Doctor Who #209: The Wheel in Space Part 4

"Are there any ordinary circumstances in space?"TECHNICAL SPECS: Missing from the archives, aside from a few brief clips. I have, of course, used a reconstruction (Part 1, Part 2). First aired May 18 1968.

IN THIS ONE... The Cybermen are smuggled inside the Wheel, and a couple of crew members are killed. But it's mostly a coffee break.

REVIEW: Whitaker and Peddler probably think their procedural style taps into space race fever - how will Man live in the Space Age? - but decades later, it just feels like (yet more) padding. The base personnel actually take a lunch break in this. Zoe and Jamie play with a tape recorder, and instead of causing conflict, Zoe concedes that it really doesn't matter. That's right, scenes that ADMITTEDLY don't matter. Let's discuss shift work now! Let's ask the Doctor if he wants a cup of coffee! Groan. I get they want to do some world-building, but showing the boring bits of space travel is not what's going to get space race fans going.

There ARE some good ideas in here, of course. This seems a future that medicates to prevent mind control, and Zoe is apparently the product of "parapsychology". There's mention of ESP which Bennett doesn't believe in. So we're not just exploring space, but the human mind as well. We're unlocking the mysteries of the brain, in a way that seems vaguely Manchurian Candidate to me, but I don't want to judge. Zoe, to her credit, doesn't want to be a robot - many "brainchildren" have trouble connection to their emotions - she wants to feel things. That's a bit of a reversal from other companions who approach the universe as emotional beings interested in learning things. Zoe already has a lot of information at her disposal, but no emotional connection to it. We'll have her screaming her little heart out in fear soon enough.

As for the plot, well, the Cybermen hypnotize crewmen who smuggle them over to the Wheel, but they don't really do much there, killing or taking control only those who come upon them in the hold. So Chang and his accent are killed, and Bill Duggan (and his equally indeterminate accent - is he supposed to be an American or something?) is mind controlled until he gets himself electrocuted. Jarvis Bennett is NOT mind controlled, at least I don't think so, but his mind has snapped anyway. I'm not sure I buy it. His motivation is that he can't deal with things he can't explain, which is just silly for someone in his profession, and when pushed to the extreme, he just denies there's any problem at all. From panic to cheerfulness in a matter of minutes. And it's confusing too, since there are also mind controlled individuals walking around. It casts doubt on him as well, but surely, his refusal to believe in the danger represented by the nova puts him at odds with the Cybermen's plans to protect the Wheel (yes, after putting it in danger in the first place, wheels within Wheels, if you will).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Another brain dead plot, and there just isn't enough of the main trio to save it.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (52) Aquaman (71) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (30) Avengers (58) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (677) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (60) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (12) Buffy (6) Canada (70) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (55) Cat (156) CCGs (51) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (3961) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (77) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1676) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (83) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (762) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (60) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (432) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (87) Hawkman (39) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (15) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (87) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (95) JSA (25) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (202) Kung Fu (98) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (129) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (457) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (8) Nightmare Fuel (21) Number Ones (59) Obituaries (41) oHOTmu OR NOT? (76) Old52 (11) One Panel (291) Outsiders (165) Panels from Sheena (5) Paper Dolls (7) Play (76) Podcast (488) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (18) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (539) Sandman (21) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (368) Siskoid as Editor (34) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (20) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1712) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (38) Supergirl (89) Superman (1060) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (23) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (83) That Franchise I Never Talk About (53) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (103) Who's This? (204) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (82) X-Files (246) X-Men (102) Zero Hour Strikes (26) Zine (5)