Planet of the Dead

(Originally posted to my Livejournal on April 15, 2009.)

Yes, I have full-time internet access again, and yes, I owe you Gentle Readers a personal update, but that will have to wait just a little longer. Meanwhile, the second of this year's Doctor Who specials has aired and, yes, I feel compelled to comment upon it. There may be spoilers ahead.)

From the good, a reminder of the better or,
Thank you for the memories, Russel T. Davies

As Russell T. Davies's reign over the revived version of the iconic British television series, Doctor Who comes to a slow end with this year's four specials, and we fans wait to find out what a new creative director and a new actor in the title role will bring us, the Easter special, "Planet of the Dead," could not help but make me consider just how good Russell's period has been, particularly the heart-breaking second series, whose climax — even after multiple viewings, still makes me weep.

But I get ahead of myself.

"Planet of the Dead" is unlikely to make anybody weep, or even sniffle. During his four-episode swan-song, Davies seems to be quite properly giving us "only" stand-alone episodes (though with hints of the Doctor's "death" to come), old-fashioned Doctor Who adventures and on that level "Planet of the Dead" was a very good episode indeed. After all, with a cat-suited jewel-thief, UNIT, an alien world, rather original, Earth-threatening monsters and a scientist in love, what's not to like?

Riding the #200 London double-decker bus while investigating some sort of wormhole, The Doctor finds himself suddenly transported — along with the bus and all half-dozen of its passengers — to a desert planet with three suns (not one of which see, presumably for budgetary reasons), a dangerous mystery (the fate of the Earth hangs, yet again, in the balance!) and a remarkably well-prepared aristocrat, the Lady Christina de Souza, who plays this episodes companion.

I won't bore (or spoil) you with details. The episode is fast-paced, funny and exciting enough — were I still ten, I would probably have found it thrilling.

Which brings me back to the beginning, and just what a happy gift that second series was. Basically, the emotional depths of the Rose cycle spoiled me, left me expecting the exceptional, rather than appreciating it for the near-miracle combination of children's adventure and heart-breaking romance it was.

All that said, I'm glad Davies is taking his leave; an eternal series like Doctor Who, like the title character himself, needs periodic injections of new blood.

* * *

On an entirely different note, one of you (yes, I mean you, !) said you enjoyed the episode, "except for what seemed to be a spectacular RaceFail..." I'm still waiting for the follow-up since (and at risk of once again making a fool of myself, I don't see it.

Spread the word!

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