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< 4.14 - The Next Doctor
4.16 - The Waters of Mars >

4.15 - Planet of the Dead

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10
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1
9
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8
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6
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23
6
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34
5
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Average Rating
5.9
Votes
97
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Latest Community Reviews

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User Rating:
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Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 4/15/17 10:02 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The most notable thing about the Doctor Who special Planet of the Dead is that it is the first Doctor Who episode to be shot on HD. Whilst The Next Doctor is included as part of the Bluray release, it is an upscale rather than an actual High Definition picture. It is also the first story of the new series to be credited to two writers - Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts. Neither are on top form here though.

In Planet of the Dead, thief Lady Christina De Souza (Michelle Ryan) steals the Cup of Athelstan from a museum and makes her getaway on a London bus, where she meets the Doctor (David Tennant). The bus passes through a wormhole and ends up on the planet San Helios: a planet that has become a vast wasteland since being invaded by a bunch of flying alien stingrays. The bus driver and passengers must learn to survive on this planet whilst the Doctor and Christina search for a way back. Nothing particularly memorable happens (other than a fun sequence clearly inspired by Mission Impossible where Christina drops down the Tritivore ship's (which crash landed on the planet) engine shaft on a winch in an attempt to claim a crystal used to power the sup and a pair of anti-gravity clamps) but this isn't by any means a bad story. It just doesn't stand out, especially when bookmarked by great episodes like The Next Doctor and The Water of Mars.

It's a shame given it was aired during a period for the show when there wasn't much Doctor Who on TV (although there has been much less Doctor Who this year than there was back then). When there's only four episodes, the quality needs to be significantly higher and this episode didn't quite live up to the expectations you would expect from a special Doctor Who episode. It's neither Russell T Davies or Gareth Roberts' best work; having said that, it's not as bad as their respective weakest episodes Love & Monsters or The Caretaker.

The surprising thing about this episode is how forgettable the episode's alien species are. The stingrays are just your generic mindless alien menace, whilst the Tritivores don't do a great deal other than stand about chirping. You have to give credit to costume designer Louise Page because the Tritivore design is brilliant and I fully believe they would have been more popular if they had been given both more to do and more of a personality. We aren't really given much reason to care about them or see their stance on anything.

It was a great idea by the BBC to have an Easter Special of the show though and it is something I wish they had made a regular part of the show like the Christmas Special. There's something about the idea of a Doctor Who Easter Special that really works; maybe it's the fact that some compare the Doctor's regeneration to resurrection and therefore draw religious connotations to the source material but it just feels right. And the Doctor eating an Easter Egg is pretty cool (or is that just me?).

I also like Michelle Ryan as Lady Christina De Souza. Lady Christina De Souza has to be one of my all-time favourite one-off Doctor Who characters and one that really should have been a companion. Michelle Ryan's portrayal made me wish the Doctor to agree to invite her onboard at the end of the story. In fact, a series with the Doctor travelling with a burglar would have had great potential; I could imagine their relationship being similar to Batman and Catwoman in DC's iconic Batman comics, where they typically have a love/hate relationship. Whilst Batman disapproves of Catwoman's burglaries he is often found working alongside her and there's even been a romance hinted between the two characters. It would have been entertaining to see the Doctor and his companion have a similar relationship (although admittedly it may have been a little similar to River Song).

David Tennant has a lot of chemistry with Michelle Ryan, so it was a shame they didn't work together more. They naturally bounce off each other throughout Planet of the Dead and the chemistry is nearly comparable to David Tennant with Catherine Tate. Hopefully Big Finish may give them a Tenth Doctor Adventures series between Planet of the Dead and The Water of Mars where the Doctor changes his mind about not inviting her to travel with him as I'd love to hear the pair back together again. Pretty much anything could have happened during the Special's gaps, after all.

Overall, Planet of the Dead is a pretty average episode of the show and not a great example of Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts' writing. The Tritivores and Stingrays are forgettable Doctor Who monsters, despite a great costume design for the former. It was a great idea by the BBC to make an Easter Special though and Michelle Ryan makes for a brilliant one-off companion in Lady Christina De Souza. David Tennant and Michelle Ryan have a lot of chemistry and it's a shame they didn't get a series together.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
6
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
7
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/18/15 10:16 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Doctor and a bus full of people are transported to a desert planet covered with sand. The fate of Earth is at stake but the Doctor has to find out how with the help of an aristocratic jewel thief. It also features UNIT and some bizarre alien creatures. Overall, while the story wasn't anything truly special, it was a fun action adventure story done with good effects, and some funny moments too.
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User Rating:
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Reviewed By: conjob08Review Date: 5/26/13 2:51 am
0 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Abysmal and pure crap
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
3
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NR
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Reviewed By: cosmicmojoReview Date: 6/12/12 11:37 am
2 out of 3 found this review helpful.

This was terrible. The worst thing is that using a flying, planet-hopping bus almost certainly rules out the television debut of Iris Wildthyme. It would have been better to skip the specials and have the Moffat crew start a year early.