Doctor Who #206: The Wheel in Space Part 1

"I'm afraid we're wasting our time, but waste it we must."TECHNICAL SPECS: The first of 4 episodes missing from the 6-part story - only brief clips exist - I have had to use a reconstruction (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). First aired Apr.27 1968.  


IN THIS ONE... The TARDIS' fluid links evaporate stranding the Doctor and Jamie on an abandoned ship with a robot.  


REVIEW: The TARDIS tries to warn the Doctor and Jamie off with pleasant images on its scanner, and then the fluid links blow up... It's like an early first Doctor script, and not a very interesting one. Further evidence of that? There's a sequence with a food machine. I thought we were done with that. But clearly, this is an episode playing for time, recycling old ideas and actually showing the Doctor digesting while Jamie has a lie down. Most of the air time is given over to exploring the empty ship, with lots of opening door sounds and little else. The reconstruction has lots of CGI sequences featuring the goofy robot, which does generate some interest, but looking at it, I'd be surprised if the original video were half as well shot. In the reprise, Jamie says he doesn't care what the next destination is, but WE should. But it's all silent robot action, with the occasional fairy music accompanying eggs floating off to the title space station. 


I have a lot of trouble with the tech in this episode as well. I was never a fan of the TARDIS "communicating" through its scanner, and it really does a poor job of it too, but it gets worse. The Doctor pulls out the "time vector generator", which collapses the interior dimensions of the TARDIS and turns it into an ordinary police box. Why exactly? I hope it has a plot value, because the trick only begs the question as to how the Doctor can re-install it without access to the console room. Later, he uses the generator as a blowtorch... so RANDOM! And after establishing the sonic screwdriver in the previous story too. Is ANY object in the TARDIS a magic wand? When I'm not bored, I'm annoyed. Hardly an improvement.


The base under siege and its international crew (this is a story by Kit Pedler, weren't you expecting it?) are finally introduced 5 minutes from the end, but hardly leave a mark. A collection of accents sitting at consoles, noticing that something's impacting their hull and choosing to fire on the ship the Doctor's on. By that point, it's a big "who cares?"

VERSIONS: Hopefully as a teaser for an upcoming release, there's a full-color animated version of the first half of this episode on The Macra Terror DVD release. The Doctor looks the same as in that story, but Jamie is completely remodeled (I do not prefer it). Anyway, there's so little dialog in this one that it comes off a lot better with visuals, and it's so techy, they get to do it with CG models that look pretty nice. It's still a robot with a mustache walking around corridors behind the leads, but it's better than just HEARING a robot walking around corridors behind the leads.


REWATCHABILITY: Low - The Doctor and Jamie are drifting in space, and I'm just drifting off to sleep. Painfully dull.


boosterrific said...

I don't know why, but it seems to me like I've seen this episode, which of course I haven't. (I wasn't watching the BBC years before I was born, and the tape is lost.) The episode name, the situation... both so familiar. Is this episode just that much of a Whoniverse cliche, or did another episode borrow pretty much the exact same set-up for a different Doctor?

Siskoid said...

The Sensorites maybe?

S said...

Maybe the 1 remaining episode of The Space Pirates? That's what it reminds me of.

Siskoid said...

Yes, it's very much the same. I was thinking booster meant something he'd actually seen on TV sometime. But yeah, booster, if you've seen material on Lost in Time, that Pirates episode is the same kind of rubbish.


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