on 20 September 2000
The magic of this story is really brought out by the linking narration by Peter Purves. His commentary is so good, that you hardly notice that he's there - his words blend with the action perfectly. Doctor Who fans should definitely buy this CD - I have been a fan of the series for 14 years now, and often this story was paled into insignificance - and unjustly so. It really is a classic, and once fans re-watch the clip of Galaxy 4 on the Ice Warriors Special video, listeners will visualise the story excellently. This, along with the Web Of Fear is one of the best BBC audios available. Buy it!
on 15 February 2012
I can't really add much to the other reviews except to praise the late Stephanie Bidmead. Having seen her Madam Devolio character in "Adam Adamant Lives" I was aware that she made a good villain, but I wasn't prepared for just how good she is in this. There's a melancholy malevolence about her performance that makes Maaga an unforgettable villain. She is also one of the most understandable in terms of motivation and character. The Drahvin culture explains her attitude and is neatly summed up in the discussion during "Airlock", her situation explains her actions, and Bidmead's intonation gives a real depth to her personality. It's even possible to empathise with her as she laments not being listened to by her superiors, an empathy which softens the listener up nicely for the chilling last few lines of her monologue. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long to see this moment on DVD.
on 27 March 2013
Over a quarter of this story now exists visually (check out Aztecs special edition DVD) so the question is naturally begged-how does it work acoustically? In the main, very well.
William Emms' Strong script places the Tardis crew on a planet nearing its destruction or as Drahvin Leader Maaga puts it, in its "last moments of life." They get caught in a dispute between the attractive warrior women The Drahvins and the less attractive Rills. The Drahvins claim they were shot down by the Rills, who also hold the only working ship.
The Drahvins are a good idea but not quite as well realised as they could have been. I think they are based on bees with a Queen bee Maaga (great performance from Stephanie Bidmead), compartmentalised roles and the warriors which appear to be drones. Possibly the original idea was they would be single minded soldiers incapable of much original thought or of changing course once given orders. Instead they come across as dumb.
It isn't credible they can hold Steven captive for so long when they are thick enough to have fallen for some "your shoelace is undone" type of gag! However if they were portrayed as single minded unimaginative soldiers then they could be revived perhaps by Big Finish (*1)
Another feature derived from bees is that they have only a few males "As much as we need no more, they use up valuable food and fulfill no particular function"
It's a good change that the Rills need a different atmosphere and must remain in a chamber with a gas breathable to them while conversing with our heroes.
1 of the few aspects that does not work is the Chumblies. These are robotic servants of the Rills which like R2D2, you need to see to appreciate them.
Hartnell is given good material as the Doctor, ambassadorial (hearing of the fascist sounding aspects of Drahvin society he does not judge), cunning (hiding the results of his own test on the planet's remaining lifespan) and clearly weighs up evidence before concluding which alien is telling the truth about what.
A good story for Steven except for the unlikely being held captive scenario. Vicki gets to be main point of contact with the Rills and main detractor of Maaga.
The majority of it works very well without the pictures and it's a shame Emms did not do another (*2).
If you like vintage Who esp Mr H and original Star Trek (which this reminds me of), well worth a purchase.
(*1) I think they are above stonehenge but never seen in the flesh in "The Pandorica Opens"
(*2) He did deliver another story which was rejected but formed the basis of his later Choose You Own Adventure Who book.
on 2 July 2000
Galaxy 4 proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that beauty is definitely not in the eye of the beholder! It is a classic case of looking beneath the surface to see the reality of a situation. Having landed on a desolate planet, the Doctor and his companions Vicki and Steven are drawn into a conflict between the gorgeous Drahvins, headed by the glamorous Maaga, and the hideous Rills,who hide themselves away in their crashed spaceship and whose only contact with the outside is through their servants, the "Chumblies". Of course, as in classic WHO style, the Doctor's innate sense of morality allows him to work out the goodies from the baddies. This is one of a series of Missing Stories, which the BBC is reviving albeit on CD format, and for the most part this current release works well. The studio-bound nature of the story adds clarity and tautness to the sound quality, whilst the effects - especially those of the "Chumblies" - contribute humour and personality to the otherwise characterless robots. Peter Purves does a most effective job of linking the action to the dialogue, particularly in scenes where "his" character - Steven Taylor - is involved. Whilst, it must be said, the story is relatively straightforward, it does represent in audio form the kind of aspiration Doctor Who was attempting to achieve in its' magical early years. A highly recommended disc.
