Title: Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon
Televised as: Colony in Space
Written by: Malcolm Hulke
Teleplay by: Malcolm Hulke
Televised in: April/May 1971
Published in: March 1974
Chapters: Seven through Ten
Reading the Episode Two material in the novelization of Colony in Space, right after watching Episode Two on DVD with the text commentary enabled, is an interesting experience. It’s also a profoundly geeky one, but if you subscribe to this blog, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise to you already. But, the point (apart from the one on top of my head) is that the DVD text commentary compares the on-screen product to Hulke’s original scripts, so you can see what bits of dialogue and action were changed or cut for air. And all those deleted scripted bits wind up back in the novelization.
This makes Hulke’s novelizations unique in two respects. One, he’s describing what he wanted to see in the story, as opposed to what changes the director (Michael Briant) and actors worked out in rehearsal, or what lines of dialogue got trimmed for timing reasons. Two, he’s adding a liberal dosage of character flourishes and motivation, on top of merely describing the action. Last time, in discussing the Episode One material in the novelization, we talked about how Hulke used a mosaic of different viewpoints to show us life on Uxariues among the colonists. But now, in reading the Episode Two material, we see Hulke bring the same perspective to the villains. And that flips the book on its head.
Chapter 7 (continued):
Caldwell (played on TV by Bernard Kay, who was so good in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Crusade, and who was also in The Faceless Ones) is described in the script, according to the DVD text commentary, as a “tough, hardbitten man, in his late thirties”. That exact phrase turns up in the novelization as well.
The IMC servo robot, which serves as the cliffhanger menace for both Episodes One and Two on TV, was scripted as humanoid, and appears as such in the book as well. Hulke tells us “the robot came walking out of the dome” in this chapter, and then a few pages later we see it “carefully dismounting from the buggy” as it “lumbered across towards the Doctor”, rather than as the big boxy War Machine-looking robot we saw on TV. Hulke also gives the robot a head and mouth, and shows that it can even repeat human speech. This creepy, walking and laughing IMC robot was clearly much diminished on TV…
Chapter 8: The Men From IMC
This is where Hulke reveals Captain Dent, and promptly allows the new bad guy to drive the narrative. Dent, the IMC ship captain, was played on TV by actor Morris Perry wearing a rather wavy, glam blond wig, but without much backstory or motivation. But, because Hulke has expanded the first two episodes of the story to take up just about half the novelization on its own, there’s room for Dent’s whole history:
[H]e was always reminded of the power of the Interplanetary Mining Corporation and his place within that organization. When he was a child his father had told him, “You’ve got to work hard at school and at university, and then you must get into one of the big corporations, and stay there, and they’ll look after you.” He had listened to his father’s advice. He had never wanted to be like his uncle, a man who had changed jobs many times in his life and still had no real position in the world. From the beginning, Dent wanted to work up to a good job, and that meant getting into a really big corporation and staying there. He was lucky enough to join IMC at the age of 20, one of five successful applications that term out of seventeen thousand. Immediately, he got a room of his own to live in, a rare privilege for any unmarried man on the overcrowded planet Earth. He was given six months’ training on a spaceship maintenance; he studied day and night and never took the elevator up to the sunshine or went for Walks or attended parties. He graduated with honors.
One could extrapolate enough to write a 500-page textbook on the history of IMC based solely on the glimpses and insights that Hulke gives us here. We learn that IMC prefers its officers to be married, and prefers to select those officers’ brides via computerized matching programs (Tinder in space!).
His wife was waiting for him, quite a pretty young woman with short hair dyed dull blue, as was the fashion that month. “Are you my husband?” she said as he let himself in.
“I imagine I will be,” he answered, looking round his new home. It had two rooms, a shower, a lavatory, and a tiny kitchen. He was amazed at the influence wielded by IMC which could get him anywhere to live in as big as this.
Finally he asked, “Do you know how much all this is going to cost me?”
“I worked it out,” said the girl. “Even if they make you up to Captain in a year, with your earnings you’ll pay off IMC for all this in about twenty years’ time. But, of course, by then we’ll have moved to somewhere bigger, and there’ll be children, so I imagine you’ll be paying back IMC for just about the rest of your life!”
There’s a lovely paragraph that follows in which Dent mentally uses the acronym IMC seven times in in two sentences. In late 1960s/early ’70s terms, Dent is the Establishment, and even expressly likens the colonists to hippies, saying “They’re drop-outs from society.” Of course, Dent says this as if it’s a bad thing, but we already know that Hulke clearly sympathizes more with the colonists … and when Dent ironically observes that he can’t shoot the colonists because “Earth Government is supposed to care for all its people”, you realize that the keen relevance of this script is not limited to 1971.
On the other hand, there’s one bit of mental advice from Captain Dent that served me well in my law practice days. “During arguments people exposed what was really going on in their minds, and Dent never wanted other people to know what he was thinking.” We learn a lot about Dent’s internal thought processes, philosophies of management, and his ability to present himself as a “simple, nonscientific man” to dodge debate points, all as he verbally fences with the Doctor in this chapter (“normally he didn’t have to contend with intelligent people like the Doctor”). You might not have Morris Perry high on your personal all-time Doctor Who human villains pantheon, but Book Captain Dent should surely qualify. And this chapter’s just about as good as it gets.
Chapter 9: The Spy
Hulke now shifts POV to another IMC villain, but this time a very different one: Norton the spy. Norton’s an IMC plant, sent to the colony pretending to be the sole survivor of a distant colony on the same planet — a colony massacred, so he says, by Primitives and enormous reptiles. On TV up to this point, we learn in Episode Two that Norton’s a ruthless killer; he won’t be outed as a spy until later. But Hulke spells out his loyalties for us right away. Norton is another dedicated and efficient IMC man, but for very different reasons than Dent:
In his heart he had wanted to become an actor, but his father and mother told him that he ought to get work with one of the big corporations. Now he had the comfort and security of working for one of the biggest, IMC, and he had the chance to do some very real-life acting.
There’s also the novelization line’s rare acknowledgment of the human sexual urge, as Norton feigns interest in Ashe’s daughter in order to secure some time away from the men. Later in the chapter, as Norton prepares to brutally murder a colonist and a Primitive, in order to persuade the colonists to leave, he likens his preparation to “an actor waiting to go on stage… waiting for his cue. … The only thing [lacking] was an audience; but in the circumstances that was perhaps as well.” Hulke extends the acting metaphor throughout the chapter; while Dent’s an efficient, bloodless corporate killer, Norton is another sort of killer: a cheerful sociopath.
Norton parted two of the fingers covering his eyes in order to watch Ashe as he stood over Holden’s body. He congratulated himself on a marvelous performance.
Chapter 10: The Claw
Back to the Doctor’s POV, as he puzzles over the IMC in-flight entertainment system, and can’t decide whether the music (“a low thumping sound and occasional groans”) is meant to be classical or pop. He then is taken by IMC First Officer Morgan back to the Leesons’ wrecked dome; it’s a trap that Dent has sent, to have the Doctor killed by the IMC robot, and to have the death blamed on the hostile local lizards. Hostile as told in the book, that is — on TV, the role of the holographic projection of a hostile lizard was played by footage of a placid gecko.
Hulke milks dry humor by revealing that the Doctor knows Morgan is leading him into a trap and feels that the man “was just too pathetic to play with anymore”. As Morgan springs the trap, Episode Two ends, and Hulke again buries the cliffhanger in mid-sentence…
Next Time: Malcolm Hulke performs a total padding-ectomy of the final four episodes of Colony in Space, and we’ll learn how the best parts of the book didn’t come from the TV production.