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28 October 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 301: Colony in Space, Episode Two

Dear diary,

Styles always cycle back around again. During my last year at university, the look I'd been spotting for three years suddenly found itself thrust in the spotlight as being 'on trend'. Right the way through the summer of 2010, I was suddenly very cool, because I was wearing all the right things. Of course, these were the same 'right things' which - 12 months earlier - other people wouldn't have been caught dead wearing. After a while I decided to have a bit of fun with it, and I'd turn up to lectures in increasingly bizarre combinations, to see how far I could push the envelope. Surprisingly far, as it transpired. And then, as ever, the styles move on and something else becomes cool again. I've still got all those once trendy clothes (I call them 'idiot hipster', now) because at some point, they'll be fashionable again, and I will be cool.

It's the way they things have always gone. The 1980s seem to have been 'making a comeback' for several years now, with styles, music, and movies from that decade being given a reappraisal and brought back into being cool. Even Sylvester McCoy's Doctor has seen a huge upswing in popularity in the time since I started wanting into fandom, and it's nice to see him being given the attention he deserves.

In the year 2472, it would seem that the 1970s are making a come back into fashion, because everyone seems to be embracing the hairstyles - and the facial hair - of the period. I mean really, if you were to show this episode to someone and ask them to guess when it was made, I think it's fair to say they'd be aiming their guess around the 1970s. At one point, there's even a joke about 'Jim'll Fix It' - which makes Jo laugh! Perhaps oddly, Colony in Space was made a few years before Jim'll Fix It first his screens, but in hindsight it seems as though the production team is making a knowing nod to the programme.

All of this is only highlighted by the fact that they've all got fairly typical 'futuristic' costumes on. It's been so long since I saw anything other than 'contemporary' clothes, but it seems bizarre that this story - the one not set in (or around) the 70s is the one that looks most like them! I don't know if it's simply because we're in colour now, but this story has the look that I tend to think of for Doctor Who in this period. The style of the sets and the costumes feels very much in keeping with hazy memories of a few Tom Baker stories, and it's nice to see the programme moving into this style. We've got another alien planet quarry, but I think it works quite well - it's not become a joke just yet.

I'm most impressed by the design of the Interplanetary Mining Corporation's ship, though. It's a bit odd in places, and some of the colours are a little bold, but it looks good. The contrast between this and the colony really does hit you, and I think that makes it work all the better. I'm hoping we'll get a chance for the Doctor to explore it a bit more later in the story, as it would be a shame to loose such an interesting design so quickly.

I've realised today that there's another thing I knew about this story, without even knowing it. There's an image of the Doctor being menaced by the claws of the robot here, which I've seen plenty of times before. The image clearly shows the animal-like claws and the metal poles as the arms, but you can't see the body of the 'creature'. I'd always assumed that you never saw the metal poles on screen and it was just an unfortunate choice of framing the image, so imagine my surprise at discovering that it's meant to look like that!


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