It’s Space Pocahontas, but with lubed-up wrists, tear-away paper calendars and mud wrestling!
Podcast: Play in new window | Embed
Doc is temporarily un-exiled by the Time Lords, and travels with Jo to the unremarkable planet of Uxarieus in the year 2472, where a band of ineffectual human colonists, after fleeing an overpopulated and dying Earth, fail to make things work yet again.
The space colonists, and by proxy Doc and Jo, face multiple obstacles, partly in their encounters with the indigenous Uxarieans — or primitives — occasionally with an alleged giant Iguana, and last but not least when an Earth spaceship full of soldiers from the Intergalactic Mining Company arrives, toting rifles and laying claim to the planet for themselves.
Listen to this Classic Doctor Who review now, to hear us try to answer such questions as:
And many, many more…
Subscribe to us on iTunes now! We're dropping a new episode every week (pretty much), reviewing Classic Who, New Who and all kinds of bonus stuff from spin-offs and conventions to Doctor Who comic books.
The Doctor spent his down time between adventures on Earth building a new dematerialization circuit for his TARDIS in order to escape his exile. The first time Jo stepped aboard the ship, Time Lords suddenly and remotely piloted it to a failing, extraterrestrial colony. There, colonists maintained a truce with a tribe of telepathic, spear wielding thieves, who bled away resources as cover crops repeatedly and inexplicably failed. Previously unknown, enormous reptiles killed two colonists before Norton, lone survivor of another colony, arrived warning against the tribe and the monsters who wiped out his people. Worse. The Interplanetary Mining Corporation arrived to exploit the mineral rich planet.
The Doctor reasoned the hostile reptiles were a hoax, and, once he could prove his suspicions, miner Captain Dent ruthlessly ordered his henchman, Morgan, to silence his potential accuser. Meanwhile, Norton sabotaged the colonists’ power and framed the tribe, intensifying the debate about whether they should stay; return to the overpopulated, resource taxed Earth; or select another planet upon which to settle. Their secondhand ship, though, was as dodgy as the models portraying all the planet’s land vehicles except the corporate miners’ futuristic, flatbed jeeps.
After escaping Morgan, the Doctor repaired the sabotage and warned combative colonist Winton’s plan to attack the miners was suicidal. The colonists’ leader, Ashe, advocated presenting their claim on the planet to a judge who would settle their dispute with the miners. They agreed and summoned an adjudicator. The Doctor helped Winton devise better a plan of attack, which succeeded and saved lives. Captain Dent, though, turned the tables and used Jo and Winton as hostages, chaining them to a bomb. They escaped, prompting corporate miners to hunt Winton while the tribe took Jo to their forbidden city. The Doctor followed to bargain for her life as the Master arrived, impersonating the adjudicator, who ruled in the miners’ favor. Upon returning with Jo, the Doctor ignored the Master’s sensible warning and, with neither proof nor the ability to identify or account for himself, accused the adjudicator of being an impostor. He realized the Time Lords had sent him to stop the Master from taking advantage of stolen information regarding an intergalactic threat.
Colonists regained the upper hand and kicked the miners off the planet while the Master proposed personally investigating the planet’s historical significance to support an appeal he and Ashe began crafting. With a previously stolen key, the Doctor and Jo entered the Master’s booby trapped TARDIS, and were gassed. Dent confirmed the Master was a phony and returned to assert his governing authority. Capturing the colony, he ordered the colonists to vacate the planet, well aware their ship would explode, ruining the three female colonists’ promising sex lives. Using Jo as a hostage, the Master persuaded the Doctor to guide him to the forbidden city. Dent’s men rescued her, but promptly condemned her to die with the colonists. Escaping, Jo returned to the forbidden city, despite the tribe having condemned her if she ever returned. The Doctor and the Master, meanwhile, debated using a doomsday weapon capable of destroying solar systems. It had caused the planet’s great civilization’s decline and the weapon’s destruction, which the tribe requested of the Doctor, would enable the colonists’ crops to grow. Miners ambushed the Doctor, Jo, and the Master after they escaped the city’s destruction, and colonists, except Ashe, who had stayed on the ship, arrived and won a short firefight that enabled the Master to flee and escape. Back on Earth, UNIT vainly hunted him despite the Doctor’s knowledge he was long gone before he and Jo left.
Sadly, using the Brigadier and UNIT strictly for comedy made them, and their leader, look silly. The scene where Jo marveled at the TARDIS being bigger on the inside than on the outside was handled much more deftly. The Doctor told her the TARDIS was “dimensionally transcendental”, and his tossing off this term as a both its meaning and explanation was simultaneously nonsensical and wonderful.
