Sunday 28 May 2023

Episode 70: The Search

Governor Lobos orders that the Doctor be taken away for processing, to become one of the museum exhibits...
He then goes outside to inspect the captured TARDIS, and demands to know of the Commander why it has not been opened. He in turn shifts the blame on to his subordinates.
In the corridor near the entrance, a Morok guard discovers the TARDIS travellers. Ian holds him at bay with the weapon he had taken from the museum whilst Vicki and Barbara flee back into the complex. They become separated. 
Barbara seeks refuge in an empty storeroom, only to find herself locked in.
Ian manages to escape the guard and takes the Morok technician hostage - forcing him to take him to the TARDIS. He has him trick its guard into leaving, claiming to have come to take over, then coerces him into telling him where the Doctor has been taken.
Lobos decides to flood the museum with paralysing zaphra gas.
Vicki is found by the Xerons. She tells Tor about Barbara and he sends Dako to find her.
He unlocks the storeroom and frees the history teacher, just as the corridors begin to fill with gas.
At their hideout, away from the main museum complex, Vicki learns of the recent history of the planet, and of the Morok invasion. She hears of Tor's plans for revolution and his frustration at their lack of weapons. 
The Moroks have a well-stocked armoury, but it is protected by a computerised security system.
Vicki asks him to take her to see it.
Outside, the Morok technician helps Ian by suggesting a quieter period in which to enter the headquarters and find the processing chamber where the Doctor has been taken.
Barbara and Dako locate the main entrance but are slowly being overcome by the gas.
At the armoury, Vicki examines the computer security unit and realises that it can be easily reprogrammed to do whatever they command. It only requires the answers to its questions to be truthful.
Tor starts to distribute the weapons to his followers.
Ian enters Lobos' office, pretending to be the technician's captive. The Governor is shocked to see that it is the other way round. Ian forces them to take him to the processing room.
He follows them into the chamber where the Doctor is being held - and is shocked at what he sees...
Next episode: The Final Phase

Written by Glyn Jones
Recorded: Friday 16th April 1965 - Television Centre Studio TC4
First broadcast: 6:00pm, Saturday 8th May 1965
Ratings: 8.5 million / AI 56
Designer: Spencer Chapman
Director: Mervyn Pinfield
Additional cast: Ivor Salter (Morok Commander), Billy Cornelius (Morok Guard)

William Hartnell was on holiday for the week in which this episode was rehearsed and recorded, so the Doctor does not feature on screen.
This gives the companions an opportunity to do more - but only Ian and Vicki really benefit. 
Jacqueline Hill's Barbara finds herself shunted into a plot cul-de-sac. After hiding from, then joining the Xerons, she makes for the main entrance as Lobos orders the use of the paralysing gas. She then spends the rest of the episode - and most of the next - moving very slowly along a very short stretch of smoky corridor.
The original draft of this episode had Vicki - still called "Lukki" - in Barbara's role, succumbing to the gas.
This shows up the problems with Jones' script - the poor pacing. He's not alone - third episodes often comprise more running up and down corridors and captures / escapes.
Underneath, there is still some serious philosophical debate, if we look hard enough. 
Are the actions of the time travellers making any difference? Are they moving closer or further away from the fate they glimpsed earlier? Can they make a difference at all, or are they always fated to end up in the display cases?

William Russell is paired once more with Peter Diamond (having worked closely together as Ian and Delos for much of The Romans).
It's a rather ill-tempered Ian we see this week, presumably reflecting the terror of the fate which the TARDIS crew have seen in store for them if they fail to change things. You could believe that Ian might actually use that museum ray gun this time. He's helped by the cowardly nature of the Morok he's accompanying, and we have seen how this particular invading force really doesn't have its heart in it.
We've already heard Lobos' moans, and the Commander is now seen to be just as bored and frustrated by being stuck here. He quickly passes the buck onto an underling when Lobos complains about the TARDIS remaining locked.

It is Maureen O'Brien who gets the most to do, as she joins forces with the Xeron teenagers. She has been the most proactive companion in this story so far - failing to be crippled by the indecision which has afflicted Ian and Barbara at times.
She finds the Xerons to be just as indecisive and takes the lead with them - insisting that Tor take her to see the armoury computer then working out how it can be reprogrammed to do what they want.
The arsenal doesn't need many Morok guards as it is defended by this computerised locking system. However, it is so easy to fool that you have to wonder why the computer itself didn't need more than a single Morok guard just for itself.
The logic of her reprogramming does not stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. There are safeguards, such as requisition numbers that have to tally, but all Vicki does is make it simply respond to truth. 

Mervyn Pinfield planned the evening with no recording breaks, as it was scheduled for the later time of 9:00 - 10:15pm in studio. 
The passing of time for Barbara in the locked storeroom was simply achieved by a fade to black. These were included each week anyway, to allow foreign broadcasters to insert commercial breaks.
Pre-filming for The Chase got underway with director Richard Martin this week - but did not require taking any of the regular cast out of rehearsals.

  • The ratings continue to tumble - now two million down on the first instalment. The appreciation figure, on the other hand, continues to grow to an impressive 56. We've seen this before - fewer people watching, but those who are tuning in are enjoying what they see.
  • For the second week running, the episode began later than usual. This was due to the BBC's coverage of the VE Day 20th Anniversary celebrations, marking the end of WWII in Europe.
  • A letter in this week's Radio Times highlighted the audience demographics for the show. A lady staying at a hotel had popped into the TV room as Doctor Who was showing. Present were ten adults, four teenagers and one smaller child. Only the child left the room during the broadcast.
  • Ivor Salter would return to the series the very next year, when he played Odysseus in The Myth Makers. He made one final appearance as the police sergeant in 1982's Black Orchid.
  • Peter Diamond was now credited as "Morok Guard" for this and the next episode, and he also gained an additional credit for fight arrangement.
  • Billy Cornelius had doubled for Kal in the climactic Cave of Skulls fight in The Firemaker and for Ixta in the duel in The Day of Darkness. He had also just featured as one of Richard's men-at-arms in The Crusade.
  • Salvin Stewart, who has been playing a Morok guard since last week, also provided the voice of the armoury computer.
  • A dummy in the museum can be seen wearing a spacesuit which had first featured in the Quatermass serials.
  • When the archives were checked in 1978, The Search was found to be the only episode of The Space Museum to be retained by the BBC as a positive film copy.

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