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: Ten through Twenty-One
After spending almost half of the novelization on just the first two episodes of Colony in Space, Malcolm Hulke then rushes through the final four episodes in the second half. As much as I love Hulke the scriptwriter, and as much as I defend those who call Colony in Space as boring as watching socially-aware paint dry, there is a lot of padding in the back four episodes.
The Doctor Who production team in those days, for budget reasons, was obligated to give us several six-part stories a year, Hulke was one of the best writers in their stable (in terms of both quality of writing and speed of drafting), and knew how to pad. There are lots of capture/escape/capture loops in Colony in Space, and long two-character dialogues spread out over three scenes in half of an episode. It takes skill to pad like that. As with the final episodes in the novelization of Doctor Who and the Silurians, Episodes 5 and 6 of Doomsday Weapon are pared down drastically. Capture/escape/capture loops are simplified, dialogue is condensed and sharpened.
(Alas, we do lose the magic trick that Jon Pertwee plays on Pat Gorman’s Primitive in Episode Four. Terrance Dicks would have kept that in).
But that doesn’t mean the TV script is left in tatters. The TV Episode Three, surprisingly for a story of this one’s reputation, is rather fast cut. Turns out that a lot of script action and dialogue had to be trimmed to get that episode to fit into 25 minutes, and Hulke reinstates that material for the book. We’re told more about Jo and Winton’s foray into the IMC ship, their being chained to a bomb, and their escape. The book gives Jo more credit for the escape; on TV it’s her and Winton equally, but in the book it’s pretty much all Jo.
The book also makes more of Norton’s subtle Episode Three villainy in turning the colonists against the Doctor, more of Caldwell’s decision to rebel against Captain Dent in lobbying for Jo’s release from captivity (revealing that IMC can’t control him anymore because his IMC-selected wife has already left him), and more of the hot-tempered Winton’s power struggle against the more sedate and reasoned Ashe.
Winton leads an assault on the IMC ship late in Episode Three, aided by the Doctor. But in the book, the Doctor has to earn Winton’s trust before he’s allowed to join, by quoting General Patton, prefacing his speech with the amusing clause “Back in the days when Earth had wars”.
There’s an extra character, a colonist named Smedley who doesn’t appear on TV. Smedley partially replaces the role of Alec Leeson (brother of the Leeson murdered early in the story) in Episode Four. In the book, Smedley gets to kill IMC spy Norton, which isn’t what happened on TV, and survives the story, unlike Leeson.
However, there’s one major omission from the Episode Three material in the novelization: the cliffhanger itself. We’ve talked about how Hulke buries many cliffhangers in mid-chapter (or mid-sentence, as happens often in this book). But the Episode Three cliffhanger – Jo being brought into the Primitives’ cave system — is so mild that Hulke just deletes it entirely. Thankfully, Jo’s solo scenes in the first half of Episode Four, including her nonsensical scream at the sight of the Primitive priest, are also gone. This was her fourth televised story — no need for her to scream at weird-looking aliens, not after she’d just survived The Claws of Axos.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know my delight in finding character names in Doctor Who episodes that also appear in the 1979 Topps baseball card set. Well, Colony in Space is the mother lode of Topps names.
Episodes Four through Six are dominated by the Target debut of the Master, whose presence was teased in the first two chapters. Because Hulke condenses those three episodes into the back third of the book, there’s not as much Master in the book as one might have hoped, but Hulke does him justice while he’s there.
Director Michael Briant quickly revealed, six minutes into Episode Four on TV , that the Adjudicator is actually the Master in disguise. According to the DVD text commentary, Hulke intended Roger Delgado’s face to be obscured for much of the episode, but Briant felt differently.
Hulke keeps the charade up longer, but the first description of The Adjudicator is also our first look at the Master in a Target novelization:
The Adjudicator was already sitting there, smart in his black tunic and trousers, a small dark beard accentuating the thrust of his chin, and compelling brown eyes which darted from one to another of the colonists and IMC men as they trooped in.
