This story is my bête noire. Will Sue agree? Or will we end up sleeping in separate beds this week?
I don’t like Colony in Space. This is why our updates have lost some momentum of late – I simply refused to subject myself to more than one episode a night. Sue, on the other hand, would have been happy to knock this one off in a couple of days. So blame me. And now, without further ado, and with Nicol along for the ride for the first three episodes, it’s time for a Colonic in Space.
The episode begins with a massive spoiler.
Sue: So the Master is in this one as well?
Sue: It’s the Time Lords! Have they decided to end the Doctor’s exile? That was quick. I don’t think he learnt a damn thing.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Doctor is working on his faulty dematerialisation circuit.
Sue: Why is he playing with a skateboard wheel? And what does Jo actually do between alien invasions? Apart from answer the phone?
The Doctor leads Jo into the TARDIS for a quick tour, but the ship suddenly dematerialises without the Doctor’s consent. Seconds later, a perplexed Brigadier walks into an now-empty room.
Me: Do you wish the Brigadier had gone with them?
Sue: Not really. Somebody has to stay behind to look after the Earth.
As the TARDIS hurtles through the vortex, the Doctor tells Jo to look at the scanner.
Sue: His telly’s broken. He really should get that fixed.
Meanwhile, on a very bleak alien planet, a mining robot is doing its thing.
Nicol: It’s Wall-E. But not as cute.
And then the TARDIS arrives…
Me: Did you notice that the TARDIS materialises differently in this story? It just pops into the frame.
Sue: I can’t say I’m bothered. I suppose the fans get worked up about that, do they? Don’t tell me – they blame it on the Time Lords because they’re controlling his TARDIS. Am I right?
She pretends to be above it all, but when I inform her that she’s right, I can tell that she’s secretly chuffed to bits.
However, when the Doctor opens the doors to the outside world, Sue is very upset.
Sue: What happened to his little porch? I liked his little porch. That little porch explained a lot.
Faced with the prospect of an alien planet to explore, Jo immediately starts freaking out.
Sue: That’s an interesting reaction from Jo. It’s very realistic and I like that. I’d probably feel the same way if I suddenly found myself on an alien planet. In fact, that’s exactly how I felt when I arrived at that Doctor Who convention in Newcastle the other week.
Nicol: I don’t like Jo’s belt. It looks like she’s wearing a seatbelt that she’s stolen from a plane.
Sue: Yes, it’s very Wonder Woman.
Me: Oh look, it’s Penny’s dad from Just Good Friends.
Sue: He’s in Doctor Who a lot. He just can’t get enough. I bet he auditioned for the role of the Doctor every time it came up.
The colonists are made-up of recognisable faces, some of whom Sue gets terribly wrong (“Is that Bill Odie?”), and some of which she gets right.
Sue: Oh, it’s Gail Tilsley from Coronation Street. She looked like a hamster, even then.
As the colonists start banging on about crop rotations and mineral rights, Sue appears to be engrossed.
Sue: So this is basically exactly the same plot as Avatar, yes? Does Jo fall in love with one of the green blokes?
And then some colonists are attacked by what looks a giant lizard.
Sue: Quick! We are surrounded by back projection! Run!
But it’s the background hum in the colonists’ base that really gets on Sue’s nerves.
Sue: Why is this location infested by a swarm of bees?
Me: Maybe the bees are hanging around here waiting for all the flowers to grow?
Nicol: Maybe all the bees from The Happening left Earth and ended up here?
Me: That would make a lot of sense given that nothing is happening here.
Sue: Hang on a minute, how did a giant lizard get through the bloody door?
A few seconds later, the Doctor makes the very same observation.
Me: You are just as clever as the Doctor, love. Well done.
As Sue pats herself on the back, the Doctor is attacked by an IMC robot.
Sue: That’s not even remotely scary.
Nicol: It looks like an easily surprised kitten when it sticks its arms up in the air like that.top
Sue and Nicol both admire the Doctor’s line “I’m every kind of scientist”, but the Doctor’s mode of transportation leaves a lot to be desired.
Sue: Didn’t The Banana Splits ride around in buggies like that?
When IMC’s Morgan enters the fray, I initiate the usual procedures.
Me: Come on, love. You’ll let me down if you don’t recognise him.
Sue: Is it Downtown Abbey Man?
Me: Downtown Abbey Man would have been eight years old when this was made.
Nicol: Oh, mother!
Me: I sell this blog on your ability to recognise actors who have appeared in EastEnders and now you’re showing me up.
Five minutes later, I have put her out of her misery.
Sue: Oh, it’s Barry’s dad!
Me: Yes, it’s Barry’s dad. Aka Roy Evans, or Tony Caunter to his friends.
When Morris Perry turns up as Dent, Sue believes she’s on a roll.
Sue: It’s Bryan Talbot.
Don’t be impressed. Seriously, don’t. The only reason she knows who Bryan Talbot is is because she used to work with his wife. It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.
Sue: Is the Doctor drinking Ribena in this scene?
