Doctor Who: The Impossible Planet

The TARDIS arrives on a planet which is, somehow, managing to stay in orbit of a black hole.

Cast and Crew

David Tennant as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Shaun Parkes as Zachary Cross Flame
Gabriel Woolf as the voice of the Beast
Ronny Jhutti as Danny Bartok
Myanna Buring as Scootie Maniska
Danny Webb as Mr. Jefferson
Will Thorp as Toby Zed
Clare Rushbrook as Ida Scott
Paul Kasey as the Ood
Silas Carson as the voice of the Ood

Written by Matt Jones

Directed by James Strong

Originally aired on the 3rd of June 2006 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis

Some time in the future, the TARDIS arrives at a deep-space research station on a planet which is somehow orbiting a black hole.

High Points

  • ‘I think we’ve landed inside a cupboard.’

Low Points

  • ‘Open door sixteen. Close door sixteen.’ How can anybody design a base which has such irritating doors? Does this serve any purpose other than to break the suspension of disbelief?
  • Toby’s stint outside was really rather incredibly cheesy, even for Doctor Who.

The Scores

The plot isn’t particularly original — it reminded me quite a bit of Doom 3, although has elements of other sci-fi horror in it as well. The Ood were also rather predictable. Three out of six.

This week’s effects were generally good, and a considerable amount of time has been spent on drawing the black hole, which looks great. Five out of six.

The story is grander than we usually see, owing to this being the first of a two-parter. I can’t help but think that it’s taking us down familiar paths which weren’t particularly interesting the first time. Four out of six.

The acting was acceptable, no more. I suspect the story might have more to do with this than the actual ability of the actors, but it’s hard to tell. Four out of six.

This is clearly supposed to be scary and ominous, to elict a high emotional response. Unfortunately I found that various things such as the silly talking doors and being clubbed over the head with dramatic irony spoiled the mood. I did feel sorry for Scootie though. Three out of six.

Production was good for the most part. They created a nicely battered-looking base, but there’s a problem with the sound. If it is indeed hard vaccuum outside, why does it sound windy? Three out of six.

Overall, okay but ultimately disappointing. I’m not best pleased that they are using such overused material. Four out of six.

The Impossible Planet gets a grand total of twenty-six out of forty-two. Must do better. Next week is the conclusion, so I doubt that’s going to be the case.

22 replies on “Doctor Who: The Impossible Planet”

  1. joe__gee says:

    I feel like I watched a different show.
    I loved this episode.

    • Alexius says:

      Re: I feel like I watched a different show.

      I loved this episode.

      Same Here, I Was Really Impressed With It, And Really Annoyed When I Found Out It Was A Two Parter.

  2. J_W_W says:

    Good Episode
    I think you’re being way too harsh on this episode.

    I think it was one of the better ones this year. Of course the Ood were obvious, but they’re still a problem for the crew and are used well to enhance the sense of dread.

    The doors really didn’t bother me, I mean I could easily see the designers saying, "Lets have the computer control the opening and closing of doors and have a verbal acknowledgement." There are systems designed with crazier interfaces. Also as to the "wind", they did mention that it is a vacuum, but that gases and other debris were being pulled by at an incredible rate. That would casue some pretty nasty sounding "wind" on the station.

    I thought is was a pretty solid episode, even though it did remind me a little of Star Trek V, which is not a good thing.

  3. Gaewyn says:

    Mold re-use
    So… anyone else go "Man… where did they get the deal on the Pak’ma’ra prosthetic molds" :)

    I got a good laugh out of the Ood… all the jokes on the name and also the initial confrontation… priceless

    • hans says:

      Re: Mold re-use

      I got a good laugh out of the Ood… all the jokes on the name and also the initial confrontation… priceless

      The Ood were enjoyable, but I did not like the initial confrontation. Completely contrived just for the purpose of some artificial suspense through the opening credits.

      Emotional response for Scootie, although at the time I couldn’t help thinking what I always have to think – don’t people blow up or explode or something in the vacuum of space?

