Saturday 18 June 2011

208 The Wheel in Space: Episode Five

EPISODE: The Wheel in Space: Episode Five
TRANSMITTED: 25 May 1968
WRITER: David Whitaker from a story by Kit Pedler
DIRECTOR: Tristan de Vere Cole
SCRIPT EDITOR: Derrick Sherwin
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: Wheel In Space
TELESNAPS: The Wheel in Space: Episode Five

Hearing movement, the Doctor & Jamie hide witnessing the Cyberman removing the Bernalium rods. The Doctor wonders as to their motive: they don't seem to want to destroy the station. He works out they intend to deprive the crew of air and orders the airlocks sealed. He and Jamie are stalked by a Cybermat which he defeats by having a variable audio signal transmitted. The Cyberman inform the Planner of the Cybermats destruction. The station is attacked by more meteorites which they deflect using the laser. The Doctor suggests that the Cybermen caused the recent nova and thus the meteorites to prompt the use of the laser. The search for the necessary Bernalium would have caused a visit to the Silver Carrier and thus allowed the Cybermen to board the station and gain a foothold to invade Earth. The Doctor realises the Time Vector Generator is missing and send Jamie & Zoe to retrieve it. Jamie, Zoe & Gemma leave the control room when the field barrier surrounding it is temporarily deactivated. After Jamie & Zoe leave the wheel Gemma overhears The Cybermen deciding to poison the Oxygen supply. She informs the Doctor using the videolink but is potted by the Cybermen and slain. As Jamie & Zoe spacewalk to the Silver Carrier they're caught in the meteorite storm.....

A bit of a mess really, and not helped but a barking mad plan by the Cybermen: We'll cause a sun to go Nova just to infiltrate a space station. The science involved is rather dodgy too: a recent supernova, even one observed recently, wouldn't be having a physical effect on the space station yet. I find it hard to believe Kit Pedler, a noted scientist, let this go out with his name on it. David Whitaker, who fleshed the story out, does have some form in the dodgy science department, but his story telling is usually miles better than this. I can't believe the same man was responsible for Power of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks. Whitaker passed up the chance to write the next Cyberman story, the Invasion, and his final Doctor Who serial, The Ambassadors of Death passed through the hands of several other writers before reaching the screen. He has very few television credits to his name after this point so I'm wondering if something was happening to him in the real world that was having an effect on his writing..... I've not found anyone passing comment on problems with the writer on this story. The only difficulties I know about were between director and producer: Peter Bryant, Producer, who felt that the director Tristan de Vere Cole broke the chain of command by regularly talking directly to writer Kit Pedler and Script Editor Derrick Sherwin instead of going through him, and was unhappy with some of de Vere Cole's modifications to the script.

This episode, and the next, were recorded on 35mm film instead of the standard 625 line videotape. Most of the other 35mm episodes survived in the BBC's film library but this one didn't.

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