Doc, Vicki and Steven encounter sexism, Hutts and pudgy budget-Daleks in this serial that does not necessarily take place in Galaxy 4.
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The Doctor, Steven and Vicki materialise on a planet that is, as far as we are made aware, nowhere near Galaxy 4, whatever that is. Doc takes some readings and quickly deduces that there is no life on the planet, and neither Vicki nor Steve makes a fuss when The Doctor has clearly been proven wrong. There are in fact two stranded, alien lifeforms on the planet, and quite nearby as it happens, namely, the Drahvin and the Rills.
The Drahvin are a matriarchal race of allegedly gorgeous, humanoid, killing machines, while the Rills are a bunch of benevolent, allegedly ugly, Jabba-the-Hutt-esque creatures with superior intelligence and technology, the latter including pudgy, Dalek-like robots that everyone in the Galaxy, regardless of its numerical value, agrees should be called Chumblies.
The two factions are locked in combat and our intrepid time travelling troupe gets caught in the crossfire.
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So, I really wasn’t expecting too much from this story. It took me 7 dawns to actually finish watching it. We find the Doctor, Vicki and Steven arriving on a seemly deserted planet where they run into beehive looking Chumblies, that make almost Zarbi –like bleating noises. They get caught up in the middle of a “war” between the Drahvins and the Rills. Each has crash-landed after a confrontation in space. The Drahvins are a beautiful matriarchal alien race who is hell bent on destroying the Rills and stealing their partially working ship. The Rills are hideous looking alien race that are just kindly explorers. Despite generous offers by the Rills to take Maaga and her crew to safety, she continually refuses. Maaga tries to force the Doc & crew to help her steal the Rills’ ship and kill the Rills. Instead, the Doctor allows the Rills to draw power from the TARDIS to refuel and escape, leaving the Drahvins to their fate.
I had some strong reactions to this story as a woman. It appeared to me that this story was a battle of the sexes, thinly veiled as an alien story. The story portrays the Drahvins “females” as manipulative, calculating and emotional with beauty as their only redeeming quality. The Rills or “males” are ugly/scary looking but kind, compassionate and rational. I found myself feeling irritated with this sexist portrayal. Despite the sexist undertones, I actually did find to be interesting and with a good twist.
I think this is the first time the Doctor actually stated that his travels are for “Science”.
Did anyone else find the Doctor creepy pointing and looking at all of Maaga’s female bits when he was clarifying what sex the Drahvins were.
Vapor Rub had one moment of usefulness when she discovers that Chumblies can detect only what is in front of them, and the Doctor is quick to be condescending, even though she is right.
Surprisingly, Vicki does not get the Most Useless Companion title in this story. Steven wins this with his random feminism and fake sleeping.
Lastly, I felt this story was bogged down with the amount of alien monologuing.
Even with most of the story being a reconstruction and pretty boring, I slightly enjoyed the it more than I expected to. I’m giving it a sexist 2.4.
In Galaxy Four, Team TARDIS are caught in the middle of a conflict between the blonde bombshell Drahvins and the unseen Rills, who act through their robot servants, as they race to escape a dying planet. Gee, I wonder who the bad guys will be?
Well, the answer may surprise you as it takes only a few minutes of interaction with the Drahvins to realize that the emphasis should probably be on ‘bombshell.’ They are almost unthinkingly hostile towards the Rills. Even their immediate description in the audio-book gives you an idea of their nature. In contrast once we meet the Rills, we learn that one reason they hide their appearance is because they know it to be frightening to other races and don’t want to scare them. They have also been trying to offer aid to the Drahvins from dawn one.
Even their interaction with the Rills’ robots is telling. Within the first five minutes Vicki affectionately dubs them “Chumblies.” The Drahvins only ever refer to them as machines, where the Rills quickly adopt Vicki’s nickname when referring to them in conversation. In fact, we never learn if the Rills even have a proper name for the Chumblies.
While writing this review, it occurred to me that the Drahvins are almost Dalek-like in their automatic hostility and paranoia regarding the Rills. Of course, they never could have used Daleks for this story. Excluding the fact that Team TARDIS would never willingly aid Daleks, as happened in the first half of the story, it would never have destroyed the theme of the beautiful aliens being evil and the hideous ones being good. It would have just been “The Daleks” with uglier Thals.
