Thursday, July 02, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 2x08: "The Impossible Planet"

Written by Matt Jones
Directed by James Strong

Rose: “Welcome to hell.”
The Doctor: “It’s not that bad.”

Starting the first episode of the second two part storyline we’ve had this season, The Doctor and Rose land on a mysterious sanctuary base and within the first three minutes of the hour, they fear being killed by a swarm of creatures named the Ood or “odd” as Rose enthuses more than once.

Well it’s a fair assumption that the Ood would appear to be a threat, only for The Doctor and Rose to soon realise that instead of the Ood wanting to make a meal out them, they were wondering if The Doctor and Rose wanted something to eat. Isn’t that nice? I wish someone would ask me if I was hungry but apparently that question is futile given how I take care of myself in the food department.

Of course just because the Ood supposedly live to give orders and die if they have no instructions to carry out, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t got their own little agenda up their own sleeves. After all, whether you’re human or alien, the last thin any of us want is to live a life of enslavement and the Ood are no exception to that general, even if their masters are anything but cruel. If there is a moral lesson to be learned this week, then it’s probably around the lines of slavery and underestimation being bad for you. But then again, I already knew that!

Speaking of masters though, another surprise twist was that The Doctor and Rose (at least one of them anyway) learned that they weren’t only humans on boards as we meet a rather enigmatic crew worthy of a Joss Whedon show (I’ll let you hazard a guess which one). To be honest they’re worth watching assuming there are enough of them that survives this two parter, I wouldn’t mind seeing them in a future episode of Doctor Who or even Torchwood.

I’m not really sure which one of the six main team characters I should because to be honest they all leave an impression on you but if I have to start, then my first choice is Jefferson, who is the least interesting of the bunch but also appears to be a little sinister and military like. There’s also a dark secret involving his wife that I wouldn’t mind becoming privy to either.

Then there’s Daniel. Not a lot to say about the guy except that he falls under the whole “underestimation is bad” rule as he has a continuing habit of underestimating the Ood and dismissing initial fears that Rose has about them, when he was implying for what feels like the billionth time that Rose and The Doctor are a couple? Can’t two people of the opposite sex not be friends nowadays? Oh forget I even asked that question.

If I had to pick a team mate on the base who I found sympathetic, I guess it would be poor Scooty (the writer had a lot of fun picking up names for people here), mainly because the poor girl ended up getting killed when she was checking out the airlock on the ship being opened and encountered a possessed Toby with deadly consequences. Toby’s possession is the real start of everything actually going horrendously wrong in this episode folks.

I haven’t seen Will Thorp in Casualty, despite the critical acclaim he seems to have generated for his role in the long running hospital drama, so I couldn’t really rate him as an actor. That is until now and judging by his screen time tonight, he proves to be more than a capable actor. As a terrified Toby about to be possessed by an entity known as The Beast, he communicates excellent fear and while possessed he’s genuinely menacing. Casting wise, the show has struck gold again.

Then there’s the team’s leader Zach and Ida, who although curious about The Doctor and Rose and their lack of knowledge on how things are for them, they do seem to oddly trust the both of them, even though when discovered that the TARDIS has disappeared, Zach refuses to help The Doctor get it back. At that moment Zach could’ve been made into an unlikeable gut but he isn’t.

As for Ida - I loved this character. She’s a smart enough woman, instantly good with the quips during her scenes with both Rose and The Doctor, she displays a fair amount of bravery in this episode without being gung-ho and her compassionate stance at the death of her friend Scooty endeared her so much. Anyone who can also talk down The Doctor too during a mission has to be worth watching as well.

The main meat of the episode is interesting enough if somewhat confusing. We don’t know what this team or their ship is called and who they are working for. We do know that they were looking for this planet that didn’t exist but is stuck in a black hole that is sucking everything in sight, including their ship.

Technically this lot should be well and truly dead but given that the word “impossible” is commonly used throughout proceedings, it just goes to show that anything is possible my dear. Being stuck in a black hole isn’t exactly the most ideal of situations by any stretch but this lot really didn’t appear to be that bothered about it. Even when The Doctor told them it was a bit of a silly idea being in a black hole, I don’t anyone really took heed of him. Then again, David Tennant did amp up the bonkers factor tonight as well.

The Doctor and Rose were in a dire situation this week. This is the second time that they’ve actually been confined to a place this season and although the TARDIS disappearing is a lot more severe than it simply needing charging like in the Cybermen tale earlier on, it almost didn’t feel severe. That’s including all those moments with The Doctor and Rose going on about how much the other means to them that we’ve gotten more than used to this year.

In my opinion, while I did enjoy their presence, this crew did show a lot of recklessness too and it’s the kind of recklessness that predictably came to bite them in the backside too as the Ood more than revealed their true colours.

Our not so benevolent species are connected to this beast, who we then learn is (or was) trapped on this should be dead planet but now thanks to opening up the airlock and having a vessel in the shape of Toby, with his new hieroglyphic body art and red eyes, The Beast is about to enjoy his freedom like never before.

And as a baddie, The Beast didn’t waste dropping hints with “he’s awake” cryptic message and his quick control of the Ood who start to go on a killing spree on board the ship with Rose and the team while The Doctor and Ida explore the majestic looking planet. I’d like to turn around and admit that I couldn’t have hazard a guess at the Ood turning out to be the bad guys after but like many people, I saw it coming and as aliens go, they look pretty cool.

Also in “The Impossible Planet”

The Ood’s design looked very cool. Their faces kind of resembled lice or maggots and aside from their master plan, this episode raised an issue about slavery.

Ood: “We must feed.”
Rose (to The Doctor): “I think they mean us.”

Who is who on this ship – Zach is the leader, Jefferson is security, Danny (or Daniel) had something to do with ethics, Toby is an archaeologist. I think Ida was second in command but I’m unsure what Scooty’s official role was on the ship.

Rose (re black hole): “So a bit worse than a storm then?”
Ida: “Just a bit.”

Rose: “That’s Ood.”
Daniel: “Very Ood.”

Did anyone find the 666 mention in this episode a little too timely? After all the remake of The Omen is coming out this Tuesday which is June 6th 2006.

Toby: “Who are you?”
The Beast: “I’m right behind you.”

The Doctor: “Me, living in a house? That’s terrifying.”
Rose: “You’d have to get a mortgage.”

This episode ripped off certain bits from episodes of Stargate SG1 and Angel. In particular with Toby being possessed by The Beast similar to how Fred was possessed by Illyria on Angel.

Zach: “Rose, stay off the com.”
Rose: “No chance.”

Is it funny how the preview for next week’s episode was moved around?

The Doctor (to Ida): “No turning back? Did you have to say that? That’s like saying ‘nothing could possibly go wrong’ or ‘this is going to be the best Christmas Walford’s ever gonna have.”

The Doctor: “Everyone alright?”
Rose: “Yeah.”
Zach: “Fine.”
Daniel: “Great.”

Standout Music: Ravel’s “Bolero” and some great score music here.

Although there is a lot to recommend about this episode and some rather perceptive dialogue abound, I found that “The Impossible Planet” was excellent all along. Thankfully new staff writer Matt Jones has flair for dialogue and with a wonderful final act, this Satan inspired tale can only improve.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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