Sunday, April 12, 2009

Planet of the Average

So how was it for you?

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead started with a collective groan in our household. Michelle Ryan's art thief Lady Christina (to a suitably James Bond-ish soundtrack from Murray Gold) simultaneously did Mission Impossible and Raiders of the Lost Ark in an uninspired pre-credits sequence and my heart sank. These are David Tennant's final four shows as The Doctor and I really, really want these specials to be really special. So the omens were not good ...

One wormhole and a dodgy bus-driver later, we found ourselves on an alien planet. Apparently, they flew the entire Doctor Who cast and team out to Dubai to film the desert sequences. Money well spent? I thought it looked like a CGI landscape. But maybe my eyes have become so accustomed to FX now that I can no longer tell the pixels from reality. And anyway, it's probably cheaper to fly abroad these days than to employ an FX company and to Hell with the carbon footprint. Whatever the reason, the landscape did look pretty awesome; an appearance they probably wouldn't have got filming in Rhyl. Almost immediately, however (especially having seen the trailer), I was thinking ... isn't this Pitch Black?

Russell T writes some of the best dialogue I've ever heard but, good grief, he's not a man who's famed for his originality and as one cliche piled upon another, I found myself yearning for Steven Moffat's creative hand. Fly humanoids? Fly humanoids that feed on crap? And the logical inconsistencies ... Fly humanoids that have wireless ear pieces perfectly suited for human ears despite the fact they don't have ears? Technology that couldn't possibly be operated by those claws. The anti-gravity components being perfectly designed to fit like London bus wheel clamps. And since when could The Doctor speak every language? Wasn't that all to do with the TARDIS telepathic circuits or something? The alien beasties themselves were a tired and unoriginal manta-ray type design that's been done a million times before and the science around them creating wormholes was neatly glossed over with some technobabble about going fast enough around the planet in their billions. Didn't Superman do something similar with time? Come on Russell ... you can do so much better and I sincerely hope that you will. Time is running out for Mr Tennant. Use it wisely.

It may seem like I'm being overly-critical here but, sadly, I have been spoiled and I expect better. I've had Silence in the Library and The Empty Child. I've had Father's Day and Family of Blood. I've seen the very best that Doctor Who can offer ... and Planet of the Dead didn't even come close. Saying that, there were some genuinely excellent moments. Lee Evans' was a great laugh despite his variable Welsh accent (is it contractual that at least one person must be Welsh every show?). His moment with the fire extinguisher was pure unalloyed joy and I hope that Malcolm returns one day. Michelle Ryan wasn't too bad either. She did, however, lack that aristocratic air that worked so well for Lisa Goddard's identical Lady jewel thief back in the heady days of Bergerac. But, as I said earlier, if there's one thing RTD does well it's dialogue and the script sparkled with wit and invention at times. So, overall, an uninspired special. Not too shabby but definitely under par.

The teaser was interesting ... he is coming back through the darkness and will knock four times eh? The Master? Davros? Or something new? Tenterhooks engaged.

And the trailer for Waters of Mars looked intriguing and much more my kind of Who. I wonder if they've plundered the long and venerable history of Doctor Who martians and resurrected some of them? The Egyptian-themed hordes of Sutekh, last seen in Pyramids of Mars (Tom Baker) might be fun although that whole Egypt thing has been done to death a bit by Stargate. So how about the Ice Warriors? I bloody loved the Ice Warriors. Bring them back and I'll be a happy Easter bunny.

9 comments:

Mark said...

"Underwhelmed" was our household's overall impression too. As you say: plot holes the size of Davies' ego. I tend to like the episodes that run in the various series but whenever it comes to the so-called specials I feel so utterly let down. It's not a special just because you've especially gone out of your way to ruin it.

I'm also considering creating a Russell T. Davies bingo card for the next episode. You know the sort: something Welsh, some reference to man-man-love, somebody running with dramatic music, four "ethnic minorities" ... BINGO!

chris hale said...

I'm still waiting for Doctor Who and the Shreddies of Nabisco.

But look on the bright side, Stevyn, at least it was better than Red Dwarf. Do you think Lister will meet his Doppelganger in Corrie and wink out of existence? One can only hope...

David Turner said...

Yes. As the credits rolled, I turned to the Better Half and said "That was silly. And not a good-Dr-Who-Kind-Of-Silly."

Winifred said...

Oh I missed it! I'll have to check and see whether it's being shown again on one of the other BBC channels.

Saw the David Tennant interview on Friday and he said it was filmed in Dubai. He also said they shipped the bus out and as it was being offloaded another crate was dropped on top of it!

He wouldn't tell who was the best kisser, Billie Piper or Kylie. Spoilsport!

Does that mean Michelle Ryan has lost her cockney accent? She's still Zoe Slater to me, even when she pretended to be the Bionic Woman.

Stuart Peel said...

I've not seen it yet, but it doesn't surprise me that it's average. Davies' stuff is inconsistent, and he's been outgunned and overshadowed by Moffat at every turn. Roll on next year.

SweetPeaSurry said...

I doubt I'm nearly as picky ... so even with the spoilers here, I'm still looking forward to it!

Stuart Peel said...

Oh, now I have seen it. Looks nice in HD, but why do we always have a cast of support actors that can´t act ? And why so many characters ? And Michelle Ryan isn´t posh, and it shows.

Overall, just dull and derivative.

Becca said...

I guess I'm alone in liking it then :) I too felt a bit apprehensive about the opening...but as soon as The Doctor came into it, I was swept away and just adored every second.

I'm curious about the Christmas special tho "The Waters of Mars". Rumor has it The Master might turn up in some degree.

Andrew Kerr said...

Normally I watch Doctor Who again and again over several days but this one...well I could barely watch one.Some moments were great but when they went back to the planet I lost interest.The Earth based stuff being far better than...shock...the stuff with the Doctor.
Lee Evans should pop up again,not too much,as he was joy to watch.