Review: Doctor Who – 4×3 – Planet of the Ood

Oodles of old-school fun

Oh goody! It’s a returning monster!

Oh wait. It’s the Ood. We’re going to have to wait until next week for the Sontarans

Ho hum.

All the same, for something of a filler episode in which everyone just ran up and down corridors a lot to cover up the fact the budget had all been spent on a snow machine, it wasn’t half bad.

Was it any good?
After last week’s surprisingly old school episode, we have another slice of "classic" Who to play with. Doctor and Donna land on ice planet – marvellous – after setting controls to random – marvellous – and then discover a slave race that must be freed and the entire economic infrastructure of three glaxies transformed in a bit under a day, without the benefit of a loo or tea break – marvellous.

Roll a die: whatever number comes up, you can find an adventure for that particular Doctor that pretty much matches that blueprint. 

Planet of the Ood was quite a creepy affair, all in all, thanks in part – for once – to Murray Gold’s really rather good music, some nice sound effects and good old Graeme Harper’s action direction, which gave me flashbacks to Caves of Androzani. Not often, since poor old Graeme appeared to have to deal with a bunch of extras who didn’t know which way was up on their guns: this resulted in some of the action scenes looking like the highlights of hour three of some improv theatre workshops, when everyone’s a bit tired and doesn’t quite know what to do any more. It would have helped if he’d had more than a half dozen extras to fill the scenes up: it all looked a touch sparse at times.

Still, at least he managed to slow down David Tennant and Catherine Tate enough that you could hear what they were saying. Unfortunately, that made this the most average Donna episode so far. While she had a few nice one liners (particularly the one about dragging humans around with him just so that he can take cheap shots at them), she was reduced to snivelling a bit (again), getting captured and generally feeling a bit sad about the poor old Ood.

Roll a die and you’ll find a companion to match that template (which isn’t marvellous).

The Ood also seemed to be suffering from the same budget cuts – either that or they evolved in oceans of plastic and rubber – but they were still relatively creepy and offputting in a Robots of Death sort of way. Not sure that the whole second brain thing – or third brain, for that matter – made a whole lot of sense biologically but I can overlook that just this once: it worked well as a plot device.

Otherwise, a bit sparse on the plot front and too much ham to the villainy, but creepy, enjoyable, with some good moments and a lovely bit of old school gore when Percy from Blackadder goes through Ood-conversion.

PS DT fans might have had a bit of a stomach-churning moment when the Ood started saying his song would end soon – is a regeneration due soon or is this just to inject a bit of danger into the show?

Classic Who continuity references
This week’s Classic Who continuity reference was to the William Hartnell story The Sensorites (DT can name all the episode titles, if you ask him), which took place on the Sense Sphere, which was populated by Ood-a-likes, the Sensorites.

The Helm of an ADHD eight-year old
While wearing the patented Helm of an ADHD eight-year old, I found the episode a little dull, but I really liked the bit when the bald old guy coughed out the brain.

Other reviews
If you liked this review, you might like these: Marie‘s, Rullsenberg‘s, and Stuart‘s. If you didn’t, you might like those better. Let me know if I left your review out. Anna: where’s yours?! Move, move!


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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