The Wheel In Space – 1968 – S5 – E7/7

wheel-in-space-doctor-who-1Number : Season 5, episode 7 of 7.

Which One : Meet Zoey.

Cast : The Doctor : Patrick Troughton
Jamie : Frazer Hines
Zoey : Wendy Padbury
Victoria Waterfield : Deborah Watling (archive)
Jarvis Bennett : Michael Turner
Dr Gemma Corwyn : Anne Ridler
Leo Ryan : Eric Flynn
Tanya Lernov : Clare Jenkins
Bill Duggan : Kenneth Watson
Kemel Rudkin : Kevork Malikyan
Elton Laleham : Michael Goldie
Armand Vallance : Derrick Gilbert
Enrico Casali : Donald Sumpter
Chang : Peter Laird
Sean Flannigan : James Mellor
Servo Robot : Freddie Foote

Written By : David Whitaker & Kit Pedler

Produced By : Peter Bryant

First UK Broadcast : 27 April – 1 June 1968.

Length : 6 x 25 minute parts.

Plot : The Doctor and Jamie emergency land the Tardis on a mysterious silver rocket on route to a wheel-shaped base in space. The Doctor is injured and Jamie is taken prisoner by the base’s human occupants. Meanwhile, Cybermen emerge from the rocket and begin a stealth takeover of the base.

Whats good : Base under-siege type story. The Cybermen are creepily effective. The Cybermen and Cybermats do a Stealth takeover. Good set-design. Jamie gets to take centre-stage. Doctor gets his John Smith alias.

Whats bad : It’s very similar to Moonbase but not as effective. Badly paced and drawn out. Cybermen don’t appear until halfway through. Zoey.

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Review With Spoilers : The Wheel In Space is the 7th and final episode of season 5 and marks the first appearance of new companion Zoey.

The Tardis has to emergency-land onboard a silver space rocket. The Doctor and Jamie discover that the rocket is pilotless but is on course to rendevous with an orbiting space-station, known as the “Wheel”.

The Doctor is injured and Jamie is captured and taken aboard the Wheel. Meanwhile, the silver space rocket jettisons a number of white “eggs”; which attach themselves to the hull of the Wheel and hatch into Cybermen.

The Wheel In Space follows a similar formula to previous Cyberman tale – The Moonbase; which also featured a stealth takeover of a human-base by Cybermen.

In this regard, The Wheel In Space feels like a pointless retread of The Moonbase which is not as effective as its predecessor.

Most of the episode, is given over to long drawn out scenes aboard the Wheel; with pointless exposition between personnel, as to the day-to-day duties and how the base works, etc. The first 3 parts infact don’t build to anything substanial.

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“Obey! Inside the Wheel, you will help us. You will obey!” Cyberman

Infact, there is no real buildup to the Cybermen takeover either. From the point-of-view of the Cybermen or from the human resistance. In the end, it comes across kind of plodding and half-baked. Especially, as it is not until halfway through that the Cybermen are introduced.

The Moonbase, did the Cybermen invasion thing; so much more effectively. Slowly ramping the tension, by introducing the Cybermen in fleeting glimpses from the start and by the end – a whole army; on the surface of the moon.

For the problematic structure and pacing though, The Wheel In Space does betray some memorably good moments and nice touches.

Including; the first use of the Doctor’s inherited “John Smith” acronym, which Jamie reads from a computer console when being interrogated by the Wheel personnel – about who the Doctor really is.

Inventive use of the Sonic Screwdriver as a welding torch. Plus, Jamie is given centre-stage – for 3 parts; which helps develop his character further. Especially, in his role as a “saboteur”; aboard the Wheel.

The Wheel In Space is a messy and inconsistent Cybermen invasion tale. Not really worthy of a season finale and not as effective as it’s inspiring predecesssor; The Moonbase.

It isn’t a total disaster though and The Wheel In Space does provide a few good moments and ideas. However, it could have been better paced and introduced the Cybermen sooner – into the story.

🔵🔵🔵⚪⚪ (3/5)

Old Doctor Who