I finally got around to this story I had skipped and saw the hour-long reconstruction and recently found episode three (‘Air Lock’) that was placed on the second disc to ‘The Aztecs’ DVD.
|Steven is trapped in the airlock|
It’s very effectively told via this shortened recon, and a good thing it was shortened too, as it is not a story filled with action or adventure to say the least. As a story it hits no great heights. We have the Drahvins and the Rills trapped on a planet about to explode. The Drahvins are beautiful blonde women, although only their leader, Maaga (Stephanie Bidmead) is capable of ‘thinking’. They want to take the Rill space ship to escape. The Rills are ‘hideous’ creatures, who have offered to help the Drahvins escape. They are served by the robotic ‘Chumblies’ – names so by Vicki. And that’s basically the whole story.
The Doctor and companions meet the Drahvins first, and are immediately alerted that they are not all that they seem. For two episodes they talk a lot and travel to and from the TARDIS to the Drahvin Spacecraft. The recently discover ‘Airlock’ (episode three) sees the Doctor and Vicki encounter the Rills for the first time, although we only see a glimpse of them through Perspex. This episode reveals what’s good and bad about the story.
|Maaga and her troops|
Firstly, the good. One could tag this story with the line ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. The Rills, ugly monsters they may be are actually the good, whereas the all-female Drahvins are untrusting and happy for everyone else to die. In the end the fact that they don’t trust anyone leads to their own destruction. I liked that the Rills, the ones who don’t look human, are in fact the ‘good guys’ of the piece.
On the flip side the story is somewhat two-dimensional. There are no really interesting characters, the Drahvins are (Maaga excepted) robotic drones and the Rills can only communicate from behind the Perspex wall on their space ship. So we see no interesting relationships. The Drahvins have a fair bit of dialogue which is mostly exposition of the situation or repetitive rubbish. Thus the story, which could be easily told in two parts, is stretched over four. The sets are okay, if filled with 1960s equipment everywhere, but the shiny black studio floor is evident in most shots. Paddy Russel’s direction makes no effort at all to conceal the surface of the planet.
Although I liked the themes of the story, I felt overall it was plainly too dull to hold serious interest for the viewer.
|A Rill - he's rilly a good guy!|