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Thoughts on the Doctor Who Easter special

by Brad Trechak, posted Apr 13th 2009 2:01PM
Doctor WhoDespite living in the U.S., I was able to catch the BBC Easter Special for Doctor Who titled "Planet of the Dead". My thoughts on it are as follows:

It wasn't the best special broadcast thus far (I enjoyed the 2008 Christmas special more), but it was on par with the better episodes of the show. The Doctor seems to fight two general categories of alien menaces: intentional threats or forces of nature (or the first taking advantage of the second). This was one of those "forces of nature" enemies (and I'm not referring to the fly-headed creatures seen in the previews).

The highlight of the episode was Michelle Ryan's character, who was the right combination of assertiveness and eagerness to be a lot of fun (much like the Doctor himself). It's a pity that she was only signed for the special. I wouldn't have minded her as a companion for a season.

Lee Evans was amusing as Dr. Malcolm Taylor. I think he was supposed to represent fandom and would likely fit in as a member of LINDA. It was nice to see UNIT used again. Sometimes it seems like Torchwood overshadows them.

If I had to guess, I would say the plot was likely more a product of co-writer Gareth Roberts and the character dialogue was more from co-writer/producer Russell T. Davies. Character voices has always been the predominate strength of the latter whereas plot not so much.

Naturally, this is some foreshadowing of David Tennant's final trilogy series in the role. "Your song is ending" sounds a bit like the Ood warning from last season.

Overall, I enjoyed the special and look forward to when it (along with this past year's Christmas special) is broadcast on a U.S. channel. Are you listening SyFy?

If you did see "Planet of the Dead", what are your thoughts?

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While this episode was a fun one, I agree that it didn't seem up to par with some of the other specials- when its not a regular seasonal episode, I think we come to expect something out of the ordinary, and this one was somewhat average.
I liked the references to Midnight; at least the writers were acknowledging that they knew the basic story ideas were similar.
I found the musical score was kind of silly and made it campier than it needed to be.
Also, I may be alone in this, but I found Michelle Ryan's character be annoying, and the chemistry between her and the Doctor was forced, if not non-existent.
Not that I didn't like the episode.

April 26 2009 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony B

Hmm. Well, I'm a die-hard Who fan and have been since Hartnell first appeared on the Beeb (yes, seriously, that old). Sadly, the Easter special was disappointing for me and the flying bus just made it all too Harry Potter for my liking. There were good bits, but it lacked the scripting and invention of some of the better series episodes. Thank heavens David T made it somehow work, despite its flaws. The worrying thing for me is the expected loss of Russell T Davies in the not far off future. Who will hopefully survive and prosper ... but without its re-animator, it may never reach the dizzy heights of some of the more adventurous new series scripts. Oh, and I hear our old nemesis, Michael Grade, is retiring from ITV - let's all hope he doesn't get his feet back under the table of the BBC, or heaven knows what might happen to the good Doctor.

April 26 2009 at 9:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First, I think Midnight was just short of rubbish. This is not to be compared. Yes, all you of LINDA... If you're in for real Doctor Who, you must have a scientific willful suspension of disbelief. You also must know that the rediculous and fantastic must both occur.

Michelle Ryan may be cute, but her character was not right for the Doctor. Whatever happened to the inept and overly frightened version of companions of my childhood?

The forshadowing portion was the most disappointing of this special. I love that about RTD writing, but it was far too disjointed.

I'm not sure that anyone cares if the Doctor meets with Dr. Riversong and the Vashta Narada come out of the darkness, controlled by the Master. The main thing is to enjoy the fact that there's not another Sylvester McCoy to send DW into oblivion again.

April 16 2009 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"It was nice to see UNIT used again. Sometimes it seems like Torchwood overshadows them."

when the call for UNIT assist was made, my first thought was... "what the hell??... call Torchwood"... UNIT is all swell and neat, but don't even come close to being the awesomeness that is Torchwood... having a longer history does NOT make one greater...

April 15 2009 at 11:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Michelle Ryan's character was the perfect combination of Ace and Romana and would love to see her come back as a regular character.

April 15 2009 at 2:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I too caught the Easter Episode, and was mixed about it.

