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1 November 2013

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

Day 305: Colony in Space, Episode Six

Dear diary,

Will Brooks and the Doctor Who Marathon.

Will Brooks sat his freshly-poured glass of Pepsi (other colas are available) down on the table, and settled on to his battered red sofa. Striking the space bar of the Mac, that day's episode started to play. As the titles played out, Will scribbled a note onto his sheet of blue note paper: 'Colony 6'.

Dutifully, Will had gone through a similar routine to this on many of the previous 304 days that year, working his way through the entire back catalogue of Doctor Who one episode a day. That journey had brought him to here, an episode in which not a great deal captures his imagination, and he's left with very little to write about for you fine people to read.

…I'm half tempted to add in a line about my 'pleasant, open face', but I've not shaved for a few days so it's not that pleasant. At the start of this story, I told you that I only knew a few things about it. Well, sort of knew a few things about it. Having now watched all six episodes, I've come out with a mixture of things I got right and things I got wrong. Good enough.

Thing is, several of the Pertwee stories represent the 'black holes' in my Doctor Who knowledge - Colony in Space just happens to be one of the more proficient gaps. This was perfectly proved about half way through today's episode, when the Master finally tells the Doctor why he's on this planet - because he wants to steal a 'doomsday weapon'. At this point I suddenly realised something - the Target novel Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon is a novelisation of this story.

Yeah, yeah, you all knew that. I get it. But I didn't! I thought that was a novelisation of The Mind of Evil, simply because the Doctor is trying to get his hands on… well… a doomsday device that will end the world! It's an easy mistake to make, I'm sure you'll agree. But then I started thinking about how odd it was to give the book that title.

Several of the early Targets use different names to the broadcast stories, but they normally go for some kind of key selling point, or something that neatly sums up the plot. Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters is a fairly spot on - if basic - way of describing Doctor Who and the Silurians. Doctor Who and the Daleks is a fab title for (you've guessed it) The Daleks. And who could fail to fall in love with Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster?

But the eponymous Doomsday Weapon doesn't turn up until the last episode of a six-part story! If you'd asked me to guess where this was going even as late as yesterday, I'm not sure I'd have predicted that they'd have a weapon capable of wiping out the Sun. It's a great idea and all, and the fact that it can put me in mind of an earlier plan by the Master means that he's at least being consistent in his ideas, even if he's doing it on a different scale now, but it does just sort of crop up. And then, just as quickly, it's gone. The Doctor is asked to destroy the device by pulling that really handy lever sticking out the top of the main control panel. Better hope no one ever pulls that by accident - bit of a design fault.

Oh, I think I'm just bitter. Colony in Space started off so well, and I was really enjoying it to begin with but by the time we'd reached the end here, I was just bored. The one moment that did make me sit up and take note was the Colonist's spaceship blowing up as they tried to take off (my notes on that moment are unpublishable on a family website), because I was shocked they'd had the sheer nerve to go through with it, but then it turns out they're all fine and well. Even the noble sacrifice Ashe made didn't reverse my slight disappointment that they'd mostly survived. Is that bad of me?

I think what surprised me the most was my reaction to Nick Courtney turning up again in the closing minutes. There's a danger of taking him for granted when he's simply there in every story, but seeing him arrive to welcome the Doctor back (well, sort of) raised a smile. I'm glad that we'll be seeing more of him in the next story…

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