The Aztecs Special Edition DVD arrived in the post today. Why am I excited about a story that I have already watched several times over?
Because of the enhanced audio and video as well as the astounding extras including a documentary on Doctor Who toys and collectibles called Beyond the Celestial Toyroom and this superb gem… a restored version of Galaxy 4.
(Galaxy 4 art from Nick Giles)
One of the many incomplete stories, a casualty of the BBC Archive junking back in the 1970’s, Galaxy 4 is missing almost all of its four parts. Using small clips of the remaining material, computer generated imagery and the recently discovered third part entitled Airlock, fans can now watch a story from 1965, an era when the program was at its most inventive and strange (featuring the comedic Myth Makers, the epic 12 part The Daleks’ Master Plan, the historical The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve, and the musical western Gunfighters). I enjoy nearly all of Doctor Who, but I have a soft spot for this era, especially as the Big Finish audio range has fleshed out the period with new stories.
I have read the Target novelization and listened to the audio CD, but actually watching this story is a delight. The script by William Emms is very basic compared to many other stories. The Doctor and his companions arrive on an alien world on the brink of destruction. Two warring factions are pitted against each other, the Drahvins and the Rills. The Amazonian Drahvins are a constructed warrior race led by the coldly cruel Maaga. They continually describe the Rills are monstrous and deadly, which the Doctor finds rightly suspicious. The Drahvins squad are childlike with barely any thoughts or personality of their own.
When a Rill is finally revealed, it is a horrifying sight that must have gotten viewers scrambling for the back of the couch. Yet, typical to form, the Rills are the benign aliens while the beautiful if cruel Drahvins are the true monsters. The Doctor has very little time to assist the Rills before the planet explodes while the Drahvins attempt to destroy the weird aliens once and for all.
The big take away from Galaxy 4 are the cute and bizarre robotic servants of the Rills nicknamed ‘Chumblies’ by the Doctor’s young companion Vicki. Bernard Lodge’s sound effects are so evocative that the Chumblies are not just another silly Dalek replacement attempt, but have a truly weird dreamlike quality. The story is reminiscent of the Web Planet, another adventure that divides fans due to its sheer oddness and child-like fantasy qualities.
Galaxy 4 was a ratings winner back in the day, attracting between 9 and 11 million viewers each episode. A story that is mostly overlooked by even the most devoted of Whovians, it is once more back in the hands of the fan community to be judged once more. We may never get the opportunity to view Galaxy 4 in its entirety, but the people at 2 Entertain have painstakingly created a unique opportunity to step back in time to 1965 and watch a rare relic of the past.