Top critical review
Drahvin versus Rill
on 24 March 2015
The Tardis arrives on a dying planet but its crew are not the only visitors to the doomed world. Both a Drahvin and a Rill ship have crash landed and become stranded here. Two days before the planet explodes the Doctor and his companions find themselves between two opposing forces desperate to escape.
The discovery of the missing episode ‘Airlock’ breathed new life into ‘Galaxy Four’. I, for one, was intrigued by the cobbled together, re-edited version that subsequently appeared on the special edition release of the ‘Aztecs’. Unfortunately though, the novelisation is a bit dull. The writing is quite plodding and there seems to be a distinct lack of plot that wasn’t readily apparent in the televised version. There is little more than a lot of running back and forth between ships with one companion or the other incarcerated and no real story, just a conceptual idea concerning the danger of preconceptions and two races who aren’t what they appear.
The Drahvin/Rill, beauty/beast concept and the prejudices this involves is undoubtedly the main strength of the story. The book misses a trick though as it makes things far too obvious from the outset. There is never a question that Maaga is anything but self-centred, bloodthirsty and aggressive from the moment she appears in the book. The programme was more subtle and the Rills kept more of a mystery.
There is enough for both Steven and Vikki to do and they are reasonably well characterised. Steven’s a little too uppity and Vikki a bit too naïve but that’s partly dictated by the nature of the story. They need to be somewhat confused by the Rill and the Drahvin to allow the Doctor to correct them and point out their prejudices. The Doctor’s character is a bit off, however. Oddly, he also seems to have developed an obsession with regeneration. Obviously this is a retrospective insertion into the story; the novelisation being published many years after it was shown. The novelisation does provide more from the perspective of Maaga, the Drahvin and the Rills. This provides a greater insight into their motivations and their cultures than the televised version allowed for.
‘Galaxy Four’ isn’t the most exciting and informative of titles so I was hoping the novelisation might enlighten us to why the story is named as such. Disappointingly there is no explanation offered in the novelisation for what Galaxy Four actually is, or any information on it. The division into four parts works quite well though. It gives the book an authentic feel that reflects the four episode format.