The Space Museum

The Space Museum
The space museum.png
Season: 2
Episode: 7
Vital statistics
Air date 24 April - 15 May 1965
Written by Glyn Jones
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield
Episode guide
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You know it can be disappointing to watch old episodes of Dr. Who after having heard about them for so long.  “Oh, I’ve heard this City of Death is supposed to be good, and everyone keeps mentioning Genesis Of The Daleks, so that must be good too!”  

Welcome to Disappointedville, population: (You) when you try to make it through The Space Museum, the seventh story from Season 2 of the already-flagging British science frictionless programme Dr. Who, originally broadcast in four parts between like 1964 and 1972 or something, I need to check on that to be sure.  Not that anyone has ever suggested this story is as good as City Of Death or Genesis Of The Daleks, mind you.  As was common back then, rather than being “one story in four parts,” this was presented as “four episodes” that each had their own title even though they tell one story.  Confusing I know, but no one said this life was easy, so let’s start watching and try not to cringe too much.

Speaking of cringing, get over it, this was canon for years.

Part One: The Space Museum

It says it right there, Doctofz OHO, see?

The “Doctofz OHO” opening credits dissolves into a good close up of the Tardis’ main rotor, which has no doubt made life easier for fan-made films.  Everyone stands there looking dirty and depressed for some reason probably related to the previous episode which I haven’t seen.  So anyway, then a pan across some model rocket ships ends up on a spiky cake and then there’s some quality BBC models of a rocky mountain range or something, it’s hard to say for sure.  The Tardis shows up and now everyone (Dr. Who [according to the credits so shut up], Based Ian, Based Barbara and Not-So-Based Vickie, I think her name was) are cleaned and dressed.  Ian complaints about having his clothes on.  Billy’s first line flub comes in at less than two minutes thirty seconds, ha ha, and he also mentions “all this fussation about a change of clothes.”  I’ve never seen the programme go into such detail about where the wardrobe department keeps things!  

Vickie drops a glass of water that reverses back up into her hand while Barbara says “Oh look, spaceships!” much like Tom Baker’s “Oh look, rocks!”  The soundtracks goes all “radio frequencies tuning” to let us know this is some serious space shit, yo.  Everyone goes outside to look around, a description could apply to probably 90% of Dr. Who but anyways.  They discover these mountains are indeed only four feet tall and Ian name-checks Pink Floyd before they existed.  Not leaving any footprints is quite dramatic and curious and Barbara notices the Foley artists are on vacation that week.  

Tweedledee and Tweedledum walk out of the spiky cake while Vickie pretends to almost sneeze and Ian face-palms over how bad it all is.  Inside the museum, they spend far too much in the gift shop, sign up for family memberships and find the empty shell of a Dalek as one exhibit.  

Dalek stuff is cool, here's some rare Dalek stuff.

Vickie tells the group she’s never found the Daleks to be all that scary, much like the rest of /who/.  Everyone hides from a couple of extras dressed in black who weren’t paid for lines, then wonders why they couldn’t be heard.  Vickie tries to touch this sweet bong she finds but discovers everyone's a ghost and they can’t touch anything.  Dr. Who doesn’t know basic maths!   They find the Tardis has died and become a ghost and that they themselves have become part of… The Space Museum.  Everyone in the tubes looks bored.  The Doctor explains it then says it’s inexplicable.  Some photographs of moments from earlier in the episode show up while someone plays a classical music record, then footprints appear and the tube people fade away.  

Part Two:  The Dimensions Of Time

So that’s where JNT nicked that title from!  Anyway, so now the two Tweedle guys give some expository dialogue so that we know the museum’s been here for ages and that they hate their job.  A third silly-looking guy all in white with a sharply pointed widow’s peak (this is their “alien look,” ha ha) arrives and announces the Tardis has arrived and they search for our heroes before “the rebels” find them.  Oh great, here we go again with the “bickering factions” story-extender.  

So it turns out the rebels are the black-wearing guys with bad drawn-on eyebrows, rebelling against the white-wearing guys with and their acute widow’s peaks, this all promises to be unforgettable televisual entertainment!  The first scene with the rebels actually talking makes me think the actors got their lines confused and switched roles like a third of the way in, but whatever.  Then they lose all credibility when we find out their names are Tor, Dakos and Lobos.  Ian loots a valuable museum artifact and then no one can decide what to do, it’s thrilling.  To add to the excitement, Ian loses a button and they get lost!   

The rebels - three young men in black vs. the two older men in white, which means this should be read as some sort of period-based extended political story/metaphor for people like Phil Sandifer - are scared but manage to capture Dr. Who then bicker, something everybody else does without Dr. Who around as well.  I swear, this story started out OK but is already starting to lose my interest.  Two of the three rebels find the third tied up, Dr.  Who has escaped!  It’s kind of amusing too when Dr. Who admits to being the Master and is revealed to be inside a Dalek and I didn’t make up anything in this sentence.  Dr. Who gets captured by the white guys to some piano music that sounds like Not Available-era Residents; come to think of it, the Residents doing Dr. Who music would work pretty well!  

Cool huh? Kind of dull though.

So anyways, everyone’s still lost and they decide to tear up Barbara’s sweater, then Ian tries to eat it, you’ve seen the gif.  Dr. Who can’t stand up.  Then a white guy talks with Dr. Who and explains the Morrocks (H.G. Wells should sue) Empire made this museum.  The pleasantries turn more brusque and remind me of The Prisoner, up to and including Dr. Who’s bicycle.  Barbara says Dr. Who says you can’t change the future but we all know that’s rubbish of course, “time can be rewritten!”  Their plot thread has just about run out when the mischievous Dr. Who reveals to his interrogator that he comes from a race of stock footage seals or walruses or something, and that he is amphibious; this was later considered non-canonical once Gallifrey was introduced years later, so fans have been ignoring it ever since, even though I didn’t make up any of that.  Dr. Who clearly controls controls the television screen, both the white guy’s and yours, yes, hm?  *Yoda laugh*  But Dr. Who stops laughing when they’re going to put him in a tube, and he promptly goes on vacation during the filming of the next episode.