      There was something wrong with the whole thing that I just couldn’t place my finger on. I think it was with production, maybe that it feels not quite real enough in some way…

      • J_W_W says:

        Re: Mold re-use

        I got a good laugh out of the Ood… all the jokes on the name and also the initial confrontation… priceless

        The Ood were enjoyable, but I did not like the initial confrontation. Completely contrived just for the purpose of some artificial suspense through the opening credits.

        I liked it due to the fact the Ood looked menacing, and then they spent the whole episode explaining how they were not menacing, only to have them be a real threat by the end. I thought the twists and turns were nice, and the comedic bit after the open credits was fairly funny.

      • Vulch says:

        Re: Mold re-use

        don’t people blow up or explode or something in the vacuum of space?

        No, in real life it can be hard to tell what has happened. The Soyuz 11 crew who were killed on re-entry when a valve opened at the wrong time still looked healthy enough for the rescue team to spend a long time trying to revive them, and they’d spent several minutes in vacuum.

        Someone who is alive when they are exposed and is repressurised before they die will probably develop a wonderful set of bruises, and a corpse will eventually dry out, but blowing up is pure Hollyweird.

  4. lost says:

    Doors and Wind
    You know, my first thought with the door bit was "those must be Cirius Cybernetics doors". And it wouldn’t be the first time there was such a reference in Doctor Who. Once I thought that and chuckled for 4.2 seconds, the door announcements faded into the background in my consciousness.

    As for the wind, I seems to me that having matter moving at a high speed past the base could conceivably cause a windy sound as the friction would set up vibrations in the structure of the base. After all, that’s why wind makes sounds, too. It sets up vibrations as it goes by things.

  5. ViperDriver says:

    The Doors
    I dunno, if you’re building a modular base in vacuum with airlock doors at the end of each section…well, yeh, it sort of makes sense that you’d want to know when the airtight section doors are open/closed. Given that if you hear ‘Opened door blah’ and then don’t hear ‘Closed door blah’ you would say ‘heeyyyyyyyy…’

    Ditto on the Sirius Cybernetics comment, though. :-) Didn’t the Doctor say he’d met Arthur Dent at one point?

    I kept having awful flashbacks to Event Horizon in addition to the aforementioned STV:TFF similarities (shudder…’what does *God* want with a Starship?’). Other than that, though, I really enjoyed it.

    • lost says:

      Re: The Doors

      Ditto on the Sirius Cybernetics comment, though. :-) Didn’t the Doctor say he’d met Arthur Dent at one point?

      Well, I know that in the H2G2 books, something that is clearly intended to be the Tardis appears with an occupant that seems like Tom Baker’s Doctor appears on the planet with the guy who runs the galaxy. And with the Doctor reading Oolon Colluphid (sp?) and saying "Old Oolon got it wrong…" at one point, it’s somehow appropriate to have that kind of reference.

      Hmmm. Now I know what that nagging feeling of vague recognition came from. Anyone else notice a marked similarity in setting to Milliway’s? (Obviously not an exact comparison but it’s on obviously impossible/untenable placement for the planet/base.)

      • Raonaild says:

        Re: The Doors

        Ditto on the Sirius Cybernetics comment, though. :-) Didn’t the Doctor say he’d met Arthur Dent at one point?

        Well, I know that in the H2G2 books, something that is clearly intended to be the Tardis appears with an occupant that seems like Tom Baker’s Doctor appears on the planet with the guy who runs the galaxy. And with the Doctor reading Oolon Colluphid (sp?) and saying "Old Oolon got it wrong…" at one point, it’s somehow appropriate to have that kind of reference.

        The Doctor said he was "very Arthur Dent" dressed in his pjs and dressing gown in The Christmas Invasion, and said, "Now there was a nice man" implying that maybe the HH characters existed in the Doctor Who universe.

        Douglas Adams definitely has a strong affiliation with Doctor Who, seeing as he wrote a couple of Tom Baker stories and was script editor for a season (the year with that Oolon Colluphid reference in Destiny of the Daleks). I also understand that the third HHGTTG book was originally a Doctor Who story reworked for the HH characters, and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a reworking of elements of Doctor Who stories DNA wrote (the exploding ship that started life on earth from City of Death, Professor Chronotis and his TARDIS-like home from Shada).

