Sunday, April 12, 2009

Talking about "Planet of the Dead" in a non-spoilery way

The Doctor in shades? So hot it gives the desert an inferiority complex.

Last night, I fired up the ol' computer and watched the latest Doctor Who special, "Planet of the Dead." And you know what? It was really good! Much better than "The Next Doctor" Christmas special.

David Tennant who recently described "Planet of the Dead" as the last time the Doctor gets to have a good time before everything turns much darker as we lead up to Ten's regeneration. And there's plenty of fun to be had in "Planet of the Dead" -- creepy monsters, giant insect headed people, stuff that gets blowed up, historical thefts and yes, Tennant in sexy sunglasses.

Written by Russell T. Davies and Gareth Roberts, "Planet" is a little thin on plot -- basically a bus disappears and it's up to the Doctor to bring it back to safety -- but it's fast-paced, lean and kinda charming. Tennant and Michelle Ryan, who plays Lady Christina, this episode's ostensible companion, share a nice chemistry although I found myself constantly distracted by the fact that Williams bears a striking resemblance to a taller, less mouth-breathy Selma Blair.

As much as I enjoyed this episode, though, I find myself really missing the relationship between the Doctor and an ongoing companion. I never realized how much I liked watching those friendships and/or doomed romances grow and seeing the Doctor's travels through another character's eyes. We don't really get that perspective with these constantly revolving companions and there aren't any of those special character moments that stick with you well after the story ends. If rumors hold true, this shouldn't be a problem in Tennant's last two episodes so I'm happy to just enjoy these last few fun moments before all hell starts to break loose and I have to start stockpiling Kleenex.

Also -- and I hate to bring this up because it really isn't a complaint -- but these specials are making it easier for me to accept the impending Tennant departure. In part, I think it's because the Doctor seems so unmoored in these companion-less episodes which I think perhaps is impacting Tennant's performances. He just doesn't seem as...well...perky. I'm not saying he's going through the motions but I do think he works best when he's got someone else to bounce off and build a rapport with. Tennant with Billie Piper or Tennant with Catherine Tate has a certain energy that seems lacking when he's going solo. This is likely just a writing thing or a character thing and nothing to do with Tennant but it's something that really struck me in "The Next Doctor" and now in "Planet of the Dead."

Overall, though, "Planet of the Dead" was quite a nice Easter treat -- even better than a basket of Peeps!

And to tide you over until November, here's the preview for the next special, "Waters of Mars."


Michele said...

The actress playing Christina is called Michelle Ryan! Late of Merlin and Bionic Woman...

(Who's Michelle Williams?)

Elimare said...

Isn't Michelle Williams Heath Ledgers wife \ widow?
Thought Ryan was trying a little too hard tbh. It was better than The Next Doctor as Cybermen plus Victorian era stories are not my cuppa tea.

Liz said...

Darn it -- sorry about that typo. Thanks for catching it, you two. My brain meant Ryan, my fingers typed Williams -- no idea why! Just getting old probably... :)

Michele said...

Heh. It happens to us all in the end!

Anonymous said...

Loved this episode. I liked the generally light-hearted tone, loved the swarm aliens and the bug-people. The location scenes in the desert were gorgeous! I liked the different characters on the bus, and I really, really enjoyed UNIT--this is how UNIT should be: rock-solid and thoroughly competent. I loved, loved, loved how the Doctor called on them for help.

I quite enjoyed Lady Christina, too, and thought Michelle Ryan did a bang-up job. It can't be easy to come into an established series and play a one-shot character that the audience will probably never see again, and really sell that character and make her believable. Ryan did an excellent job, IMO, and she had wonderful chemistry with Tennant (but then a rock could have chemistry with David Tennant, LOL!). Though her Xena-like looks distracted me and filled me with naughty thoughts of writing a really smutty Ten-Xena shipperfic. LOL!!

Did anyone besides me think that the fanboy scientist Malcolm might actually be the Master in disguise? He seemed a shade too smart to be completely human, maybe a bit too obviously in awe of the Doctor, and the way he said "I love you" four times set off all kinds of alarms in my head, especially when Carmen warns the Doctor, "He will knock four times."

But maybe that's just me viewing the scene through slash-colored glasses. I'm a hopeless Ten-Master shipper, LOL! And hoping for at least a few moments of smutty goodness before the regeneration. C'mon, Rusty! You know you want to! : )

Okay, I'll be in my corner.

crone51 said...

Now, that my BSG obsession has been rudely ended, I have been re-watching some Who. One thing I had kind of forgotten was just how great the music is. Really wonderful music for a TV show.

Haven't seen the Easter show yet... must find it and check it out.

crone51 said...

Ah- just watched the Easter Special. Very enjoyable, although it felt like a combo of a couple of other eps.

I agree - Tennant did not seem as sparkly. But then perhaps he was attempting to convey some sort of underlying sadness, because, really, things have not gone well for our hero of late. It will be interesting to see the build up to the next regeneration. Sigh.

something said...

Any idea where to find this online? I don't get the sci-fi channel and have been DYING to see this, but can't find it anywhere. Suggestions?