Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Planet of the Dead & Waters of Mars

Planet of the Dead

So they had an Easter Special in 2010. Well, I guess they had to. This story is a mixture of good and bad again. I think it look pretty fantastic, at least the stuff shot in the UAE in the desert certainly does, and for the most part being HD makes it all worthwhile. However, the CGI version of the red double decker bus looks pretty poor.
Lee Evans
RTD seems to have started with the idea of a London bus lost in the desert on a far-off planet. Ok. but then he needed more and besides vision, I’m not really sure what this story offers. Ok, it offers Michelle Ryan as Lady Christina de Souza, who is friggin awesome and I so wish had stayed as a companion. She is a cat burglar who starts the episode off by floating down on a wire and stealing a valuable gold cup from a museum. Doesn’t get much cooler than that?
But the plot is up to pretty much
nothing at all sadly. A massive swarm of metal creatures go from planet to planet through wormholes eating planets dry and leaving them deserts. Ok. But they really stretched it out to a full hour I felt, it could have been more effectively told in 45 minutes. I guess they had a lot of footage from the UAE and they didn’t want to waste it. We have a bunch of characters trapped on the bus which are quite under-utilised too, some of them were really interesting, especially the elderly couple. They basically just wait on the bus whilst the Doctor and Christina try to solve everything.
Then we have Lee Evans giving a wonderful performance as Malcolm which added a lot to the story, but for 60 minutes it did seem a little lacking to be fair.

The Waters of Mars

After watching this story through to the end, I have to say that it contains probably the most disturbing image of any Doctor Who story I have seen. Captain Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan) takes her own life, she shoots herself. Although we don’t see the moment she shoots herself, we do see her pull out the gun, and we do see a flash as the gun is fired. I’m going to say that considering the intended audience is families, and particularly children, I don’t believe this was appropriate for the show and I am left feeling very uneasy about it.
The episode itself is somewhat disturbing and extremely dark in nature. The idea of water that kills, or transforms, the ideas behind the tale I think are very strong and we have an almost ‘Gerry Davis-esque’ crew on the Mars base who are from all countries of the world with lots of accents. Ok, it’s mostly limited to Europe to be fair.
It’s also the old ‘tried and true’ base under siege storyline, and it’s tried and true because it works. There’s
The Doctor and Adelaide Brooke
wonderful elements emphasising the inevitability of what is going to happen, juxtaposed against the Doctor’s determination that sod it all, he’s basically God and if he wants to change established history then he will! Despite the dangers, as Adelaide’s daughter is inspired by her to become a pioneer of space travel herself.
So this is where it all gets a bit screwy, and the Doctor comes across as so angry. I’m not sure I bought it, and that’s not because of the performances but because of who the Doctor is and has been. He certainly was more chipper in the previous two specials. And we are left wondering how the two characters who survive, Mia and Yuri, could possibly integrate back into life on Earth, let alone explain how they got back home from Mars.
It is great to see Australia actor Peter O’Brien in the cast, a veteran of many Australian shows. I think the story was very solid, the effects and the direction (directed by Graeme Harper) were outstanding. A bit of a hard episode to judge. It’s a bit preachy in places and I wasn’t convinced with the way RTD wrote the Doctor in places.


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