        I’m not aware of any TARDIS or Doctor references in the HHGTTG books though, I don’t recall that in the scene with the ruler of the universe.

    • zonk3r says:

      Re: The Doors

      I kept having awful flashbacks to Event Horizon in addition to the aforementioned STV:TFF similarities (shudder…’what does *God* want with a Starship?’). Other than that, though, I really enjoyed it.

      I had the same thoughts. All I can say is this better not be the devil or somesuch. I’m betting it is a security system ala Lost. Anyway, good episode, very different feel from the rest of this season and last. I hope they keep it up.

      Anyone else find that the episodes NOT written by Davies tend to be pretty damned good? I’m super happy Davies got the show back on board but please keep him away from the scripts.

      ALSO, BIG HIGH POINT (IMHO): "It’s old. And when I say it is old that’s saying something" (or somesuch) was great.

  6. y42 says:

    Ia!Ia!Cthulhu Fhtagn!
    Ph-nglui mglwnafh Cthulhu Ryleh wgahnagl ftaghn!

    • y42 says:

      Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

      Ph-nglui mglwnafh Cthulhu Ryleh wgahnagl ftaghn!

      I don’t know what happened to that title…

      • TechnoGirl says:

        Re: Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

        Ph-nglui mglwnafh Cthulhu Ryleh wgahnagl ftaghn!

        I don’t know what happened to that title…

        See what happens when you mess around with the Old Ones?

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

        Ph-nglui mglwnafh Cthulhu Ryleh wgahnagl ftaghn!

        Gesundheit!

  7. zonk3r says:

    Religion?
    I’m curious if anyone can think of an episode of Doctor Who that dealt directly with religion?

    I’m doubting this ‘thing’ is really the devil or whatever but I’m curious.

    I can’t think of any but it is a long series and I’m hardly an expert…

    • y42 says:

      Re: Religion?

      I’m curious if anyone can think of an episode of Doctor Who that dealt directly with religion?

      I can’t think of any but it is a long series and I’m hardly an expert…

      Off the top of my head: Queen Victoria discussed religion with the Doctor just a few episodes ago.

    • Raonaild says:

      Re: Religion?

      I’m curious if anyone can think of an episode of Doctor Who that dealt directly with religion?

      I’m doubting this ‘thing’ is really the devil or whatever but I’m curious.

      The Doctor has often encountered people with religious or superstitious ideas and debunked them in one way or another (eg. Masque of the Mandragora, Power of Kroll, Face of Evil, Meglos just off the top of my head). There was also Pyramids of Mars where he ran into the Egyptian god Sutekh (voiced by Gabriel Woolf, who is also now providing the voice of Satan), but reveals that this "god" was really an alien from a race called the Osirians. And then there was The Daemons, where the Master summons demons through occult ceremonies, which turn out to be aliens from the planet Daemos.

      Doctor Who has always favoured the rational, scientific answer over magic or religion, so I fully expect there will be some scientific explanation for this Satan character as well.

      • hans says:

        Re: Religion?

        Doctor Who has always favoured the rational, scientific answer over magic or religion, so I fully expect there will be some scientific explanation for this Satan character as well.

        I agree with you, but citing summoning of aliens from other planets as demons hardly counts as a rational, scientific answer. :-)

        • y42 says:

          Re: Religion?

          summoning of aliens from other planets as demons hardly counts as a rational, scientific answer. :-)

          But it’s such a blast! :-P

  8. pdavis says:

    I enjoyed it
    I thought this was one of the best stories of the season. The "low points" were not even on my list of annoyances. In fact, I enjoyed the obvious Doom references. My low point would have had to been how physics was tossed out the air lock when it came to the gravity effects of the black hole. Yes, black holes have a massive gravitational pull, but you can still put something in orbit around one, just as long as you don’t get too close (i.e. the event horizon).

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