Doctor Who: The Space Museum / The Chase
DVD review (region 2)
Starring William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill, Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves, Hi-Fi
Release date Out now
The First Doctor and his companions fight against fate before embarking on a perilous journey through time and space with the Daleks in hot pursuit…
Neither The Space Museum or The Chase are especially well regarded by Doctor Who fans. While the fan opinion is perhaps justified with regard to the former, the latter tale is bold, inventive and tremendous fun.
As every Doctor Who reference book is obliged to say, the first episode of The Space Museum is excellent and then let down by the remaining three. It is a great opening episode – freaky, weird and unsettling in the extreme. The remaining episodes are dull, bog-standard Who. It’s not terrible but it’s not terribly exciting either, as it plods rather than races towards a deeply unsatisfactory climax.
The Chase, on the other hand, feels like a giant pop art experiment. So much so, it cries out to be in vivid colour. Part of the fun is in seeing so many of the icons of the period in one story: The Beatles, Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster (Hammer films were still churning out horror classics when the episodes were made) all make appearances in addition to the Daleks. There are references to past episodes (the Dalek raising from the sand recalls the Dalek emerging from the Thames the previous season) and there’s a sense of epic science fiction that is only slightly betrayed by the ever-present problems of budget. Dodgy Hartnell double aside, the character work in this story is wonderful with Ian and Barbara’s send off being touching but not mawkish.
It’s disappointing that there is no proper ‘making of’ for either story and a great pity that The Space Museum’s first feature is a spirited defence of the story by Robert Shearman. It’s a good, strong argument, but it would have been nice if a standard behind the scenes feature had been included too.
Far more effective is a stunning Dalek documentary that offers a formidable overview of the well-documented monsters alongside some snazzy visuals. Jonathan Wilkins
The Space Museum is mostly poor, but only an utter grouch could dislike a Doctor Who story as zany and iconic as The Chase.