on 14 February 2012
Season Three of Doctor Who's long history is sadly full of incomplete or missing serials altogether. Galaxy 4 is the opening story of this season and is nothing special in terms of the existence of its episodes. Six minutes of footage exists from the first episode, "FOUR HUNDRED DAWNS", and last November it was announced that Episode 3 "AIR LOCK" had been found in its entirety (bar 20 seconds of footage missing from the end). The Other 2 Episodes, "TRAP OF STEEL" & "THE EXPLODING PLANET" have no footage known to exist. So as you can see, although the serial is quite well represented with existing 16mm film (which is more than can be said for some serials!) it still feels like a very incomplete serial, which it is, and that is where this CD comes in. As i'm sure anyone reading this knows every single missing doctor who episode is represented in terms of audio recordings, which means Galaxy 4 can be released in its "AUDIO" entirety, using remastered soundtracks for "FOUR HUNDRED DAWNS, TRAP OF STEEL, AIR LOCK & THE EXPLODING PLANET". Naturally as it was originally a television serial there are certain aspects of it which are lost with audio only which is why the CD is narrated throughout by Peter Purves who plays Steven in the show. This is an essential part of these CDs because it enlightens you as to everything that is going on but which you cannot see. You are never left wondering, "what was that noise?", "Who dropped that?", "What was that random sound effect?" etc. Although you do miss certain "details"because of the narration for example you never get to fully appreciate the incidental music (which is fantastic in this serial), because it is nearly always spoken over. However this soundtrack (like all of the doctor who missing soundtracks) are essential for classic doctor who fans, or completists! Although if you are still unsure here are some pros/cons for this particular serial:
* The remastering process used is amazing. The quality is very crisp and you would NEVER know it was recorded from a television speaker using 60s technology!
* This is the only way you are going to be able to experience this story (other than reading the novelisation), until AIR LOCK is released and that is only 1 of the episodes anyway.
* The Narration is very helpful and Peter Purves is a natural!
* The CD itself is very nice with a lot of good artwork, information and the box is quite sturdy too (run of the mill CD case)
* Although the narration is very helpful you loose a lot of detail like the incidental music, which in a way robs it of its originality.
Not very appreciated by the majority of Who fans, i think this is a very unsung hero of the classic days. The Doctor is on top form saying his usual "hmms" "Hm Hms" and sighs (which we all love :). Vicki is quite good in this one too as she learns not to take things on face value (the Rills).
Its nice seeing/hearing steven trying to resist liking the Drahvins just for the sake of appearances (although i have to admit i find it hard resisting myself ;). The Drahvins are actually fantastic villains of classic who, and not only because of their obvious assets, but they really do have some very good convincing lines in this and you can hear the actresses are really trying their hardest to make them believable which they pull of perfectly. This is very noticeable in "AIR LOCK" which we will be able to watch soon as well, in which the Drahvins are confused by the fact that humans sometimes die for each other. Stephanie Bidmead, Marina Martin, Susanna Carroll & Lyn Ashley really do deserve to become big names in classic who!
Overall a fantastic, and much overlooked classic outing which works well visually and on audio, and for this price, you really cant go wrong!
Couldn't recommend this enough!
on 16 March 2013
'Galaxy 4' is one of those lost Doctor Who serials that you just want to shout about! Because of the BBC's archive junking policy initiated in the 1970s, the entirety of this serial has never been recovered. Recently, Episode 3, 'Airlock' was returned to the archives (which can be viewed as an extra on the special edition DVD Release of 'The Aztecs'), which exerts a tiny bit of hope for the remaining three episodes; but for the moment, the Doctor Who fan-base has to make do with the recorded original television soundtrack in order to experience the story (alternatively, the novelisation by William Emms is also available).
This Season 3 opener was broadcast after a brief summer hiatus between the months of September and October in 1965. This was one of the show's serials that intended to have more a science-fiction element, as opposed to the alternating historical serials of the time. The story involved the First Doctor (William Hartnell), Vicki and Steven landing on an unnamed planet within Galaxy 4, and being drawn into a conflict between the beautifully cloned Drahvins and the ugly-termed Rills with their helper robots, the Chumblies, as aptly named by Vicki. A story of skin-deep beauty unfolds, in which it turns out that the Drahvin leader Maaga, is in fact a member of a malevolent race of women, who have a rather Nazi-fascist social system. It is the Rills, as a race of telepaths and being a non near-human species, that are regarded as 'ugly' by Maaga, and thus require help from the Doctor and his companions in order to repair their ship before the planet starts to break apart.
