Paul M. Cray (pmcray) wrote,
Paul M. Cray

Doctor Who: "The Space Museum"

"The Space Museum" is arguably the first ordinary Doctor Who story: the first sf four-parter. Now you might say that "Planet of Giants" was originally supposed to be a four-parter and, indeed, will be again soon after a fashion. But "Planet of Giants" is technically a sideways story, whereas "The Space Museum" is a futuristic adventure of the kind that would not feel very out of place in the Williams or Nathan-Turner period. We are going to be seeing a lot of this kind of stuff in the years. Unfortunately, "The Space Museum" is also not very good. We've seen some of that already and we are going to be seeing a lot of it in the future. But then as Lawrence Miles said recently, the fact that most Doctor Who is not very good doesn't matter. There is much more to Doctor Who than whether or not most of it is actually any good.    

But, then again, "The Space Museum" is also in some ways a sideways story. The TARDIS has skipped a time-track and the crew discover that they have been shot, stuffed and mounted in the Space Museum on the planet Xeros. That's not a bad idea (how could it happen?), a bit of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey quantum gravity stuff that Moffat or RTD might have come up with. The classic series didn't do very much with time paradoxes or alternative worlds, so it is interesting to see an very early example of this, not that it is done well, but that it is done at all. (And, see also, "The Time Meddler" in two stories' time, so perhaps there was something in the air in 1965.) We get decadent imperialists with South African accidents, feeble student revolutionaries in turtlenecks, that old trick with yarn for when you're stuck in a labyrinth and the Doctor hiding inside a Dalek shell. It all sounds a lot more fun that it actually is. It certainly sounded more fun in the Radio Times Tenth Anniversary Special. A lot of stories did. Glyn Jones is still alive and still writing. Perhaps they could ask him back. As with so much much Who, the real problems here are the actors, the director and the script editing (in that good script editor can always do something with a script - if they have the time). In different circumstances, this might have been at least somewhat even livelier if never quite "Carnival of Monsters", another sideways story in a politically unstable society. Perhaps Robert Holmes was watching.       

Now Write On...   
We see another space museum, the largest in the universe, in "The Time of Angels". And Moffat throws it away in a couple of minutes. Of course, the Doctor could go back. Apparently he goes there regularly to keep score. And Moffat threw away a library the size of a planet. How could he not do something interesting with that. I had that idea years ago and now it's ruined, at least for Who. I could reclaim it as a trope for That leaves feeble revolutionaries - there's probably some mileage in that - or the TARDIS skipping a time-track. And that will never get old. (Do Nye/Moffat explicitly nod to this story in "Amy's Choice"?) The TARDIS crew turn up somewhere to discover not only that not only are they already huge celebrities, but in some way that's surprising and troubling to the crew. Perhaps they are gladiators in a society in which political power comes from the arena. So the crew have to discover how they ended up in such an unexpected situation and work out how to deal with the fact that their other selves appear to be starting to rather enjoy themselves.

And we should have someone hiding in a Dalek shell again.   
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