February 4: "The Dimensions of Time" / "The Search"

(The Space Museum episodes 2 & 3)

Today's my father's birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with these two episodes?  Because after last time's eerie sense of dread, "The Dimensions of Time" gives way to a feeling of a near-romp.  After the cliffhanger reprise we get a truly astonishing piece of exposition, which even if it was just the dialogue it would be bizarrely unwieldy ("I’ve got two more milliums before I can go home.  Yes, I say it often enough, but it’s still two thousand Xeron days.  And it sounds more in days"), but Richard Shaw's performance, which is filled with a theatrical sense of boredom, elevates this to a misguided brilliance.  And the whole episode has many curious moments such as this.  Everyone points it out, but it's still worth noting how the travellers, worried about trying to change their own future, are deeply concerned about whether Ian's jacket was missing a button when they saw him in the display case, since that could indicate whether they'd changed things.  Yet unraveling Barbara's cardigan isn't deemed nearly as significant.

The Doctor emerges from his hiding spot in a Dalek shell.
("The Dimensions of Time") ©BBC
The other thing worth noting is how the Xeron would-be rebels (the natives of this planet) run around the space museum unchecked by their Morok overlords, dressed like students in black sweaters and slacks and completing the ensemble with tennis shoes -- Jeremy Bulloch, as the Xeron leader Tor, seems to be wearing Chuck Taylors!  It makes for an...interesting sort of rebellion.  But of course, we can't leave without mentioning the Doctor's outwitting of the Xerons, only to be caught by the Moroks because he's too busy chuckling to himself to worry about not being caught.  But this does lead to the Doctor's meeting with the Morok governor Lobos, where he again gets to bamboozle the authorities.  Upon learning that he's been hooked up to a machine that displays his thoughts, the Doctor confuses matters, displaying walruses swimming as an answer to the question of where he comes from.  "But these are amphibious creatures.  You are not an amphibian," Lobos complains.  "Oh, I'm not, am I?" the Doctor responds, and we get a picture of him dressed in an Edwardian bathing costume!

Things aren't quite as wonderful in "The Search", but that's partly because William Hartnell's off for a week, so there's no Doctor shenanigans going on.   Still, we get more entertaining dialogue -- last time the governor complained about working conditions, this time it's his second-in-command's turn: "He will blame me.  Everything that goes wrong on this wretched planet is my fault.  Think yourselves lucky that you have me between you and our illustrious Governor.  A scapegoat, and for what?  For this rank and a meagre pittance of extra pay."  But this episode really belongs to Ian and to Vicki.  Ian gets a number of good fights, and he gets to menace people with a Morok gun for good measure.  And Vicki meets up with the Xerons and shows them how to get into the Morok armory by reprogramming the computer lock: something that's apparently never occurred to the Xerons to try.  "I wonder if this will keep us out of the cases," she wonders to herself.  Sadly, Barbara is mainly confined to hiding in a room before being gassed out, but at least she learns about the Morok conquest of Xeros.

Still, it's interesting how different in tone these two episodes are from "The Space Museum".  Although there are some callbacks to trying to avoid the fate they witnessed -- and it seems to be their motivation for doing things -- it seems more like the TARDIS crew is running around trying to escape and causing problems for the Moroks because that's what they normally do, rather than because they're consciously trying to avoid their fate.  We'll have to see how it all comes together in "The Final Phase".