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'The Space Museum' slips into the ever-increasing collection of Doctor Who original television soundtracks
on 4 March 2013
'The Space Museum' was transmitted in 1965 on British television between April and May, in four consecutive episodes, forming a well executed Doctor Who serial. The serial was part of the show' s second season and headlined the First Doctor in a time continuum/dimension hopping escapade, alongside companions Ian, Barbara and Vicki. Throughout the story, there are a series of twists and turns, including an alien rebellion and a rather maniacal museum curator. The Tardis has jumped a time track, and our protagonists get a glimpse of what their fate will be (cryogenically displayed as museum exhibits) if they fail to partake in a planetary rebellion with the adolescent Xerons against the militaristic Moroks, who have conquered the planet in order to establish their Space Museum.
Although the serial has received mixed reviews from television critics, I find the story rather charming in the vain of Classic Who, in that it has a balanced mixture of interplanetary politics and fourth-dimensional fancy (as well as that classic scene of William Hartnell hidden half-inside a dalek shell!). The appearance of a static dalek, and of the concluding scene, ultimately led to the third serialized appearance of the daleks, eagerly awaited by a patient fan-base in the form of 'The Chase', which is also a fantastic story (and for another review!). The first episode sets the scene very nicely, with some classic science-fiction elements that are still somewhat prevalent in contemporary stories of Doctor Who. The following three episodes work quite nicely as interlinking character journeys, and the ensuing action makes for a thoroughly entertaining exploration of one of the Doctor's most memorable journeys in time and space.
This serial has previously been visually released on VHS along with a special edition of 'The Crusade', and most recently in a Double DVD set alongside the following serial, 'The Chase'. In audio form, 'The Space Museum' works quite well; although, there are inevitably some moments and scenes which are meant to be experienced visually, such as the aforementioned famous Dalek scene and Vicki's spooky glass-breaking (it will make sense after watching/listening to the story!). Maureen O'Brien, who played Vicki, provides the linking narration within the story, explaining the visual cues and action sequences throughout the soundtrack recording. Plus, she partakes in an interview with Gary Russell, explaining her life as an actress before and after Doctor Who, and what it was like on the set with William Hartnell and fellow co-stars.
All in all, 'The Space Museum' is another worthy addition to the growing number of original television soundtracks of the Doctor Who series. That being said, since this is not a 'lost' serial, it is best to view this release as a nice accompaniment to the DVD version of the story, having experienced the episodes in visual form before embarking upon listening to the audio soundtrack.