Doctor Who #300: Colony in Space Part 6

"That's typical of the High Council of the Time Lords. Know everything, do nothing!"TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired May 15 1971.

IN THIS ONE... The Master finds the primitives' doomsday weapon, but the aliens self-destruct before letting him use it. And the colonists win back the planet.

REVIEW: The Master/Doctor relationship really is a strange thing, especially now that the production team has obviously decided the former would appear in every story. It basically means he can't be TOO bad, or be allowed to do something TOO nasty, or even be captured for long. In this episode, for example, he explains his entire plan to the Doctor, as matter-of-factually as if the other man was his willing partner. And they do interact on that level. Once again, the Master tries to tempt (or corrupt) the Doctor with promises of sharing the universe with him, desperate it seems for a companion in this ruling the universe thing. He's either lying or deluded, and it does seem absurd that he would keep telling people (the aliens too) that the doomsday weapon would "help" people. The thing blows up stars! I mean, thanks for the Crab Nebula, ancient alien civilization, it's very pretty, but I'm not sure it warrants ending someone's world. But even with the fate of countless stars in the balance, the Master acts like a rather selfish companion, telling the Doctor to hold his breath while he wears a gas mask and uses a gas pellet to get the both of them out of trouble. That the Doctor won't join him turns him into a petulant child who doesn't understand why someone won't play with him. It's sad, funny and twisted all at the same time.

The story of the aliens is revealed - their culture decayed because of the effects of their weapon's radioactive power source - and rather than see the weapon fall into the wrong hands, they blow their city up (the weapon is massive). I'm not sure I buy that. Couldn't they have evacuated and done this long ago? Why is their leader unaffected (or is he differently affected, stunted in size instead of intellect)? The Doctor seems convinced the poisoned soil will now grow food since the source of the radiation has been destroyed, but I don't think that's how radiation works. Speaking of sacrifices, there's also very little reason for Ashe to blow himself up in the colonists' rocket, and worse, his daughter Mary doesn't seem particularly affected mere hours later. It's a finally that rather falls flat and empty. Certainly, I'm missing a scene where Captain Dent is horrendously punished. He just sort of disappears. I don't think he's in that umpteenth firefight between the colonists and miners. (I suppose the two armies couldn't meet in that gray mud pit, the better fight location in this episode.)

Now, can someone go back in time and tell the production team the I Dream of Jeannie TARDIS dematerialization effect sucks and that they really have to bring back the fade in/fade out? (As I know the old effect returns, no one can tell me that sentence isn't responsible for it.) The TARDIS, of course, is the focus of another anti-climax. What was the point of having the primitives steal it? It was only done to prevent the Doctor from leaving before the story ran its course, which I thought by now wasn't an issue. At least the bit with the Brigadier thinking the Doctor and Jo were only gone for a few seconds is cute. Malcolm Hulke has done better work for the series, and will do better still in the near future. Colony in Space and its anti-corporate, anti-military sentiment is too obvious and black and white to be of any real interest. Even as a back-door mission from the Time Lords, it's rather ordinary. The High Council doesn't appear again, and rather than any timey-wimey business (say, rewriting the Master's personal history), it's merely a case of his stealing their files and their sending the Doctor to the location listed in those files.

VERSIONS: Target novelized the story as Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon. Because it was the first Season 8 story to be adapted, Jo and the Master are both introduced as if it were their first appearance. The mining robot and the alien puppet are both much more humanoid according to the illustrations and text. The mining company, Dent and this century's Earth are described in more detail than one the show.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The finale (complete with an explosion because it's still the UNIT era even without UNIT) is full of plot holes, though it's got action, revelations and humor as well.

- Let's just say I've experienced more subtle fables about corporate exploitation. Heck, I'm a native of the 21st century, so I've lived through them. Yes, the Doctor gets to visit an alien planet after a long exile on Earth, but it looks like an Earth quarry. Its villains are cardboard and its aliens are theater masks and puppets. It's not bad exactly, but it's even more ordinary than The Claws of Axos, and after so many Earth-based stories, it should have been more than that.



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