museum and find among the exhibits not just a Dalek, but themselves. Somehow they can tell that these aren’t waxworks, or simulacra of some more technologically advanced nature, but actually them.
It appears that a “time track” has been jumped, and the travellers are out of sync with the planet. Eventually, they catch up and the fun can really start. The planet is Xeros, which the Moroks have turned into a museum of their military victories. The native Xerons have mostly been sent off as slave labourers, leaving just a few young people behind to plot revolution.
And that’s were it goes a bit wrong. The Moroks are a bit rubbish as conquerors, the Xerons, despite some interesting eyebrows, don’t really do that much, and it’s a bit of a mess really. But it does lead to the Doctor taking a Time-Space Visualiser from the museum, which is how he and his friends learn that the Daleks, being a bit annoyed about being stopped in The Dalek Invasion of Earth have decided to track the Doctor down and kill him. But that’s another story.
Extras are relatively slight on this one:
- Defending the Museum – Robert Shearman, who wrote the Doctor Who episode Dalek for the 2005 series, puts on a spirited defence of this story. See, it’s not rubbish, it’s a parody. Sorry, not really convinced…
- My Grandfather, the Doctor – William Hartnell’s granddaughter talks about his life and career. Quite nice, actually.
- A Holiday for the Doctor - Oh dear. Oh dear. Described as “spoof comedy recollections of 1960s Doctor Who”, this features a slightly odd presenter in drag, and doesn’t really work for me.
- And all the usual bits and bobs
This is a more substantial six-parter, and involves some high-class silliness, which is something I’m generally fond of, so I have to say I enjoyed watching this rather more than the previous disc. Anyway, the plot involves the Doctor and his friends being chased through time and space by a bunch of Daleks in their own time machine. At each step the Daleks get closer…
It all starts on the desert planet Aridius, where the travellers have trouble with some slightly dodgy monsters before moving on to the Empire State Building, where a very excitable tourist is quite impressed by the TARDIS. He’s even more impressed with the Daleks, who for some reason don’t take the time to exterminate him for being annoying. Another stop is on a sailing ship, where the appearance of the Daleks frightens the crew so much that they all jump overboard, and yes of course it was the Mary Celeste.
And finally, they end up on the planet Mechanus, where after some trouble with some energetic mushrooms, they meet the Mechanoids. Or possibly the Mechonoids, depending on which part of the script you believe. These turn out to be robots sent from Earth to prepare the planet for colonisation, but as there were some delays, they upgraded themselves into something that doesn’t really want to welcome a load of icky humans. They’ve been keeping a prisoner for a couple of years. Steven Taylor, the survivor of a crashed ship, is quite keen on leaving, but not without his cuddly toy.
The Daleks catch up, and find that despite being ever-so-slightly bonkers, homicidal and metallic, they don’t get on at all well with the Mechanoids (or indeed Mechonoids) and they proceed to wipe each other out. While that’s going on, the Doctor and his friends escape. After some dithering, the Doctor agrees to help Ian and Barbara use the controllable Dalek time machine to return to Earth in 1965, leaving just Vicki to accompany him. Well, as far as can be seen on screen, anyway. In the next story, it turns out that Steven stowed away in the TARDIS.
Anyway, it’s a good fun story, and I’ve deliberately omitted lots of details to make it more interesting for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. And this one comes with lots of quality extras:
- Cusick in Cardiff - this is lovely. Raymond Cusick, designer of the Daleks, and indeed of much else in the early years of the show, pays a visit to the studios of the new series, where he’s warmly welcomed by current designers Edward Thomas and Peter McKinstry. He’s got lots of stories, they’ve got new toys to show off, and everyone seems to have a great time. One of the nicest extras ever.
- The Thrill of the Chase – a different kind of thing, this. Rather than lots of talking heads, this has director Richard Martin talking about making the story. Nicely done
- Last Stop White City – the story of Barbara and Ian. Also nicely done.
- Daleks Conquer and Destroy - Lots of chat about the Daleks’ role in the series, including contributions from original producer Verity Lambert.
- Daleks Beyond the Screen - Dalek toys, comics and all the other stuff that was sold in the 60s and later
- Shawcraft – The Original Monster Makers - Documentary about the work of Shawcraft Models, who produced loads of stuff for the series in the 60s.
- Follow that Dalek - Slightly silly amateur film from around 1967, showing a lot of Shawcraft’s work
- Give-a-show slides – oooh, nostalgia. Give-a-show projectors were slightly naff toys from the 60s. They projected badly drawn slide strips onto a very nearby wall, which you could just about make out if it was dark enough and the batteries were fresh. As you might gather, I had one as a kid, but what I didn’t have was this set of Doctor Who stories. They’re all very brief – four pictures with very brief lines of text and oddly drawn characters. The first half is worth watching for curiosity, but it gets a bit dull after that.
- All the usual bits!
So, there you have it – I have a suspicion that the two stories were issued together because a release of The Space Museum on its own might have been a bit naff. But as a set which cost less than two single releases, it’s not so bad.
 There’s a lot of suitably named planets in this era of the show…
 Played by one Peter Purves, more of whom later
 I’m the same about my Tiggers
 Also played by Peter Purves, who went on to present Blue Peter for a decade or so
 No Duracell or Energiser in those days. Leak-prone low capacity ones were all you could have
 Which generally look like they were translated from Klingon into English via Japanese and Linear B