Friday, 3 June 2016

Doctor Who: Galaxy 4 Review


The TARDIS lands on an arid and seemingly deserted planet, but the travellers 
soon discover two crashed spaceships. The crews are physically diametrical - 
the humanoid Drahvins are beautiful, whilst the reptilian Rills are ugly. But 
appearances can be deceptive - the Drahvins are mindless female clones 
controlled by the cruel and xenophobic matriarch, Maaga (Stephanie Bidmead), whereas the Rills are friendly and intelligence explorers.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor learns that instead of the supposed "fourteen 
dawns" the planet has only one day of life left - the stranded aliens must escape.
The Doctor uses his Ship's power to 'jump-start' the Rill spacecraft, and they 
now leave the Drahvins to their fate - they perish when the planet explodes.


Penned by former English teacher, William Emms (1930-1993), the central 
premise of Galaxy 4 is simple: never judge a book by it's cover. In his draft 
scripts (which still featured Ian and Barbara), the Drahvin 'baddies' were male, 
but producer Verity Lambert changed the race into women, which reinforced 
the message that beauty is only skin-deep. In 2004, feminist writer, Kate 
Orman commented on the genre cliche of 'Amazonian' women: "[female] 
soldiers and astronauts were such an exotic idea in 1965 that they warranted 
a sci-fi rationale" (DWM Special Editon #7).

The writer creates two interesting alien cultures here. Women were the dominant gender in the militaristic, almost Aryan, Drahvin society, which consisted of two castes: the governing Elite, (bred in the usual manner) which produced their limited science; and the artificially created 'Warrior' or slave class (not necessarily a cloned race like the Sontarans), described by Maaga as "inferior products". A small male population was cultivated purely for reproduction, and servitude, the rest were culled. Their homeworld of Drahva was in Galaxy Four, and was "400 dawns" 
from the unidentified, dying planet seen here.
The technologically advanced and pacifistic Rills are telepathic, can live hundreds 
of years, and breathe ammonia. They are large, scaly, monstrous creatures, and possess six human-like hands, but cannot speak vocally. They could communicate 
via their "blind" robots, christened 'Chumblies' by Vicki.
  • this four-part adventure originally aired in September and October 1965, and achieved average ratings of 9.9M
  • the working title was The Chumblies
  • Derek Martinus replaced Mervyn Pinfield as director
  • part three, Airlock, is the only surviving instalment, and was only returned to the BBC archives in September 2011 - its discovery was announced at the BFI that December
  • Emms novelised his scripts for Target in 1985 - Galaxy Four was book no. 104 in the range
  • a script book, correctly titled Galaxy 4, was published by Titan in 1994
  • Peter Purves (Steven Taylor) provided linking narration on the CD soundtrack, issued in 2000 and 2010
  • the cast included Robert Cartland (as Rill Voices) who played Malpha in the next story, Mission to the Unknown; Bill Lodge (Rills) made uncredited appearances in The Silurians, and The Daemons; and Chumblie operator Tommy Reynolds was the Troll Doll in Terror of the Autons
  • the Drahvins were even referenced in The Pandorica Opens
  • Emms' rejected serial, The Imps (commissioned in July 1966), was reworked into the Mission to Venus game-book in 1986 - he also submitted The Harvesters (aka The Vampire Planet) in 1969, The Zeldan, and The SCI (both circa 1983)

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