Writer Malcolm Hulke believed the decision confining the Doctor to 20th century Earth left DOCTOR WHO two basic plots. After four alien invasion stories and three about mad scientists, he broke the new format–temporarily. “Colony in Space,” took the Doctor and Jo far away from Earth for the first time as the Time Lords’ occasional, compulsory agents. This outstanding decision proved the Doctor could be freed from his exile, reopening the show’s limitless canvas for storytelling. Producer Barry Letts’ team, though, had not previously filmed the TARDIS taking off or landing. So, in this serial, both the Doctor and the Master’s TARDIS suddenly appeared and vanished rather than slowly fading in and out while the familiar wheezing groaning noise sounded.
The unscrupulous, greedy mining company served initially and adequately as antagonists in a serial written by politically left leaning Malcolm Hulke. Nevertheless, he showed his cards immediately, revealing the Master by name in the opening scene. The production effectively hid his distinctively devilish appearance and identity as he arrived impersonating the adjudicator a few episodes later. The length of the serial and the need to make it more interesting than a legal dispute between farmers and miners necessitated a major antagonist like the Master. Once again, he dealt with powers he badly underestimated, assuming force of will and a few parlor tricks would allow him to use the doomsday weapon to pursue intergalactic power. Fortunately, his ongoing duel with the Doctor suddenly shifted his focus briefly. Once the story’s climax unfolded, it became clear the tribe with the doomsday weapon was benevolent, but not omnipotent like the aliens the Enterprise routinely encountered on STAR TREK. Powerful aliens would have enabled the Time Lords, about whom the Master complained, “know everything, do nothing,” to ignore his theft of their information and never need to send the Doctor to solve their problem.
Getting the Doctor away from Earth was fantastic and the Master’s use in this story, during a season that overused him, helped make this serial a highlight.
Despite my being bored with this story every other time I watch it, I look on it favorably overall. Perhaps I’m only saying that because this time was one of those times I enjoyed it. Sure there’s a good amount of repetitiveness, and a good amount of repetitiveness, but the story is somewhat engaging. This is definitely one that could have been a more successful 5 part story and possibly even shrunk down to 4 without injury.
The characters are decent with a fair share of people to like and people to despise, but apart from Dent, no one truly shines until the Master’s quite welcome and unexpected arrival. There are solid performances across the board, but nothing truly outstanding.
This production, more than many of this time, does suffer from looking rather dated, with 70’s hair styles and future-70’s costumes. The ships and the primitives however are a true standout, and it’s sad they’re never used again. While the puppet man was still lacking, at least we can say it was better than the one used in Blake’s 7, which was made years after this.
Retro-rewrite: I’d love to have seen more about life in the colony and the hardships they endured in starting it. We could also have gotten a funeral scene to show the impact that the fighting has on the colony. Also I’d rather have trivial padding than monotonous repetition of all the dialog, scenes and plot points. The production could have used a boost from some more outdoor locations as well. Would it have killed anyone to see the failing crops, or more of the ruins? Oh, and did I mention it’s repetitious.
With some goofy moments, a rushed climactic scene, a race all too willing to kill themselves after eons of life, and some wild rides in a buggy, the series holds attention, but other than costumes it’s not going to leave any lasting impressions or make the entire audience want to come back for more. So I give this one a. “male mud wrestling” 2.3
Hey guys!! Bet you didn’t expect to see me here in the classics. How’s it going Ponken and probably Nik? I finally caught up with you, so you may be hearing from me on some of these oldies.
Ok, what the hell is Jo wearing around her middle? Is it one of those things from the 80’s I’m going to call a belly pack? Oh snap, is Jo really from the future?! Aw wait. It’s just a hideous belt.
Pretty good mudfight in the last episode. I cannot think of a single mudfight I’ve ever seen that was better. This is something I’ve truly been missing from all the fast-paced high-action content modern shows deliver.
My last thought is simply this: watching the old episodes for the first time alongside New Who’s Capaldi/Missy dynamic is quite interesting. I’m still deciding how I feel about the Master as a character.
Rating: Here’s mud in your eye!
This is my first viewing of Jo as a companion. She is so whiney and illogical, she is a walking icepick to the eye! – “Oh, Doctor, let me out! Oh, Doctor, let me in! Oh, Doctor, I want to go home! Oh, Doctor, I want to go into space!” Oh, Doctor, let this bitch die!!!!!!!!