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Doctor Who story number 18

The is an interesting story, made even more interesting by the rewrite. The central idea is there are two groups, one hideous monsters, one normal people, and the monsters are noble and good and the humans are despicable. The rewrite took this one step further and made the evil humans an all-female race, the idea being to turn over the usual "damsel menaced by the slobbering monster" idea, as well as make people look more at the actions of the people in the show rather than just the way they look.

Of course some people might say this is an anti-women story, but I don't think so.

There is a missed opportunity for a good cliffhanger when the Doctor is sabotaging some life support equipment, mistakenly thinking he has to save one of his companions by asphyxiating the aliens - it would have put an interesting slant on the actions of the hero of the series to present him as a menace, but if the writer really was trying for this the head of serials would have dissaproved: The Doctor was toned down early on in the series because he was too scary, and so making him more of an anti-hero would have been frowned on.

Peter Purves was unhappy with the things that happen to his charcter in the story. The story was writen with the previous companions Ian and Barbara in mind, the script was comissioned well before the cast change, and he felt that Steven getting overpowered by a woman was something that was meant to happen to Barbara - It doesn't matter who does though. A man getting overpowered by a woman also makes sense in the context of the story, for those who can't stomach this in the context of real life. What doesn't make sense is an astronaut from the future getting trapped in an airlock (of course he's from Earth and the Drahvins are not, so we can explain it with the old "their technology is different" line - but it still sucks).

The title is officially "Galaxy 4" and not "Galaxy Four" - The title of the story was just an internal BBC reference at this point in the history of the show and so they didn't think too much about how well it would look in 37 years time.

The story is unfortunately lost, with about six minutes of footage left. However, the audio recording is available, and Peter Purves did the linking narration. Better yet, you can read a transcript here:

Update: On 11/12/2011 the British Film Institute screened the recently recovered Airlock! AHAHAHAHA! YES!

William Emms

This story has 4 episodes with individual titles:

  • Four Hundred Dawns
  • Trap of Steel
  • Airlock
  • The Exploding Planet

Plot Overview
The TARDIS materialises on an empty planet with three suns, and with his usual disregard for personal safety the Doctor decides to have a look around. The travellers find a small robot and Vicki calls it a Chumbley because of the way it moves (how twee). The robot tries to herd them away by bumping into them (at least it doesn't scream "EX-TER-MIN-ATE"),but as they move off a group of three emotionless women attack it and disable it with some form of mesh thingy. They tell the travellers they are Drahvins and that they must return with them to their ship to avoid the Rills. The Doctor and Vicki are suspicious of the women, but Steven convinces them they should go - and go they do, as more chumblies arrive.

Maaga, the Drahvin leader, is more animated than her soldiers and is a harsh and imperious commander. She tells them they are at war with the Rills. The Doctor is withdrawn until she mentions that the planet will disintegrate in fourteen dawns - They learned this from the Rills, who are trying to repair their ship and leave. The Doctor and Steven go back to the TARDIS to check up on this news, and when they get there the Doctor discovers the planet will explode in only two days. The Doctor does not tell Maaga the truth, he is quite put off by her nature and she afirms his suspicions when she asks for his help in killing the Rills. She tries to shoot him but Steven intervenes (and gets overpowered), and the other Drahvins turn up. Maaga gets suspicious and forces the truth from the Doctor in the traditional threaten the girl way, and then sends Vicki and the Doctor to capture the Rill ship.

Steven discovers some interesting things - when Maaga is gone he can do what he likes. The soldiers are completely unresponsive even when he takes their guns from them - and finds the guns do not work. He asks for food, and is given leaves and twigs. On questioning the soldiers tell him Maaga has better food as "She is a leader and has leader's things" which include a gun powerful enough to destroy the robots. He tries to convince one of them to steal Maaga's gun and leave with him, but Maaga enters, scolds the Drahvin Steven was trying to fool and tries to make him take them away from the planet in the craft he arrived in. When he tells her he can't fly it she makes him sit in the corner (no, really, she makes him sit in the corner. This is why alien races of amazon women from beyond the stars will never rule the universe).

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Vicki reach the Rill ship and are seen - but the Rills do not come out, as they breathe ammonia. As they flee Vicki is trapped by a grille, and the Doctor plans to sabotage a machine converting air to ammonia. Vicki is taken away to a seperate are where the Rills talk to her via a chumbley. The Rills tell her that they were attacked by the Drahvins and then when both craft crashed they tried to help but were attacked again, despite offering to take the Drahvins with them, so they retreated to their ship. They then tell Vicki that they cannot breathe the atmopshere on this planet, and she is suddenly horrified - the Doctor is about to kill them by shutting down their gas converter.