I've been a staunch Tennant fan since day one, and when I first heard that he had decided not to stay one more series I was very dissapointed. After "Planet of the Dead," however I found myself wondering for the first time what kind of Doctor Matt Smith will be.

Not that David was bad in any way -- but overall, the episode, and his performance, felt a bit formulaic:

Step one: Doctor makes quirky appearance, cue credits
Step two: Crisis arises
Step three: Doctor announces who he really is and promises that he's going to save everyone
Step four: Doctor reminds us just how brilliant he is
Step five: Resolution followed closely by ominous forshadowing

Jaradel above commented that not every episode of Doctor Who can be profound. While I agree with him on some level, I have to note -- this is one of The tenth Doctor's last appearances. David Tennant has come to be regarded as one of the most popular Doctors since Tom Baker. In my opinon, the final four stories *should* be profound. Hell, the final four stories should have stretched into a multi-chaptered story arc with the rengeneration as the grand culmination. Yes, the forshadowing at the end is the 'tie-in,' but that's such a small potato compared to what I'd like to think they *could* have done.

Now we already know the next episode is "The Waters of Mars." Based upon the trailer, this story will be mostly a 'stand alone' while (according to RTD himself) linking to the final two chapters. Does this mean a little bit more than just another psychic telling the Doctor his song is coming to an end? I certainly hope so.

PotD was a fun adventure -- just not one I was hoping for as we prepare to bid the Tenth Doctor a fond farewell.

April 14 2009 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I rather enjoyed it; I thought that Christina was an intentional Sue, but it worked for the episode, and Malcolm was the personification of the geek fanboy (or geek fangirl, not to discriminate, and I do count myself in the latter category). I don't think it was a ripoff of Midnight; yes, there were similarities and a few references, but it was all tongue-in-cheek. The skience was dodgy (but what do you expect from a couple of writers with no appreciable science background? Do they even *have* a science advisor?), but on the whole the episode kept me entertained for the whole hour. I would put it on the level of "The Unicorn and the Wasp" for its overall tone and spirit. The next three episodes are going to get very dark - how can they not, with the Tenth Doctor's demise on the horizon? - so I think this episode was kept on the light side intentionally. Not every DW episode can be as profound as .

April 14 2009 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After reading through most of these comment I'd like to add a few points
1) Michelle Ryan's character was too good to be true, they had to get rid of her. Normally every companion has some flaw that she overcomes with the help of the Doctor

2) As George said, every special has to be a stand alone episode, which is what makes it a "special". I don't think anyone like the Daleks are controlling the worm hole.

3) It was one of my more favorite episodes, with the exception of the last few minutes, which was just a splurge of poorly disguised hints at the future episodes. How convinent, a pshycic woman.

4) Funny how a black woman is in charge of UNIT but its not Martha. What, did Martha take a vacation?

5) REALLY wish there was a sooner holiday so the next episode would come out!

April 14 2009 at 1:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Patrick's comment

"4) Funny how a black woman is in charge of UNIT but its not Martha. What, did Martha take a vacation?"

Martha's a medical doctor. Captain Magambo is, well, a captain. And logistically speaking, Freema's been doing L&O:UK, so she may not have been available anyway.

Captain Magambo was in "Turn Left", too.

April 14 2009 at 12:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hmm I wonder how you saw this episode...maybe from the old interwebs. Hmmm

April 13 2009 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Are you guys kidding? This was not a stand alone episode. There was someone controlling the wormhole and possibly the aliens and we never learned who it was. Clearly this is leading into the finale and is part of a bigger story ark.

April 13 2009 at 7:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Chrisw's comment

You're a MORON. This was stand-alone trash at its FINEST. If you think this is part of a bigger story arc, your brain is RUBBISH! Or perhaps full of CHICKEN TETRAZINI!

April 14 2009 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While some people like JPN broadcast their lack of intellegence on the internet in their own moronic way.

It was a stand alone episode, the Doctor explained how the Wormhole was created. The creatures circle the planet at an ever increasing rate of speed, until they rip a hole in Space creating the wormhole. Plus, their metal exoskeleton protects them from becoming extra crispy like the bus driver.

April 14 2009 at 6:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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