Buzz Fare

You know how it is with buses – you wait for one, then two appear, then some dockers drop a container on it. So it is with ZeusBlog reviews – except for the bit about the dockers, hopefully. Here’s our fly boy Foo with his Doctor Who review…

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Format wise, I’ve stolen from Jono, but hey, it makes it easier for me!

 

The Good

 

Loved it. Almost.

 

The juxtaposition of Earth and the alien planet was very well done – almost a way of splitting the Doctor and companion without actually splitting them. I really like the idea of Doctor Who trying out different things and believe it keeps the series fresh and alive – stories like Midnight, Turn Left, Love & Monsters and Blink are all a bit left of centre and this story partially fits into this category.

 

Dubai – sand is sand is sand. But, it does feel that little bit extra special when you know it is foreign sand rather than British sand. I think the on location aspect did add something, but maybe next time we’ll get a little culture thrown in as well as per Arc of Infinity or The Two Doctors.

 

A very fun and fast paced episode that for me, blew three of the previous specials out of the water and left me yearning for more…roll on The Waters of Mars. I also had a little chill run down my back at the “He will knock four times” line at the end of the story. Brilliant stuff.

 

The Mixed

 

UNIT, they should be tougher than the 70’s crew but in Planet of the Dead, they don’t feel like it. Thinking about UNIT’s treatment of Tosh in Torchwood adds to the tough as nails impression, but in PotD they fail to deliver. The exception to this was Captain Magambo threatening Malcolm with a gun…hmm; I don’t recall the Brig ever doing that to the Doctor!

 

It also bugged me about the way UNIT seems to regard the Doctor as a god like figure. I would have thought they weren’t his biggest fan. Now, I’m not sure why I feel this and perhaps it should be the other way round as the Doctor isn’t too enamoured with military organisations.

 

Lady Christina de Souza had shades of Romana which I understand was the general idea but she doesn’t seem to have a returning companion aspect. While she showed promise, I think a little more meat in the script would have helped Michelle Ryan.

 

With Russell and Gareth co-writing this episode, I didn’t know what to expect. I love Gareth’s novels, loathed The Shakespeare Code and loved The Unicorn and the Wasp, so wondered how the two would bounce off each others. I think that having a co-writer tempers some of Russell’s more extremes and wish that we had more examples to see if this makes stories better or worse.

 

A solid plot and prior to screening, Gareth had made much of there being many disparate elements that work well together. I think the many plates being spun do work; however a little more complexity would have been nice. Yes, it was a romp, but can’t we have more detailed brush strokes?

 

The Bad

 The people on the bus seemed a bit lacklustre – it felt like they were secondary to the main action and more of an afterthought. An attempt to relate to viewers as being normal, everyday people was done, but they simply came off as feeling 2D.

 
While the first half to two thirds was engaging, as was the conclusion, about two thirds of the way through I found things began to drag. I didn’t feel on the edge of my seat as I had for, say, The Next Doctor. While it picked up towards the end, the special effects were good but we have seen better. I always think that the specials should stand head and shoulders over other episodes, but for me, they rarely do. The twee ending with UNIT standing around clapping and Lady Christina flying away didn’t help either.

 

Another review I read said Planet of the Dead was as hollow as an Easter egg. I see it more as a Cadbury creme egg where someone has stolen a third of the filling. More yolk next time please! Thinking about it more and more, I realise I didn’t love it as much as I thought I did. It’s solid, but also very average. I’m really looking forward to the descending darkness of the last three specials and expect this in turn to be swept away by a new Doctor, companion and Executive Producer.

SB

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