The Crusade ended with a creepy scene in which the travelers are in suspended animation. I thought it was a good sign for the story to come. And, after watching the first episode of the Space Museum, I was not disappointed. It turns out they were frozen because the TARDIS was in the process of jumping a time track. When they were able to move again, their clothes had been changed (unconcerned, the Doctor notes that they have been saved the bother of having to change themselves). Things they do seem to have no impact on their environment — Vicki drops a glass that fixes itself. In a nice, subtle touch, as the Doctor drinks the water, the level does not decrease. They don’t leave footprints, and other people on the planet cannot see or hear them. They’ve landed on the planet Xeron, home of a space museum. And after walking through it, they discover themselves in cases. They have jumped the time track and ended up in the future. They then had to wait for themselves to arrive so they could prevent their display-case future.
I love time travel paradoxes. And the idea that if you’re in the future you have to wait for the present to catch up is one of my favorites. I first encountered it in the Stephen King miniseries and novella The Langoliers in which King deals with the issue mostly in the past, but also in the future. This made me very excited for the rest of the story. And while the remaining three episodes didn’t really deal with the time track (except to point out yet another broken piece of the TARDIS machinery), I enjoyed them just the same.
Much of the action involves getting lost in the museum’s corridors, which is kind of boring. But my enjoyment of the time paradox kept my interest. In an entertaining segment, the Doctor, having escaped being captured by Xeron rebels, is hiding in a Dalek case that is on display. He says something in a Dalek voice as he pokes his head out of the top. Interestingly, Vicki says that she always thought the Daleks seemed rather harmless. This reminded me of my first impression of them that they were kind of innocent villains. More on the Daleks later. In another scene, he outsmarts the Moroks, a group of space-colonizing aliens that have taken over Xeron. They have a TV screen that shows the Doctor’s thoughts, so he thinks of humorous things like a bicycle instead of the answers to his questions. It doesn’t help, however, as he gets sent to the Preparation room to be prepped for the display case.
Vicki ends up with the Xeron rebels who are incredibly incompetent. They apparently can’t figure out that they need to obtain weapons in order to defeat the Moroks. But Vicki lets them know what’s up. And her suggestion of storming the armory is what changes the future. One of the more exciting scenes is the laser gun battle between the rebels and the Moroks.
The rebels and Moroks were, for the most part, pretty anonymous. As is common in depictions of alien races, they all had incredibly similar facial features and hairstyles (stereotypical faceless foreign enemy, anyone? Like the Japanese in WWII movies.). The Morok governor is bored with his job and therefore kind of boring to watch. The only Xeron name I could discern was Darko. In general, the story wasn’t very exciting. But I liked it anyway because of the time concept.
I’ve read some other reviews of some of the stories, including this one and The Crusade. It seems that this is widely held to be one of the worst Doctor Who stories. And everyone seemed to love The Crusade. I really enjoyed this one and didn’t care much for the Crusade. This seems to be a bit of a trend where I don’t really agree with the other reviews I see. I’m not sure why that is. I can’t be that different from your typical Who fan, except for my knowledge of the series. I wonder if my opinion of these early stories will change as I learn what the show is capable of. One review called the Space Museum B-grade science fiction. I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that ALL Doctor Who was B-grade science fiction. That’s part of the reason I became interested. Ridiculousness like stopping bombs with door props and laser-gun shoot outs are part of the appeal.
I must admit that I’m kind of tiring of William Hartnell. His “hmm?” and “he-he” habits are irritating. He seems to be phoning in his performances. He figured out what worked and kept doing it. I have a feeling that if he remained the doctor, the show would not have lasted. His character was getting stale. And Ian seems to be getting grumpier. He’s more easily angered these days. The show definitely seems to be heading toward some form of climax, probably in the Time Meddler, the season finale. I’m not sure when the Doctor changes, but I know it’s coming soon.
Before that, though, there is the 4th episode cliffhanger. As the TARDIS leaves Xeron we cut to a Dalek watching it move through space. They say that our heroes are once again traveling and that they must be caught and (of course) exterminated. A couple of things of note here: The Dalek calls them their biggest enemy. This, I would guess, sets up the Dalek mythology for the rest of the series. This is likely the moment they went from occasionally recurring villain to archenemy. Second, the Daleks now seem to have their own TARDIS-like machine to follow the Doctor’s crew.
Some questions: When did the Doctor become the Dalek’s greatest enemy? Given the timeline issues between The Daleks and the Dalek invasion of Earth, this could happen at any time. When are the Daleks? Does the Dalek timeline ever become clearer? Can they only track the Doctor when the TARDIS is moving?
The next story has all indications of being a Dalek story, something that I was not expecting. Now that I have returned to regular Who viewing, I’m looking forward to it.