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This story is one of those stories where the idea is much better than the execution. While the idea is novel and alright, the actual end product is heinous. I honestly don’t understand how it happened.
It’s supposed to be a story about an planet of different aliens, but it all focuses itself on an uninteresting little girl. The Eleventh Doctor’s here, which doesn’t help, and Clara is even more boring here than in The Bells of Saint John. For the most part, the story doesn’t know what it is about. Is it about the alien civilisation under the thumb of a parasite? Is it about the sacrifice of a young girl to a god? It’s just a mass of ideas thrown at the screen at the same time.
While it’s fun to see an array of alien species, many of them look terrible. I mean, terrible. Prosthetics peel off, painted skin is seen underneath masks, joins in the costumes are visible. Some of these aliens here look worse than their counterparts in the seventies!
There’s a lot of Green Screen work here, but it’s not particularly good Green Screen. The worst Green Screen example is the shot of the Doctor and Clara on the moped flying to the temple. It is so clearly a prop just projected onto a background; Clara’s hair disappears, their clothes are not even ruffled and the moped looks barely moving. Remember those CSO model shots from the seventies from things like The Horns of Nimon and Meglos? The stuff here looks almost as bad.
The story has so much padding, and I mean sooo much. About 90% of the story consists of it. All the stuff with the girl, the song, the Temple, the Mummy, the robot guards, none of it actually needs to be there. The only thing that honestly needs to be there is the Doctor and the angry sun that looks like a child’s drawing.
I do like the idea of a god that lords over the planet, and the whole mixed alien race thing, but it is done much better in other episodes. This episode is just a throwaway episode that I’m grateful I’ll never have to watch again.