Doctor Who: the Master Box Set [VHS]

The six episode The Time Monster was the final story of the ninth season of Doctor Who, a strong run which also saw Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor facing The Day of the Daleks and The Sea Devils. The Master, Roger Delgado, is at the Newton Institute, experimenting with a fragment of crystal, which can summon Kronos, a time-eating entity from beyond space-time. The Doctor, Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and UNIT become involved in a sequence of strange temporal dislocations, eventually leading to ancient Atlantis itself. There Jo faces the Minotaur, played by Dave Prowse in a bull mask five years before he found fame as Darth Vader. The Time Monster is classic Doctor Who at its most surreal, the effects ranging from mediocre to functional, the Atlantis sets surprisingly lavish. The Doctor may escape from eternity by playing the scriptwriting equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card, but the sequence, in which his Tardis is inside the Master’s Tardis, while the Master’s Tardis is simultaneously inside the Doctor’s Tardis, is a mind-bending highlight.

Somewhat mistitled, the Colony in Space of this John Pertwee adventure is actually on the barren colony world Uxarieus. A group of settlers are struggling to make crops grow when an Interplanetary Mining Corporation team led by Morris Perry, effective as an official with the mind of a Nazi bureaucrat, arrive to claim the planet. Despite the sometimes-laughable production values and a few gaping holes in the plot Malcolm Hulke’s script contains enough intrigue and incident to keep the whole thing moving briskly for six episodes. Colony in Space was significant for being the Third Doctor’s first adventure away from earth, fitting into the eighth season after the Claws of Axos. Though less celebrated than The Demons, this is an entertaining adventure and a reminder of just how much of the radical politics of 1970’s British SF was reflected in Doctor Who. —Gary S Dalkin