Aug 10

Time Reconsidered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Who Eps: #7 PLANET OF EVIL

FT1 comment • 332 views

or “i’ve got a very unpleasant theory!

… being a show-by-show TARDIS-esque (ie in effect random) exploration of Doctor Who Soup to Nuts, begun at LJ’s diggerdydum community and from now on also crossposted at FT.

After dramatically qualified location CITY OF DEATH, we’re off to PLANET OF EEEEVIL (my home burg, in similar vein, is known to the tourist board as “town of flowers”). Anyway, it’s 1975+30,000 years and the BoringBaker and a frighteningly young-looking SJ are distress-called to the WELL AT THE END OF THE WORLD edge of the known universe, to a planet that resembles a boiled and scabby bald head, where a frightened encampment of scientists is being caused to dwindle and corpse by a JUNGLE THAT SUCKS. Now read on…

i: the jungle itself is gorgeously scary, lush and crimson and bulbous and dense, and — while the inside of camp and later spaceship are functional rather than “designed”, the mise en scene, as they say in film school, is GREBT; as is the music, which seems to be a sekrit hommage to the electronic works of Louis&Bebe Barron. All the more disappointing, then…
ii: … that the story, which wants to be a cross between FORBIDDEN PLANET — unstoppable see-through monster eats energy and will kills us all, but why, whyyyy — and DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE — well-meaning researcher takes one too many doses and wreaks ape-like havoc and ruin — is moar laik star trek does The Treasure of Abbot Thomas: after the death of only 763 throwaway crew members, they (= guess who) finally puts the cursed hoard back in its hole and the happy ghost waves them off, no harm no foul…
iii: The far future is a foreign country: they do science differently there. And dear g0d, standards of coherence have declined :( :( :( DUDES YOU SO CAN’T JUST PUT ANTI-MATTER IN A CAN! Also, positronic radiation probably won’t turn you into an hunchbacked ANTI-MAN with terrible teeth, and even if it DOES, it still won’t turn your orange overalls into a silver shell suit! Plus also why does the parallel anti-universe need see-thru red energy suckmonsters to kill intruders when you can’t actually leave with stuff in a rocket! (Poss = parallel anti-universe not that bright); and I’m not sure that you can counteract the effects of a dying sun via the “kinetic energy of a planet”, when it’s all that keeps yr planet from falling INTO the dying sun?
iv: the plot is lots and lots of hindsight moralising: something bad — and confusing — happens, and DW is all shoutily “Didn’t you know you should never have done that, because [insert totally new information here]! Don’t you know anything about things you know nothing about, that I only just realised!” It is not very surprising the young, inexperienced ship’s controller goes batty and ends up being all “yes yes we’ll deal with the universe-threatening cataclysm later, let’s execute this so-called doctor RIGHT NOW ftb he is even more of an MEGATONIC CRYPTIC ARSE THAN USUAL” — no jury would convict…
v: nice bits = there is an oddly moving and brusque funeral service for one crewmember, complete with coffin ejected into space; the OCULOID TRACKER is a surveillance cats-eye in a little skimming pod (curious though that the ship has no CCTV in its corridors); when the doctor punches someone, the sound effect is a funny little pop!
vi: three strong pretty good cliffhangers, even if all three lead to an ep-start which is pretty much “with one bound he was free”: 25 mins is such an excellent ep-length
vii: And the GOLDEN PIGSBUM goes to Sorenson, the tormented scientist whose meddling causes all the problems in the first place, returning home with a v.high body count and a totes failed expedition on his charge sheet — unsatisfying that he’s a survivor, when Ensign Mark De Man minor crewman De Haan gives a much better and more likeable performance, as a fed-up grunt who does §what he’s told and comments sourly on it throughout

Sadly the excellent bits — scenery, music — are as casually thrown away on a story that manages to be stereotypical and badly logically managed (too many “but why didn’t they do that earlier!!??” moments; the stuff in the ship being esp.badly organised); SJ doesn’t have much to do except get into trouble and squeak; the unease among the crew is more ideas as sketchy promise than actually coherently realised, and etc. Endings are hard in SF, and this was weak and annoying.


  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 9 Oct 2010 #

    Did you notice that Sorenson was the same man as Marius in The Invisible Enemy? Freddie Jaeger was always an ornament to whichever television show he appeared in, most of all as the devious head of ‘Special Branch’.

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