‘COLONY IN SPACE’
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IMC Needs You!
Jo Grant has her first trip in the TARDIS with the Doctor!
‘Colony in Space’ is a thrilling, action-packed adventure starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant. I immensely enjoyed this, as it has the Doctor travelling in the TARDIS again.
This is a six-part adventure by Malcolm Hulke. It is a story about a human colony on an alien planet that is threatened by the Interplanetary Mining Corporation (IMC) that wants them off this planet.
Since the Doctor was exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, the production team were trying to get him off the ground and have adventures in time and space again. This is where it starts for the Doctor.
The Time Lords use the Doctor as their agent in a special mission to recover some secret files of a deadly doomsday weapon stolen by the Master. This means that the Doctor is given limited freedom to travel away from Earth and visit the planet Uxarieus in 2472 where colonists dwell and struggle.
This story is also the first time that the Doctor’s companion, Jo Grant, travels in the TARDIS. Since ‘Terror of the Autons’, Jo didn’t know or believe that the Doctor had a machine that could travel in time and space. She thought they were all fairy stories and she gets more than she bargained for.
Malcolm Hulke delivers an interesting tale about a human colony struggling to survive on a desert world and being bullied by a mining corporation who want to collect a certain mineral for themselves. There’s a lot of politics involved as human greed sets about conflict between groups.
There’s an interesting alien civilisation that dwells on this planet that seems primitive and was once ancient and well-advanced. The action scenes are well-directed by Michael E. Briant, who makes his first directorial debut to the series, as the story is mostly filmed in a wet, muddy china clay quarry.
Jon Pertwee is great as the Doctor in this adventure. This is the first time Jon’s Doctor gets the chance to go off-world after being confined mostly to having adventures on Earth. I like how he embraces the chance to explore a new planet and gets involved with the colonists’ hard situation.
The Doctor is clearly on the side of the colonists and works things out as he discovers the IMC people trying to scare them off with ruthless crude methods. He becomes fascinated by this ancient alien civilisation and gets to show his voodoo karate skills when dealing with IMC guards and the Master.
Katy Manning is wonderful as Jo Grant. Jo is instantly amazed when she sees the TARDIS ‘bigger on the inside’ than on the out. But she’s also quite scared, as all this time and space stuff unsettles her and she wants to go back to Earth. She eventually gets to enjoy the adventure on an alien planet.
I liked the relationship Jo has with her Doctor as they both work well in discovering what’s going on with the conflict between the colonists and IMC and what the Master’s up to. Jo shows her compassion, especially when the colonists are threatened and when she’s worried about the Doctor.
John Ringham (who has been in ‘Dad’s Army’ and in ‘The Aztecs’ with William Hartnell) guest stars as Ashe, the leader of the human colony. Ashe tries to keep his people together during the most stressful of times. He tries to keep the peace and gets frustrated when his people become violent.
Helen Worth guest stars as Mary, Ashe’s daughter. Helen is well-known as Gail Platt in ‘Coronation Street’. This is one of Helen’s earliest roles in TV and it was nice to see her in this (though she looks very young indeed). Mary’s a lovely character and I liked it when she makes friends with Jo Grant.
Nicholas Pennell guest stars as Winton, a colonist who questions Ashe’s leadership and looks for a fight when the IMC guys try to get them off this planet. Winton forms attacks planets to get IMC off the planet too, but is very foolish in his methods. He even has a fight with an IMC guard in the mud.
The IMC guys are very militaristic and bullish. As well as miners, they also wear jackboots; helmets; having threatening firearms and there are some tense gun fights between them and the miners.
Bernard Kay (who has been in ‘Doctor Who’ before with William Hartnell) guest stars as Caldwell, who is an IMC mining expert. He’s a good-hearted man doing his job and doesn’t like what Captain Dent and Morgan of IMC do in mistreating the colonists. He reluctantly helps the colonists at times.
Morris Perry guest stars as Captain Dent of IMC. Dent is cold-hearted, ruthless man in charge of the survey team who have come to mine on Uxarieus. He doesn’t care about the colonists and wants them off the planet so that he and his men can mineral for the mineral they want to get their profits.
The cast also includes Tony Caunter as the ruthless, sadistic Morgan who is willing to kill anyone under Captain Dent’s orders. And there’s Roy Skelton as Norton who goes undercover as a spy for IMC.
Roger Delgado returns as the villainous Master in this story. The Master doesn’t appear until half-way through the story. When he’s finally revealed, he is acting as the Adjudicator sent from Earth to deal with the colony/IMC crisis. He is as much surprised to see the Doctor and Jo as they are of him.
The Master has come to Uxarieus to acquire a deadly ‘doomsday weapon’ held by the alien civilisation on the planet. Roger Delgado’s performance as the Master is spellbinding. I loved his scenes with the Doctor when he’s threatening Jo’s life or asking him to join him to rule the cosmos.
The IMC servo robots that appear in this are rather dodgy as well as the primitives’ make-up and costumes. I liked those buggy cars that the IMC miners drove in and the Doctor enjoyed driving one.
Nicholas Courtney also appears as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. The Brigadier appears in the first and last episodes of the story when seeing the Doctor and Jo go off and coming back in the TARDIS.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘IMC Needs You!’ making-of documentary; ‘From the Cutting Room Floor’ materials and a photo gallery.
There’s also a commentary with Katy Manning; Bernard Kay; Morris Perry; director Michael E. Briant; script editor Terrance Dicks and assistant floor manager Graeme Harper, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an info-text commentary option to watch.
‘Colony in Space’ is a bona fide ‘Doctor Who’ adventure from the 1970s that I’ve really enjoyed. Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning are great as the Doctor and Jo; Roger Delgado delivers a superb villainous performance as the Master and I was thrilled to see young Helen Worth/Gail Platt in this!
‘Colony in Space’ rating – 7/10
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