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The War between the Drahvins and the Rills with the First Doctor, Vicki and Steven
Season 3 of the classic ‘Doctor Who’ TV series begins with ‘Galaxy 4’!
This is a four-part adventure by William Emms. It stars William Hartnell as the First Doctor, Maureen O’Brien as Vicki and Peter Purves as Steven. This is one of the ‘Doctor Who’ TV stories from the 1960s that is mostly missing from the BBC Archives. Now it’s available to view on DVD and Blu-ray. 🙂
Before 2011, all four episodes of the story were missing. Thankfully, the third episode of ‘Galaxy 4’ was recovered in 2011 along with ‘Episode 2’ of ‘The Underwater Menace’. Beforehand, all that had survived of ‘Galaxy 4’ was a six-minute clip from the story’s first episode, kept by Jan Vincent-Rudzki.
It was featured in the ‘Whose Doctor Who’ documentary from 1977, which you can now view on ‘The Talons of Weng-Chaing’ DVDs or in the Season 14 Blu-ray box set. I also saw the surviving clip of the first episode in ‘The Missing Years’ documentary on Disc 3 of the ‘Lost in Time’ 3-disc DVD set. 🙂
‘The Missing Years’ documentary is now available to view on ‘The Web of Fear’ Special Edition DVD/Blu-ray. I didn’t think that any episode of ‘Galaxy 4’ would be recovered, even if I had a vain hope. I was very pleased to hear that the third episode had been recovered and I hoped I would see it.
Soon, the third episode of ‘Galaxy 4’ was released as part of a condensed reconstruction of the story on the 2-disc Special Edition DVD of ‘The Aztecs’ in 2013. This reconstruction had the surviving clip of the first episode; the complete third episode; photo stills; the audio recordings and some animation.
I enjoyed watching the third episode of ‘Galaxy 4’ in its entirety during the reconstruction on ‘The Aztecs’ Special Edition DVD. Beforehand, I listened to the TV soundtrack of ‘Galaxy 4’ on audio CD to appreciate the full story in its entirety. I knew what to expect when I saw the reconstruction on DVD.
The TV soundtrack of ‘Galaxy 4’ had linking narration provided by Peter Purves. I enjoyed Peter Purves’ narration of the story on CD. It helped to be guided by Peter on what was going on in the story. I found myself so easily engaged whilst listening to the complete story of ‘Galaxy 4’ on audio. 🙂
Now I can enjoy ‘Galaxy 4’ in its entirety in animation form on a 2-disc Blu-ray, which I purchased in 2021. It was a nice change to have ‘Galaxy 4’ released after a number of Second Doctor stories were released in animation form on DVD/Blu-ray like ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ and ‘Fury From The Deep’. 😀
‘Galaxy 4’ is the first ‘Doctor Who’ story featuring William Hartnell to be released in animation form in a long while since ‘The Reign of Terror’ and ‘The Tenth Planet’. I watched the story in its black-and-white version on Disc 1 as opposed to the colour version on Disc 2, since it’s more preferable. 🙂
It helps to enjoy the black-and-white version of the story with the surviving third episode on Disc 1. I saw the first episode’s surviving clip before I saw the first two episodes in animation form before I watched the surviving third episode and eventually watched the fourth episode in animation form. 🙂
I know I’ve criticised the animations of more recent DVD/Blu-ray releases of classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the black-and-white days, as they can’t match to how much I’ve enjoyed the animation of the two missing ‘Invasion’ episodes. For the majority though, the animation for ‘Galaxy 4’ is decent enough. 🙂
Mind you, I’m disappointed the animation in the first episode doesn’t match to what’s available in the surviving clip of the first episode. This is especially when we cut to scenes from outer space that weren’t in the surviving clip and it’s pretty jarring when you see the character’s hand movements. 😐
It’s a shame that ‘Galaxy 4’ isn’t complete as a story, even with the animation version on DVD/Blu-ray to fill in the gaps for us to enjoy. But with the third episode’s recovery in 2011, there’s hope that more ‘Doctor Who’ episodes will be recovered, especially in light of the quite recent finds in 2013. 🙂
As for ‘Galaxy 4’ as a story, I enjoyed it. It’s not the greatest opener to Season 3 of ‘Doctor Who’ with William Hartnell’s Doctor, but it’s a decent beginning. This happens to be Verity Lambert’s last full-length four-part story to work on as producer of the series, before handing the reins to John Wiles. 🙂
The story has the TARDIS land on an unnamed planet in a sector of space called Galaxy 4. The Doctor, Vicki and Steven step out and encounter a patrol of squat robot machines that they nickname as ‘Chumblies’. Soon, the TARDIS trio encounter a group of female warriors on the planet.
