The Doctor (Hartnell) and company find themselves in a bit of a conundrum in this story written by Glyn Jones and aired in four parts, The Space Museum, The Dimensions of Time, The Search, and The Final Phase from 24 April to 15 May, 1965.
What appears to be a temporal glitch swaps everyone out of the costumes they were just in from the previous story, to their everyday fare. The Doctor dismisses it, and wants to learn more about what is going on and where they are. Activating the scanner, he, Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), Ian (William Russell) and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) quickly deduce that they’ve landed by what appears to be a Space Museum, on the planet Xeros.
Leaving the TARDIS to investigate, Ian points out they aren’t leaving footprints in the planet’s dusty surface. The Doctor’s mind is obviously trying to figure it out, especially when they are passed by some people who can neither see nor hear them.
The Doctor puts it all together in conjunction to a reveal… they are out of step with time, in fact, they haven’t arrived yet, a temporal flux has given them a glimpse of the future, which sees all four travelers on display in the museum!! The Doctor deduces that when they actually arrive on the planet, the displays will vanish and they will be seen!
And he’s right!
Now the rest of the story is about trying to avoid what seems to be an inevitable conclusion, that they will be put on display for centuries.
The Doctor is captured by the forces that run the museum, the warlike Moroks. Resisting interrogation, they prep the Doctor for display, while the others try not only to find him, but also find a way out of the maze that is the building.
Happily, help is present in the form of the local Xerons. They want their planet back, and slowly begin to ready themselves for a revolution, but it may be too late, as Barbara, Ian and Vicki are captured and they threat of stasis draws closer.
But it seems by helping in the revolution, they did just enough to get things rolling, that they are spared, and the Xerons reclaim their planet!! A happy ending for the heroes… until in the lead-in for the next story reveals that the Daleks aren’t all gone after all!!
This won’t be the only Space Museum the Doctor encounters in his travels, but it is the first, it also reveals in a display featuring a Dalek, that they come from the planet Skaro, one more piece in the myth-building is in place.
I liked this story in its dealing with time, and the seeming inevitability of the future, but for the fact, that sometimes, all it takes is one small thing to change everything, which is alluded to by the Doctor’s wondering about a button missing from Ian’s coat, and shown by the fact, that for some reason, part of the TARDIS’ equipment hadn’t completely locked into place, allowing them to jump the time track they were on, and affect the small changes that prevented them from ending up as displays…
Despite being a smaller budgeted episode, this one was a lot of fun!
Next time, The Chase!