It was that stark difference that made me particularly like this serial. Listening to the Drahvin leader Marga be so suicidally hostile toward the Rills makes you wonder what her society is like that she can’t see that an offer for help is just that, an offer for help. Also on the note of “suicidal” is how Marga gets the best, most reliable weapon even though she’s not reglarly in the field. On the flip side, you can’t help but feel for her as she is so literally surrounded by idiots. What does it say about a society when blind robots are more reliable than soldiers bred specifically for that purpose?
My initial rating on the episode was a 3.5. While I liked the story, I had felt that it suffered from being pure audio (much like you said in your reviews of Marco Polo), specifically because it means we never saw the Rills and how frightening their appearance was meant to be. However, after listening to another lost episode audio book, “The Underwater Menace,” I have since revised that to a 3.8. At the end of “The Underwater Menace”, there was an interview with Anneke Wills (companion Polly), which reminded me that the fact that the story is almost purely audio means that we can picture the Rills to be however hideous we want them to be. So the effect I felt missing is actually still there, if not enhanced, thanks to our own imaginations.
Again, contrary to your own general opinion fo her, I liked Vicki just fine in this serial. Among other things she provided one of the story’s funnier moments to me; in which she responds to the Doctor’s admonishments about throwing a rock at a Chumbly by repeating his instructions on how to observe one word for word, then finishes with “and then I threw the rock.” Finally, am I the only one who thought of the Keys of Marinus and its acid lake when Steven, early in the story, talked about wanting to take a swim?
These next few seasons are going to be tough to get through. We are entering the part of Who where almost every serial has most episodes missing. Oh boy. This is also William Hartnell’s last full season. He regenerates a few episodes into Season 4. Anyways, I should probably talk about Galaxy 4 now.
I found this serial disappointing, but not absolutely horrendous. In the beginning, it came very close to Web Planet 2. There were small round things (like the larvae gun), annoying loud beeps, and…VICKI. Luckily, this serial was not as long, nor was it as bad as The Web Planet. It starts out with the Doctor landing on a planet that looks very similar to the planet in The Chase, episode 1. Funnily enough, this planet is not in Galaxy 4. That is where the Drahvaa are from. Anyways, Vicki sees a little round robot that she randomly decides to call a chumbley. Everyone else in the serial also calls them chumbleys, despite the fact that the Rills should already have their own name for them.
However, these Chumbleys are dangerous, so the Drahvaa “save” everybody by putting a mesh net on top of the chumbley. This net gets stuck when five people pull on it, but another chumbley shortly comes by and pushes it off with a stick thing. Anyways, the Drahvaa say the Rills are horrible people. Predictably, the Drahvaa are bad and the Rills are good. The Rills were shot down by the Drahvaa, so the Doctor and Vicki help them repair their spaceship. Episode 4 is filled with fighting, which is utterly useless when we only have sounds. Finally, the Davis Principle is lifted and the Doctor and crew go past a planet. Which Vicki is oddly curious about. Why would she want to know about some random planet? Ugh.
After watching this serial, I have to say it was not great. However, a lot off he serials as meant to be viewed, so the junking policy severely hurt this serial. I have to give this serial a 1.0, simply because I found it boring. Though, I do think it is interesting how the Drahvaa were written. To me, they sort of seem pre-cursors to cyber men with their lack of emotion and choice. In conclusion, I (shockingly) did not love this episode, and I am not looking forward to the 80-ish missing episodes.
Who Back When Doctor Who Season 3 Episode 1: Galaxy 4 Review
By Kyle Rath
Up until a couple years ago, this serial was largely lost. Fortunately, we now have almost half an hour of the moving picture creamy goodness that is “Galaxy 4”. (Sarcasm)
Following the high-spirited adventure facing off with The Meddling Monk, The Doctor, Steven and Vicki arrive on an unnamed planet with three suns for some long-deserved undeserved rest. The three suns don’t factor into the story, I guess one sun just isn’t hipster enough. Thanks for the pointless wank, writer William Emms. Yes, THAT William Emms. (More Sarcasm)
The gang meets two groups stranded on the planet:
The Drahvin – a cadre of genetically similar beach blanket bimbettes, whose race only keep a minimum amount of males around back home for essential services. Their leader, Maaga, is a total nutjob. Source: her monologue in the episode “Airlock”. Bitch be cray-cray.
