Doctor Who - Documentary s02e14 Episode Script

Defending the Museum

Poor old Space Museum.
No one likes The Space Museum very much.
I quite like The Space Museum.
No one really wants it.
It's sort of this cheap, unloved thing right in the middle of the William Hartnell years.
And it hasn't even got the decency to have been wiped, which would mean it would have some sort of, you know, people actually would at least be wondering what it was like.
We can all see it and we don't want it.
And yet it's actually, although it doesn't quite work in many places, it's full of ideas, and I think it's actually I think it's something which deserves a lot more attention.
It does have its problems.
Well, three problems really, which are Episodes Two, Three and Four, principally.
But even there, you can see that there's actually something interesting going on.
Episode One is pretty much extraordinary because it's just so odd.
It's a story in which the TARDIS jumps a time track.
And they're not really where they're supposed to be at all.
They leave no footprints in the sand.
Glasses of water would jump back up into people's hands for no real reason.
And it ends up on a genuinely chilling five minutes with a fantastic cliff-hanger, in which they find themselves dead in the museum, stuffed and in a box.
And waiting for time to catch up with them so they actually can enter the story properly.
It's actually superb.
When I first saw it with my sister, she said to me, only as a casual viewer, "My word, this is absolutely brilliant, "Is it always Is it as good as this all the time?" And I said, "No, it goes downhill now.
" Because even by that stage fan repute was so bad that we knew it would fall apart within seconds of Episode Two starting.
And yet, and yet, there is such a strange philosophy to it.
It's a comedy but it's done, I think it's directed as if it isn't.
And I think that is its biggest failing.
People don't realise it's actually funny.
It's a parody of what a William Hartnell Doctor Who story at this stage is.
We've already seen several stories which were about the Doctor and his crew arriving, finding some rebels, helping them against some aggressors and flying off again.
You have these aggressors and they're rubbish.
They're called Moroks.
Moroks, it's There's a clue in the word that the Moroks are morons.
These are people who, like the decline and fall of the Roman empire as the Doctor points out, had a civilisation once, were really good, attacked planets, and now pretty much have done it all, and sit in a museum wishing that they were once good again but are never going to be.
In a series which has already done the Daleks invading Earth, and you go to the Earth seven years later and you see what it's like to have Britain under the rule of the Nazis.
Here we have an idea of colonisation as something which actually is just sort of overstuffed.
That you invade a planet and you turn it into a museum of your past achievements.
And that's really actually, in some ways, a rather more accurate, I would say, analysis of where you go.
It's about decadence.
It's about the idea that if you invade somewhere, you've actually got nothing to do with it, and you end up just getting stale and sterile.
The lead Morok, Lobos His first scene where he talks in Episode Two, is either brilliantly badly written, or just brilliantly written.
It depends how you look at it.
All he can do is talk in exposition about things everyone already knows, and moans a lot.
I've got two more milliums before I can go home.
Yes, I say it often enough, but it's still 2,000 Xeron days.
And it sounds more in days.
Yeah, I know.
I volunteered, you were ordered.
If the truth were known, I was just as bored on Morok.
In the book, it becomes very obvious from the way all the other Moroks keep on standing around looking at the ceiling whenever he talks, that that is a deliberate joke.
These are terrible alien aggressors.
The only other thing which is worse than the Moroks are the rebels who are trying to fight them, who are so rubbish, they can't even be bothered to stop them.
The rebels dress in black polo neck sweaters, stand around looking a bit like students in a coffee bar.
And their leader, Tor, is so awful that the only thing he actually can do with any authority is put his hands on his hips, which he does for most of the story.
What's great about it is it's a story about inaction.
And the rather deeper meaning behind the tale is, how can you prevent something, once you know the future, coming to pass? By taking action in the story, are the TARDIS regulars making themselves end up in the box, or are they going to prevent it? And it means that for three episodes, Ian and Barbara, and Vicki and the Doctor spend their time arguing whether they should just stand around the museum or not.
And that's quite funny.
And it means that, ultimately, that certain scenes which I think deliberately parody earlier scenes in the series.
So, for example you've got that wonderful scene in the Daleks where Ian persuades the Thals to go and attack the Dalek city, selfishly, so they can get their TARDIS component back, is echoed again when Vicki makes all the rebels start a revolution just almost because she's quite bored and wants something to happen.
And it's done very, very amusingly.
These are rebels so naff that the only thing which starts a revolution is if they can get the armoury door open.
They don't really need Robespierre, they don't need some great revolutionary, they need a locksmith.
(RATTLING) AUTOMATED VOICE: Do you understand that all questions are to be fully answered? Even the computer sounds bored.
The computer can't quite understand why no one's overthrown it yet.
Come on, pick up the guns and go to war.
Very few Doctor Who stories ever tackled time travel properly.
This is one of the few ones that really does it.
The problem with The Space Museum, if you watch it, is it seems it does it so subtly in parts Two, Three and Four that you forget it and you think you're watching another bog standard running around, trying to beat some aliens in bad costumes.
But because it's really a story about whether doing anything really matters, it's almost quite nihilistic about it.
Oh, what's the use.
And it ends up with a very, very new series solution which is quite unusual which is that, ultimately, everything the Doctor, and Vicki and Barbara, and Ian do still gets them into the same situation where they're going to be killed.
But because they have taken some action, other people around them have altered events for them, so that as they're about to be frozen, someone else bursts in and saves them.
That is actually quite an interesting little study about the way that time works, in a way, as well.
It's quite Blink-like, it's quite Steven Moffat-like, I think.
The future doesn't look too bad after all, does it? Hmm? The Doctor here is genuinely eccentric.
He's a man who will take interest in the trivial and dismiss the genuinely bizarre 'cause it just doesn't really seem very, very important to him.
There's that great bit in Episode One where they've changed all their costumes and he utterly dismisses that as being important.
Doctor, we've got our clothes on.
Well, I should hope so, dear boy.
I should hope so.
And yet, in Episode Two, he'll spend ages worrying about Ian having lost a button.
Lost a button? Hmm, that's interesting.
Yes, that's very interesting.
Hmm Doctor, why do you always show the greatest interest in the least important things, eh? The least important things sometimes, my dear boy, lead to the greatest discoveries.
And you think, watching the story, that would be important later, and it isn't.
It's brilliant.
It never gets mentioned again.
Vicki is great in this story.
Maureen O'Brien seizes this.
She's very, very funny.
She becomes a revolutionary.
She's somebody who decides that she can be the most dynamic person on this entire planet.
And she's great at that.
Ian is terrific because he gets to fight a lot of people, and yet angst about it at the same time.
And he has some great moments where he's actually approaching all these Xerons, treating it, bless his heart, with great seriousness which actually makes the comedy work better.
Barbara is left out a bit, she gets gassed.
But you can't have it all.
But I think, the best idea about The Space Museum really is that there is a space museum.
But it isn't something full of lots of alien tourists, it isn't very exciting, no one goes.
It's just there because it represents something which was once better for the civilisation and trading off past glories.
You see a Dalek there, from the planet Skaro, and you can hide inside it and it's already become a prop.
We are now at the end of the second series and actually it's already become part of a museum itself.
It's a little bit of a comment, I think, upon the fact that Doctor Who has now already reached its 100th episode and it's already getting a little bit conscious of its own foibles and its faults.