Nicol: No, it’s blood. I told you he was dressed as Dracula. But at least the other characters refer to the fact that the Doctor is wearing fancy dress, although it is a bit rich coming from someone dressed in a tabard.
Sue: The room on this spaceship looks like your average Travelodge. It just needs a little coffee maker and you’d be set. It’s even got cable television.
When the Doctor and Morgan are ambushed by green-skinned natives, Nicol ends up sniggering at the Doctor’s highly stylised combat moves. But Sue is distracted by something else.
Sue: Oi! Roy Evans! How about getting out of the car and giving the Doctor a hand? You coward!
And then Sue believes that she has picked up on a subtle in-joke.
Sue: Gail Tilsely just laughed when she mentioned Jim’ll Fix It.
Me: Now then, now then, now then, it’s not a reference to Jim’ll Fix It. That doesn’t start for another four years.
Sue: Really? So why did she laugh like that? It’s as if she knew.
Me: Either Helen Worth is a time traveller with incredibly low aspirations or it’s just a coincidence. Take your pick.
Sue: Is the bad guy the same actor who played that business man who was in league with the Cybermen? You know, the one who said “Packerrrrrr” a lot.
Me: No, but I think you’ll find that Morris Perry attended the same ‘Oozing Menace’ acting classes as Kevin Stoney.
Sue: I like it. The acting is very good in this story.
When Morgan and the Doctor finally reach the dome, Nicol points excitedly at the screen.
Nicol: It’s the Crystal Dome from The Crystal Maze! Is it full of shiny bits of paper?
Sue: It’s a mini-Epcot. You know, I’d love to live in a dome like that. That design is particularly good against the wind.
The episode concludes with the Doctor being attacked by a robot with monster claws for hands.
Sue: Now that is ridiculous.
Nicol: They should have stuck some cat paws on it.
Sue: When does the Master turn up?top
Sue: The colonists’ leader’s hair is very shiny. Actually, everyone has immaculate hair when you consider that they are living in a dust bowl. They don’t have any food but they must have plenty of conditioner.
As Bernard Kay’s Caldwell ruminates on the colonists’ predicament, Sue comes up with a theory.
Sue: This bloke reminds me of the Brigadier. He’ll come good in the end. You can tell that because of the moustache. In fact, only the really bad guys don’t have moustaches, apart from the Doctor and Jo, and the bad guy who is pretending to be a good guy and therefore has a beard. It’s fairly easy to work out.
Nicol: The costumes are all over the place in this story – it’s a cross between Tron and Game of Thrones.
But Sue is drawn in by the plot, and by the time Jo and Winton manage to escape being chained to a bomb, she seems to be lapping it up.
Sue: You go, girl!
As IMC’s lackeys chase down Winton, Sue is genuinely concerned.
Sue: Oh dear, they’ll get their nice, clean boots all mucky.
When Winton is machine-gunned off-screen by Caldwell, Sue recoils in horror.
Sue: How grim is this? Oh, wait a minute, it’s the man with the moustache – he’ll just be pretending.
She is, of course, right.
Sue: You know, there’s nothing wrong with this story. I don’t know why you look so depressed whenever I suggest that we watch an episode.
As the colonists and IMC continue to argue over the rights to Uxarieus, Sue believes she has spotted a fatal flaw in the colonists’ argument.
Sue: Why are the colonists so determined to stay here on this shit hole? It’s not exactly Barbados, is it? Or that lovely planet in Avatar. They can’t even get their crops to grow there. I’d have left this dump ages ago.
The episode concludes with Jo being forced into a hole in a wall.
Sue: I’m enjoying this one. I think I like it because it’s not all about the Doctor. I like learning about the other characters and their predicaments. It’s very involving. Yeah, I like this one a lot.
I resist the urge to throw a cushion at her.top
Sue: It really was back projection all along!
Me: And they would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky colonists. Yes, this is basically a politically charged version of Scooby-Doo.
The colonists are up in arms, especially a man called Leeson.
Sue: Peter Sutcliffe doesn’t look very happy about it.
And then – sigh – the Master turns up to muddy the waters.
Sue: Oooh! It’s the Master!
Me: You knew he was coming. They gave it away in the very first sentence of the story!
Sue: Even though I knew he was coming, I’m still surprised to see him arrive. Does that make any sense?
Sue: It does throw my facial hair theory out of the window, though. Shame.
More doubts about the story begin to creep in when we reach the primitives’ city.
Sue: OK, this is starting to look a bit cheap now.
And then another type of alien turns up.
Sue: OK, this is starting to look a bit weird now. Are all the natives on this planet made from papier-mâché?
But that’s nothing compared to the aliens’ ultimate leader.
Sue: It’s a baby with a walnut for a head. That’s very disturbing. Anything that looks like a baby and talks like an adult is just wrong. It’s starting to freak me out.
The episode concludes with the Master threatening to shoot the Doctor and Jo, as a gunfight between IMC and the colonists rages all around them.
Sue: You know, this isn’t bad at all. If this had been four episodes long, it would have been perfect.
Me: We still have two episode to go.