The women are called the Drahvins and they come from the planet Drahva. They’re on the planet fighting against another alien race called the Rills. The Drahvins are beautiful and blonde-haired in appearance, whereas the Rills are ugly-looking and walrus-like. But who are the real enemies in this?
This is an intriguing story to check out on DVD and Blu-ray. It contains a moral context throughout, as it depicts a human-like race of beings in the Drahvins who are beautiful on the outside, but on the inside they’re actually the story’s villains. This was a very fascinating thing to check out in the story. 🙂
The Rills are considered ugly and disgusting by the Drahvins, and there’s this certain race hatred during the story. But the Rills, despite being ugly-looking, are one of the most peaceful and friendly races in the universe. This reminds me of an episode I saw from the ‘Lost in Space’ 1960s TV series. 🙂
I like how this story sees the Doctor, Vicki and Steven experiencing for themselves who are the good guys and who are the bad guys when they meet them. They suspect the Dravhins aren’t being sincere in what they say. Eventually, they meet the Rills and assist them with defeating the Drahvins.
Behind-the-scenes, the story wasn’t liked by the main cast. From what I’ve read and heard, Peter Purves said at ‘The Capitol II’ convention at the Arora Hotel in Gatwick, May 2017 that he and his co-stars were unhappy with the scripts. Both William Hartnell and Maureen O’Brien hated the dialogue.
There was bitterness between William Hartnell and producer John Wiles during the story’s production. Maureen O’Brien’s unhappiness with the scripts might have led to her contract not being renewed for the rest of Season 3. Peter Purves was also unhappy that script editor Dennis Spooner left the series.
I enjoyed the camaraderie shared between William Hartnell, Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves as the TARDIS trio of the First Doctor, Vicki and Steven here. I wish there were more stories with this trio, as they work well together. Sadly, that didn’t happen when Vicki soon left in ‘The Myth Makers’.
William Hartnell is very good as the Doctor in this adventure. I liked it when he was talking to Maaga of the Drahvins in the surviving clip of the first episode. Instead of judging them on their ideals and their ways, he simply states, “Yours must be a very interesting civilization”, which is Hartnell all over.
I enjoyed Hartnell’s interaction with Steven and Vicki as his companions and it’s fascinating how he tackled the problem of the Drahvins and the Rills fighting each other. Hartnell’s Doctor does take things seriously when going on a ‘scientific expedition’ and how he takes the moral high ground here.
Maureen O’Brien is equally very good as Vicki in this adventure. Vicki gets to spend a lot of time with the Doctor, especially when they visit the Rills’ spaceship. I liked the scene where Vicki talked to the Rills in the third episode and begins to trust them as they explain what’s going on with the Drahvins.
It’s funny when Maureen O’Brien shared her fondest memories of working with the Chumblies in the story’s making-of documentary on DVD/Blu-ray. Despite Maureen not being happy with the scripts, she has stated she enjoyed working on the production side of things, which is nice to hear. 🙂
Peter Purves is very good as Steven. Sadly though, he’s rather let down by the scripts and is poorly underused. Originally, the scripts were written for Ian and Barbara, and Steven is doing mostly Barbara’s stuff in the story. I wonder how William Emms wrote for Steven in the Target novelization. 😐
By the third episode’s climax, Steven suffocates in the airlock of the Drahvin’s ship. It was tense upon revisiting the third episode on the ‘Galaxy 4’ Blu-ray. Thankfully all is well when the Chumblies cut through the door and Steven escapes, able to rejoin the Doctor and Vicki and assist the Rills here.
