Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead

August 3, 2009 at 5:55 pm (BBC, Geekery, TV) (, , , , , , )

Finally saw Doctor Who – “Planet of the Dead” last night.  Dramatic title…a bit overly, maybe… Not a bad show.  At this point, knowing the Tenth Doctor is not long for this world (so to speak), knowing what’s coming, and seeing how tired David Tennant looks I’d almost rather they just cut to the chase and brought the kid in. 


In the “Confidential” extra – and I’d like to see more of these; I would think they’d be either a standard special feature or available on dvd in and of themselves – everyone was going on and on about how super-fantastic this one was.  Well.  It wasn’t bad.  Decent story; I don’t know why the Doctor and Christina kept wandering about on the sand dunes except to give them a chance to talk apart, and bond (and of course to be captured by the giant fly) – I would have thought it not the best idea for them both to go away given they were the two leaders.  I kept having a vision of the rest of the poor schlubs freaking out without them.  The fly-guys were corny, but I think they were meant to be.  The “stingrays” made me think of the Dark, from Barbara Hambly’s Darwath – many, mindlessly voracious, silent, and efficiently deadly.  Only these were kind of beautiful.

One thing that has always impressed me about Doctor Who in general and David Tennant in particular is exemplified by what he says in “Love and Monsters”: when the Abzorbaloff mocks him for being “sweet” and “passionate” the Doctor agrees. However, he also adds “…don’t ever mistake that for nice.”  He’s not – always – a nice person.  He’s good.  He can be very sweet.  He’s always passionate, about something.  But nice… He knows best, you see – as opposed to those who say they do and are wrong, he says it and knows it and means it.  And he has no patience with those who ignore him or think they know better.  He’s been through it all too many times to have any desire to bother with that nonsense.  And at the end of this episode he becomes the Time Lord who knows best and has been through it all too many times – the look on his face as he denies Christina the TARDIS is scary.  We’re so used to seeing him as the delighted-with-everything so-human (no offense to him) enthusiastic Doctor that when the hard, old, good-but-not-always-kind inhuman being comes out it’s jarring.  David Tennant’s such a joy to watch bouncing around the place that still and stern is really really chilling.

In the behind the scenes stuff they also all kept going on about how glorious Michelle Ryan was, what a brilliant long-term Companion she would have been under other circumstances, etc… She wasn’t bad, either; a little camp, maybe.  I didn’t get attached.  I wouldn’t really want her along; she’s an unrepentent thief.  *shrug*  Sorry.  (Not that every other Companion ever has had stellar moral fiber, mind, but still; what was she going to do with the priceless 1200 year old cup?  Put it on her mantel?)  She did help save the world, but would she have if there hadn’t been a thrill in it for her?  She seemed quite amiable as an actress, so no wonder they all loved her, but… Oh, hey, she was in Merlin: Nimueh.  Huh.  Not necessarily to her credit, that.


They also were rolling on the floor wagging their tails over Lee Evans as Malcolm.  Evans is apparently a well-known British comedian, and Malcolm was apparently a character he’s done in his act?  Okay.  He was waaay over the top, in a kind of cute way … Sorry, I’m American.  Maybe you need to know him to get him.   

I loved the Doctor trying to make sure the two young men from the bus get jobs with UNIT.  They weren’t *that* great in the crisis, but at least now they’ve encountered alien life/another world – that’s probably more than most UNIT recruits.  Not counting the Christmas events…


And then at the end: “He will knock four times.”  I got full-on chills, and confess I may even have gasped.  Stupid, maybe, but I didn’t see that coming – the Master!   

At least… it seemed really, really obvious to me at the time that that’s what that had to mean.  Given “Drums of War”, after all.  But the behind-the-scenes stuff made it sound like it was going to be some big new thing…?  But …?  Granted, this is the new Who: things don’t necessarily go as expected.  Ever.


I’ve been hearing a lot of “I hate Russell T. Davies” lately, after Torchwood and Ianto … I didn’t so much hate him then, but I’m growing to dislike him a lot after watching “Confidential”.  He seems like he’d be very annoying to work with, possibly (or possibly really great, or both)… But it’s what he said about the end of the Tenth Doctor that I hated: “Not to give too much away, but it’s going to be bad.  It’s going to be very very bad.”  And laughed gleefully.  Yeah, sorry, RTD, not laughing here.  For one thing, I love this show; change is not easy, and while I believe the new production crew is going to be made up of people who have done excellent work in the past four seasons I liked the hands the show was already in.  I hate change.  For another thing, I love the Tenth Doctor.  I love David Tennant.  Like I said, he looked drawn and tired in PotD, and I know about his back, so I can live with his not doing a Tom Baker-esque term.  But … for a third thing, as I’ve said before ad nauseam, this is the tenth incarnation burning away.  There are to be only twelve, unless they screw around with the rules, and come on, of course they will if there’s money in it.  Which doesn’t negate the fact that a Time Lord has twelve, count ’em, regenerations. And for a fourth thing… glee was not called for here.  Any fun I had in watching PotD – and it wasn’t as much as advertised – was wiped out by the ending, and by that comment along with someone else saying that this was going to be the last chance for this Doctor to *have* fun.  This Doctor was built to have fun.  Seeing him going through hell, in whatever form it takes in Waters of Mars and the Christmas two-parter – seriously?  Glee?  I may not be hating on RTD… but I’m feeling strong distaste, and it’s growing.


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