Saturday, November 17, 2007

Doctor Who - Planet of Evil

As is regular, here is my old review from the Doctor Who Ratings Guide of this month's DVD release, Planet of Evil:

Homage to Forbidden Planet

This story's roots are clearly embedded in the story of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the film Forbidden Planet but there's never been anything wrong with making a blatant homage. Planet of Evil is an interesting foray into the depths of the universe, bringing the Doctor into a situation that would not appear out of place in an episode of Star Trek but that should not be held against the story.

The basic concepts underlying the story are those of greed and arrogance jeopardising everything around them and these are admirably shown in the performances of Frederick Jaeger as Sorenson and Prentis Hancock as Salamar. Together with Ewen Solon's role as Vishinsky these actors bring a strong presence to the story that makes it stand out well. As is often the case Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen give strong performances showing how well the two complement one another and the result is a cast that is not detracted in anyway by the minor roles of the Morestran crew.

Script wise this is probably Louis Marks' strongest contribution to the series so far. The tale is straightforward but brought to life by some extremely strong characterisation There's a genuine sense of terror throughout the story, though the threat to the entire universe is never properly shown in terms to make such a danger seem imaginable. David Maloney's direction is as strong as ever and makes imaginative use of film to bring depth to the artificial jungle scenes. The anti-matter creatures are extremely well realised through video effects that are highly reminiscent of the exposure of an invisible creature in the film Forbidden Planet. Less effective is the model work of the Morestran ship or the interiors, both of which look cheap, but the direction and lighting manages to cover up such limitations.

Planet of Evil comes from a period often considered by many fans to be the series' 'Golden Age'. Whilst the wider implications of this classification are highly debatable, it's hard to find much in this story that could be held up against the series or which detracts from presenting it as an example of strong Doctor Who. This is a story that shows how important it is to have all elements of production working together to complement one another and the result is tale that can embarrass few Doctor Who fans. 9/10
Planet of Evil can be purchased from here.

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