The Drahvins are led by Stephanie Bidmead as Maaga. She’s an interesting character in how she leads the Drahvins against the Rills, who they consider their enemies. Maaga thinks herself superior, as she disregards her subordinates, calling them unintelligent and bred to obey without a thought. 😐
The other Drahvins have no names in the tale. There’s Marina Martin as Drahvin One, Susanna Caroll as Dravhin Two, and Lyn Ashley as Dravhins Three and Four. The other Dravhins are easily intimidated and terrified of Maaga. They also happen to be clones of Maaga, which is…intriguing. 😀
The Rills are voiced by Robert Cartland when they speak through their robot servants – the Chumblies. The Rills are an intriguing alien race. We don’t see much of them and they refuse to let the Doctor and his friends see them because of their ugliness. But they’re good-hearted all the same.
The Chumblies are rather cute squat-looking robots of the Rills in this adventure. They’re not very impressive in design, but they do get sent out by the Rills to scout and patrol. This is especially when the Rills cannot breathe oxygen, as they can only survive under a special atmosphere of ammonia. 😐
It was intriguing to discover that Mervyn Pinfield was originally involved in ‘Galaxy 4’ as the story’s director. But he ended up being ill and soon Derek Martinus took over. This happens to be Derek Martinus’ first ‘Doctor Who’ story to direct. He would go on to direct a good number more after this.
On the 2-disc Blu-ray set, the special features are as follows. On Disc 1, as well as the black-and-white animation version of the story, there’s the surviving original third episode. It turns out you can ‘play all’ animated episodes and you can ‘play all’ episodes with the surviving original third episode in the ‘PLAY ALL’ option of the Blu-ray menu. There’s also the surviving original clip from the first episode of the story to enjoy. There are also photographic reconstructions of the first, second and fourth episodes of the story, which include the original audio option and the narration audio option by Peter Purves. There are also audio commentaries on selected episodes. There are two commentaries on the first animation episode. The first is with Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves, moderated by Toby Hadoke; and the second is with animation executive producer Gary Russell, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s a commentary on the second animation episode with vision mixer Clive Doig and special sound designer Brian Hodgson, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s a commentary on the surviving original third episode with Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves and Lyn Ashley, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s a commentary on the third animation episode with assistant floor manager Sue Willis, moderated by Toby Hadoke. And there are two commentaries on the fourth animation episode. The first is with Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves and Lyn Ashley, moderated by Toby Hadoke; and the second is with animation producer/director Chloe Grech, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an audio commentary on the surviving original clip from the first episode of the story with Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves and Lyn Ashley, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy on both the black-and-white animation version of the story and the surviving original third episode of the story.
On Disc 2 of the 2-disc Blu-ray set, there’s the colour animation version of the story. There’s ‘The Trouble with Chumblies – Making Galaxy 4’ making-of documentary with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews, ‘Finding Galaxy 4’, a photo gallery of the story, a teaser trailer, and the audio commentaries carried over from Disc 1, except just on the colour animation episodes, since the surviving original third episode and the surviving original clip from the first episode of the story aren’t included on Disc 2. There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy on the colour animation version of the story. There are also scripts and ‘Radio Times Listings’ for ‘Galaxy 4’ which can be accessed via a computer.
‘Galaxy 4’ is an enjoyable story to check out on DVD/Blu-ray, especially in animation form as well as in the surviving third episode and the surviving clip from the first episode. I’m glad I’ve been able to check out the story both on audio CD, in its surviving materials and in its latest animation form here.
I wouldn’t consider ‘Galaxy 4’ to be the greatest ‘Doctor Who’ story ever made, but I found it interesting and it was great to see and hear William Hartnell’s Doctor, Maureen O’Brien’s Vicki and Peter Purves’ Steven coming up against Chumblies, Drahvins and Rills. All great stuff to check out. 😀
‘Galaxy 4’ rating – 7/10
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