Galaxy 4 (1965)
About this serial
This was a four-part serial, first broadcast between 11th September - 2nd October 1965. The serial was written by William Emms, produced by Verity Lambert and directed by Derek Martinus and Mervyn Pinfield. The script editor was Donald Tosh.
What I've seen:
A reconstruction, containing episode 3 and some extant footage from one of the earlier episodes. The reconstruction is one of the extras on the Special Edition of The Aztecs, and is a little over an hour long.
Caught on a barren planet between cute robots and their hideous masters on one side, and a race of female warriors on the other, the Tardis crew need to get everyone to safety before the planet explodes.
Good things about this serial:
- Even though we may not be getting the full Galaxy 4 experience, this reconstruction brings us as close to watching the complete serial as we're going to get without more episodes resurfacing (or maybe a full-length animation being made of the missing episodes).
- The extant footage covers some major plot points, the most important of which is the realisation that neither side of the conflict are what they appear to be.
- We also get a fairly nuanced portrayal of the story's main villain.
The main problem with this story is that, even at this early point in Doctor Who's history, a lot of it seems familiar.
- Whenever the Tardis ventures into outer space it seems to end up landing in the middle of conflict, and there's always a ticking clock of some sort. This story is no exception.
- The cute robots are collapsible mini-Daleks with fewer murderous tendencies and more curves.
- Their hideous masters are Sensorites without the political infighting, the jump-suits and the facial hair. Their story-line is largely identical to the Sensorites' in the earlier serial, this time with Vicki acting as the go-between rather than Susan.
Steven's part was originally written for Barbara, who had left by the time this serial was made, and there was no time to make any major changes to the script.
- The result isn't great, not so much because the part was written for a woman but rather because it gives any actor very little to work with. Barbara / Steven is being held hostage by the space warriors, tries to escape and ends up slowly suffocating in an airlock, mostly due to the character's own bad decision-making. With her superb ability to be simultaneously terrified and defiant Jacqueline Hill might have pulled this off, but with Peter Purves in the part the whole thing doesn't quite work.
The bottom line
This is not a bad story, and the reconstruction is perfectly watchable. Nevertheless, if you're not a fan there's not that much reason to seek it out.