DVD REVIEW Doctor Who: The Space Museum/The Chase
Never mind the Moroks: two black and white adventures from the Hartnell years
1965 • PG • 241 mins • £29.99 • OUT NOW!
Directors: Mervyn Pinfield, Richard Martin
Cast: William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill, Maureen O’Brien
Smart marketing choice to let unloved Hartnell tale “The Space Museum” ride shotgun with the Daleks. In many ways it’s a story knee-capped by the inverse ratio between its title and its execution: the very words “The Space Museum” promise something spooky and vast and intriguing, but it proves a killingly dull environment in which to stage an unengaging take on Who’s eternal “rebels vs despots” formula. Yes, episode one offers some lovely fourth-dimensional weirdness, and clown-haired bad guys the Moroks have a refreshing, Douglas Adamsy sense of middle-management blues, but not even some spiffy remastering can polish this particular turgid tale.
“The Chase” is better, if only because it’s powered by a demented, ramshackle energy that never allows for boredom… or much in the way of logic or good taste. The Daleks are pursuing the Doctor through eternity, and Terry Nation’s scribble of a plotline hurls the TARDIS into ever weirder set-pieces. On and on we tumble, crashing from the Mary Celeste (and yes, that’s Mary, not Marie) to the Empire State Building to the world of Mechanus, home of rubbish Dalek rivals the Mechanoids. There are cameos by everyone from Frankenstein’s Monster to The Beatles, and if you can switch off your forebrain there’s tacky entertainment to be had, but it’s crushing to realise that this is the show that gave us the masterly “An Unearthly Child” a mere two years before.
There are cast and crew commentaries – nabbing the reclusive Maureen O’Brien is a coup. New series scribe Rob Shearman provides a persuasive, perspective-shifting take on “The Space Museum” in “Defending The Museum”. “My Grandfather, The Doctor” is a recollection by Hartnell’s real-life granddaughter, illustrated with some lovely rare pics. “Cusick In Cardiff” sees original Dalek designer Ray Cusick meet the new series design team. In “The Thrill Of The Chase” director Richard Martin recalls helming the pepperpot epic, branding his time on Doctor Who “a baptism in blood”. “Last Stop White City” is a tribute to pioneer companions Ian and Barbara, while “Daleks Conquer And Destroy” is a comprehensive tribute to the Dalek phenomenon, including some hardcore ring modulator talk from Dalek voice man Nicholas Briggs. “Daleks Beyond The Screen” explores the universe of Dalek merchandise. There’s also a look back at ’60s modelmakers Shawcraft, complete with some gorgeously rare 8mm colour film of monochrome monsters. Daft comedy skit “A Holiday For The Doctor”, slides from the ’60s Give A Show toy projector set, photo galleries, Radio Times listings and information text complete the package. Nick Setchfield