SciFi Weekend Part II: Planet of the Dead


This year we are limited to a series of Doctor Who specials instead of the weekly episodes. For Easter, Planet of the Dead, seemed like filler while waiting for the final two episodes for both Russell T. Davies and David Tennant. This post does contain some spoilers but I’ll avoid giving away the entire plot for the benefit of those who have not seen it yet.

The show opened with Lady Christina de Souza, played by Michelle Ryan, stealing an antique goblet. During her escape she wound up on a double decker bus with The Doctor. The bus went through a worm hole and wound up in an alien desert filmed in Dubai. I actually enjoyed the portions at the start of the show and at the end after they managed to return to London better than the  portion on the alien planet. Like with the Christmas special, the relationship with the episode’s companion was far more interesting than the menace faced.

The Doctor continued to show his pain from losing Rose and Donna, turning down Lady Christina’s request to join him out of fear of being hurt once again from a companion leaving him. There werewarnings to The Doctor that his “song is ending.” There was also a  possible reference to The Master returning “from the darkness.” Whatever is to come will “knock four times.”


Before the episode aired, Russell T. Davies gave an interview which include his thoughts for the future of the show:

Finally, moving back to Doctor Who, have you had to co-ordinate much with Steven Moffat when he takes over?

We talk a lot, but it’s a very clean break. He needed to know where he was picking it up from.

Anything you’d hope for?

If I was working on series five of Doctor Who, I would bring back Michelle Ryan at the drop of a hat. I think she’s absolutely glorious. But I doubt that he will – he doesn’t need to pick up old characters of mine, although he might bring back some old monsters. He’s just brilliant at creating stuff, and needs to make it absolutely his.

Is there anything you can tell us about your last episode yet?

People already know that Bernard Cribbins is back. He’s in it as a proper companion, for the full two episodes. And to have the Doctor with Wilfred at his side is one of my best decisions, ever. I’m so pleased with it – it’s just lovely.

And there’s those paparazzi shots of what looks like John Simm – is it him?

Maybe. It’s not quite as easy to guess what’s happening as you think – there’s nightmare sequences, and layers of fantasy, because the Doctor’s coming to the end of his time. It’s quite interesting to watch things being filmed, and think: ‘Oh, I can see what that would look like…’

You’ve had him save the Earth, the universe, the multiverse… how do you provide a fitting send-off for David’s Doctor?

Don’t worry. I have.

I knew I’d write David’s last episode one day, so I’ve had this tucked away. You do think: ‘How can the stakes get bigger?’ And they do. They really do. I don’t mean just in terms of spectacle, but in terms of how personal it gets for him. It’s such an honour to write for that man, and I really mean that. He’s the loveliest man. SUCH a good actor. When it comes to the last episode, there is no way I would let him down.

Finally – really finally this time – are the Daleks the best villains in the world?

Yes. Better than anything, ever. Better than Darth Vader. Better than Satan. Better than words. I love them. My greatest joy is them working again, after all these years. Everyone said we should redesign them – everyone. Literally everyone said: ‘Here’s a modern version of a Dalek.’ And it’s the one thing I dug my heels in about, purely on instinct.

It looks like a good decision now, but felt like madness at the time. I said you can beef it up, you can make it look better, but you’re not changing the design – not just the design, but the proportions, the distance between the slats, the relationship between the eye and the sucker. I literally stood there like a wall, holding back the flood. And I was right. Thank God! There was a little voice saying ‘You’re an idiot’, so the fact I listened to the voice saying ‘You’re right’ was a miracle. And when you see the kids clutching the toys, and wearing the T-shirts – they love them.

There is no doubt that Stephen Moffat will make the show his. His episodes have always stood out from the rest. Doctor Who also has a long tradition and I don’t see any problem with Moffat taking advantage of that, including bringing back some of Davies’ characters if they go along with Moffat’s overall plans.

If Bernard Cribbins is coming back, what of Donna? Cribbins did play her grandfather. It is rather sad that Donna not only had to leave The Doctor but lost all memory of her time with him. There have been rumors that there will be a resoluton to this before the end of the David Tennant era.

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