Sue: I know.top
It’s another one of those episodes when Sue doesn’t say very much; a combination of being genuinely involved in the story and her running out of things to say about moustaches. At one point she even says: “Is there really any point in me making jokes about peripheral vision anymore?”.
It takes the Master’s presence to prompt a response from her.
Sue: I really like the Master. He’s always fun to watch. He’s very charming and you can’t help but root for him.
The Doctor and Jo manage to break into the Master’s TARDIS.
Sue: This looks exactly like the Doctor’s TARDIS. Do they make them out of Gallifreyan flatpacks?
But the Master’s TARDIS has something that the Doctor’s doesn’t.
Sue: Why doesn’t the Doctor have a security feature like that? The Master always manages to show him up, doesn’t he?
Me: Yes, making the Doctor slide along the floor like that is pretty humiliating.
Sue: It’s not exactly Mission Impossible, is it? And the Master doesn’t have a little porch either. That’s a bit strange. It’s as if they’re just filming this in the Doctor’s TARDIS.
Me: Don’t be absurd, woman!
Sue: And now the music sounds like something from The Clangers.
Me: The Clangers in Doctor Who? That’s even more absurd!
Jo manages to trip the Master’s alarm (“You dozy mare!”) and gas starts pouring into the console room.
Sue: Just stick your cloak in the pipe!
Later, when the Master and the Doctor take a buggy to the ruined city, they are ambushed by primitives waving their spears in the air.
Sue: That is very funny.
Me: It reminds me that thing the Sand People do in Star Wars.
Sue: Maybe George Lucas ripped it off.
Me: Well, Star Wars is full of aliens made from papier-mâché, so it’s not impossible.
The colonists are told that they will have to leave the planet, and they can’t take more than seven kilos of luggage with them.
Sue: That’s worse than Ryanair!
The episode concludes with the Master threatening to kill Jo with a Bakewell tart.
Sue: I’m still enjoying this. Stop looking at me like that.top
The Master and the Doctor are escorted by the primitives into a lumber room.
Sue: What the hell is a lumber room? Where are all the planks of wood? You can’t tease me with carpentry and then fail to deliver like that.
As the Doctor brings the Master up to speed with the planet’s history, Sue identifies a modern parallel.
Sue: They worshiped technology? So they were Apple fans?
The Master proudly shows the Doctor the Doomsday weapon created by the inhabitants of the planet.
Sue: The Doctor and the Master always end up working with each other at the end. The Master is crying out for a relationship with his so-called nemesis. He must be really lonely. Just look at how upset he is when the Doctor turns him down. The Master really should get himself a companion.
Meanwhile, and for no readily apparent reason, Winton and an IMC guard start mud wrestling.
Sue: This isn’t turning me on. I just want to be clear about that. Ouch! I think he really punched him in the face!
The colonists’ ship takes off. And immediately explodes.
Sue: No way! That’s ****ing grim! They must have snuck out when no one was looking. They’ll be fine. It’s fine. It had better be fine!
As the Master tempts the Doctor with universal domination, Sue believes we are about to witness the start of the Time War. Again.
Sue: Does the Doctor use this super-weapon to blow up Gallifrey?
The Master’s plans are interrupted by the high priest in a high chair.
Sue: Uh oh, here comes Yoda again.
The Guardian instructs the Doctor to set the Doomsday weapon to self-destruct.
Sue: Why didn’t they just do that earlier? Or is it because the walnut baby couldn’t reach it with his tiny arms? And don’t you think a self-destruct lever should be protected a little bit more than that? You could easily knock against it by mistake and blow yourself up.
As the city is evacuated, Sue is drawn to Roger Delgado’s athleticism.
Sue: The Master runs like a girl!
The Doctor and Jo manage to escape just as the city – and the weapon – explode behind them.
Sue: Why kill all the natives like that? It’s not their fault! That seems a bit extreme.
The Master legs it and he manages to escape in his TARDIS.
Sue: The Master’s TARDIS just popped out of the frame and he’s not being controlled by the Time Lords, so that blows the fans’ theory out of the water. All you are left with now is an incompetent director.
Meanwhile, back at UNIT HQ…
Sue: Yay! The Brig! I’ve missed him.
But the Brigadier isn’t impressed by the Doctor’s little jaunt.
Sue: They’ve only been gone a few seconds. That’s pretty clever.
Me: It didn’t feel like a few seconds to me…
Sue: Oh, shut up.top
The Final Score
Sue: The last episode was very weak. The first four episodes were great – it was heading for tops marks at one point – but the alien creatures let it down. And even though I like the Master, was he really necessary? His inclusion felt like a contractual obligation. In fact, the plot was really good until it started to go a bit mad towards the end. The acting was pretty good, too. It’s a tough one. I’ve certainly seen a lot worse. I’ll give it a respectable -
Me: Phew. Any higher than a six and I would have instigated divorce proceedings.
Sue: I don’t see what your problem is with this story. Can I mark it up to an eight, just to annoy you?
Me: If you do, I’ll grow a moustache.
The experiment continues…top
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