Doctor Who #299: Colony in Space Part 5

"You know, you really are most unimaginative." "Ah, tried and true methods are the best."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired May 8 1971.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Jo break into the Master's TARDIS and get caught, and the miners retake the colony.

REVIEW: Part 5 begins with yet another anti-climax (people simply walk in so the Master doesn't shoot our heroes) and does too much back and forth for my tastes. The colonists win a firefight against the miners, the Master changes his mind and "adjudicates" for the colonists, the miners find out he isn't the real Adjudicator (via space teletype, how quaint), and then the miners win a second firefight, and it's their turn to send the colonists away, which might as well be a death sentence given the state of their old ship. See if you can't play script editor and find the unnecessary scenes in this. Of the guest characters, only Caldwell keeps my interest, no doubt because he's the only human being on the mining ship, with human reactions and thoughtfulness. The cast is otherwise filled with cookie cutter irredeemably "evil" miners and "good" earnest colonists.

As my attention drifts away from the two-dimensional characterization drowned out by intrusive synth music, it's the tech that recaptures it. The Doctor's finally using his sonic screwdriver again, this time as a scanner, while the master uses his laser gun/wand not just to shoot primitives, but to remotely activate traps. So it's really the original laser screwdriver (from The Sound of Drums), isn't it? The Master also has a CCTV monitor built into a pocket watch, shades of "Human Nature"'s Time Lord fobwatch. Hey, when the plot isn't pulling its own weight, you start amusing yourself with such connections. The Master's TARDIS is a mix of delight and disappointment, with a cool exterior door the color of candy, but also modern day file cabinets in the console room with everything the Doctor and Jo need to uncover his plans. What is it with renegade Time Lords and analog solutions, anyway?

The Master's all-too-elaborate plan this time would seem to involve adjudicating for one party or the other until someone offers to take him to the primitive city where he hopes to find, one imagines, the doomsday weapon mentioned in Part 1. He seems to have rubbed off on the Doctor, who leaves the Master's TARDIS key to be found by... who? How could he know someone friendly would find it? At least the episode as some daring-do. The primitives, waving spears 6 years before Star Wars' Sand People would take out a copyright on the same move, and pushing boulders down on the Time Lords' buggy (the miners left one?!). A bit of quarry action while we wait for the conclusion.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I come down hard on the episode's padding and flat characters, but the regulars (and Caldwell) are watchable, and Who historians will find some gear to look at.


Anonymous said...

The Doctor and the Master really do come across like an old married couple, don't they? Or a couple of cranky old men who have been friends since they were kids.

Siskoid said...

Let's stick to the latter, if only to avoid slashfic googlers from showing up. ;-)


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