Review of Doctor Who ‘Colony in Space’ (Series 8)
In the run up to the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ in November 2013, Neela Debnath, with the help of BBC DVD, will be writing a review focusing on one story from each of the previous 31 series of the show. Each review will offer readers a snapshot from every series of ‘Doctor Who’ and celebrate the longest-running science fiction television programme in the world.
At the bidding of the Time Lords and unbeknownst to him, the Tardis time travelling functions are restored and the Doctor is sent to the planet Uxarieus to stop the Master (Roger Delgado) from acquiring the Doomsday Weapon.
However, upon arrival the Doctor finds himself in the middle of a dispute between a group of colonists and the Interplanetary Mining Corporation (IMC), the latter of which plan to drain the planet of a valuable resource knows as duralinium.
Colony in Space was the penultimate adventure in series 8 and at this point in the series Liz Shaw (Caroline John), the UNIT scientist who was assisting the Doctor, has left. Her last serial was Inferno and although there is no onscreen farewell, her departure is announced by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney). Interestingly, out of all the Doctor’s companions, Shaw is the only one not to have travelled with him in the Tardis. Shaw was replaced by Jo Grant (Katy Manning), a civilian member of UNIT who made her first appearance in Terror of the Autons which also introduced the Master.
On a small note, John sadly passed away last month but her character, Liz Shaw helped to usher in a new era of Doctor Who which saw Pertwee’s Doctor begin his exile on earth.
Jon Pertwee’s tenure is defined by his grounding on earth without a functional Tardis. This is his Doctor’s first adventure to another planet using his ship and only happens because the Time Lords need him. He previously left earth briefly in The Ambassadors of Death, Inferno and The Claws of Axos but this is the first full adventure in another world.
The six-part serial tells two stories simultaneously. The first is of the colonists battling against a corporation to live on Uxarieus. IMC are devious in their methods to scare off the colonists in order to mine on the planet, even resorting to murder as a means to an end. The second story involves another encounter between the Doctor and the Master as the two Time Lords battle against one another. The combination of these two strands enriches the serial and makes it more than just another adventure to a rocky planet.
Doctor Who may be aimed at children but the colonists story is complex and quite dark. For instance, the character of Captain Dent (Morris Perry), the leader of the IMC ship, is uncompromising and callous. For him it is about making profits and his morals are left by the wayside in pursuit of money but this is because of the dire state of earth. Dent is a man concerned with his own survival because he knows about the overpopulation, the brutal government and the depleted resources which have been created by the human race. The fact that both the colonists and IMC are fighting over the planet emphasises the terrible state the earth is in.
In terms of performances, Pertwee and Delgado are brilliant in this story as they bounce of each other. They hold their own in their shared scenes and there is a sense of equality between the pair. They are both charismatic characters and likeable, even if the Master is the villain of the story. The character of the Master was created as a Professor Moriarty figure to rival the Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes and it works perfectly.
Unfortunately, Jo Grant (Katy Manning) comes off less favourably. This is Grant’s first real adventure on the Tardis and she starts off quite timid and uncertain of what is going on. The Doctor has to persuade her to explore the planet with him and she very slowly takes on the role of the assistant. While Shaw was more measured and stern as a companion, Grant really isn’t and does not challenge the Doctor. Although Grant did question the Doctor more later on, in Colony in Space she is very meek and slightly disappointing. Moreover, she is outshone by Mary Ashe, the daughter of the leader of the colony, played by a fresh-faced, pre-Coronation Street Helen Worth. She is feistier than Grant and has real companion potential.
Colony in Space is a strong story that combines a colonist dispute with an encounter between the Doctor and the Master. The classic convention of the hero and his arch-nemesis is portrayed perfectly, Delgado’s Master is a wonderful foil to Pertwee’s Doctor. The best scenes of this story involve the Doctor and the Master. Saying this, the plot strand concerning the colonists and IMC is interesting in itself, as is the idea of a dying earth and the need to colonise other planets. All of these elements tie in neatly together to create an enjoyable viewing experience.
For more information about the classic series of ‘Doctor Who’ visit:www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic
For more information about the ‘Doctor Who’ DVDs visit: www.bbcshop.com
DVD & image credit: BBCTagged in: Caroline John, doctor who
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