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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
Colony in Space


Starring: Jon Pertwee
RRP: £20.42
Certificate: PG
Available 03 October 2011

When the Timelords discover that the Master has a plan which potentially could threaten the entire cosmos, they reluctantly reactivate the Doctor's TARDIS, sending both the Doctor and Jo to the planet Uxarieus. On landing they discover an Earth colony which is at the brink of failure; crops do not grow properly and the indigenous population has become aggressive. When an earth based mining ship arrives it coincides with a double murder, apparently by a large lizard. The Doctor investigates but is taken hostage by the mining ship, afraid that he is an Earth spy they attempt to kill him. Escaping, the Doctor encounters the planet's original inhabitants. However time is running out as an Earth arbiter arrives to settle matters between the colonists and the miners - an arbiter who looks exactly like the Master...

Colony in Space is a six episode story from season eight staring Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning. The show, directed by Michael E. Briant and written by Malcolm Hulke, was originally transmitted between 10 April and 15 May 1971.

This was another of the Who shows which attempted to deal with a contentious issue within the format of the show. Here the story took an anti colonial stance, as it had done on other occasions, although the political message was often over simplistic, taking a completely negative view, rather than try to engage in any dialogue with the subject. The basic premise of the show is that the colonist are good, the corporation stooges are bad and both are reprehensible for fighting over a planet which didn’t belong to either of them. Of course, this stance takes a further beating by the nature of the stories end.

Politics aside, Colony is a well structured tale, which even given its length never feels too strung out. The longer Who stories had a habit of having a couple of episodes, in the middle, which usually felt like padding.

The structure and influences of the show appear very quickly. Stripped of its science fiction trappings, this is an old fashioned western, with the colonists standing in for the farmers. The mining ship’s crew as cattlemen, eager to push off the farmers so that they can exploit the land and the slightly disappointing natives, are the Indians. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with borrowing, indeed Who would do this consistently throughout its history, but as this was Jon Pertwee’s first foray into the void, it’s a shame it wasn’t something a little bit more special. Even the appearance of the Master was ruined by being so telegraphed in the episode as to take away any possible impact.

The picture is presented in its original aspect ratio, not bad for a Pertwee story, though the print is starting to show its age.

Extras are a little on the short side, presumably because of the number of episodes. First up is the commentary with Katy Manning, Bernard Kay, Morris Perry, Michael Briant, Terrance Dicks and Graham Harper. The commentary is moderated by Toby Hadoke. It’s an informative piece, though it misses out the family atmosphere generally produced when the main cast are involved. IMC Needs You! (25 min, 03 sec) is the feature dealing with the making of the show, which starts with a very amusing fake advert for the mining company. From the Cutting Floor (12 min, 53 sec) has some silent 16 mm film from the show. The rest is the usual galleries, listings, subtitles and the coming soon (1 min, 28 sec) for two UNIT stories: The Android Invasion and Invasion of the Dinosaurs.


Charles Packer

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