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Kill Rill Mar 02

I’ve been listening to the audio recording of Doctor Who: Galaxy 4 narrated by Peter Purves. It’s been many years since I read the script book so, hearing the actors and sound effects for the first time, the story was almost new to me.

There isn’t really 100 minutes of story to fill the four episodes, but the concept is at least intelligent and worthy. We are first introduced to the Drahvins, a race of beautiful women who are trying to escape from the planet on which they have crashed before it explodes. They claim to have been forced down by the Rills, a race of ugly monsters. However, it turns out that the Drahvins are the evil warmongers and the Rills are kind-hearted and generous, reversing the premise of the original Dalek story in which the Aryan Thals are oppressed by the nasty pepperpots.

Galaxy 4 an enjoyable enough story with amusing moments (the Drahvins’ explanation that they only have a few men on their world, with the attendant implications; the Doctor calling a Rill “young man”), although there is relatively little incident. It’s inoffensive but worth a listen for its thoughtful execution, and its moral that women are evil you can’t judge a book by its cover.

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3 Responses

  1. You’re a kindly soul (fun caption, too). I just can’t feel so generous, though it’s worth checking out the amusing reconstruction with a home-made Chumblie and someone ‘playing’ Billy as, er, a hand waving a knobbly stick. It looks like there were some lovely visuals, which makes it a shame it was tossed into skips and burnt by the BBC.

    It seems like that year of Who was all concepts and no characters. Yes, everyone knows the two ‘big ideas’ in Galaxy 4: as you say, it corrects The Daleks in that the Rills are ugly but good, while the Drahvins are wicked but ‘beautiful’ (in a very camp ‘60s way); and the Drahvins are the nearest the show gets to ‘the planet of women’. But there’s nothing else to the story and there’s not even much made of the ‘evil women’, even though it’s a relief that Steven doesn’t snog them into being good (as he would have in most sci-fi shows). The ‘ugly’ plot’s hammered in so unsubtly that the character who most goes on about it is the (incredibly plummy) Rill. Surely they wouldn’t think of themselves like that? Plus the way that – before we find out they’re generous and friendly – the Rills decide to blow up the TARDIS, despite not attacking the Drahvins’ spaceship, just to be faux-villainous in advance of the ‘twist’.

    It’s got ambitious ideas – coo, exploding planet – but it’s as if they spent so much time making it seem ‘big’ that they forgot to fill in any of the details. Oh, all right, it isn’t actively bad, but how many other hour-and-a-half stories feel an hour too long? Photos of Drahvins and Chumblies may look rather exciting, but as we’re drearily reminded, don’t judge by appearances – a simple moral for an even more simple story.

    Still, I’d forgotten the “Young man” to the Rill. That bit’s good :)

    Sorry – now the leadership contest’s over I’m clearly getting very quick bitchiness withdrawal symptoms…

  2. 2
    Will 

    The plummy Rill is most amusing, especially when he starts saying vaguely colloquial sounding things which seems wrong because he’s a) plummy, and b) alien.

    You’re quite correct about Steven not snogging Maaga into submission – Galaxy 4 is a very “un-macho” story.

    I saw that “reconstruction” some years ago at a DWM event. I’ve the vaguest recollection that Ness Bishop was behind it.

    I watched The Caves of Androzani last week and a couple of episodes of The Two Doctors, which I may compare and contrast if I have a moment. Androzani, needless to say, was fab as ever.

  3. 3
    Matt 

    I would agree that there’s not really enough plot to fill 100 minutes, but think that Emms structures the serial well enough that what incident there is is equally spread across the four episodes. This at least alleviates the common problem of “middle-episode spread”.

    The surviving clip from the first episode hints at some good visual comedy (Maaga clicks her fingers to wake up a snoozing Drahvin, which also neatly foreshadows a plot point in episode 3). Hartnell is on top form, handling the comedy superbly, and Stephanie Bidmead as Maaga imbues the character with more depth than is typical for a Doctor Who villain – her weariness contrasts well with the behaviour of her underling clones.

    The BBC release suffers from a pretty echoey recording, and some bizarre omissions from the narration (we never do find out what the Rills look like). In summary, I enjoyed Galaxy 4′s oddness, and thought it was a fair start for the third series.

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