Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: Planet of the Giants

In an effort to find something quick that can be written as part of Daily Doctor Who, we are kicking off Say Something Nice, where I look back at each of the Doctor Who stories and pull out one cool thing about it.

(Daily Doctor Who #58)

Read the previous entry here. Today, we continue with the series’ second season debut story…

Planet of the Giants

Featuring the same core cast as all the episodes so far–William Hartnell as the Doctor, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, and Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman. Written by Louis Marks and directed by Mervyn Pinfield (episodes 1 & 2) and Douglas Camfield (part 3). Although, more accurately, both directors contributed to Part 3 since it was actually cobbled together from two separate episodes that were deemed to not be interesting enough to be spread over two parts, and when they were full length episodes Camfield just directed the second one. This was the opening story to the show’s second season (even though it was produced along with the first season).

Individual episodes are called Planet of the Giants, Dangerous Journey, and Crisis.

Say Something Nice…

(Named for Missy–aka the Master–and her catchphrase from her first full appearance in Dark Water).

Planet of the Giants continues to demonstrate how innovative the Doctor Who format can be, with this story basically being not a science fiction story at all, except for the fact that the time travelers are present in their accidentally miniaturized state. The revelation that they are navigating a garden path in the first episode is a good one. This is the first story in Doctor Who history to have an environmentalist message, which I think is the most common sort of social message the show has offered.

But because we’re equal-opportunity fans here, we’re not going to only be sycophantically complimentary.

You craven-hearted spineless poltroon!

(Another cry from the Master, but not exactly a catch-phrase, this time from The Deadly Assassin)

Honestly, on Doctor Who‘s production budget there was just no way that a story full of giant-sized props (including insects) was going to look fully convincing. The story never finds the dramatic edge that it needs–even though there is the threat of the pesticide, the story never brings the Doctor and his friends face-to-face with the villain, and most of the living things which could serve as threats are already dead. There’s also no real reason for Barbara to keep her illness a secret, so that rings a bit false.

Catch you next time!

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