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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Space Museum/The Chase (Stories 15 & 16/BBC DVD Set)

Doctor Who: The Space Museum/The Chase (Stories 15 & 16/BBC DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A+     Episodes: B



BBC offers up a pair early Doctor Who stories in this latest DVD release.  First Doctor William Hartnell portrays the time-traveling alien, aided by companions Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), Ian (William Russell), and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien).  Although perhaps the least sympathetic of all the Doctors, Hartnell’s does possess a certain irascible charm born in part from his own foibles as an actor.  By this point in his wonderful career, he was flubbing lines and ad-libbing, and the BBC’s limited budget and tight schedule did not allow for a lot of re-shoots at that time.  However, Creator (and BBC head) Sydney Newman had another big hit on his hands.


The Space Museum” (story no. 15) finds the Doctor and his cohorts arriving on a lonely, seemingly uninhabited planet.  They soon find they are not alone, but that they appear to be invisible to the caretakers of a bizarre museum of aliens and artifacts.  Even more confusing, they find chronal duplicates of themselves in one of the exhibits.  Soon enough they find themselves at odds with the fascist Moroks who run the museum, and each in their own way, they work to undermine their control.  While Ian gets his licks in during some inspired fight scenes, Vicki manages to aid a group of rebellious native’s intent on driving the Moroks off their world.  Although a bit zany, the story is replete with all of the trappings of a classic Who tale.


The action of “The Space Museum” flows into the story no. 16, “The Chase”, as the Doctor’s old foes, the Daleks return in a time machine of their own.  Written by Dalek creator Terry Nation, the episodes detail their pursuit of the Doctor’s TARDIS across the chronoverse, with each installment featuring stops at different times and places along the way to a final showdown on the planet Mechanus.  After run-ins in New York and on the legendary sea ship the Mary Celeste, the Doctor and company pay a visit to a haunted house where they, and their Dalek pursuers, encounter facsimiles of some of the classic Universal movie monsters (Frankenstein and Dracula).


The action then leads to planet Mechanus.  Here both hunter and hunted fall prey to attacks from living, fungoid monsters, and the Doctor and his companions wind up imprisoned by another robotic race, the Mechanoids.  This sets up a very cool battle royal between Daleks and Mechanoids.  Perhaps most notable about story no. 16 is that some of the companions depart at the end, beginning the show’s long history of a rotating cast.


Plentiful extras make this package complete, and include documentaries covering aspects of both the stories and the cast.  These offerings are really some of the finest BBC has included on the Who series so far.  Tops among these has to be Daleks Conquer and Destroy and Daleks Beyond the Screen, two wonderful explorations into every aspect of the Daleks.  This includes their original design, distinctive voices, and the massive amount of toy and collectible merchandising that has marked their rise to pop-culture phenomenon. Cusick in Cardiff features original Dalek designer Raymond Cusick visiting the new Who studios in Cardiff; it’s wonderful to see the respect paid him by the show’s current design team.


Doctor Who fans interested in the show’s rich and detailed history will not want to miss these stories, and their accompanying support material really makes them a worthwhile acquisition.



-   Scott Pyle


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