Doctor Who: Planet Of The Dead


Rating 2½

Directed by James Strong

Written by Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts

Starring David tenant, Michelle Ryan, Lee Evans, Noma Dumezweni, Ellen Thomas, Reginald Tsiboe, Adam James, Victoria Doherty, David Ames, Daniel Kaluuya and Keith Parry

Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan), a notorious jewel thief, is cornered by police following the daring theft of a priceless artefact from a museum. She boards a number 200 bus to make her getaway. The Doctor (David Tennant) boards the same bus, which is then sucked through a ripple to a desert on a distant planet. It now becomes a race against time to steer the bus back through the ripple to Earth before the passengers are eaten alive by a swarm of flying parasitic vampire-like creatures.


‘Planet of the Dead’ is the first of four one-hour specials that will be broadcast by the BBC during 2009 and the early part of 2010, after which David Tennant and executive producer Russell T Davies will leave the show, to be replaced by Matt Smith (who becomes the third Doctor since the show was revived in 2005, the eleventh in all) and Steven Moffat. It follows the pattern already set in the previous “specials”, dating back to the excellent ‘The Christmas Invasion’ in December 2005, with the story told at a breathless pace from start to finish.

Unfortunately, that pattern has now become rather stale and predictable. In the rush to give us a piece of Indiana Jones-like action-adventure, the story is given no room to breathe. This is an episode that might have worked rather well had it been given longer to unfold and had we been allowed to see how the various passengers on the bus cope with the inexplicable situation they find themselves in. It needed to draw breath every once in a while.

Having said that, there are some nice touches here and it is quite possibly exactly what the majority of viewers want, a piece of rollicking escapism on a Saturday early evening. Michelle Ryan is good in her starring guest role and works well with David Tennant. I am not a fan of Lee Evans, but he is not quite as annoying here as I feared he would be, although he was required to give us nothing more than a comic turn that paid little attention to the history of the show - we were surely not really expected to believe that this was a scientist attached to UNIT?

At the end of the episode was a short trailer for the next “special”, ‘The Waters of Mars’, which will be broadcast sometime in late 2009. It looks promising.

‘Planet of the Dead’ attracted an audience in the region of 8.7 million viewers, equating to approximately 40% of all television viewers in its timeslot.

Review posted 12 April 2009


No comments: