OK, so now I’ve got a moment to myself, I thought that I’d share my thoughts on the recent Doctor Who special, ‘Planet Of The Dead’.
It is also worth noting, that this episode has been credited as the 200th Doctor Who adventure (as noted by the route number of the bus)
Despite all my excitement, I have to say that I was grossly disappointed in this special. There was absolutely no sustenance to it… nothing really happened!
First off, lets look at the special effects… I didn’t really see any (and not in the good way!), most of what did exist was CGI and noticeably so. There didn’t seem to be that much going on that required the services of the Time Lord, especially when most of the work was delegated out to Lee Evans’ character back on Earth.
I had set Confidential to record afterwards, however, due to the lack of technical stuff, I decided to cancel the recording… there was nothing geeky about the episode that had intrigued me, which is unusual!
The story line was rather limp… the Doctor and a really unlikable character in Lady Christine running around a desert, randomly hanging out with fly people – the Tritovores – (one presumes that they were there to highlight the usefulness of the [absent] TARDIS in interpreting the different alien languages into English… as otherwise these characters were surplus), and really not very much happened outside of this. No ‘real’ action occured with the ‘alien stingray’ (obviously so incidental that they didn’t even give them a proper name!).
The prologue to the episode was disjointed and not in keeping with the style of previous Doctor Who episodes at all.
Why on Earth were UNIT involved in such a ‘small’ issue? I thought that they were the elite team and there for times such as illustrated in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. Their presence seemed, frankly, laughable and ill conceived. If we call UNIT out every time something small happens, who’s going to become the elite force next time we have a worldwide emergency? The UNIT commander was in no way authoritative enough to command the whole shebang anyway!
I found a lot of the acting to be of fairly poor quality on this occasion and that there were no likable characters. Lee Evans was great as novelty value for a few minutes, but then even that wore off!
I also disliked the notion that the Doctor had become a little lawless, ensuring that Lady Christine got away with her crime… and he did so with a smile on his face. That isn’t the Doctor that we all know, is it?!
Whilst it was good to see that there was a prophecy for the Doctor towards the end of the episode, (‘Your song is ending, sir. It is returning. It is returning through the dark. And then, Doctor, he will knock four times.”) it does come across as a little pointless in my opinion, and unfortunately something that the Doctor Who team are going to have to contend with for the next year or so. We all know that the Doctor will be around until at least the end of 2010, and we know that the present Doctor is going to have to regenerate at Christmas, and will not completely die. A friend and I briefly discussed this, and agreed that the devil was going to be in the detail of how they do it, though I think that knowing the contractual arrangements of the actors behind the characters definitely causes for episodes to be viewed in a completely different light.
One question that didn’t get asked… how did the Doctor come to be on the number 200 bus anyway? He seemed to have been drawn to Lady Christina, however this does not get explained (or did I miss it…?). Perhaps this will be explained later on in the specials, though I am slightly doubtful that it will.
I have also read some pretty interesting speculation about the four knocks prophecy (and noticed something myself – I think people should re-watch ‘Midnight’ as several elements tie in to the prophecy!), and the advertising on the side of the bus – if both were to be correct, that would potentially be very cool!
If you would like to read my own personal theory re: the prophecy, please CLICK HERE (though do be warned of potential spoilers!!)
I do, however, like the name of the episode, Planet Of The Dead. Alas the episode/planet was a lot less foreboding/commanding than I’d hoped for. Although 100 billion people were supposedly killed on the planet, I didn’t really feel a sense of compassion and felt that the figure just seemed to get bandied around loosely.
All in all, I was grateful to get a new episode of Doctor Who, though I was left feeling very underwhelmed, especially when it came on the back of such a strong and phenomenal prior series. David Tennant did say in his column in the Doctor Who magazine that this episode was to be an antidote to the recent heavy story lines, and hinted that it was more of a stand-alone episode rather than one to add to the continuity of the character.
I am, however, REALLY REALLY looking forward to ‘The Waters of Mars’ – the trailer of that actually did look terrifying and Doctor Who back at its finest!
Surprisingly, despite all the masks, it’s not a Stephen Moffat episode (his are always the best!), it’s a collaboration between RTD and Phil Ford.
The Waters Of Mars won’t hit screens until Autumn (they’re predicting November 2009) and will feature Lindsay Duncan as the Doctor’s assistant. This in itself has me very excited – we’re finally getting an sharp and intellectual companion! Looks like we’re also getting a few good aliens, and this story is rumoured to be linked a lot more to the final two episodes.
I can’t wait!
(NB – If you wish to post a comment, that’d be great, however please DO NOT post any spoilers!! – thanks).