Part Three:  The Search

The white guys have found the Tardis and tell the rebels in black to leave it alone.  Ian, Barbara and Vicki see the Tardis is guarded then Barbara gets off a good one with “but all we do is stand around saying ‘this whole thing is a nightmare,’ why don’t we do something?”  Ian actually argues against her at this point.

The white guys chase off the rebels, the one who looks like Ted Cruz complains about his job (to be fair, it does seem like a shit place to work) and they can’t get inside the Tardis.  Everybody gets captured by another white guy who gives them like a full minute to conspire against him before he says “stop talking” and gets bested by Based Ian.  Unfortunately they made too much noise and brought the rest of the white guys running.  Vicki and Barbara run away while Ian beats up two of the white guys in a fairly decent fight.  Separated, Barbara gets locked into a room while Vickie gets grabbed by the rebels.  They go to find Barbara while super-based Ian beats up one of the Tardis guards again and makes him help find Dr. Who at gunpoint.  

Despite the flimsy set, Barbara can’t use a thin stick to pry open her locked door, further mussing her hair in the attempt, then falls asleep.  She’s about to whack one of the rebels with her frail stick when he calls her name, then explains in tedious detail that this planet once belonged to his race until the Morrocks, the white guys, conquered it for a museum (just like America).  Then the museum gets gas and Barbara and the rebel flee, leaving her stick.

Meanwhile, Vickie is chatting up a couple more rebels down at pub and gets more tedious detail about the history.  These guys are so ineffective that even a girl like Vicki talks a better revolution than they do, pff!  They take her to the armory to see a cheap clanky computer which they take apart and find out is full of spaghetti and easily hacked.  Barbara and her rebel guy pass out from the fumes while Ian points his gun at the boss white guy who shows him where Dr. Who is, but in a classic cliff-hanger, doesn’t show us.

Part Four:  The Final Phase

Turns out Dr. Who fell asleep leaning up against a wall or something while on vacation, so Ian tells the boss white guy to wake him up.  The rebels pass out weapons and Vickie takes one of them back to the museum to find her friends.  Despite even more gas, Barbara and her rebel dude wake up and keep going, wtf?  Oh goddamn it, their passing out last episode was just a time-waster to ratchet up tension, wasn’t it?  This programme is the worst.  

Is it over yet?

Dr. Who finally wakes up and the bad guard does a terrible job of trying to rush Ian.  Dr. Who gets to use the word “alacrity” and is getting some fine indignation on and spouting more “Mmm?”s than Yoda when Ted Cruz and two more guards come back and knock out Ian.  The guard outside the museum by the Tardis listens through a door to the Residents playing some more off-key piano music and then captures Barbara and her rebel as they get out of the fumes.  But then Vickie and her rebel dude kill the guard!  But then Ted Cruz and another white guy kills both rebel dudes and capture Vicki and Barbara!  Maybe this episode was trying to make up for all the dull moments in the previous three?  Anyways, one of the dead rebel dudes sprawled out on the ground has the most unlikely death pose you’ll ever see on this programme, which is saying something.  

This guy really earned his three pounds four for the week!

The boss white guy can’t get his electric bricks to work.  So now everyone, Dr. Who, Ian, Barbara and Vicki are all in a cell somewhere and worried they’re gonna get tubed.  Ian gets pissed and fucks up some device.  The boss white guy starts to pack his papers into a lunchbox as the revolution Vickie started grows nearer, and tells Ted Cruz to kill the Tardis crew.  Fortunately the rebels guys show up and kill the boss and Ted Cruz instead; seeing this, Dr. Who chuckles and says “the future doesn’t look too bad after all, hm?”  

Dr. Who explains the whole time track nonsense from the first episode using a weak no-longer-current analogy to Earth technology and then steals a time and space visualizer from the museum.  Vickie waves goodbye like she’s drying her nails or maybe trying to get an automatic door sensor to work.  The Tardis fades away and zooms into some bad space art.  Then we see some Dalek technology that looks a bit more dodgy than usual and hear them say they’re tracking Dr. Who and will exterminate him with their time machines.  Or something like that.

Nobody designs computers like the mid-1960s BBC prop department.

Trivia To Recite To Yourself And Ponder Whilst Sitting In Your Bath

Capaldi strongly disapproved of this episode upon first broadcast (when he was six years old) and later pressured Mark Gatiss to include this line in his well received Sleep No More story: “[people] never put the word ‘space’ in front of something just because everything's all sort of hi-tech and future-y. It's never ‘space restaurant’ or ‘space champagne’ or, or, or ‘space’... you know, ‘hat.’ It's just ‘restaurant’, ‘champagne’ or ‘hat’, even if this was a restaurant.” A bunch of middling actors that appeared in this story also appeared in other Dr. Who stories, if you bother enough to actually look into it; none memorably however.

During the production of this misbegotten story, Peter Cushing was off elsewhere making the superior in every way Doctor Who And The Daleks film.

Not sure if worth watching.

Turns out this story leads into what was at the time only the third Dalek story ever, and that story was the last appearance of the original Dalek designs until Magician’s Apprentice (thanks, Moffat!).  The agonizingly nerdy details that set the original design apart from subsequent ones can be found elsewhere online, but are you really that small-minded that you’d care to know, that you simply must?

Verdict

Somewhat interesting idea up front that rapidly falls into the usual Dr. Who ruts.  Little else to be said.

Much like this photo of Dalek technology.