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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doctor Who: Colony in Space: Episode Six starts as the Master (Roger
Delgado) reveals to the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) that he has the plans for
a doomsday weapon which was built by the inhabitants of Uxarieus before
their civilisation deteriorated & he intends to use it to rule the
universe. Meanwhile Captain Dent (Morris Perry) has loaded all the
colonists onto their old spaceship to leave the planet, the Doctor
somehow has to prevent the Master gaining control of the doomsday
weapon & the colonists from being forced of Uxarieus...
Episode 20 from season 8 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during May 1971, directed by Michael E. Briant this has been pretty average fare by Doctor Who standards. The script by Malcolm Hulke has felt rather drawn out over it's six episodes with it having probably worked better as a four parter & the central story about a power struggle between a big company & the little guy has been both predictable & clichéd with some terrible character's & inconsistent situations. The Doctor & Jo were caught in the middle until the Master arrived at which point it's revealed he has some evil plan which the Doctor has to foil, very routine stuff to say the least. The whole doomsday weapon thing has suddenly been revealed in this episode & it's a somewhat dull plot device to get the Master involved in the story. Colony in Space isn't the worst Doctor Who story ever but it's far from the best, it's watchable but nothing particularly special or memorable.
For some strange reason the TARDIS doesn't gradually fade away when it takes off & lands, it just instantly appears & pops into the picture which is at odds with just about every other Doctor Who story I've seen. Colony in Space has been as much a drama as anything else, there's definitely nothing scary in this & to my eyes didn't even try to be frightening. The sci-fi elements are also tenuous with the central story being applicable to a contemporary setting with a few minor changes to the script. There hasn't been many special optical effects in this, there are a few OK model spaceships & some outer space shots but very little else in the way of post production effects work.
Colony in Space: Episode Six is about as good as the previous five which is to say it's average. Across it's six episodes I'll give Colony in Space an OK but unspectacular 5 stars out of 10, it's not the worst Doctor Who story ever but it's all rather average & forgettable. You certain won't find Colony in Space topping any Doctor Who fans best stories list.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The final episode comes down to two battles, The Doctor v The Master,
and the Colonists v The IMC crew.
The Master is about to destroy Jo, when the primitives arrive and imprison them both. Jo is released. We learn why The Master wanted to gain access to the primitive's city. Naturally the Master has a concealed weapon, allowing him and the Doctor to roam free in search of the Doomsday weapon. IMC force the Colonists to fire up the engines and take off. Caldwell and Jo break in to the City in order to rescue The Doctor. The Guardian intercedes and destroys the city, the Doctor, Master Jo and Caldwell escape as it explodes, taking the Doomsday weapon with them.
Great scene between The Master and The Doctor, discussing the Primitives history and the Doomsday weapon.
The fight in the clay between a guard and Winton is really effective, well realised and possibly the high point of the episode.
The Primitives have been fairly badly designed, they look like giant runner beans with spears, whereas the Alien priests look particularly unconvincing.
Why did the Guardian suddenly hit the self destruct button, it truly made absolutely no sense.
Nicholas Pennell's character Winton improved a lot as the story went on, he put in some good performances in the latter episodes.
A good story idea which was very averagely realised. Part 6 has at least been more interesting then the last few, it's been desperately overlong, Dicks and Letts should have had the sense to cut it down to 4 parts, they continually commissioned 6 parters, they should have learned a lot sooner that the 4 part stories worked better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following the perfectly functional Claws of Axos, this serial appears
to have gotten itchy feet in many ways. Most obviously it sees the
action move off Earth and take a format more common to the pre- Pertwee
episodes, but it also appears to be trying to do something more than
just have monsters walk towards soldiers. The plot features people
colonizing a planet who come up against a more exploitative mining
company, but most also face the fact that an indigenous race is already
present. The Doctor and Jo drop into the middle of this and find an
old friend along the way.
Being a longer serial, the suggestion is that there will be more substance, but unfortunately the serial seems to reach for more than it is able. The plot very quickly becomes clunky in how obvious the characters are the natives are inherently peace-loving and it is the exploiting humans that are the ones doing the harm. Just in case you do not get it, the serial also gives them spears and the humans rifles. While it could do something more interesting perhaps, it ultimately does end up sort of having a thriller plot, while also not really doing much of interest with the setup. It does have some good aspects in some of the characters and some of the ideas, but mostly I didn't feel like they worked particularly well.
The addition of the Master sees it move away from the core narrative, although his presence is always welcome; needless to say he escapes again this time driving off on some form of moon-buggy to get to his TARDIS; following his legging it on a bus in his first escape, the lesson is that you should never leave the keys in an unattended vehicle or a Time Lord will 'ave it. The cliffhangers are delivered as required, but they struck me as quite cheap in this serial one is repeated twice (the Doctor being faced down by the mining robot), while all of them seem to be very easily resolved within 5 seconds of the next episode.
Performances are solid enough; Pertwee is gruff but not unpleasant, while Manning has material that fits her character and thus does well (albeit with a weak character). Courtney's absence is felt but the actor playing Caldwell is a good presence in his stead. The creatures are as simple as their characters and didn't do much for me as either a threat or as characters. It wasn't a bad serial, and it did have aspects that worked well, but it seemed to be the aspects that didn't that stuck with me. Not sure why this was the case but it was and as a result the serial left me with the memory of the plot not really working, of it engineering temporary cliffhangers for the sake of it, and dragging it out to 6 episodes when fewer would have done.
Review of all 6 episodes:
The Doctor is sent on a mission by the Time Lords, presumably because they see he is far more suited than anyone in their society to engage in such actions, to stop The Master getting his hands on a 'doomsday weapon'.He is sent to a colony on a barren planet where a small group of humans are struggling to forge an existence with crops failing. There are indigenous 'alien' inhabitants known as 'primitives' who are mistrusted and slightly threatening from outside the colony but with some subservient primitives within the colony. The story is basically a western in space with a colony of farmers, primitives playing the role of the American Indians and The Master playing the role of a corrupt Marshall.
The first episode is very interesting and really well done indeed. The strongest elements being script and characterisation. The strong start continues into the next couple of episodes but it starts to run out of steam as the story goes into the last couple of episodes. Once again it shows that stories longer than 4 episodes, with notable exceptions, often stretch a story. It puts pressure on keeping the quality up and on keeping the credibility up and those both suffer here as characters take less believable actions and it gets less political and less interesting, more just a run-of-the- mill sci-fi adventure.
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