Still Raze-y After All These Years

Review of Colony in Space (#58)
DVD Release Date:  08 Nov 11
Original Air Date:  10 Apr - 15 May 1971
Doctor/Companion:  Three, Jo Grant
Stars:  Jon Pertwee, Katie Manning
Preceding StoryThe Claws of Axos (Three, Jo)
Succeeding Story:  The Dæmons (Three, Jo)

When the Doctor forcibly regenerated into Three, he was exiled to 20th Century Earth. While that made for some less expensive down-to-earth filming for about a series and a half, eventually he needed to get back out into the broadness of time and space to keep the show fresh and interesting. Thus begins the Time Lords' co-option of the Doctor's services for their own purposes.

Off the Doctor and Jo go, quite unwittingly, to just one more dystopian Earth-colony of the future where a mining company is prepared to raze the planet for its mineral wealth. Notably, despite having already had three adventures with Three, this is both the first time Jo has set foot inside the TARDIS and, resultantly, the first time she's traveled with him away from her own planet or time. Unlike some Companions, she's less than thrilled at first, though just like all of them, she's thrown right into Yet Another Fine Mess.

This story is from Season 8 – the one in which every single story involved the Master – so the only surprise is that, barring passing mention by the Time Lords in episode 1, he doesn't show up until episode 4 (of 6). When he does, though, it's Delgado's typical schmoov operator, complete with updated TARDIS defenses (and filing cabinets! what Time Lord would be without them?) and classic quotes (like "tried and true methods are best," and "but of course that's typical of the High Council of the Time Lords - know everything; do nothing").

Certain plot elements are practically obligatory (can you spot the IMC mole?), as is the bad astronomy (e.g., assertions that the sun will explode; our sun doesn't have nearly enough mass to go supernova), but there are plenty of wonderful elements peppered throughout as well. I love that Pertwee's more vaudevillian background comes into play when he displays a bit of simple slight-of-hand, for instance, or that the Doctor responds to the question "Are you some kind of scientist?" with a self-important, "I'm every kind of scientist!"

We also get a further glimpse into the relationship between the Master and the Doctor when the former makes his offer to the latter to share in conquest of the universe and the offer is even given the chance to get out of his mouth. This is the golden era of the Master and Doctor, and these two are brilliant fun together, no matter the circumstances. Throw in some classic corporate greed, the Doctor as action hero, Jo (again) mentioning that one escapology course she once took, and lots of firefights, and you've got a solid installment in Third-Doctor-era Who.

DVD Extras (highlights)
IMC Needs You!
To change things up a bit, this "making of" starts with a recruiting ad for IMC. How can you fail to love an ad campaign - fictitious or not - that ends with the tag line, "Grow a moustache and see the stars!"? The usual interview clips include reminiscences on such topics as (writer) Malcolm Hulke's tendency toward political allegory, the original casting of one character as female rather than male, the trials of filming in a clay pit in February, and why there was no soft dissolve when the TARDIS materialized or dematerialized.

From the Cutting Room Floor
Usually I'm not a big fan of deleted scenes extras; they tend to be rather tedious and redundant, and make me appreciate the editors. This version is a little less onerous. The clips themselves have no sound, so there's incidental music overlaid for interest, and explanatory captions of what we're seeing. It gives a bit of a behind-the-scenes feel for how the shots are created, including a bit of model work right at the end.

Given the way Western society (as an American, I might even say specifically my country) still tends to bow down to The Almighty Dollar, this story seems relevant even 40 years after its original broadcast. I wouldn't recommend it for any sort of escapist viewing, but it's well worth watching when you're up for something a little more "serious."

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