Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Planet of the Ood"

So remember how in "The Satan Pit" the Ood went nuts and started killing everybody? Well "Planet of the Ood" is that again. Sure, there are different reasons and the implications are vastly different, but the basic premise is extremely similar. They even get the same red eyes, and apparently the effect of the Beast back on Krop Tor was just coincidentally identical to a common psychic disease among the Ood. So anyway there's a huge slave revolution on the Ood Sphere, Tennant growls a lot even more blatantly than usual, and Lord Percy Percy from Blackadder gets turned into an Ood.
Donna also complains a lot about how she doesn't know what's right and wrong after travelling with the Doctor and that the broader universe is a horrible place and so on. I kind of understand what she means but at the same time I'm not sure what she expected - a long interstellar holiday or something? Ood Sigma tells them that the Ood will sing about them forever and stuff but the more I think about it the more I become pretty sure that the Doctor and Donna didn't do anything. I mean sure the Doctor figured out what was going on and he switched the bombs off at the end as an afterthought but Sigma could have done that himself. Clearly they are friends to the Ood, which is nice, but what about the proper Friends of the Ood, like Dr Ryder? No one seems to care that he is fatally absorbed by the Ood Brain. Ood Sigma was the one who turned Halpen into an Ood as well. The Doctor switched off the telepathic shield but only because Sigma let him, he could have done that too. I'm really not sure what the Doctor and Donna actually do in this episode besides nose around a bit and figure out a bunch of stuff for the benefit of the audience without it really meaning anything plot-wise.
The message is obviously that slavery is bad and humans can do horrible things but I suppose at least the Ood's plan to be free is to kill everybody as well so at least that keeps things reasonably ambiguous, but we're clearly meant to sympathise with the Ood, who have been running around massacring their captors in a rage. Also, when the Brain is released and the Ood stop attacking, how come the guards just stand around and let them form their power circle? They don't know that the Ood are safe; you would expect them to take the chance to gun them down but somehow they just know that it's all over. This apparently extends to all the Ood spread across three galaxies, who have apparently been permitted by their owners to nicely just grab the rockets that delivered them and set a course for home. It's all very hand-wavey at the end. Then Ood Sigma tells the Tenth Doctor that he's going to die, which is nice.
I think Tim McInnerny's Halpen is actually a pretty decent antagonist. He's also quite ambiguous; he obviously doesn't care much for the Ood but he's also stressed and frustrated, and at least he treats Sigma with kindness. He gets a bit hammy at the end but he's at least a bit more interesting than the usual cackling corporate villains with which we're presented in this era. The evil security guard guy is ham and cheese though. I mean, come on, he cracks a whip over a fallen Ood and screams with diabolic glee as he's controlling a giant claw to try to capture the Doctor in the video game segment of this episode, which is a completely pointless bit of time wasting. However I do like that resident PR person Solana betrays the Doctor and Donna to the guards and that she's killed by the Ood. It weaves a slightly richer character tapestry for this episode than usual.
There's some naff pop culture with the Simpsons joke and the Andy Warhol Ood symbols but other than that it isn't too bad. It's disappointing though that once again they go to an alien planet but most of the inhabitants are just humans from the future. Why not have an episode where it's the Doctor with Companion, the Ood as his backup dancers, and some other alien as the evil antagonist, and no humans to be seen? That would probably be too unfamiliar for the thickies to handle, though. It is nice to see them represent how the naturally telepathic Doctor can hear the Ood song and Donna can't, but it's kind of annoying to see the Vulcan Mind Meld return again. I think it's reasonably clever that the Ood have their brains in their hands as well, although you wonder why they don't have some kind of pouch to store them in, but that whole "The Circle Must Be Broken" thing is typical RTD-style mystery for its own sake designed to drum up hype and excitement, much like the prophesies last episode and Sigma's comment about the Doctor's song ending. Nonetheless it's a decent episode, watchable and inoffensive without achieving a great deal. Like the episode before, at least it tries to make a point, even if it is a very common and unchallenging one.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.