Later, the Adjudicator “pulled on his little beard”, which is a nice little Roger Delgado-ism. There’s also a clever character beat where Captain Dent demands the Adjudicator show his identity papers, only to be rebuffed. Hulke also describes the Adjudicator’s sham tribunal with glee, including the Master’s quick wit from the bench in cutting down Ashe’s endless objections. Hulke holds the reveal back a bit longer, ending Chapter 14 (The Adjudicator) with Captain Dent’s ambiguous realization: “There was something very strange about this Adjudicator.”
In Chapter 15 (Primitive City), Hulke describes the Primitives as “strange half-men”, and the Doctor tries to buy back Jo from captivity with, as he terms them, “exciting and interesting bits of machinery”, which is quite a step down from the food that he offered them on TV; Hulke’s Primitives are fascinated by bits of metal. Hulke replaces Jo’s scream at the Primitive priest, with this more clever dialogue exchange:
“[It]’s got a horrible face, like an animal.”
“It might have a horrible face to you,” said the Doctor, “but to itself it might be rather good-looking.”
“You haven’t seen it,” she said.
The Primitives’ interest in dolls, a plot point dropped from TV but established in the Episode One material in the book, pays off when the Doctor notes strange doll-like figures present on wall murals in the Primitive city. As originally intended by Hulke, in an effect that had to be dialed down considerably in studio in 1971, the Primitive’s leader, their Guardian, is “a small doll-like creature [who] seemed to swim up from the flames”. Here, the Guardian threatens to sacrifice Jo because it “amuses” the Primitives, and the Doctor gets to argue for her life in a way that he didn’t need to on TV, by asking: “Does the amusement of your servants warrant the death of an intelligent being?”. The Guardian speaks in logical puzzles, questioning the Doctor’s defense of life by noting that the process of eating – even by vegetarians – involves the consumption of some form of life. The Doctor rebuts the point:
“All nature kills to eat, but that is for the purpose of continuing life in another form. To throw this girl into those flames would be to extinguish life totally.”
That logic wins the day, and the Doctor and Jo are allowed to leave the Primitive city. When they return to the colonists’ dome, the colonists have lost their case, and Winton’s faction of colonists quickly declares independence from Earth. This leads to another sharp exchange, much better than the mostly functional TV dialogue:
Jo appealed to the Doctor. “You must stop them, Doctor. They’ll be outlaws.”
“I know,” said the Doctor. “But how can I say anything when I really agree with them?”
At the Episode Four cliffhanger, Hulke gives the Master a more villainous line: “I’d rather be watching your face as I pull the trigger, he says”, though the cliffhanger moment itself is again placed in mid-paragraph.
Episode Five in the book removes several capture/escape/capture loops, though it’s a shame to lose a fiery dialogue scene between secondary cast members Mary Ashe and IMC man Caldwell, as the former berates the latter for sending all the colonists out into space in an “obsolete” spaceship not fit for blastoff.
On TV, the real Adjudicator’s identity is portrayed by a photo of what is believed to be regular Who director Douglas Camfield (as per the DVD commentary track). In the book, though, Hulke envisions the original Adjudicator as “round, chubby, the eyes were blue, the hair fair, and there was no beard” – not exactly Douglas Camfield. The Doctor here speculates on the real Adjudicator’s fate, which he didn’t do on TV: “Poor Martin Jurgen, whoever he was, is probably floating for all eternity in Space, or atomized”.
After the IMC men are temporarily defeated (in Episode Five – separate and apart from their other temporary defeats in Episodes Three and Four), Dent “noticed how Morgan had stopped calling him “sir” since things had gone against them”. Morgan remembers to add the “sir” after the IMC men re-regain the colony.
Late in the Episode Five material, Hulke gives us an extraordinary scene with John Ashe, which has no parallel on TV. Earlier in the book, we learned that the colonists had no idea how to arrange a funeral and did not recognize the word “religion”. But here, we see that, of the two books Ashe has brought with him in space, one is the New Testament:
[S]omething written thousands of years ago, and was largely about someone called God. It was this second book he now tried to read, not because he really understood it, but because the strange language fascinated him. It contained four versions of a story about a man who sacrificed his own life for the sake of others. It was this part of the book that most interested Ashe, because it was so difficult to understand. Why, he asked himself, should anyone willingly give his own life for other people?
