February 11: "Four Hundred Dawns" / "Trap of Steel"

(Galaxy 4 episodes 1 & 2)

So Doctor Who is pretty lucky in that the majority of the episodes from the first two seasons exist (with only 11 out of 81 missing).  But now that we've reached season 3, the number of missing episodes increases sharply -- and there also aren't any more telesnaps until we reach Innes Lloyd's producership, starting with The Savages.  So I'll be listening to a lot of soundtracks for a while, with no pictures to help guide the process.  Ah well.

Of course, "Four Hundred Dawns" is a bit unusual, in that a 5 minute clip exists, which means that we can actually get some idea of what it looked like.  The clip's not the most exciting thing ever, being primarily exposition, but we do get a sense of what the Drahvin spaceship looked like, and what the Drahvins themselves looked like, as well as some shots of the Chumblies.  Before 2011 this was pretty exciting; now with the recovery of "Air Lock", this isn't quite as intriguing, but it's still nice to have a decent chunk of the episode to view.

As far as the actual story goes, though, season 3 opens rather mutedly.  We get a continuity reference back to The Space Museum, and that's about the most exciting thing to happen at the start.  I'll allow for the reasonable possibility that a lot of this was more visual, but still.  Once the Drahvins "rescue" the Doctor, Vicki, and Steven, we get a lot of backstory explaining what's going on, about how the Drahvins and the Rills both crashed on this planet four hundred dawns ago, and the Rills are vicious murderers, and also the planet is going to blow up in fourteen dawns.  And this is the part where people usually point out that the reputation this serial has for being about not judging by appearances is inaccurate, as it's clear from the outset that we're meant to mistrust the Drahvins and their story.  In fact, it's less clear how Galaxy 4 got this reputation in the first place, given just how clearly we're meant to be against the Drahvins.  I blame Peter Haining.

"Trap of Steel" continues the fun, with the Doctor (who previously learned that the planet only had two dawns left) returning to the Drahvins and inexplicably telling them that, yes, the planet's toast in fourteen dawns.  It doesn't even last that long, as Maaga, leader of the Drahvins, quickly cottons on that the Doctor's lying, and forces him and Vicki to go capture the Rills' ship.  There is a nice bit where Steven tries to convince one of the Drahvin soldiers to take Maaga's weapon to fight Chumblies, and he'll just look after her gun in the meantime, and Vicki gets to test her theory about the Chumblies ("I noted, observed, collated, concluded, and then I threw the rock").  And then there's some exploration of the Rills' ship and the structure built around it, which, again, probably looked more interesting than it currently sounds.  And, once again, that's it.  Not the most action-packed pair of episodes around, but they're not too bad.