Vicki saves the Rills from the Doctor and they go to meet the aliens. The Rills have been drilling but cannot use the natural gas they have found, so the Doctor offers to run an extension cord from the TARDIS. In the meantime Steven has tried to escape, but thinks the chumbley watching the Drahvin ship is hostile, and so he's stuck in the airlock with the air being drained....

Steven gets recued by the really subtle tactic of sending a bunch of robots to blast open the Drahvin ship and hold off the women. The Doctor and Vicki go to plug in the power cord, leaving Steven with the Rills - he is skeptical of the Rills at first but eventually trusts them. Meanwhile Maaga has one of her soldiers sneak up on a chumbley and smash it with an iron bar which makes no sense - their other weapons didn't work.

The Drahvins try to attack and the Rills keep the travellers safe in their chamber (cue trite "appearances are not important" speeches - we worked that one out two episodes ago). Then when the ship is charged the Rills leave a chumbley to escort the time travellers to their ship and escape. Vicki and Steven are quite keen to get going but the Doctor is really not that fussed (spontaneously exploding planets must happen to him every other day). They escape to the TARDIS while Maaga and the remaining Drahvins are left behind to get blown to smithereens.

In fine Useless Girl Character form, Vicki sprains her ankle.

Main Cast

  • Stephanie Bidmead - Maaga
  • Marina Martin, Susanna Carroll, Lyn Ashley - Drahvins
  • Jimmy Kaye, Angelo Muscat, William Shearer, Pepi Poupee, Tommy Reynolds - Chumblies
  • Robert Cartland, Anthony Paul - Rill Voices
  • Barry Jackson - Garvey
  • Notes

    • This story wins the award for the most meaningless title: Drahva is in Galaxy Four, not this planet.
    • Four Hundred Dawns refers to the time since the Drahvins have left their home planet
    • There's no shot of the exploding planet, but you can always find a copy of Star Wars if you really have to see a planet explode.
    • The novelisation featured a good scene with Maaga left alone on the planet as it exploded. I must find that book....

    I noted, observed, collated, concluded, and.... Then I threw the rock. - Vicki

    I like this story so much, heres some more quotes....

    Drahvin Background - The kind of girls your mother warned you about

    Steven: All women?

    Maaga: Women?

    The Doctor: Yes, ah, feminine? Female? Hmm?

    Maaga: Oh, hah... we have a small number of men - as many as we need. The rest we kill. They consume valuable food and fulfill no particular function.

    (Maaga gestures disdainfully at the two Drahvins)

    And these are not what you would call human! They are cultivated in test tubes. We have very good scientists. I am a living being. They are products - and inferior products! Grown for a purpose and capable of nothing more.

    Steven: Grown for what purpose?

    Maaga: To fight. To kill.

    The Doctor: Yours must be a very interesting civilization....

    The Doctor doesn't cope well with deadlines

    The Doctor: Well, now don't lose patience, you see! Now look, in this case, first we must observe, note, collate, and then conclude. After that, perhaps we can act, hmm?

    Vicki: Yeah. Well, with the time we've got you have to do all that in ten minutes flat!

    Maaga discovers why vat-grown slave-soldiers are not good travelling companions

    Drahvin One: I do not understand why they would want to help a friend.

    Maaga: I know you don't.

    Drahvin One: We would not. We would leave him here.

    Maaga: (Laughing) Yes, we would. But I have heard of creatures like these. They help one another.

    Drahvin Three: Why, Maaga?

    Maaga: I don't know. I have heard, that on occasions, they even die for one another.

    Drahvin Three: Die? For their friends?

    Maaga: There are many strange things in the universe.

    Drahvin Two: I do not understand.

    Maaga: I know you don't. But, despite that, you will obey orders!

    (The three Drahvins bow their heads submissively. After a pause, Maaga speaks softly, almost to herself.)

    It may be that we shall kill neither the Rills nor these Earth creatures. Not with our own hands, that is. It may be better for us to escape in the Rills' spaceship and leave them here. And then, when we are out in space, we can look back. We will see a vast, white, exploding planet and know that they have died with it.

    Drahvin One: But we will not see them die.

    Maaga: (Softly) You will not! But I, at least, have enough intelligence to imagine it. The fear. The horror. The shuddering of a planet in its last moments life. And then they die. (Sighs) But that is for later.

    Time Machines make escaping exploding planets a lot easier

    The Doctor: Oh, we shall be quite all right. It is you that needs to be out of range, not us. The moment I start my motors, we shall be out of range in time. We... we don't need space.

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