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Old 29-11-2012, 09:27
daveyboy7472
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If the Series 4 Finale was the unofficial end of RTD's Era, then for me this story was the unofficial end of the Tennant Era, as it was the last time Tennant played the Tenth Doctor as his normal self, despite a few moments of jollity at the beginning of his last story. I hated where his Doctor went after this.

None of the 2009 Specials were that brilliant but I preferred this one the most because of that fact, not because the story was any better than the two that followed.

The one things that binds all the Specials together aside from the fact none of them were that good was that they all lacked the quality of the previous Series and lacked some serious oomph, something which was to become something of the norm over the next few years. At times it just trundles along and by the end you wonder what the fuss was all about. The idea of a bus full of passengers being transported to a world through a hole which has been reduced to dust by creatures who want to get to Earth was not a bad concept. Setting it in Dubai was not a bad idea but somehow the bigger scale of the story seems to be at it's expense as there is far too much chatting and very little else for large sections. Okay for a story like Midnight, but not for one like this.

The Tritovores were I thought at first the Foamasi from The Leisure Hive, but just turned out to be a similar copy. However, I did like the design of the stingray-metal things, thought the concept of them were quite good. As for the bus, we all know the story about it being damaged during transportation, and in some ways it being incorporated into the story helps give the episode some believability. The idea of flying it home was a bit nutty but I think it worked and I liked all the effects sequences with it. However, in story terms there is very little else to commend it really.

What saves it being a total disaster is some of it's cast. There is a big EastEnders connection here. Obviously we had Michelle Ryan, who played Zoe Slater, the lady with the blond hair who played Mandy's Mum and the lady who played Carmen has been in it as well, though I can't think who she played. I also didn't realise until yesterday, and if you watch Harry And Paul, you'll know this, that the chap who plays Barclay is actually Parking Pataweyo!

As for Michelle Ryan as Lady Christina, she certainly proves that not all soap stars play every character the same. She is far removed from Zoe Slater and though she is actually quite smug and annoying at times, I found there was a lot of fun to be had in the character as well. I did like the fact she thought she was on an even keel with The Doctor and that they made a good team. However, I don't think she would have made a long term companion somehow, not without some Donna-Style changes, but that wouldn't have been good for the character.

Star of the show for me, though, was Lee Evans as Malcolm. I like Lee Evans and he played the stereotypical bumbling Scientist really well. I did like his affection of The Doctor and his measurement of Units in Malcolms and Bernards! He gave the story a little extra something that it badly needed.

The end of the story dragged on a bit once everyone is back home but I suppose this was done so Carmen could tell The Doctor about this doom and the 'He will knock Four Times.' thing. Loved the incidental music used for this moment, it was quite chilling, and led to a lot of speculation, especially since The Master was known to be coming back for Tennant's Swansong at this time.

Somehow, though, the moment gets diluted by finishing off the story and it seems on the face of it that The Doctor hasn't taken her that seriously as he helps Christina to escape. I felt maybe it should have been done right at the end of the episode as the finish itself wasn't exactly exciting.

So not the best of stories but definitely preferred it to the next episode to come.

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Old 29-11-2012, 09:39
sovietusername
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I agree that this is the most fun+entertaining (and probably one of the best) of the specials. We have the same old 10th Doctor we'd always had rather than grumpy old misery guts from the end of time. The plots actually quite, and, altough the scene with the bus flying over London is a bit silly, I really liked this episode. It's very funny, and you have some great acting+characters. The desert location is brilliant, and makes the whole thing look so good. And, of course, it is an episode that really shows the breadth of the stuff Dr Who can do. I mean how many other TV shows are there in which you'd get a London double decker in the middle if a desert! Brillinat!
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Old 29-11-2012, 09:41
sovietusername
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I agree that this is the most fun+entertaining (and probably one of the best) of the specials. We have the same old 10th Doctor we'd always had rather than grumpy old misery guts from the end of time. The plots actually quite, and, altough the scene with the bus flying over London is a bit silly, I really liked this episode. It's very funny, and you have some great acting+characters. The desert location is brilliant, and makes the whole thing look so good. And, of course, it is an episode that really shows the breadth of the stuff Dr Who can do. I mean how many other TV shows are there in which you'd get a London double decker in the middle if a desert! Brillinat!
Also love the references to Old Who and to Quatermass
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Old 29-11-2012, 09:41
PJ68
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oh i really didn't like this, was like a panto. waters of mars for me was one of the best tennant episodes, properly scary monsters and a dark, adult story, not someone swatting cgi robots away with a bus
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Old 29-11-2012, 10:45
gboy
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I didn't mind this story too much - it had a nice, light touch about it, and the location filming really added something.

The story itself is a bit lightweight, and all the UNIT stuff was a bit tedious, plus Michelle Ryan irritated me at times.

