Episode 084 – “Air Lock”

Alrighty! So back a few years ago, one (1) episode of this story was recovered intact. It was released on DVD as part of the Special Edition version of “The Aztecs”, and now I get to watch it in all its glory!

Surely the Chumblies will be more…anything, really, if they’re moving around!

Ok, so let’s try to piece together where we are. Vicki and the Doctor are doing something somewhere and some creature scares them. Great. Fantastic. Lemme just go read some plot summary of the last two episodes before we continue…

…ok, all caught up. I will say that the story is way more interesting than it came across as in the reconstructions. Also, the Chumblies are much more interesting in full motion than in mere pictures.

The sets here are basically aluminium tubes with plastic sheeting stretched between them. It’s actually kind of interesting and effective.

The Drahvins, when standing together, look like the background dancers from some 1980s European techno video, but I find them at least mildly interesting. I do get sick of the “Amazon warrior women” cliche, which is what we have here, but…eh.

The Chumblies really are odd. I’m a little surprised they were never brought back, but entirely surprised. They were clearly a pain-in-the-ass to operate for the people inside them, and they really only work well in small doses. Still, it might be kind of neat to see them again, especially in the new series. Though what Big Finish might be able to do could also be neat!

I do rather like that, at least in this story, the weird alien creature is the good guy, and the beautiful human women are the bad guys. Or at least their leader isn’t all butterflies and cake.

I also like the idea that the Rhils can’t breathe oxygen, and require a completely different set of gasses to live on. It’s a common sci-fi trope, but one that isn’t explored often enough on TV, even in Doctor Who. The Rhil itself looks rather interesting.

Steven is kind of out of things for much of the first part of this episode, but now he’s waking up and trying to be all sneaky. And…that’s really about it for what he’s up to.

The scenes with the Doctor and Vicki interacting with the Rhil and the Chumblies is very well-written and well-acted. It’s good to be reminded sometimes that Hartnell really was a very decent actor.

I do find it vaguely amusing that Steven, a trained space pilot, would allow himself to be caught in an airlock without realizing it. I mean, yes, alien tech and all that, but it can’t be that different from an airlock of the sort he’d be accustomed to.

Next time: “The Exploding Planet”


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