The Impossible Planet Reviewed

If nothing else The Impossible Planet shows us, once again, that 45 minutes is not long enough for a Doctor Who story, unless it is a two-parter. The pacing was near perfect, allowing time for character development, set up, and planet history, something the one single stories don’t get to achieve very often.

Did I say “planet history”? Yes I did. The new series of Doctor Who has finally touched down on an alien planet. Excluding of course New Earth as it was, well, full of humans and called “New Earth”, not very “Alien,” now was it?

And this planet even has an alien name “Kroptor” which translates into “The Bitter Pill.” Oh dear me the excitement just gets better as this planet even has a history, it is said that the Black Hole is a Mighty Demon tricked into devouring the Planet only to spit it out because it was poison. Brilliant.

So here we are on an alien world and what’s the first thing to happen, the TARDIS gets lost, how old school is that? How wonderful.

I suppose if I had one complaint so far it would be the acting on Rose’s part in the beginning, before the loss of the TARDIS, she seems as if she was high on something, laughing a lot, making jokes in bad situations, and then laughing again, how Ood… er, odd.

Speaking of the Odd, er… Ood, they really did look fantastic, with all the range of movement in their faces, and they do look scary. Which is ood, I mean, odd as they are meant to be our friends, but then they aren’t really themselves now are they?

Not to long ago I was commenting that nothing in the past of Doctor Who really scared me, and while I wasn’t terrified today, I can say that it was a bit freaking the way Gabriel Woolf, (as the Voice of the Beast) spoke to Toby and through the Ood. However, the eerie feeling soon left me in the end of that scene when this happened:

“Toby, don’t look at me, don’t turn around or you will…” be covered in Magic Marker. Oh yes… very scary. Still a small gripe as the rest of the adventure went on without a hitch.

Before I get to far we need to mention Gabriel Woolf again, better known to many Who fans as “Sutekh the Destroyer” from, original series Tom Baker serial, Pyramids of Mars. So far series two seems to be bringing back the past of the show very nicely. And what a great choice of an actor to bring back, his portrayal of Sutekh was one of the best villains in all of Who history and it seems that he is at it again, no doubt part two will show his talent shine through in all it’s glory.

Another hope for part two would have to be more shots of the planet itself, so far, as nice as it is to see an alien world, this one seems just like the space stations from series one so far. Sure we get a glimpse of something when the Doctor and Ida are in the heart of the planet itself, but I want to see more, more creatures, more history, and more alien things. Not too much to ask for is it?

All in all this story was immensely enjoyable and a perfect use of the two part format, something the new production team seems to have a good handle on these days. If The Satan Pit is half as good as part one then we are in for one heck of a ride!

Our most recent contributor Thomas Willam Spychalski also had a few words to add to the subject of The Impossible Planet

Much like last week with The Idiot’s Lantern, this week’s installment transported me into Doctor Who’s past, but with much better results.

The Doctor and Rose land inside a space base on a planet underneath a black hole. As the Doctor himself attests to in the pre-title sequence, Doctor Who has had its fair share of bases and habitat structures throughout its long history. This is a classic scenario and on this occasion the idea is used correctly and with a good plot in tow.

This script surely is in the top three so far for series two, and again shows the value of more screen time and two part stories. Much like Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel, it allows us to get to know and care for the supporting cast, and allows us also to have at least one cliffhanger, an integral part of what I consider to be proper Who.

The plot itself is also very good, giving us ancient demons and black holes, twisting around other old Who clichés, and getting the most out of them.

The visuals and sets are right out of U.S. sci-fi films of the late nineties, but unlike last weeks turn to the sixties style of the The Idiot’s Lantern, it is a benefit to the programme rather than a burden.

The Ood are very well realized, whether as a passive slave race or as the underlings of an unseen controller who looks to be the Devil himself. They are almost something out the “Stars Wars” vein of alien life to me, but the fact that they look good enough to make such comparisons at all is a compliment to the effects departments of the show rather than a knock against the Ood. The only visual complaint I have is that poor Toby, the host for our major baddie, seems to have been possessed not only by the Devil, but also by the mischievous spirit of a felt tip pen.

The loss of the TARDIS, a plot device used in order to trap the Doctor and Rose on the base seemed a little contrived and the scene where the Doctor and Rose discuss mortgages of all things was bad to my senses but the rest of the episode made up for these small nit picks within the bigger picture.

Although I love the cliffhanger as a whole, it sadly means I have to wait a week to see the conclusion of this very well done installment.

Brian A Terranova


Doctor Who and me go way back. I first discovered it on my local PBS Station WHYY in the suburbs outside Philadelphia when I was a young kid; though I am uncertain of the exact age.

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