It turns out the title of the newest Doctor Who special wasn’t completely generic, but what about the episode itself? Below is what I thought, but look out:
Personally, I would have called it “Flight of the 200” but that’s just me.
First things first, let’s just say that Lady Christina de Souza would make an excellent companion for the Doctor. She knew it, you knew it, I knew it, the Doctor knew it. But of course, he’s currently on the “No more companions for me ever I mean it this time for real honest” jag he goes on for about two weeks after each one leaves. Still, I can’t believe we won’t see her again (after all, Donna first appeared in one of these specials.)
This was the episode they hauled everyone out to Dubai for, I guess because that’s the only place you can find a lot of sand. (Actually I suspect that with the way the market is crashing in Dubai, setting up cast and crew in hotels and getting film permits was way cheap.)
“Planet of the Dead” was a perfectly fine story. Nice bit of tension, nice companion, other characters that could have been fleshed out more, granted, but served their purpose. (Most people, I think, were annoyed by Malcolm Binks, but I was annoyed by Madame Exposition of de all-seein’ juju powa.)
There was nothing wrong with “Planet of the Dead”. Completely serviceable episode for a season, and my worries that it was “Midnight” redux were unfounded. Unfortunately, though, this wasn’t just one of thirteen in a season, it was one of four for the year, and with that comes a level of expectations it just didn’t meet. If you’re only going to give me four stories in a year, I’d like them to be REALLY GOOD stories, not just serviceable ones. Perhaps it’s not fair to judge it in that context, but there you go.
There’s also the show’s love/hate relationship with UNIT. Torchwood has been more or less cast aside now that we’ve put the old band back together, and it’s fair to say that the Doctor always had a shaky relationship with them. But there’s a difference between the Brigadier always wanting to bomb something instead of just say howdy (something which, inevitably, would eventually need to be bombed anyway) and him pointing a gun in Sergeant Benton’s face and ordering him to kill the Doctor. Yet for some reason we’re all to just forget about this little incident at the end because everything turned out okay anyway. Hugs all around!
What’s more, as Dave T pointed out to me, at the end of last season Davros scored rhetorical points against the Doctor by pointing out how his companions always seem to end up as soldiers. So when the Doctor signs the two boys on the bus up for UNIT duty, it’s pretty goddamned troubling. He can’t take Lady C with him as a companion because he doesn’t want to endanger people again, but hey, you need some cannon fodder, Captain Magambo?
And as long as I’m grousing…fly heads in jumpsuits? Only two arms? Not even vestigial wings? Jumpsuits? Look at this:
Is that guy really gonna try and grab that little zipper with those mitts? I don’t think he is. Am I being nitpicky? “Who even notices those zippers anyway, O Great Pedanto?” THERE ARE FIVE GODDAMN ZIPPERS IN THAT PICTURE ALONE! And their shoes are lace-ups! They eat other races’ poop and wear Cyberman hand-me-downs! Come on, you guys can do better than this.
On the other hand, I did dig the flying razor maw whatsits that go warping from place to place, just flying and eating, flying and eating. Those guys were a-okay.
So that’s it. If it had been episode 3 of 13, no problem. But 1 of 4? There just needed to be more.