Colonoscopy In Space was one of those stories that I remembered very little about and didn`t think much of when I finally saw it on UKGold. So when the DVD came out I was intrigued to see what could be made of it as a Fan Edit. First thing to do was to change the title as “Colony In Space” isn`t anywhere near as exciting as “The Doomsday Weapon”! And since fixing things is often the motive for a Fan Edit, I took the opportunity to fix the “wrong” takeoff/landing of the Tardis too, creating a simple re-timed cross fade from the footage. And when the Master`s Tardis leaves, they used the landing effect by mistake so I`ve corrected that too.
And of course, you can’t talk about this story without mentioning the fantastic illustrations Frank Bellamy did for the Radio Times to promote the story. We forget what an event it was for the Doctor to go back out into space, albeit temporarily. Such a pity the artwork makes the story seem much more exciting than it really is!
There`s no introductory Timelord scene as the compilation makes it too obvious that this particular bit of Gallifrey is a combination of the Master`s Tardis set and the Doomsday Weapon room. And it`s simply a recap and info-dump, adding nothing to the story that we don`t learn elsewhere so we start with the UNIT Lab scene instead.
Having done the initial scenes from part one, I went straight to parts 5 and 6 and worked on those. The beginning and end of stories usually contain the most material that you simply cannot lose, whereas it`s the middle episodes that have the most running around- or Loop Sequences as they`re known! After that I went back and edited episodes 2 to 4 and the rest of episode one.
The story is a bit dull until the Master shows up so the main consideration was to get him into the action as quickly as possible. After all, this is meant to be a story about his search for a Super Weapon, not a Space Western. Yes, we know the Master’s going to turn up at some point, we just don’t know when. That he’s kept back til episode four means there’s a good chance the audience forgot he was going to turn up, as we get a Hartnell-y story instead of a UNIT one. Colony, in some ways reminds me of The Sensorites, and, just like in the old days with Billy and Pat before his exile, the Doctor and Jo turn up on alien planet and get involved in a squabble between two opposing viewpoints about how to run the world. Only this time they’ve been sent there by the Timelords. Given that the writer, Mac Hulke, was a Leftie, it’s not surprising that Colony, for all it’s Western sensibilities, is really a story about politics with some aliens thrown in to make it seem like Doctor Who.
Ashe is the Government, ready to negotiate and be reasonable, Winton is the Revolutionary, all anger and passion. Luckily they have a common enemy in IMC, who are the Capitalists. It’s a tribute to Marxist Hulke’s skill as a writer that you don’t notice that this is what the story’s really about until you’ve watched it a few times. Clever old Mac. Shame that the aliens, and it’s a shock to realise that an alien planet is somewhere the Doctor hasn’t been since The Krotons [!] are such a dull bunch but maybe they are the Aborigines/Native American Indians/Mayans, who had a culture that has been completely wiped out. By a Superweapon. That doesn’t make it into the tile of the story, something that is still a bit of a headscratcher to me.
The Superweapon in question is the reason the Doctor and Jo are there in the first place, to try and get the jump on The Master, who gives the whole tedious thing a shot in the arm when he finally turns up. The most problematic part of the pre-Master`s arrival material was the capture of Jo by the primitives. It was impossible to lose this as it was referred to later by Ashe as the Master seeks information on the city. If it had been down to me the Master would simply have turned up soon after the Doctor and we could have cut straight to episode 5! But the Master is there to show us what the Doctor is not, and for all his deceptions, plotting and manipulations, he fails where the Doctor succeeds. That’s because here, if we’re talking about representative archetypes, The Master is the Politician, keeping his real agenda hidden.
Colony looks a bit like a Western when you first watch it, but then you realise it’s really about Politics. It’s not the allegorical Puritan colonists setting up another New England, only in space, or even Capitalism versus Marxism, it’s about the Politician manipulating both sides for his own ends. Perhaps it’s taking things too far to see the Master as some sort of intergalactic Sir Humphrey but he has form when it comes to infiltrating a power structure and posing as someone useful within it to use it as a means of getting what he wants. Sometimes he’s an outer space Adjudicator, sometimes he’s a Vicar, but it’s the same tactic he uses over and over again. And the Doctor is rubbish at it, he just about gets away with it on Peladon but if the Master had been there, he would really have given Hepesh a run for his money!
And of course, the danger is that in all this we forget that this is the Doctor’s show so in situations like these, where the story keeps the Doctor off to the side for the most part, the fan edit solution is always to keep the Edit as Doctor-centric as possible and let as much of the action as you can happen offstage, a bit like an Alan Ayckbourn play. If a character refers to it, you don`t have to see it. And so here Winton comes in and tells them about what happened to him and Jo, eliminating the need for us to see those scenes.
Like most FE`s of a six part story, this one came out at just under an hour, the equivalent of ten minutes worth of material from each episode. But watching it back it was clear that for once I had cut the story back a bit too much. And so I went back and added in another three minutes worth of material, as a result of which the story flows much better and only a little slower. Not the best Who story ever, but now it`s a damn sight better!