Since the series was restarted in 2005, Doctor Who has earned
a lot of critical and popular praise.
After four complete seasons the show is taking a bit of a break. Instead of broadcasting weekly adventures in
2009 Doctor Who is going to have four 'specials' instead.
In a rather odd move (especially for those of
us who are following the series as it is being released on DVD) the BBC
to skip releasing the 2008 Christmas special and jumped to the first
appearance of the Doctor, Doctor Who:
Planet of the Dead. Luckily there
is no continuity that is missed by skipping the Christmas Special
be released in September 2009) and this adventure plays out as a nice,
rather light, stand alone episode.
While tracking a time/space wormhole anomaly, The Doctor
(David Tennant) gets aboard a London
bus and sits next to Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan). Lady Souza is a bit nervous since she's a
jewel thief and has just finished snatching a priceless artifact from a
and the police are hot on her tail. (Her
getaway driver having been discovered by the cops she's left to
Things are going normally until the bus enters a tunnel
where a wormhole has appeared. The
entire bus, being chased by the police, gets transported to a desert
planet. The police seal off the tunnel,
and send for UNIT.
Meanwhile on the other end of the warp the Doctor and the
other people on the bus discover that they can't simply walk through
in space... not unless they want to get incinerated.
The only thing that saved them the first time
through was the shell of the bus absorbing the brunt of the force, but
won't start. Things get a bit more
desperate when it's discovered that a swarm of ravenous omnivores are
their way, and after they eat the bus and it's occupants they'll head
After the end of season four, which was great but weighty,
it's nice to take a break with a lighter episode (even though it does
possible destruction of the Earth...)
When the Doctor gets on the bus, handing out Easter egg
talking to Christina as if she's a long lost friend, its clear that
going to be a fun romp, and that's what the show turns out to be. It's not meant to be taken very seriously,
and that's not a bad thing.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the show was the UNIT
scientific officer back on Earth. He's
played for laughs, but the astonishment and joy he gets talking with
Doctor, a legend at UNIT by this time, is infectious.
The fact that he's not a bumbling idiot but
actually knows what he's doing was a good choice too.
As far as the Doctor's assistant for this adventure goes, the
character of Christina is nice. She's
plucky and very competent, and definitely not the helpless companion
from the old
series. Having said that, Michelle Ryan
plays her as being a bit too cocky and that drains Christina of any
might have had. Half way through I was
hoping she wouldn't end up travelling with the Doctor because she's a
bit of an
As mentioned earlier, this is a lighter show that's not
supposed to be taken too seriously. If
it is, it quickly falls apart. That
seems to be the case with a lot of the programs that Russell T Davies
pens. The show seems to succeed in spite
rather than because of him. This script
several plot holes that, while they didn't bother me too much, could
a less than average episode for some viewers.
The biggest head scratcher involves why UNIT didn't send
through the wormhole. If a city bus can
make the trip one-way certainly an armored tank could have gone in and
safely. The origin of the wormhole was
pretty stupid too, not to mention the amazing coincidence of others
the planet just at the right place and time.
Though it didn't happen with me, I can certainly see some fans
their hands up in frustration.
This is the first Doctor Who adventure to be filmed and released
in HD, and I was a bit disappointed that it was only average in
a Blu-ray disc. While the VC-1 encoded
1080i (why not 1080p?) image did look good, there was some minor
aliasing in a
few scenes, especially noticeable at the beginning during the museum
robbery. There was also a little
banding, but nothing too significant. The
colors were generally bright and the level of detail was good,
someone let sand slip through their fingers... the individual grains
seen clearly. The image never really
though, and the CGI monsters didn't meld with the background in a
way. It always looked like they were
superimposed on the image rather than being a part of it.
Still, it's not a bad Blu-ray image, just not
a stellar one.
The show comes with a DTS HD audio track that suited the
show well. There wasn't a lot of aural
in this adventure, but what little there was sounded engulfing and
forceful. I was a little disappointed at
the fire-fight at the end, some of the bigger guns didn't have the
*umph* I was
hoping for, but that's a minor concern.
The dialog was crisp and clear and well placed in the soundstage.
The only extra is a full length (thanks BBC!) episode of
Docotr Who Confidential that looks at the filming of the show on
location in Dubai. What happened to the bus during the transport
especially interesting. Well worth
This wasn't the best episode of Doctor Who ever, but it was
still fun and worth watching. I though
the humor worked well and the story was generally exciting, there were
holes that will leave some viewers disappointed that the show wasn't
bit tighter. Still, I recommend this
disc especially for people who, like me, are disappointed that we're
getting a full season worth of Doctor Who in 2009.
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
represent the image quality on the disc.