Visit the official Doctor Who website

Visit the official Doctor Who website
Look to the future

Asylum seekers...

Asylum seekers...
Refuge of the Daleks

Doctor Who picture resource

Doctor Who picture resource
Roam the space lanes!

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website
Step back in time

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood
Armed and extremely dangerous

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures
Fearless in the face of adversity

Call on Dani’s House

Call on Dani’s House
Harmer’s a charmer

Intercept the UFO fabsite

Intercept the UFO fabsite
Defending the Earth against alien invaders!

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse
Programmable agent Echo exposed!

Hell’s belles

Hell’s belles
Naughty but nice

Love Exposure

Love Exposure
Flash photography!

Primeval portal

Primeval portal
Dressed to kill or damsels in distress?

Charmed, to be sure!

Charmed, to be sure!
The witches of San Francisco

Take on t.A.T.u.

Take on t.A.T.u.
All the way from Moscow

Proceed to the Luther website

Proceed to the Luther website
John and Jenny discuss their next move

DCI Banks is on the case

DCI Banks is on the case
You can bet on it!

On The Grid with Spooks

On The Grid with Spooks
Secret agents of Section D

Bridge to Hustle

Bridge to Hustle
Shady characters

Life on Ashes To Ashes

Life on Ashes To Ashes
Coppers with a chequered past

Claire’s no Exile

Claire’s no Exile
Goose steps

Vexed is back on the beat!

Vexed is back on the beat!
Mismatched DI Armstrong and bright fast-tracker Georgina Dixon

Medium, both super and natural

Medium, both super and natural
Open the door to your dreams

Who’s that girl? (350-picture Slideshow)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Warden’s Watch: Planet of the Ood (or… Ood, Glorious Ood!)


I’ll lay my cards immediately on the table and let you all know that I absolutely adored the latest episode in the new series of “Doctor Who”, “Planet of the Ood”! It’s as big a surprise for me as it is you, dear reader!! In spite of Tate, regardless of Davies and notwithstanding a rather naff gag dependant on, admittedly minimal, knowledge of “The Simpsons”, I would love it if the programme were like this more of the time. I confess I’d been looking forward to this episode, more than any other, because the Ood story from two years ago is my favourite of the tenth Doctor’s era, to date. Ironically, considering my preference for the classic series, but not being particularly partial to the Sontarans, I haven’t been looking forward to next week’s two-parter nearly as much! One of the things I like about these Ood tales is the turning on its head of the master-servant/slave relationship. Usually, it’s the humans who are subjugated in “Doctor Who”, not the aliens. At the start of the story, a mystery is quickly inaugurated for the Doctor and his companion to investigate when the pair chance upon what-is-soon-to-be-revealed-as a red-eyed Ood dying in the snow whose last words plead, “The circle must be broken”. The whole setup of this adventure is very similar to that of “Revelation of the Daleks”, with the fast-fading Ood being comparable to the forgiving mutant near the start of the earlier escapade. Both stories feature a trudge through snow, from where the TARDIS has materialised, across an alien landscape. Both include the aforementioned preliminary confrontation before reaching the hub of the action. And, both deal with the nature of conducting business while, perhaps revealingly, both are directed by Graeme Harper! It doesn’t take the time travellers quite as long to reach their destination in “Planet of the Ood”, however, as it did the Doctor and Peri twenty-three years ago!!

As “Planet of the Ood” hurtles towards its climax, the Doctor and Donna make an alarming discovery. Huddled together in a cell, singing the song of captivity, are a group of natural born Ood, unprocessed, before they’re adapted to slavery, unspoilt. They carry their secondary hind-brain in their cupped hands. Donna finds the music overwhelmingly unbearable, emotionally speaking, and asks for it to be taken away. I used to have the same problem whilst spinning discs for customers, when working in a record shop back in the Eighties! Joking aside, the use of music here is exemplary, for once, and connected to a warning in the final moments of this sequel, when, speaking to the Doctor, an Ood forewarns, “I think your song must end soon. Every song must end.” Earlier, the Doctor offers stunning marketing manager Solana Mercurio, played by the beautifully named Ayesha Dharker (pictured), the hand of friendship which she briefly considers then rejects. She proceeds by betraying both him and Donna at the first available opportunity, not being able to step outside her own small, seemingly secure, world of the workplace. This is a minor moment of momentous tragedy, more real than any of the nonsense concerning the separation of Rose from her mentor at the end of Series Two! And, the themes of this Ood episode have resonance, not just emotional content. We are privy to a great big (business) empire built on slavery, witness to battery-hen farming for Ood-kind. There is a slowness and precision in both manner and movement of the Ood which makes them a very dignified race of beings, and that is key to their success. As Tennant said in the following “Doctor Who Confidential” documentary, “Oods and Ends”, “they are benevolent and non-invasive”. By way of contrast, this time round there are also rabid Ood, perhaps comparable in concept to rogue Cybermen as seen in “The Invasion” and “Attack of the Cybermen”.

