Saturday, May 10, 2008

Doctor Who, "Planet of the Ood": To serve man

Spoilers for "Doctor Who" coming up just as soon as I work on my arcade claw technique...

Ah, the Ood. I think I love saying "Ood" almost as much as David Tennant clearly does, and so I was glad to see them return and move to the forefront after their role as Satan's henchmen in a season two two-parter.

"Planet of the Ood" is a fairly straightforward story(*), but an emotionally strong one, thanks again to the increasingly lovable Donna Noble.

((*) It's also one in which, oddly, The Doctor and Donna aren't very relevant. Other than The Doctor disabling the mines around the Ood brain, everything else would have unfolded the same with or without them.)

I've talked the last few weeks about how Donna isn't starstruck by The Doctor and therefore able to call him on the carpet when necessary. Here, though, her clear eyes are more useful for the way she sees the predicament of the Ood. After being (very) briefly grossed-out by the appearance of the Ood in the snow, she gets her act together and not only comforts him, but seems concerned with a proper burial. Later, after encountering the imprisoned, un-lobotomized Ood, she immediately grasps the nature of their society and character based on the biology of their second, external brain. It's such a clever, empathetic insight that even The Doctor's impressed. If he and Donna don't do much in terms of affecting the events of the Ood rebellion, at least their presence is important as witnesses and explainers of the Oods' suffering.

Comedians often turn out to be superb dramatic actors (almost all of Robin Williams' good screen performances are in serious roles), and Catherine Tate is proving that to be true once again. Donna's comic moments are hit or miss (I liked her going back in the TARDIS to get her coat in the middle of Ten's big speech, but wasn't as wild with her derisively comparing the TARDIS to the rocket ship), but she absolutely nails the moments where Donna bears witness to the ugly truths of time and space. She's open enough to these new experiences that she wanted The Doctor to mind-meld with her (has he ever done that before?) so she could hear the Ood song, but human enough that she realized she couldn't bear to hear it for long. I liked Rose and liked Martha by the end of her run, but Donna is quickly turning into the most entertaining, compelling companion of the new run.

What did everybody else think?


Michael said...

I think the Doctor mind-melded with Madame De Pompadour in The Girl in the Fireplace.

Nicole said...

At first I wasn't sure if I would like to see the Ood again, but I realized that I was dismissing them as the Doctor did, because last time he didn't seem to care too much that they were slaves and then let them die on the station without much afterthought. I am glad that Donna is helping the Doctor realize how callous he can be.

The mind meld felt a little too Spock to me, even if it has been used in the past. However, that scene in the jail was touching overall.

Once again there was a mention of the bees, and the Doctor and Donna were immortalized in song (as opposed to in stone). I have to think some of this will come back in the end episodes.

Grunt said...

I agree with Nicole, I half expected The Doctor to say, "your mind to my mind..." Etc. The Doctor did meld with Madame De Pompadour in a sense, but not with the hokey finger thing, she just looked into his eyes and his open mind and went from there.

All in all though, I agree, I'm liking Donna more and more, and I really liked the coat joke.

Toby O'B said...

Biggest shock of the episode was seeing Tim McInerney, a far cry from what he looked like in 'Blackadder'. I've seen him in other productions since then ('MI5', 'A Very British Coup', and 'Casanova' where he worked with Tennant before), but I guess Percy and Captain Darling are just too etched into my mind.

They also had a couple of the 'Lost' numbers - 42nd Century, Warehouse 15 - LOL!

Ever see him in the Kate Bush video? Powerful acting on his part!

What I liked best about this episode was watching Donna grow more outside herself. She'll be one Companion to be definitely changed by this experience of traveling with the Doctor.

Not sure the evolution of the Ood sounds feasible, but it was a moving story. That small snippet of their song was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Nicole- I'm not entirely sure that the Doctor really dismissed the Ood on The Impossible Planet. I'm sure that if he would have had more time to save them he would have, he went back for Ida.

I must be the only one who doesn't really see Donna as useful at all to the Doctor. I mean, Rose brought a caring side to the companion role, Martha brought her intelligence to it. What really does Donna have that these two didn't?

I'm trying to keep an open mind for Donna because I want to like her but I'm finding it impossible to. Not to spoil anything for anyone but I wasn't totally annoyed with her in the future episode of "The Doctor's Daughter".( I won't say anything more about those due to the fact that I saw them in an illegal manner lol) Donna finally shows that she is actually smart and useful. I can only hope that by the seasons end I'll at least respect her character. I am bit biased against her since Rose in my eyes is the only companion for The Doctor.

Overall, I enjoyed seeing the Ood back and knowing that they survived.

krysumn said...

Did anyone catch the subtle strains of Doomsday at the end of this episode when the Ood said The Doctor's song is ending soon?

Unknown said...

This one could have been heavy-handed, but it was a nice surprise. The early sales tour scenes (Ood saying "D'oh!") reminded me of that old Night Gallery ep about abused robot housekeepers; stuff like "who do you think made your clothes" brought it around from being safe and distant.

I'm okay with Donna. It can get tiresome having someone who abrasively gets on the high horse so often, and she can seem like the girl who raises her hand in class all the time, but it's a good role to have represented here. The running gag about "we're not a couple" works for me, maybe because it's just nice to have all the doctor-companion sexual tension absent.

smaileh said...

I seem to remember Tom Baker Doctor doing a "mind meld" including the hands on the face with Sarah Jane Smith in The Hand of Death. I am really enjoying Donna.

Anonymous said...

Past Doctor's have used telepathy and "power of the mind" stuff and it's been a key element in his relationship to the TARDIS for, well *decades*.


Dani In NC said...

I'm just glad that I found a few people who like Donna! In most online Doctor Who discussions, fans seem to dislike anyone who isn't Rose. I wonder if those of us who are more accepting of Martha and Donna are fans who started out with Tom Baker or one of the earlier Doctors. I mean, if you've been watching Doctor Who since the 80s or earlier, you've seen companions come and go and have gotten used to that as part of the nature of the series.