Review By Lee Mansfield, 4 out of 5
The dazzling giddy brilliance of Russell T Davies?fourth series of Doctor Who continues to rip through the vortex spinning magical TV glitter into the homes of millions of rapt British families. Relentlessly entertaining, dramatic, funny and thought provoking ?surely this must be a new Golden Age of British Fantasy Television?
?lanet Of The Ood?maintains the high quality of the previous two episodes delivering a bleak chilly and rather unexpectedly hard hitting socio-political thriller in a sci-fi flavour. It? a solid debut for series newcomer Keith Temple who was clearly delighted in being given the opportunity to revisit and expand upon the mysterious Ood-Kind previously seen in the second series darkly sinister episodes ?he Impossible Planet?and ?he Satan Pit? Temple chooses to write a rather haunted Doctor – ashamed that he neglected to unravel the plight of the enslaved Ood the last time they met. This sensitivity is brilliantly captured by David Tennant? peerless performance. He just gets better and better each year and this season seems to be uncannily channelling mannerisms from both Tom Baker and Peter Davison. There is also a William Hartnell vibe in the air. ?he Fires Of Pompeii?felt somewhat Hartnellesque and in this episode we are treated to a reference to the Sense-Sphere (the world of ?he Sensorites??an episode from 1964). These occasional classic-era fan kisses Russell likes to sprinkle through a season are wonderful and for the vast majority of viewers blissfully unaware of the references nothing important is ever lost.
Veteran Doctor Who director Graeme Harper delivers his most ?ld skool?style episode since ?evelation Of The Daleks?back in the nineteen-eighties. The first scene in the company boardroom was very reminiscent of other scenes set in commercial environs on the planets Necros or Androzani. The chase through the warehouse by a giant CGI claw was breathtaking and such complex scenes so masterfully shot and pieced together by The Mill are becoming so commonplace in this series we are in danger of taking them for granted. Perhaps the only slight disappointment was the rather badly composited Giant Brain at the end which was the only point in the story where I felt I was briefly pulled out from my suspension of disbelief. The Ood prosthetics were wonderful as in their previous appearances, this time with added ?rothing and foaming?around the face-gills! But the high-light moment has to be the quite astonishing transformation of Mr Halpen into an Ood ?so near-the-mark in terms of gore early on a Saturday evening ?Mary Whitehouse would have been marching on the BBC had she been alive to see that! To compliment the strength and courage shown in the visuals of this story its reassuring to see Doctor Who maintain its political edge by being brave enough to have the Doctor deliver such thought provoking and controversial lines as ?ho do you think made your clothes??when Donna expresses disgust at the way the ?uture humans?are happy to live with slaves. I remember scenes such as this occurring occasionally in the classic series when I was a young boy which made me stop and think about such weighty matters as racism or environmental concerns.
The ensemble cast were all very good, especially Ayesha Dharker as the morally bankrupt Solana who refuses to join the Doctor and Donna in the good fight. Catherine Tate continues to impress as Donna showing genuine heart warming sympathy for the Ood and gently admonishing the Doctor for his former neglect for their well being. If the series continues with episodes of this quality we are all in genuinely in for ?he ride of our lives?
And why must the Doctor? song end soon? I shudder to think?n