Thursday, October 06, 2005

'Colony In Space'

6 episodes

I enjoyed this much more than I'd expected, considering I'd heard it was something of a turkey beforehand... I think one reason is that I'm a sucker for any plot that throws a whole load of factions into the mix, as this serial does - the Doctor and Jo; the colonists; the fictional 'second colony' represented by Norton (a rare on-screen outing for voice artiste supreme Roy Skelton), who is actually an IMC mole; the main bulk of IMC personnel; Caldwell, the IMC man who is sympathetic to the 'good' factions; the Primitives, all three varieties of them; the Adjudicator, who turns out to be the Master. I love stories that force a great number of different factions into one situation to coexist or war as they see fit... Nice that the Master was held back until episode 4, giving the rest of the characters time to develop, although this was admittedly foreshadowed by the very first scene - in which we get to see Time Lords being manipulative gits for the first time! Good to see the Third Doctor finally get to stretch his legs briefly, as the TARDIS is temporarily allowed (in fact, compelled) to leave Earth to foil the Master's plot to get his hands on a doomsday weapon that is apparently some kind of stellar manipulator. There are some interesting leadership issues amongst the colonists, between the idealistic Ashe and more pragmatic Winton, a few questions about the morality of the differing factions as regards possessing the planet, and lots of gun battles that have altered little even though this is meant to be 500 years in the future... Funny, almost self-referential plotting where we discover the giant lizards are actually meant to be naff projections in the story and not just in appearance! And, of course, the first alien world this Doctor gets to explore looks remarkably like a clay pit... Still, the aliens were convincingly 'different', and I rather liked their Bayeux Tapestry-style transparent frieze depicting their history. Perhaps the most arresting thing was the sudden, shocking despatch of all the colonists en masse as their ship blows up in the final part - I honestly didn't see the scene coming where they had somehow all survived to have another gunfight with the IMC men, and although this momentarily seemed to cheapen the prior effect this was unexpectedly wrenched back the other way when it was revealed that Ashe had sacrificed himself in order that his colony might survive.

Surprisingly strong for a story that had such bad advance notices!


Episodes watched: 190
Episodes still to watch: 532

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