are the words of the Beast. And he has awoken.
He is the heart that beats in the darkness,
he is the
blood that will never cease..."
The Doctor takes Rose to an alien world, at the
darkest limits of creation. But what is the secret with The Bore? What is
mined? Who is in charge of the mine? What are the Ood?
EPISODE EIGHT REVIEW
Seven days is a long time in time travel, isn't it?
Admittedly, it has been some while since eagerly awaiting a new DOCTOR WHO
episode. Waiting for THE AGE OF STEEL didn't provoke a similar
need, neither did, strangely, THE PARTING OF THE WAYS (the
nearest being the conclusion of THE EMPTY CHILD in SERIES 1).
THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET just about squeezed itself though
the TV screen but it did not deserve to be shown there.
Even on a widescreen television, unfortunately, this episode was too cinematic
to be DOCTOR WHO. Then again, it was pure DOCTOR WHO with amphetamine pumping
through every scene, dilating the script, making the expectation absorbing and
I recall Mal Young saying that DOCTOR WHO
was ideal was television, shown in a comforting environment for younger viewers
and, therefore, have the ability to pursue discomforting issues. He discounted
pleas to produce a feature-film for that very reason, as has Russell T Davies
("I'll never work with BBC FILMS
on a DOCTOR WHO movie", or words to that effect).
But here, with Matt Jones' first script/plot, we see DOCTOR WHO majestically
masquerading as, in all but name, a movie.
The Mill has produced, in association with
James Strong's workman-like direction and Ernie Vincze's cinematography, a vision
of human isolation and resignation for our (the viewers) first trip away from
the fraying (and well-tugged) apron strings of 'mother' Earth. A barren rock in space held in perpetual orbit within
an all-consuming black hole was a conceit that long-time fans would never envisaged
for the first trip 'away'.
The realisation of the 'impossible' planet was heavenly, from the 'flat-packed'
Sanctuary Base snaking itself across the grey dust, to the serene intensity of
the spacial anomaly, to the Byzantine-styled (resplendent with vast stone canine-reptilian
carvings, hieroglyphic column portals and foreboding 'trapdoor') inner core of
The 'make-do-and-mend' living quarters, where your best friend was duct-tape
and not a call to the maintenance crew, and space-efficient interconnecting walkways
rationalised space existence, echoing the fragmented and disparate crew itself.
Both were tired, reduced to the goodwill & hope to simply exist in the ultimate
hostile and unforgiving environment. Commendation to the BBC WALES design team
for their edgy yet restrained (the sets could have been too 'cobbled-together'
or too clinical) set design. More than SERIES 1, this year's design work has
been "bigger and better" as promised by Julie Gardner but not wasted (either
created to be impressive set pieces with little purpose or by not being used
With that said, it would be churlish for me to mention the yellow IKEA stools.
So I won't.
Defining this episode's professionalism was the sequence within the planet's
core (at point zero), explored by the Doctor and science officer, Ida.
A visual treat that, if you didn't know
that it was filmed in a quarry, you would have thought that it was 'created'
entirely within the confines of the limitless computer. The elements solidified
consummately. Seamlessly. Effortlessly. Costume design (of the zero-pressure
suits), set design (including the slightly flimsy-looking exploration capsule),
location filming (exquisite night-time lighting of the quarry) and the CGI matte
paintings (an apt description) deserve ovation. Actually, in the comfort of the
sofa, I think I clapped whilst watching the sequence. And we have yet to see
the complete CGI Beast.
A team of extraordinary talent.
A team that includes Murray Gold, too.
Whilst my 'jury' is out on the SERIES 2 re-working of the main DOCTOR WHO
theme (I still cannot believe that Gold's original version has been replaced
with a sanitised version with BBC WALES Orchestra; the mystery and alien-ness
of the Grainer icon is watered down), the orchestration, again, was cinematic.
In comparable to previous DOCTOR WHO scores (i.e. incidental music), Gold unwittingly
steers the viewer from scene to scene without waving a large, notated flag that
says "Hey! I'm a music sting to let you know that something has happened!"
Consistently, Gold continues amaze. It is difficult for a musical novice,
such as myself, to describe what I heard, I can advise you to re-watch the final
7 minutes as the Doctor explores the planet's inner core. The haunting violin
accompanist is beguiling.
David Tennant's characterisation still concerns
me. Too arrogant, too glib and too 'intangible'. Certainly, the actor is supremely confident in his own
abilities but has not stopped 'acting as his hero' instead of 'acting the part'.
A difference? Yes. As a long-time DOCTOR WHO viewer, I'm watching Tennant with
foresight. The (tenth) Doctor character fails to be 'itself' and relies on 'it'
(i.e. the distillation of nine past characters) to exist. I am not sure what
this new Doctor stands for or defined by. Perhaps, this will come.
For Rose Tyler, this is, unbelievably, the
quiet before the SERIES 2 finale storm, and is, therefore, for the first time,
relegated to a CLASSIC SERIES 'companion'.
She's just there to reassure and ask questions. And she looks pretty.
The supporting cast (no doubt continued
to be 'picked-off' one-by-one throughout
the next episode until the science officer remains) echoed the amalgamated casting
in THE ROBOTS OF DEATH (1977, and available on DVD). The cynical
one, the disenchanted one, the sensible one, the reluctant one, the garrulous
one, and enigmatic one. With years of a congealed siege-mentality the crew are
ripe for conflict. A perfect scenario.
Is there more to Danny Webb's Mr Jefferson than he's letting on?
And then there's the Beast and the subservient Ood (I hope there's an action
Ood (possessed by the Beast): He
has woven himself through the fabric of your life since the dawn of time.
Some may call him Abbadon. Some may
call him Krop Tor. Some may call him him Satan or King of Despair, the Deathless
Prince, the Bringer of Night.
These are the words that shall set
I am become manifest. I shall walk
in the light. And my legions will swam across the worlds.
I am the sin and the temptation the
desire. I am the pain and the loss and the death of hope.
I have been imprisoned for eternity,
but no more.
The Pit is open and I am free
With the casting of Gabriel Woolf, fans have speculated that the Beast is
a fragment of the tortured Sutekh (PYRAMIDS OF MARS - 1975,
and available on DVD) or a new alien force?
Time will tell.
Again, this is beyond television.
Breath in. What did you really smell when you
watching the episode? Fried Corned Beef fritter, baked beans and chips? No! It
was butter-soaked popcorn, a hotdog drowning under an avalanche of cindered fried
onions, and the errant mobile phone chirp.
The smell of the cinema, and for forty-five minutes
that's where we were.