Number : Season 5, serial 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 episodes.
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 landed 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. The Cybermen don’t appear until halfway through. Zoey’s precocious character.
Review With Spoilers : The Wheel In Space is the seventh 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 by humans – 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 retread of the much superior The Moonbase.
Most of the story, 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 Wheel works, etc. The first 3 episodes – infact don’t build to anything substanial.
“Obey! Inside the Wheel, you will help us. You will obey!” Cyberman
Infact, there is no real build-up 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 the halfway mark – 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 the Doctor’s identity.
The eggs, (jettisoned by the rocket) which float through space and attach to the Wheel and then grow into the Cybermen – is a nice touch and something we haven’t seen before.
Inventive use of the Sonic Screwdriver – as a welding torch. Plus, Jamie is given centre-stage – for 3 episodes; 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 introducing the Cybermen – sooner into the story, would have helped.
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