The Rills – Amonia swilling good ole boys, akin to cousins of the Hutts of Tatooine, who happily offer help to anyone that wants it through the use of blind mechanical beehives that Vicki, then apparently everyone, including their inventors, refer to as (sigh) Chumbleys.
Long story short, despite some confusion over who shot first (it was always Han, btw), Maaga and her sisters, in an attempt after 400 dawns to escape from the “soon-to-explode-for-no-reason” planet, try to petition Doc et al to steal the working Rill spaceship. Steven “sacrifices” his freedom and stays with the Drahvin, while Doc and Vicki try to chase down a plausible and concise ending to this serial.
Quick story summary:
1) Don’t judge an alien by its squishy, poisonous atmosphere.
2) Steven is an idiot. Though he does smack a bitch down to escape, so that happened.
3) Keep Vicki away from anything that involves naming, identifying, labelling etc. Or else you fucking get Chumbleys. For fucks sake.
4) Apparently, if you are a cold hearted bitch intent on killing anyone to save your life, The Doctor is fine with leaving you behind on an exploding planet. Just saying. Hard core.
5) Fuck wondering what’s happening on the next random planet, Vicki. I’d like to know why we had to sit through 80 minutes of this fucking exploding, unnamed planet that is NO WHERE NEAR GALAXY 4, whatever the hell that’s supposed to be.
This gets a 1.5. It was a poorly written script, with very little of it’s own inertia to get going, but mostly due to the fact that William Hartnell appeared to give absolutely no fucks at all in this serial, so why should I. Refreshingly, the TARDIS worked perfectly the whole episode. A potentially great concept for tv executed badly is still bad tv. No matter how tight the pants are.
Besides, the BBC has to rub one off once in a while, hence “one-offs”. Not really, but it’s a good story.
Some alternate, more relevant titles to consider:
Shits About To Get Rill
Aqua Team Chumbley Force
A Nice Piece of Building
The One Where That Planet Exploded With Some People On It That No One Cared About
Galaxy 4…more like galaxy bore.
Not much to say about this serial really. It’s very standard base-under-seige, Hsrtnell-fare. Originally written for Ian, Barbara, and Vicky; Steven gets lumped with a mix of Ian lines and the more 60’s ‘female’ lines, not great on his second proper outing.
The Chumblies, possibly the cutest name for a Doctor Who villain, never sell the idea of being threatening, even if we’re only meant to consider them antagonists for the first two episodes. Robert Cartland’s Rill voice however is much more fun to listen to, very much conveying the peaceful nature of his race, but menacing enough that you could see them as a tangible threat.
Space-nazis the Drahvin are led by Maaga, who Stephanie Bidmead plays well enough, the stand-out moment being her speech in the third episode.
The Doc is as selfish as ever but does give sympathy to the Rill, despite their appearance. I wouldn’t really call this character development but it’s nice to see him seem acting in a more ‘Doctory’ way.
Overall a bland serial, I’d give it a 1.9, only so high due to the subversion of who the antagonists are (even if you can see it coming a mile off!).
P.S I feel bad for the Roarmeister jumping in with the awesome Time-Meddler, and now being trudged down recon-city. Stay strong!
I find this one rather hard to get through. It’s slow. Most scenes are walking or talking. Yes I’m probably being biased because I’ve only ever seen the recons, but even the performances are flat. I believe that the Drahvin are supposed to be clones without real emotion or something, but that means that only Maaga is available to carry a scene dramatically, and she’s mostly just angry and demanding. The Rill on the other hand, is a very interesting character who is hampered by visuals and movement, having to act from another room. The chumblies are scouts/workers/guards that essentially cannot see? That’s silly. That’s a shame, as I liked their design and the way they collapse when not in use.
The main cast is fine as usual I guess, but no one really has anything to do but walk around on a barren world, sleep and talk, a world where both interiors and exteriors are mostly drab.
Suggestions for this story, should it ever be redone would be many: Show the initial space battle and crashes. Shift focus from the beautiful ugly vs the ugly beautiful to the matriarch vs patriarch society theme, and nature vs engineering. Give the chumblies a better name and make them autonomous. Have them altered and become sentient half way through. Have some kind, any kind of action in this story. Make the world more interesting visually.
As it is, I think this story falls flat. If I were ever to see the real footage I think it might go up a point, but it would still be less than an average episode. 1.3