Sunday, April 12, 2009
Talking about "Planet of the Dead" in a non-spoilery way
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."