The whole story has a moral message in that 'beauty is only skin-deep and you should never judge by appearance alone'. The set designs were apparently quite lavish, and the stock music seems to serve the purpose of displaying a particular atmosphere or feeling that is being conveyed. It really is a shame that 'Galaxy 4' isn't able to be experienced visually (as a complete story anyway, disregarding the recent find of Episode 3), but the BBC have provided the next best thing in this audio release of the original television soundtrack, recorded by fans at the time of broadcast and digitally remastered by the Restoration Team. The recording is spaced over two CDs, and Peter Purves, who played companion Steven Taylor in this serial provides some much-needed linking narration in order to explain the visual cues within the scenes. I do tend to agree with others that some more detail was needed within this linking narration at times when all you can hear is character movement, for example, but it serves it's purpose for a serial that would, otherwise, be unavailable to an audience at all.
All in all, 'Galaxy 4' is a promising start to a great third season, which includes the twelve-part mega serial 'The Daleks' Master Plan' (also lost), and I am grateful to this audio release so that this story can be experienced, albeit in an alternative fashion than it was intended to be. Please note also, that this release was later included in the 2010 release of 'Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection One: 1964-1965', which has its sound quality digitally remastered since the initial release. This set includes other lost stories that have not been recovered yet and also some interviews with the original cast.
on 23 October 2012
Unfortunately Galaxy 4 is one of the incomplete Doctor Who stories (although a copy of Episode 3 was recently found) and lacks a DVD release, but BBC Audio have made this missing stories available on Audio CD using a blend of audio recordings from the lost episodes themselves and narration of the more visual elements by an actor from the series itself. In this instance, Galaxy 4 is narrated by Peter Purves, who played Steven Taylor in this serial.
The story itself is fairly paper-thin with the TARDIS landing on a strange planet, occupied by two opposing races, the beautiful Drahvin women and the monsterous Rill, who are bound to their ship and use the robotic 'Chumblies' to perform actions. The TARDIS crew (The Doctor, Vicki and Steven) soon learn that the planet they are on is due to explode in a few days time. With the opposing races at stalemate, can the Doctor save them all before the planet crumbles?
The Chumblies are visible on the cover of the CD and are part of Doctor Who's legacy of slightly rubbish looking robots - a legacy followed up on by The Krotons and the Quarks in later serials. Seeing the Chumblies on the telesnaps (photos from the set), they do not look particularly menacing, nor does the name evoke any fear, making it hard to see why the Drahvin fear them so. They kind of resemble Walnut Whips on wheels!
This serial is four parts long (90 mins) and in some ways it is a little padded out, with most of the plot involving the characters moving to and from each spaceship. There is little action and more dialogue, which suits the audio format and Peter's narration, when used, is clear and doesn't distract from the existing audio. Overall, it works well as an Audio adventure and ensures that the storyline stays alive, despite there being no complete copies out there. I will certainly be looking into filling in the other blanks in my DVD collection with more from this audio CD range.
on 15 May 2006
"Galaxy 4", by William Emms, is a story that I expected to dislike. Perhaps it was the uninspiring title, the idea of the "cute" robots known as the "Chumblies", the shonky CD cover art or the presence of Steven Taylor, who I've never had much time for. Maybe it was a combination of all four. However, after spinning the first episode of the story into action I found it surprisingly enjoyable.
"Galaxy 4" has a slightly predictable and plodding plot, but within it is a mildly interesting study of prejudice and how one should never judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, Emms' script lacks subtlety and the long speeches of the Rills become somewhat preachy by the end of the fourth episode. I also suspect that there is quite a visual element to the production of "Galaxy 4", as the long periods of Chumblie sound effects where Peter Purves' well-executed narration falls silent ably illustrate. Unlike a historical, where one can picture lavish costumes and sets, the audio "visuals" of "Galaxy 4" are rather sparse. But maybe that's a part of the arid setting.
The regulars play their parts well along with Stephanie Bidmead as the ruthless Maaga, although Steven isn't given a lot to do. Aside from that, the robotic nature of both the Drahvins and the Chumblies means that there aren't a lot of supporting characters to develop and it's left to the story itself to carry things along. And at that, I suppose, "Galaxy 4" is reasonably successful.
on 8 May 2012
i purchased this to make sense of the episodes that were missing it lasts for 1hr and 35 minutes it was on two discs and the quality was excellent the price was reasonable and i would rate this fives stars in short the tardis lands and finds two crashed space ships one contains the dravins and the other the ugly rills to find out the outcome buy galaxy four you wont be sorry .
on 12 March 2016
Its nice to hear a !most doctor who story