Tuesday, September 13, 2005

'The Space Museum'

4 episodes

Hard to rate this one, as it starts very strongly but finishes a little weakly. The decidedly odd first episode sees the travellers land on an alien planet deserted except for a huge museum full of artefacts from throughout the cosmos - but, they realise, they have appeared somehow ahead of their 'actual' arrival time, due to the TARDIS "jumping a time track". Having had a glimpse of their own future (the four of them lined up motionless in a glass case), they then spend the rest of the story trying to avoid this fate. The rub is that of course every action or inaction their progress involves may be leading them either farther from or nearer to their destiny, but they have no way of telling which. Both the premise and the way this uncertainty is constantly played out are excellent, with the anxious and frustrated characters finding their tempers boiling over frequently. Even the inevitable separation and capture are given an amusing twist when the Doctor escapes his captors, the (friendly) Xeron rebels, by hiding inside an exhibit: an empty Dalek casing, then having a little fun imitating its voice - then thirty seconds later running right into a patrol of armed Morok guards. The idea of the Doctor subverting the Morok Governor's interrogation device by feeding it random mental images is also great, as is his being subjected to the first two stages of 'preparation' for being an exhibit in the museum, from which Ian ultimately rescues him. Alas, the rest of the story falls a bit flat; despite Vicki's stirring the Xerons to revolution against the occupiers, they still come off rather bland (even though one of them is the future Boba Fett!), and the Moroks don't fare much better. But I'll give credit where it's due and score this well for the initial imagination at least.

There is one more thing, though - isn't all this trying-to-change-the-future the very thing the Doctor has cautioned against before now, every time he's prevented his companions from interfering in 'established' past history? The future is just the same as the past as far as the overall record is concerned: it only depends on what point you're viewing it from, surely...?! Ah well - it's not like the rule is ever properly enforced, really. After all, every time the TARDIS lands and the crew interact with anyone or anything else they're changing history in small ways, let alone when they actively set out to thwart the Daleks etc., where presumably 'history' would be very different without their actions. At heart, it is one of the great unanswered questions of Doctor Who: what absolute record of time does the Doctor have access to in order to determine what he can and cannot change? Just seems a bit silly to have it effectively the focal point of this story, all things considered...


Episodes watched: 60
Episodes still to watch: 662

On a random but associated note, I'm extremely pleased to report that my housemates and longtime friends Pip and Locus just rang me from on holiday in Vienna, to tell me that they've just got engaged!! That was happening at 9:30 central European time, so as far as I can tell I was just about to start this serial here at the time...!

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