Doctor Who – Planet of the Dead

So there we have it – the first of four specials which will bring David Tennant’s wonderful period as the Doctor to an end. While the final two will apparently be a two-parter which will no doubt involve some dreadful menace to the whole of the universe[1], this one was a more low-key, fun affair. Just the thing for an Easter weekend[2].

The fun began with a daring Mission Impossible style robbery from the “International Gallery”[3]. The thief runs off and gets onto a bus[4] in an attempt to escape the police, where she is joined by the Doctor. He produces some silly adget which is picking up something odd, and as the police try to catch the bus (having noticed the thief), it heads into a tunnel and doesn’t come out. It doesn’t come out because it’s gone through a rather rough wormhole, and landed in a rather damaged state[5] in a vast alien desert.

Lots of fun follows. The thief, a young woman who introduces herself as Lady Christina de Souza, takes charge while the Doctor tries to work out where they are and what’s happened. Having seen the Doctor[6] working on his gadget, at least one of the passengers accuses him of having made this happen

Humans on buses, always blaming me….[7]

While Carmen, a passener with apparent psychic powers is hearing voices, the bus driver tries to walk back through the wormhole, with unpleasant consequences. When his charred skeleton pops through in Cardiff London[8], the Police decide this is a job for UNIT, who turn up with lots of guns….

The Doctor and Christina meet some insect-like aliens, Tritovores, whose ship has crashed on the planet. Once they’ve decided the Doctor didn’t make them crash, they’re quite helpful. It seems that they’d come to trade with the huge civilisation on the planet, which seems to have been turned into a desert in less than a year, which can’t be good. Things get even less good when the storm that’s been growing on the horizon turns out to be a swarm of flying beasties that appear to eat anything, everything and everyone. Having destroyed this planet, they’re about to fly through the wormhole for their next meal: Earth.

Back on Earth, UNIT’s sceince adviser Malcolm is having great fun talking to the Doctor[9] and working out how the wormhole works, while Captain Magambo wants the wormhole closed to stop the nasties getting in. Malcolm refuses to trap the Doctor on the desert planet and stands his ground.

Borrowing some toys from the Tritovores, who fail to do the running thing, and are eaten by the swarm, the Doctor and Christina get back to the bus and, err, add anti-gravity clamps. And yes, the Doctor flies the bus home, which involves some more good quality silliness. A few of the swarm get through, but are dealt with by UNIT while the wormhole closes.

And that is pretty much that. Christina wants to come with the Doctor, but he refuses, saying he’ll never take anyone with him again. But at least he manages to arrange for her to escape from the police…

But Carmen (she’s psychic, remember) warns the Doctor that “it” is coming back. Which sounds like something Very Big and Very Bad is going to happen. Which should be a lot of fun.

As I mentioned a while ago, this was the first episode of Doctor Who made in HD, and it looked quite wonderful. From the aerial shots of London[10] to the desert scenes and the lovely swarm creatures, the detail and colurs were stunning. Marvellous stuff.

The next special will be shown “later this year”, apparently. A trailer was shown, and it looks like more fun – the title is “Waters of Mars”, and it appears that water will be playing a big part in it….

[1] Though topping Davros’s scheme to destroy the whole of every universe might be a bit of a challenge for whoever the Doctor will be dealing with…
[2] A chocolate egg may have been harmed in the making of this episode….
[3] Played inside and out by the lovely National Museum in Cardiff, apart from the side exit, which would appear to be in an alleyway somewhere else altogether
[4] Service number 200, in a nod to this probably being the 200th Doctor Who story, depending on how you count Trial of a Tine Lord and whether the end of series three was a three-parter or a two-parter.
[5] It wasn’t planned that way, but somebody dropped something on it after it was delivered to the location. One quick re-write….
[6] Lady Christina has a bit of fun suggesting that this is not a proper name….
[7] See Midnight
[8] I know those tunnels!
[9] The ususal mobile phone trick…
[10] Lots of these…

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