But overall - a frivolous bit of fun before all the darker stuff that followed.
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Old 29-11-2012, 11:11
CAMERA OBSCURA
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Not the biggest fan of the first of the specials. Tennant is excellent in it after more than finding his groove during series 3/4, but ultimately it's a bit RTD by numbers for me.

I remember being somewhat disappointed with it at the time, but was unaware of the GEM of an episode just around the corner.

POTD rarely gets a re watch, whilst it isn't the worst Who episode ever, far from it (series 6, Ep.8....should be an interesting post ) it doesn't quite click for me as a whole.

Still, a bit of light fun yes, but for me RTD's 'light fun' always had a few other things chucked into the mix as well, Gridlock for example, but POTD is pretty linear character and plot wise.
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Old 29-11-2012, 12:42
GDK
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I enjoyed the bigger scope of this with the use of location shooting in a real desert. Lee Evans was, well, Lee Evans. Certainly not your typical mad scientist.

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the distinct similarity between Lady Christina and Lara Croft.
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Old 29-11-2012, 13:12
CoalHillJanitor
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I liked the way they played up the Tritovores as being the new villain but when we actually met them they were good guys and the stingray things were the real threat. Sort of the Futurekind all over again. Yeah, I don't mind being misled if it's in the interest of Doctor Who.
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Old 29-11-2012, 13:13
Corwin
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This would have been a decent enough episode if it was a mid series episode but as a Special it really wasn't Special enough.


The worst thing about it for me was Tennant he was just phoning it in as far as I was concerned, playing a parody of his character.

Only ever watched this the once (same for End of Time) however I recently bought the Specials on Blu Ray so will give it another go.
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Old 29-11-2012, 13:14
Chris_Walton
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planet of the dead is actually the first episode of doctor who that i was disappointed in the moment it had ended - took a bit too long to get going for me, and not enough happened...

...i'm just glad that the waters of mars was so awesome
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Old 29-11-2012, 15:49
ryanr554
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DEFINITELY an improvement on The Next Doctor. Well, every episode is an improvement on The Next Doctor. I like the concept but the execution was a bit cheesy, as was Michelle Ryans character. A diamond thief, really?

There was a real sense of urgency in this episode which I always like but the only people doing anything about their situation was The Doctor and the companion.

The next episode topped all of the specials put together. Water on Mars is excellent!
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Old 29-11-2012, 16:30
Granny McSmith
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The worst thing about it for me was Tennant he was just phoning it in as far as I was concerned, playing a parody of his character.

.
I have to agree with this - I did wonder what had happened to David's enthusiasm and energy in this; his performance was so flat. Was it because of his back problems? The first (and only) time I'd felt slightly disappointed in his performance.

That said, I thought the story was OK, quite good fun, and a bit different. I would happily watch it again.

But, sadly, I was far from impressed by Michelle Ryan, who seemed to have no personality at all, and Lee Evans, who had too much. Also the psychic woman was irritating.

I did wonder again how the Doctor had failed so abysmally to win the humans round in Midnight, when he seemed to find it so easy to do it here.
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Old 29-11-2012, 22:54
GDK
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I actually liked the Lady Christine / Lara Croft character and wouldn't've minded at all if 10 had bumped into her again sometime. Don't think it'd work with 11 though...
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Old 29-11-2012, 23:00
DavetheScot
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A good enjoyable story. I thought Michelle Ryan made an excellent character - gorgeous and danger-loving. Having her a jewel thief was a bit cheesy though.

The Tritivores are a bit silly, but the "stingrays" were a good concept.

I was indifferent to Lee Evans as Malcolm watching this. Later, when he was one of the last survivors on a survivor thread after many vastly better characters had gone, I came to loathe him.
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Old 29-11-2012, 23:13
krikkiter68
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I thought it was...OK. It remains, along with 'The Idiot's Lantern', my least favourite episode of the RTD era. I think the main problem I have is with the bus passengers - I just don't find any of them (Carmen and Lou aside) interesting or engaging enough to really care about.

Incidentally, that's the same problem I had with 'The Idiot's Lantern', in that I thought the 1950s characters (Magpie aside) were too broad, and too bland. And I'm sorry to say that I dislike Lady Christina - I think she's a crashing snob. Her obsession with wealth is pretty obnoxious, to my mind, particularly in the current climate!

However, I think Tennant is great in this, and I love the double act with the tough, unsentimental Captain Magambo - I hope she appears in DW again - and the wildly enthusiastic Malcolm. I think the three of them carry the episode between them. I think the effects are terrific, too.
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Old 30-11-2012, 00:19
John_Strange
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There is a fundamental problem with the specials; they are basically episodes in search of a series. I've said before that Christmas specials have their own particular rules, and attendant standards, but these "specials" are not quite sure what they are. "Planet of the Dead" suffers most from this slight disconnect. Following on from a strong series, with a satisfying climax, this (and "The Next Doctor") signal a huge drop in story-telling quality. A series of 13 episodes is able to carry stories with dodgy "A" plots because the ongoing "B" and "C" plots serve as satisfying links in a much larger chain. "Planet of the Dead" suffers because it has a weak "A" plot and meager evidence, apart form the odd cryptic comment, of any linkage with an overall arc.