I read this novelization before I read the New Testament; when I read the latter, I was reminded of this paragraph. This foreshadows Ashe’s noble self-sacrifice in Episode Six on TV and gives context to that decision; the noble self-sacrifice of a secondary character to resolve the plot is an old Who staple but Hulke puts an interesting spin on it. More Ashe angst comes after Winton deposes him as colony leader, and then the IMC men re-reconquer the colony:
Dent held a handgun at Ashe’s head and Morgan went to the door and called to the colonists: “Stop firing or we kill Ashe!” The firing continued, and Ashe wondered if none of the colonists now cared whether he lived or died.
At the same time, Hulke has Dent briefly contemplate the cold-blooded murder of a colonist who’d hit him several chapters previously. Morris Perry may not be the best-remembered human villain in the Who pantheon, but Captain Dent in the novelization sure is.
Episode Six is a double-act between the Doctor and Master, mortal enemies, trapped together in the Primitive city and acting as pseudo-companions to one another. “Consider carefully, Doctor,” the Master says on TV, as he tries to use the doomsday weapon to lure the Doctor into a partnership. “I’m offering you a half-share in the Universe”. “You’ll never understand, will you,” replies the Doctor. “I want to see the Universe, not rule it”.
These scenes are problematic on TV because of the chemistry that Delgado and Pertwee had; there was always an element of friendship bubbling up under their most adversarial moments (this is a wonderful problem to have). In the book, Hulke is free to alter that chemistry by making the Master more bloodthirsty and clearly inferior to the Doctor. The Doctor gives a quick lesson in telepathy and is able to induce two Primitives to abandon their post guarding the Doomsday Weapon’s control room. And, as the Doctor won a logical debate with the Guardian in Episode Four, the Master now loses one in Episode Six.
“Don’t listen to such rubbish,” said the Master. “You can continue to live, and I shall protect you! With the Doomsday Weapon, I shall protect all the Universe.”
“Against what,” said the Guardian, “will you protect the Universe?”
The question took the Master off balance. “Well,” he said, “against anyone who tries to attack it.”
“But the Universe is all matter in Space,” said the Guardian. “So what can attack that which is everything?”
“I… I shall protect it against itself,” said the Master, desperately wishing to get out of this discussion.
Of course, the Master still gets to have witty thoughts:
“Doctor,” said the Master somewhat hurt, “have you ever known me to be vindictive?” He continued before the Doctor had time to answer.
We also get to see more of the Primitives’ worship of the Doomsday Weapon, as they feed it radioactive isotopes in a religious ritual that has lost all scientific meaning for them; it’s merely a tattered remnant of their lost knowledge of nuclear power.
The IMC crewman who guards the colonist’s ship in Episode Six, Rogers (played on TV by Pertwee stunt-double Terry Walsh) volunteers for the assignment because he wants a promotion and bigger living quarters; his dreams are of course soon tragically shattered (without the long wet-clay fight scene that Walsh lost on TV). Caldwell’s defection to the colonists also has more meaning, because, where on TV the colonists send for a new Adjudicator after defeating IMC for the last time, here the colonists form an independent republic; this makes Caldwell’s choice more risky and dramatic.
Hulke does steal one bit of dialogue. After Ashe’s noble self-sacrifice, Winton observes that he might have been a little crazy, but the Doctor suggests that perhaps he was “a saint”. This line is adapted from The Mind of Evil, not a Hulke script, two serials before this one.
The last chapter of the book is far more majestic than on TV. There’s another funeral, for all the victims of the final colonists/IMC shootout, and this time the colony remembers enough of the ritual to not need the Doctor’s help. And then the planet begins to flower and bud, in a way that couldn’t have been realized on location.
In the end, Jo emerges from the book a smarter character, making this a satisfying debut novel for her. When the TARDIS arrives back at UNIT HQ, only minutes after they left, the Brigader asks her if she’s lost her sense of time.
“On the contrary,” she said with a smile. “I think I”m just beginning to gain it.”
Next Time: Jo Grant returns in Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, not nearly as satisfying a story for her as The Doomsday Weapon …