This episode brings The Space Museum to a less than thrilling climax. The first thing which stands out is the fact that Barbara and Dako have spent almost a whole episode (from the middle of episode three to the middle of episode four) coughing, spluttering and attempting to escape from the museum. This helps to give the impression that the museum covers a great deal of ground, but also that Jones had run out of anything remotely interesting to do with Barbara.
Once he’s unfrozen, the Doctor delights in asserting his superiority over Lobos. But as in episode two, his glee doesn’t last for long as he’s soon captured again. When Barbara and Vicki are also rounded up, the four time-travellers are together again once more. They debate whether they’ve done enough to change the future – or have all their actions just been moving them closer and closer to the exhibit cases? Ian attempts to smash the Morok’s freezing equipment (in a very ineffectual way, it has to be said) but the Doctor murmurs that he doubts it’s the only one they have.
The classic line “have any arms fallen into Xeron hands?” never fails to raise a smile. It surely must be intentional, surely nobody could write something that silly with a straight face? Maybe that’s The Space Museum‘s greatest failing – had it been made in the late 1970’s it would have been obvious that the Moroks and Xerons were faintly ridiculous stock characters and so more humour could have been developed from their interactions. Easy to imagine Tom having a ball with the script ….
We eventually get an explanation as to why the TARDIS jumped a time track. It’s tempting to wonder if this was a relic of David Whitaker’s work on the script (he commissioned it and later passed it to Dennis Spooner) as it has a definite echo of the gammy spring story from The Edge of Destruction. The Doctor waves a small object about and explains:
DOCTOR: You know, it’s a funny thing how it happened. It got stuck. I don’t know whether you’ve gone into a room and switched on the light and had to wait for a second or two before the thing lit itself up.
BARBARA: Yes, I have. I think most people have.
DOCTOR: Well, this is the same kind of problem, you see. We landed on a separate time track, wandered around a bit, and until this little thing clicked itself into place, we hadn’t actually arrived.
IAN: Ah. Well, thanks very much for explaining it.
Yes, that makes everything quite clear. Umm, maybe.
By far the most interesting part of The Final Test is the cliffhanger which teases us with the return of the Daleks. Although it’s fair to say that The Chase will turn out to be something of a bumpy ride …..