Saturday, 19 April 2008

A slip in the snow?

The Sensorites: a harmless little first Doctor potboiler from 1964 set on the Sense-Sphere (a planet rich in Molybdenum as I remember it, if you’re thinking of going). It’s wholly appropriate it got a namecheck here, because Planet of the Ood is just such a harmless little potboiler. Okay, it’s not Blink, but it’s not Dragonfire either - it’s one of the many Who adventures that make you think nothing much more than ‘Nnnyeah…’, while still entertaining every right-thinking person in the house and raining fire on whatever the commercial stations have reheated to insult the brain.

Talking of which… was it, in parts, a mite over-icky for a teatime slot? The schedulers have been meddling unnecessarily, anyway, but should the villain be sneezing his grey matter up and exposing his tentacles when there’s still daylight creeping over the top of the front room curtains? You can’t help thinking the rabid Ood was a bit too 28 Days Later for a six-year-old, say.

Not that the Watcher secretly serves the Church of Mary Whitehouse or anything; raised on fishfinger sandwiches and the Brain of Morbius, we think it’s wholly brilliant that there’s literally a great, pink, throbbing brain at the centre of things, and that if pushed, it will absorb you, secret-goodie or not. And the Klineman Halpen reveal at the end was priceless, as was Tim McImpossibletotype’s performance - just the kind of well-judged casting and playing that can inflect a so-so story with colour and dimension. He sloughed the old scalp off like a banana skin.

Heads, er, hats off to Graeme Harper too, a director who just gets Doctor Who. The grappling hook chase was briskly done, as was the sales pitch intercut with the Ood hunt - beats, angles, cuts: that’s how you tell a story.

But there was unevenness here: the body-horror seemed a tad overdone, yet the moral conclusions wouldn’t have satisfied an MI:High viewer. Slavery bad, service industry soul-destroying, capitalists grasping and uncaring. Er, we know! The real shocks were Donna’s upset at the crushing unfairness of the Universe (was she expecting something else? Is she losing faith after three episodes proper?) and the Doctor admitting it’s sometimes better not to know what’s right and wrong. Eh?! He can be a cold, dark one, sometimes, this Tenth.

Some of you thought Tennant was a bit too shouty last week (maybe…), but he’s every inch the Doctor now, is he not? Time served in potboilers is part of the job description, and he’s an all-time top-three Doc, we’re saying.

And then, with the snow falling, and the Ood song rising, just when your mind was drifting off to the bees, a spine-freezer: the Doctor’s song is ending? Tell us more… but otherwise, nnnyeah…

Anyway, next time: cover your probic vents, they’re sending in the clones - it’s the return of the Sontarans.

3 comments:

Mr Magister said...

I agree that this was not one of the best.

It was not an episode to view while eating your tea!

Look forward to something better next week.

Alexis said...

So disappointed with this episode. Disjointed, hurried, somehow not right.

Was it the editing? It looks like an episode thrown together and then cut back. And then someone else cut it a bit more and then they put bits back in.

The part where Donna was allowed to listen to the wondrous siren singing could have been moving if they had more than 20 seconds to cover that scene.

Effects not bad, pleased there was not loads of loud booming music but on the whole thought it was a bit lame.

Loved the giant hook chasing after the Doctor.

Am I being unfair?

Hoping for better entertainment from the Sontarans...

Anonymous said...

I thought the Ood were great. Secretly we would all like an Ood at our beck and call but I would have to put a bag on their head!

How dare she dimiss the Tardis as a mere box. It is far more superior than any rocket.

Last weeks Pompeii episode was off the scale in greatness so we are quick to dismiss this weeks instalment as just ok.

The writers are determined to point out that the Doctor and Donna are NOT an item yet I must admit the relationship is growing on me.

What is the obsession with the Doctors previous companions?