Written By: William Emms
Starring William Hartnell, Maureen O'Brien, Peter Purves
Released November 2021 - BBC Studios
I was quite pleased when they announced an animation of Galaxy 4. Not because I think it is a particularly good story (it is not), or that I even have some guilty pleasure love for it (I do not), but after a few years of animations focused primarily on the Second Doctor, it was nice to see the First doctor get a look in. I can only hope that they are secretly working on "Marco Polo" and we can get the earliest missing story animated for the 60th Anniversary year.
First, the story of Galaxy 4 I find to be rather average. The Chumblies are really lame robots. While I like the idea of the more attractive aliens turning out to be alien, it has been done much better elsewhere (both in and out of Doctor Who). I also think for a four-parter there is a tremendous amount of filler in this story.
But as for the animation? I think it is pretty good. It is certainly on par with the other recent Troughton animations. Is it the greatest animation ever? Certainly not, but with the budgets they can have they really do a really nice job of bringing these lost stories back to life, flaws and all. For this review, the colour versions were made available. I prefer black and white, as they originally aired...but then again I'd prefer the stories exist, so really none of that matters. I do think, at least with past animations I have viewed, the color versions can be vibrant, but the black and white almost make me forgive the limited nature of the animations more. Maybe that is just a quirk of my brain. That said, I think having the animations in color is nice, as really having the stories revived with this much life is pretty amazing no matter what.
In this story, we do have one original version currently existing, and I did watch that for some comparison, just out of curiosity. At one point in this episode, The Doctor and Vicki must escape the Chumblies, and I actually think the animation is a lot clumsier with this. In the original, they sneak behind a table to avoid detection, in the animation they just sort of walk past them and the Chumblies just seem to ignore them. It makes it seem odd. That said, they then run out of the building and a door comes down to lock Vicki in...and in the original that door looks cheap and wobbly as hell, and the animation makes it seem like a genuine barrier.
In all, this is a fine addition to the animated line. Is it perfect? When compared to the existing episode it seems to fall short in some areas while excelling in others. As a story I think Galaxy 4 is pretty lame and feels oddly padded for a 4-part adventure...but honestly, any Hartnell or Troughton given the animated treatment does please me, so I will take it.