Doctor Who Planet of the Ood
Planet of the Ood was a very old fashioned episode of Doctor Who. In fact it was the sort of episode that would not have been out of place in the first season. If it had of been an episode in the first series of Doctor Who it probably would have been six episodes long and the Doctor, or the companion, would have been absent for a couple of episodes whilst the actor was off on their jollies! Thankfully in this day and age we don’t get such long draw-out stories and Planet of the Ood worked perfectly well as a single episode story.
The Ood are a fairly interesting alien race, being a little bit like The Sensorites (even coming from the same galaxy), but a little less boring and also appearing in a story that does not send viewers into a coma whilst watching it.
The episode was actually very moving and you really did feel sorry for the Ood for what the Halpern corporation were doing to them. Just like in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit they were being exploited but at least in that story they were treated a lot better than they were in this episode. It was more like Guantanemo Bay than the Ood-Sphere here and it was nice when they were all freed to sing their song.
It is very difficult to actually dislike the Ood because they aren’t an evil alien race, they have just been treated badly and herded like cattle by other races, or powerful beings, for their own nefarious ends, and not the peaceful race, who just want to be left alone to sing their song, that we meet locked up in the breeding centre on the Ood-Sphere.
As a result you do have to feel for them, even if they do look like monsters. The story was an allegory of the slave trade and wasn’t particularly subtle with its slavery is bad message, but having said that this is a programme watched mainly by families and not a hard-hitting BAFTA winning documentary about the slave trade so it can be as unsubtle or as subtle as its likes, you can take the message or leave it, and it won’t diminish your enjoyment of the story either way.
I liked the face that the Ood had their very own protest group, Friends of the Ood. This might have been mentioned in their previous appearance, but I have slept since then.
Security must have been pretty lax in the Halpern corporation the day that the scientist was employed by them. Didn’t they put on the application form have you ever, or would you consider, been a member of Friends of the Ood. That would have ferreted out undesirables from the company. I think that they should have sacked their head of human resources!
Catherine Tate was excellent, as always, as Donna and you had to laugh at her first reaction when walking out of the TARDIS onto a freezing planet, because it is the sort of thing that any of us would have done in her shoes.
Donna is much more grounded than possibly any other companion ever and will not be caught in unsuitable clothing if she can at all help it, so kudos to Donna for that.
You have to hand it to the Mill for some sterling work on making a realistic looking alien planet. The last time we had this much snow in an episode was Revelation of the Daleks, but this looks ten times better by comparrison than that alien planet did. They also have the same director. Coincidence?
Tim McInnerny was good in the role of Halpern, essaying the kind of the villain role that was popular in the Jon Pertween era. He even turned into an Ood at the end of the episode which neither I (nor my wife) saw coming. It was poetic justice what with the way he was treating the Ood, especially after he threatened to gas thousands of them just because he thought that they would ruin his business. He even likened it to the foot and mouth solution that we have nowadays.
We can only assume that he is completely turned into an Ood as we only saw the head of Ood in a pin-striped suit after his transformation. What is it with aliens and pin-stripes? First Dalek Sec and now the Ood. They are all at it!
No doubts there will be an Ood in a business suit figure released by character options very soon. Or perhaps there will be a Halpern figure with a peel back head revealing the Ood beneath!
There was one line of dialogue in the episode that will make people ruminate for weeks and weeks to come, and it wasn’t even anything to do with the episode itself. The line in question is when the Ood says to the Doctor that his song will end soon, that all songs must come to an end eventually. Now this got me thinking that perhaps there might be a regeneration at the end of the series. I mean why say to the Doctor that his song is going to end soon, when it will be somebody else who dies as it would not be his song that had ended would it? It would be the character that dies song that has ended, surely, not the Doctor’s?
I know that David Tennant is said to be definitely in the 2008 Xmas special, and in the 2009 special, but they could hardly say that he is without spoiling the ending, if he were to regenerate at the end of Journey’s End, would it?
The title certainly seems to suggest that it might happen, just as The Parting of the Ways did for the ninth Doctor. We will have to wait and see, really, but I will not be adverse to a new Doctor for the specials and series 5 onwards.
The episode as a whole was rather good, and was a fine first Doctor Who story by Keith Temple, and hopefully a last hurrah for the Ood, who, whilst an interesting alien race, have probably ran out of mileage after the three episode they have appeared in. I mean, what more can you really do with them? As a result I would say that this episode would be a nice way for them to bow out of the series for good, and it all bodes well for the rest of the series, especially if that line means what I think it means!