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"That's a good cardigan!",
This review is from: "Doctor Who": The Space Museum: (Classic TV Soundtrack) (Audio CD)
William Hartnell's era as DOCTOR WHO has been particularly well served by this series of BBC Soundtrack releases, not least because some of the shortcomings of the visuals of 1960s television can be overlooked and the listener can concentrate on the story and the performances. Whilst THE SPACE MUSEUM is probably not the brightest star in the galaxy of 1960s DOCTOR WHO it is a solid and moralistic story which has an intriguing and atmospheric opening episode that addresses one of the more neglected areas of the programme's format, namely the games you can play with the idea of time travel.
When listening, you should try to remember that this story dates from simpler times when visions of the future were all rocket ships and shiny jumpsuits and the educational remit of the series could find references to the story of the Minotaur being made whilst Barbara can get cross when Ian tries to ruin a "good cardigan". William Hartnell's Doctor is at his most twinkling and charming at times, an aspect of his portrayal that is sometimes overlooked when his long ago creation of the role is compared with the modern era. Ian and Barbara (played by William Russell and Jacqueline Hill) are merely one story away from their departure from the series in a story ("The Chase" - alas as yet unavailable in both this and the DVD range, but it did once get a video release in a limited edition Dalek tin) that is hinted at by an encounter with a (dead?) Dalek in the opening episode.
I have enjoyed this range for many years now, with the soundtracks of old stories enhanced by the addition of explanatory narration that successfully replaces the missing visuals and they can happily pass a car journey or long day at the computer. Now that all the stories that are visually incomplete have been released, it was only natural that the stories that do exist in their entirety in the archive - like this one - get similar treatment, and whilst some might think it a superfluous exercise, I think they make an interesting addition to the series, despite the fact that this did get a video release many years ago (alongside episodes of "The Crusade" in a long deleted box set) and will surely eventually appear on DVD.
Maureen O'Brien narrates very well in a very easy style, and the CDs also contain an interview with her (about 30 minutes split into two parts at the end of each disc) in which she discusses with great charm and frankness her career, the place DOCTOR WHO played in it (she seems to have mellowed in her opinion of it recently) and has some insight into celebrity culture and even finds time to empathise with Christopher Eccleston's decision to leave the show.
As ever, the sound quality is good, and the packaging designers have taken the time to produce a reversible back sleeve so that the box will match previous releases when put on a shelf, a small detail, but one which shows the care that the producers of this range put into the releases.
UPDATE MARCH 2010 - These episodes have now been released on DVD in a box set alongside the Dalek story THE CHASE.
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