Saturday, 6 June 2009

Doctor Who: Planet of Giants

Planet of Giants

"The space pressure was far too great".

The Doctor's wearing his cloak again! And what with the Fault Locator and the TARDIS doors opening I'm almost getting nostalgic about The Edge of Destruction. Still no dematerialisation sound from outside.

Again we get some nice character stuff at the start. There's friction between the TARDISeers but we know that by now they all like each other underneath. That this is consistently done shows how good a job David Whitaker has been doing as story editor. Other large TARDIS crews in future years won't be handled nearly as well.

It's noticeably in this story that the Doctor's much more proactive, and seems to be the leader. It'll be interesting to see how permanent this is.

Farrow and Forrester look very Mad Men with the clothes and all the smoking. Forrester's a very cut price Don Draper, mind...

Oh dear, that photo used for Farrow's corpse looks a bit embarrassing. Still, great cliffhanger.

Dangerous Journey

"Yes, I'm fine. I told you I hadn't eaten for ages. I think that's what it must be. Don't make a fuss!"

Hmm, the cat's never in the same shot as our heroes! Interesting that the Doctor says of finding the murderer that "Normally I wouldn't hesitate"- in hindsight will this turn out to be a watershed moment in the Doctor's characterisation? He's much more of a hero here than he's been before.

The scenes between Forrester and Smithers are well-acted and played. Forrester's a great villain, all the better for his small-scale motives.

Oops, I don't think Barbara should have touched that seed! The fly looks great, but Barbara fainting... oh dear. I love Barbara's stiff-upper-lip determination not to make a fuss about her certain death from poisoning.


"Why didn't she tell us?"

What a cheat this cliffhanger resolution is.

These scenes in the telephone exchange really show how long ago 1964 actually was. No previous story has seemed so obviously dated as this and it's mainly down to this bit of period detail. That, and the policeman's helmet with the strap not quite managing to reach beneath the chin in true Dixon of Dock Green fashion.

The Doctor's very mischievous and anarchistic here- there's no doubt about it, he's suddenly very Doctorish, right down to the pyromaniac tendencies! Speaking of which, it's very noticeable that once Ian and Susan strike the match the flaming part is always off-screen!

Hmm, Forrester sounds absolutely no different as Farrow. He's not even trying to sound Scottish, for a start...

So the Doctor and Susan have experienced an air raid in an untelevised adventure, presumably during the Second World War? Interesting. Of course, to the viewing public this would have been as recent an experience as the 1980s are to us.

Strange ending- the heroes are the telephone operator and the policeman; Farrow would've been caught whether or not the TARDISeers intervened. And there's no talk from Ian and Barbara that they've been cruelly deprived of a return to their own time by being shrunk- could they now be rather enjoying their new life?

Overall, the first story to be scripted by a writer who's still with us (?) is a delight. nicely paced, well-acted and great fun to watch, although I don't really see how this could have been padded out to four episodes. An amazing example of the sheer variety of the format at this point. 4/5.

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