You can see the inspiration for the story; a sense of ambition which on the one hand says "We can make a bus fly" and on the other "We can set a Dr Who episode in an actual desert (with added bus)." Everything is based around these two ideas - an I'm not decrying this ambition; it's the same ambition that took us to New York - but it gives us slim pickings.

There are many pluses: it's fun, it's funny, visually beautiful, Michelle Ryan, my kids enjoyed it. But there are problems. One of them is Lee Evans's character (not the actor, who I find a gifted and edgy performer) who is completely out-of-kilter with the events around him and his adoration of the Doctor is sickening. Unit are just a bunch of soldiers on a barricade (although this sort of treatment as happened before) and the people on the bus are a bland mirror of the passengers in "Midnight". The inclusion of the "Psychic" just rubbishes any suspension of disbelief in order to add a little false tension and then the "knock four times" comment.

Basically filler, before we get on to the more serious business of where the Doctor is headed, and that is a journey that begins with "The Waters of Mars".
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Old 30-11-2012, 17:55
Larry1971
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pretty much typical pof most of the season openers prett average stuff.
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Old 13-12-2012, 01:51
Abomination
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Planet of the Dead gets an awful lot of flack which I think a lot of is undeserved. Whilst it had a lot of flaws, perhaps more than it could have done, it's a hugely enjoyable episode which I prefer to any of the other Post-Series 4 specials.

Lady Christina is the woman of the piece, and although I feel the overdone posh accent was a slight step too far into pantomime land, she was the only "specials companion" that to me felt like an actual companion...of sorts :P Michelle Ryan relished the role she was offered here.
The supporting cast are interesting enough here... the group seem about as interesting as the group we saw in the similar Midnight... which also saw a bus getting stranded in the perilous alien wilderness. Lee Evans was great as a one-off Doctor fanatic, whilst the UNIT woman who returns from Turn Left is a nice nod too.

The premise of the episode was simple enough, though it could probably have used more substance to differentiate it from Midnight a bit more - it didn't have the scares of that episode to work, and although each character here was fleshed out well, none of them were given a lot of time to do anything. The problem with the episode being a special is that it has to establish the link between The Doctor and the leading assistant, before it considers the rest of the cast. I feel they got it more right with Adelaide in The Waters of Mars, personally.

The decision to film in Dubai was a brave move, but for the most part I think pays off. Given the lack of such intense location filming before (remembering that Croatia, America and Spain were all used after this) some scenes do come across as instant renderings of prototype shots - the Tritovore ship for example looked lifted from a piece of concept artwork. It looked pretty, but also came across as Un-Doctor Who like because it was so well done. That's not a complaint really... more of an observation. If it doesn't do much else for you, then you can at least consider Planet of the Dead to be the crew's opportunity to test the waters where in-depth location filming was concerned.

The Swarm was a satisfactory adversary... not everything needs to talk or have a specifically sinister motive... as The Doctor points out "it's not their fault" that they live the way they live. Few episodes have featured "alien wildlife" as I like to refer to it as... it's always a businessman, or an emperor that needs taking down and a natural swarm of killers was a refreshing change of pace. The Tritovores were a bit less impressive... really hyped up beforehand, they barely got ten minutes in here, and hardly have the empathetic reach of the Ood in terms of innocent alien species - they look like flies!!! Having The Doctor talking to them with gibberish was also a bit overdone, and an example of how Doctor Who sometimes doesn't put the brakes on when playing the childish card.

As resolutions go, it was also pretty straightforward, and thankfully we didn't end up with a massively overblown conclusion like with The Next Doctor, though it nearly did. Never does this episode try anything with even a hint of depth to it, which is surprising considering it is the product of two writers! It didn't do much in the grander scheme, but we got some nice one-off characters to once more represent RTD's love for domestic London, and we got a final bit of fun in a beautiful landscape. I don't think it was amazing, but I don't think it deserves the criticism thrown at it either... Planet of the Dead is a simple, straightforward survival story.

The prophecy delivered at the end was hugely exciting and the talk of fans for months... it even became common knowledge, with "He Will Knock Four Times" becoming a small internet meme, and even being used in The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror opening sequence. I leapt to the conclusion it was The Master before I began spinning out mad theories, but it certainly ignited an element of thought that wasn't quite required in this episode that can be perfectly summed up as "fun - nothing more or less".
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Old 19-12-2012, 19:17
captain yates
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michelle ryan was hot as lady christina .
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Old 20-12-2012, 23:47
DavetheScot
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michelle ryan was hot as lady christina .
She was certainly one of the big pluses of this story for me
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