is the darkness. This is my domain.
little things that live in the light, clinging to your
which die, in the end..."
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 NINE REVIEW
Like Christmas Day, often waiting for the event is better than the actual
day itself. Expectation eclipsing reality.
Would it be the same for THE SATAN PIT ?
Could it live up to THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET presentation?
In my best garrulous, overly exaggerated
Tenth Doctor impersonation; "Oh,
yes! Bring it on."
Even the re-cap pre-title sequence made the heart race, the mouth immediately
desiccate and the palms pour with sweat. Saturday night has not been as exciting,
thrilling and absorbing since, well, the week before.
Much of the comments stated in the review for the previous episode can be
attributed this, and so, without repeating the obvious, this will be truncated.
The direction (James Strong) continued to be as strong as the previous episode
but the music score was notched up another level. It seemed at times, and this
is not a criticism, that THE SATAN PI T echoed STAR
WARS - THE RETURN OF THE SITH . Listen to the music as the Doctor berates
the Beast and match the music cues from that movie. It was not blatant plagiarism
but a skilled composer finding the most appropriate tone (or appropriation of
discord 'stings') for the scenes. It would seem eminently sensible (and commercially
viable) that Murray Gold's scores should be released onto CD in the future.
The manifestation of the Beast could have
been a disappointment, delivering a mediocre representation of the 'devil'. However, the Mill's CGI flesh and blood
stretched across a strained sinew, muscle and bone was inspiring and truly awesome.
Each and every time it thrust forward, the strain on its body was balanced and
measured that begged the question, "it has to be an actor in the rubber suit!" More
chilling that than was the mocking laugh as the Doctor realised its true nature.
Unfortunately, the CGI objective view of the planet was less successful. The
view of the Sanctuary Base built on the planet with the black hole cowering in
the distance seemed flat, with a lack of defined scale. STAR TREK always
adopted a "fly-pass" approach to establishing a planet setting, and I think that
such a device should be encouraged in DOCTOR WHO (remember
how successful the "fly-pass" in ROSE was?). Probably, time
Re-viewing THE SATAN PIT you see an episode of two definitive
halves. The first being the escape from the Ood, and the second being the resolution/escape
from the planet. Equally strong, equally resilient for the viewer to be absorbed
by. The classic DOCTOR WHO corridor chase took a sideways step,
taking the hunt within 'maintenance shafts'. Suitably claustrophobic, the cinematography
was superb as was the demise Security Officer, John Jefferson (who, you must
admit, you thought was going to be the episode's 'baddie'?). The panning shot
toward the character as he accepts his fate (at the 'globe' of the hunting Ood)
was haunting. Sadly, the cutaways to Zane and Rose's group reduced the impact
of the 'suicide'. It would have reinforced this series' theme of 'love and loss'
if the editing had kept the focus on Jefferson to the point that Zane released
Sometimes, less is more.
My only criticism is the continuing, ramming-it-down-your-throat
eulogies by the Doctor about humanity that harkens back to the McCoy seasons.
It's wearing a bit thin, now. It was impressive and refreshing when Eccleston
spoke in defence of "these stupid apes" but after nearly 20 episodes the Doctor
was to move on. Viewers have the message by now.
And Tennant doesn't do it as well as Eccleston. More CROSSROADS than BLEAK
Billie Piper, criticised on DOCTOR WHO fan
forums for "spoiling
every scene she is in", continues to impress this viewer. Her apprenticeship
seems complete, impressively steering the embattled Sanctuary Base crew to resourceful
solutions. Throughout two series she has been feisty but here, perhaps the for
first time, she was commanding. Her denouement was justly deserved, saving the
universe (and Earth) from the threat for the 'devil'.
BEAST: I shall never die! The thought of me is forever! In the bleeding hearts
of men, in their vanity and obsession and lust! Nothing shall ever destroy me!
ROSE (armed): Got to hell!
As for the ending, a RAC-style
rescue by the 'good ship' TARDIS was as far-fetched
as we could ever go, and it was exquisite and would have viewers (young and old
alike) cheering from the sofa across the country. As did the closing remarks.
Pure DOCTOR WHO and purely appropriate (as this was Billie
Piper's final filmed moments for the series).
IDA SCOTT (to the Doctor and Rose): You
two.who are you?
THE DOCTOR: Ahh. The stuff of legends.
It is difficult to see DOCTOR WHO being
better, more enjoyable, thought provoking and professionally produced than THE
SATAN PIT(and THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET).
A distillation of talent and a passion to deliver entertainment not just for
one Saturday night but also for decades to come.
This is the benchmark, and whilst future episode may match it they will not