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29 October 2013

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

Day 302: Colony in Space, Episode Three

Dear diary,

The one thing that I was entirely certain of about this story has yet to occur – I’m still waiting for the Master to turn up. It’s a shame that I know he’s in every one of the Season Eight stories, because it means I’ve been watching these last few days just waiting for one of the characters to rip off their face, revealing it as a clever disguise for the Doctor’s new arch enemy. At first I thought it might be the colony’s leader (he has a beard!). Then I assumed it might be Norton, especially when he turned out to be working for IMC. Or perhaps he’s the captain of the ship, and he’s being so ruthless because he needs something from this mining mission? At one point today, when one of the ‘natives’ looked particularly like a man in a costume, I thought he might whip off the mask and greet Jo. I’ve now decided that he’s either a) playing the part of the adjudicator, and is on his way to the planet, or b) hanging out in the natives’ hidden city. Knowing him, he’s probably their king by now.

While it means that I’m spending a few of the quieter sections of the story wondering when he’s going to be turning up, I think the story is going to need the Master before too long. If this were a four-parter, we’d be at the point of going out quite well. Episode One introduced us to the colonists. Episode Two brought in IMC. Episode Three has seen the colonists rising up against IMC. It wouldn’t surprise me if Episode Four saw the Doctor brokering an alliance between the colonists and the natives, and IMC being booted off the planet. I could go along with that. It wouldn’t leave the story as any kind of ‘classic’, but it would be a slightly above average example of Doctor Who.

Knowing that there’s still another three episodes to go makes it all seem like far more of a slog. I don’t know if there’s enough story left to fill out 75 more minutes, but having the Master turn up to complicate matters may help to hide that fact somewhat. I’m glad that we’ve been able to have a good few episodes without him, though, as it really does feel like a well-needed breather from his dodgy schemes.

I’m still slightly surprised how much this feels like a ‘first story’ for Jo, despite the fact that she’s been a part of the programme for a while now. Seeing her first trip out to an alien world gives us a new angle for looking at the character, and her reaction to the TARDIS going missing is brilliant. The Doctor’s fairly laid back about it, but then he’s used to losing the ship. Heck, in Season One, most stories featured him getting separated from the TARDIS within the first five minutes, by a tomb door, or a forcefield, or someone stealing the lock. If anything, he is slightly more worried by it here than we usually see (or, at least, he bangs on about it a lot more), but maybe that’s because the Time Lords brought him here? He’s not used to being this out of control of the situation, and he’s probably worried that they’ll strand him there.

For Jo, the TARDIS has always simply been an old police box (she even admits in the first episode of this story that she didn’t really believe that the Doctor could use it to traverse time and space), but now she’s suddenly found that it’s her only link back to Earth, and their only way of escaping the planet. It’s nice to see that she doesn’t simply accept it because she’s been a companion for a while – it makes her seem all the more real. I’d imagine that she just gets used to the idea of travelling to other worlds after this, so it’s good to see them starting of by being a bit different.

But she just happens to have taken a course in escapology once which helps her escape the handcuffs? really? Did she take it at the same school she failed her science qualification?

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