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Doctor Who: Colony In Space

"It's always innocent bystanders who suffer."

Quarries. Where would Doctor Who be without quarries?

For their latest adventure the Doctor and Jo find themselves whisked away by the Time Lords to an alien planet that looks suspiciously like an English quarry. The planet might be a little on the drab side but the Doctor doesn't seem to care. For the first time since he was exiled he gets to step foot on another world, in another time. He's not exactly giddy (Worzel doesn't do giddy) but he's excited and refreshingly grump-free.

Jo, however, has a very different reaction. Companions today usually react to Tardis travel with wonder and amazement. Not Jo Grant. She throws a bit of a strop and wants to go home. I don't blame her. Its hard to be dazzled when your very first alien planet looks suspiciously like an English quarry. Not exactly the Medusa Cascade, is it?

The universe might be the Doctor's playground but most of the planets he visits end up looking suspiciously like English quarries. Exotic aliens landscapes simply aren't doable on a modest BBC budget. This isn't something that is exclusive to Doctor Who. All sci-fi and fantasy shows suffer from budget constraints that puts limits on location filming. For thirteen years the various Stargate teams visited hundreds of planets, all of which looked suspiciously like Canada. Numerous Starfleet captains have battled enemies on planets that all looked suspiciously like Vasquez Rocks in California. And no matter where they went in the ancient world, Xena and Gabby never seemed to leave Greece (which looked suspiciously like New Zealand).

Drab location work is just one of the many problems with 'Colony in Space'. Malcolm Hulke's attempt at a sci-fi Western is a plodding and over-padded mess. The early episodes focus on the growing conflict between some simple but good-hearted colonists and the mining company goons trying to force them off their planet. This quickly becomes tiresome as the colonists and the IMC thugs start taking numerous turns holding each other prisoner.

The IMC crew, with the exception of conflicted nice guy Caldwell, are nothing more than a gang of ruthless thugs, lacking in personality and only interested in gutting the planet for their own profit. As for the colonist, they are portrayed as just simple farmers, people of the land, the common clay of the new frontier. You know... morons. The Doctor tells them repeatedly not to trust Norton, that he is so obviously an IMC spy, and what do they go and do? They repeatedly trust Norton. Idiots.

Then about half way through the Master shows up, looking like an intergalactic disco Dracula. Suddenly 'Colony In Space' has become a rather silly story about stopping him from getting his hands on a doomsday device. But even the Master can't save this one, despite Delgado's best efforts.

Notes and Quotes

--The year may be 2472 but everyone still has 70s hair and porn 'taches. Including the Time Lords.

--Along with Robert Holmes, Malcolm Hulke was very good at world building. He manages to paints a clear picture of 25th century Earth; an overpopulated, heavily polluted world lorded over by a repressive government that allows big corporations to do whatever they want. Hey, wait a minute...

--The planet's natives are some of the cheapest looking aliens I've ever seen. Even by this show's standards they are lousy.

--Foolishly, the Master's involvement is given away in the first five minutes by a trio of gobby Time Lords. Thus ruining what could’ve been a nice little twist.

--The cliff-hanger for episode three has to be one of the dullest cliff-hangers I've ever seen. It's just Jo, looking scared, looking into a doorway at....nothing.

--Norton is played by the legendary Roy Skelton, voice of the Daleks, Cybermen, Krotons and, of course, both Zippy and George on Rainbow.

Jo: “I don't believe it! It's bigger inside than out!”
The Doctor: “Yes. That's because the Tardis is dimensionally transcendental.”
Jo: “What does that mean?”
The Doctor: “It means that it's bigger inside than out.”

Caldwell: “Are you some kind of scientist?”
The Doctor: “I'm every kind of scientist.”

The Doctor: "There's no animal life, just a few birds and insects."
--Obviously he isn't every kind of scientist.

Mary: "Don't worry, Jim'll fix it!"
--Fix it for you and you and you...

The Master: "The point is that one must rule or serve. That is a basic law of life. Why do you hesitate? Surely it's not loyalty to the Time Lords, who exiled you to one insignificant planet?"
The Doctor: "You'll never understand. I want to see the universe, not to rule it."

The Doctor: “My immediate plans are to expose you as an impostor.”
The Master: “That would be very foolish of you. My credentials are immaculate.”
The Doctor: “Forged, of course.”
The Master: “Of course, but immaculate.”

The Doctor: “You mean that you stole the information.”
The Master: “It seemed an awful pity not to make use of it. Of course, that's typical of the High Council of the Time Lords. Know everything, do nothing.”

Two intergalactic disco Draculas out of four.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. Not that great a story, but has some classic Doctor-Master exchanges. "I want to see the universe, not rule it!" is one of my favorite lines from the Doctor.

    I wonder if, in the event humanity expands beyond Earth to get resources from other planets, we'll turn most of them into quarries after all.

  2. I dread to think what Wurzel and Jo would have thought about Geordie Shore

  3. "And no matter where they went in the ancient world, Xena and Gabby never seemed to leave Greece (which looked suspiciously like New Zealand)."

    Which is weird, as New Zealand looks oddly like Middle Earth.

  4. I know, freaky. Have you also noticed how Westeros looks oddly like Northern Ireland?

  5. And yet The Wall looks oddly like a quarry...

    Oh my God! Westeros is in another space and time!

    (Ahem. Perhaps we already knew that.)

  6. This one was largely boring. The 3rd Doctor lacks many outright stinkers, but this one was just dull. I do like the exchange between the Doctor and the Master about the universe as Patricia posted years ago though.


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