8.4 – “Colony In Space”
The Time Lords discover that files on the extremely dangerous DOOMSDAY WEAPON have gone missing and decide the only person who can help them is The Doctor. Granting him temporary freedom from his banishment to Earth, he and Jo Grant travel to the planet Uxarieus, 500 years in the future, where a group of Earth colonists have been trying but struggling to set up a new settlement. The International Mining Corporation have designs on the planet for commercial gain.
The penultimate story of Season 8 is an interesting concept. It’s a nice piece of social commentary, dealing with greedy business putting commerce before people and the effects of colonialism. Malcolm Hulke’s left wing slant is perhaps not surprising since he was a member of the British Communist Party. Its fairly overt, with the pioneers attempting to set up a new colony as a fresh start to overcome the Earth’s situation of over-crowding and pollution. But both the colonists and the original primitive inhabitants of the planet find themselves at the sharp end of trouble from the Mining Corporation and their profiteering ways.
The Doctor and Jo are quickly embroiled on their arrival and set about trying to work out why the colonists are having such a lack of success in their farming operations, when the planet should be perfectly capable of supporting life and agriculture. When the corporation find their dirty tricks (including some fairly comical clawed hands attached to mining machines) coming under scrutiny, they call on an adjudicator to investigate and make judgement on who has the rights to the land. The adjudicator appears and to everyone’s “surpise” it turns out to be The Master. Again.
Delgado is fantastic as The Master of course, but this story feels too long (again) being another 6 parter. The story seems to lose something after The Master arrives, losing the point and becoming a bit disjointed. For the first time, it feels like The Master’s appearance could have been done without. There is some point to his arrival; the Doomsday Weapon is housed on Uxarieus, in fact it’s the weapon that has been poisoning the soil and stopping the farming from succeeding. The Master wants the weapon for himself having stolen the files on it. After pitched battles, kidnaps, and discovering that the primitives were once an advanced civilisation, the Colonists ship takes the doomsday weapon off planet, piloted by Governor Ashe, sacrificing himself but removing the radiation affecting the planet and leaving his friends to be able to succeed in their new life.
There are some fine performances from a decent ensemble cast, John Ringham as Ashe and a young Helen Worth from Corrie as Mary Ashe. Roy Skelton gets to make an appearance rather than just be heard voicing the aliens. Great to see the Time Lords back in it, even if Roger Murray-Leach’s classic Time Lord costume has yet to be deigned.
“Colony In Space” could have been the classic two warring factions and The Doctor saving the day story, but it feels like it drags on over too many parts and quickly loses its point when The Master re-appears. Not a bad story, just not as good as it could have been, but it’s nice to see The Doctor back on the TARDIS and off Earth. A respectable 6/10.
Written and edited by Gavin Dunbar