I guessed, before “Planet of the Ood” commenced, that the Doctor wouldn’t be able to resist mentioning the “real” snow, on this occasion, as opposed to the raining ash etc of previous instances! I also predicted the fate of Tim McInnerny’s Klineman Halpen, when he first commented upon his hair loss ten minutes into the episode, even though the manner in which it happened was still a pleasant surprise! Transformed into the very creature he’s been abusing, it’s not quite as agreeable for the character as the viewer but justly deserved, nevertheless, for both murder and as amoral “owner of the franchise for selling Ood, domestically, across the known and unknown galaxy”!! A nice commentary on the nasty and seedy nature of business, generally, I thought. I hope Sir Alan was watching, though I’m not sure he would heed any message even if attuned to literary subtext! The enemy within Halpen’s company was successfully disguised throughout by the discreet performance of Adrian Rawlins, as much put upon Dr Ryder, having been a friend of the Ood, working for their release, for the past ten years! The almost-chanted and oft-repeated phrase, “Doctor, Donna, friends”, will no doubt pass into the folklore of the programme though I’m more likely to remember the Time Lord’s criticism, “Who do you think made your clothes?” As producer Susie Liggat indicated, “Planet of the Ood” is a really important story about liberating repressed people, a metaphor that can be applied the world over both on a personal level and globally. Writer Keith Temple fashioned what-turned-out-to-be a very old school episode of “Doctor Who”, and good on him!!

6 comments:

Old Cheeser said...

Oh my goodness!! Well very glad to hear you enjoyed it Tim. Me too! I thought the episode had a kind of poetry about it (the singing certainly added to that) and a few jarring Donna-isms aside, had a lot to recommend it.

Rol said...

Typical - the first week I actually think, "nah, I can't be bothered to watch it", that's the week you give it a good review!

Why is life always like that?

Steve said...

Gosh, I'm breaking with ranks here but I felt the best I could say about this episode was that it was "ok" - it just didn't grab me though I dearly wanted it to. It was ok. But didn't float my boat. It didn't put any oomph in my Ood ball I'm afraid... but I can't really pick any particular fault with it...

TimeWarden said...

Pleased you liked "Planet of the Ood", Simon. Its poetic nature was part of the appeal. Sorry you missed it, Rol. I wasn't going to watch the entire season, at one point, but it was partly the prospect of the Ood's return that eventually tipped the balance in favour of giving it a go! And, is there anything I can say to persuade you otherwise, Steve? Seriously though, different kinds of stories appeal to different tastes.

I'm not saying "Planet of the Ood" was perfect! There isn't a single "Doctor Who" story that is, either old or new. (If there was, there would be nothing to talk about and no point in making any more.) The giant brain wasn't particularly well-realised, for example, but I could forgive it that because, for once, the script had a purpose other than just to entertain.

The setting was terrific, too, the industrial plant on which much of it was shot reminding me of the Jon Pertwee story "Inferno" and, even further back, "Quatermass II", though I'm not old enough to have seen the latter on original transmission! I loved "Planet of the Ood" and, with the obvious reservations, hanker after more of the same!!

shsimko said...

I loved the music! Does anyone know if this was an original piece composed for Dr. Who or an existing piece? I've been trying to find some info on it and about the only thing I have found so far is a thanks to the National Orchestra of Wales. Very frustrating.

TimeWarden said...

Hi Susan! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

The music for the "Doctor Who" episode "Planet of the Ood" was composed especially for the story, as it is each episode, by Murray Gold. It's likely to appear on a CD, at some point in the future, as past scores of his, for the series, are already available. The DVD of the episode, though, will be available sooner, if you prefer not to wait or would like both!

As you say, the soundtrack is performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. My mum has a friend whose daughter plays in the orchestra! However, I don't think she realised she'd be playing the incidental music for "Doctor Who" episodes when she joined!!