Doctor Who: Colony in Space
(6 episodes, s08e15-e20, 1971)
I really don’t like the Time Lords.
The Master is still mucking about in space and time, and the Time Lords reinstate the Doctor’s mobility to stop the next evil scheme. The Master has stolen the plans for a Doomsday Weapon, and only the Doctor can stop him from acquiring and using the device.
The TARDIS spontaneously dematerializes with the Doctor and Jo inside and travels to the planet Uxarieus, where a colony of humans has been established, but the colonists don’t trust the government back on Earth. In this future, the Earth government is a repressive bureaucracy that thrives on red tape. Meanwhile, the Interplanetary Mining Corporation (IMC) is trying to jump the colony’s claim and mine the planet for duralinium, which is needed on Earth. Since the colonists get in the way, the IMC is trying to scare them off. They call for an adjudicator to settle the issue, and it so happens that they send the Master.
And that’s the weak frame for the rest of the plot.
The story follows that there once was a powerful race of beings on the planet, but they developed the Doomsday Weapon – a device with the power to destroy a star – and then squirreled it away because nobody really needs that much power. The weapon’s presence led to the decline of the society, and they regressed to being primitives that hide in caves. When the Guardian, who leads the remnants of the ancient civilization, hears the tale of the Master and the Doctor, he destroys the weapon and his people to save the universe.
On the upside to this story, Jo visits the TARDIS, gets her “bigger on the inside” moment, and rapidly learns what it means to be a Doctor’s companion. From the story perspective, it was good to see that the writers didn’t rest on the trope of everyone in the party of evil completely believing in the thing that is evil: Caldwell was a great foil for the captain’s plans.
I also thought that the model work was great in this story, and I loved the IMC ship exterior.
Now, the list of negatives. First, the Time Lords, who are just playing games with the Doctor at this point. They reinstate his mobility to serve their needs because… what, they can’t simply pull the Master back by themselves? They can’t meddle in affairs of time and space, but they can send the Doctor, who they exiled as punishment for meddling in time and space?
No wonder he’s bitter about the exile. I would be too if they kept being hypocritical about everything.
The effects with the TARDIS were rather shoddy, from the *poof* materialization/dematerialization (it used to fade in and out) to the remnants of the Troughton-era control room (the roundel wallpaper was okay for the low-res black and white days, but with higher production values, the set deserves better).
This Doctor is a lot more physical, which is fine, but he’s a lot more prone to assaulting people. He uses his Venusian karate/aikido again here multiple times, and while the self-defense argument is on the table, he’s far more aggressive than his predecessors (and the successors with which I’m familiar). It feels like they’re trying to bring in the Bond fans, which almost matches up with the debut of Roger Moore in the famous role. I see a lot of similarities in Roger Moore’s Bond and Jon Pertwee’s Doctor.
Overall, a weak framing story, but a decent showdown with the Doctor, the Master, and a not-quite-dead-yet race of superior intelligence.
Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Dæmons