Sunday, 17 February 2013

Doctor Who 'The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit' Review

The Tardis materialises inside a ‘Sanctuary Base’ used for deep space exploration.  The Doctor and Rose begin to explore the facility and discover a strange alien writing that the Tardis is unable to translate, something that both intrigues and disturbs the Doctor.

The duo discovers that the base is occupied by a small group of humans, and their servant race the Ood, who have come to the planet to investigate how it could even exist.  The crew are amazed to find that the Doctor and Rose have no idea where they are or what the planet is, at which point they reveal that the planet ‘Krop Tor’ is orbiting a black hole, something that should be impossible.

The crew are drilling down deep beneath the surface of ‘Krop Tor’ in order to reach the massive power source that is holding the planet in place.  As the crew are telling the Doctor this the base is hit by a powerful earthquake that destroys a section of the facility, including the area where the Tardis was housed, stranding the Doctor and Rose.
A dire warning greets Rose and the Doctor.
As the drill nears its target a malevolent presence begins to make itself know, with the Ood translators picking up messages about the Beast awaking and one of the crew, Toby, becoming possessed.  Once the drill reaches its destination the Doctor and a member of the crew, Ida, descend far bellow the surface.

Beneath ‘Krop Tor’ the Doctor and Ida find the remains of an ancient civilisation and a large seal in the ground, inscribed with more of the strange writing.  As they watch, the door begins to open; simultaneously, the Beast repossesses Toby and the Ood. The possessed Toby warns Rose and the remaining crew that the planet is now falling towards the black hole, and that the Beast is free, while the Ood, now claiming to be the Legion of the Beast, begin to close in on them, whilst the voice of the Beast says; ‘The pit is open and I am free...!’.
‘The pit is open and I am free...!’.
This two part story is one of the gems of season two, and the whole of the revived series.  It takes chances to do things other Doctor Who stories do not do, it introduces an element of the supernatural and isn’t afraid to leave questions unanswered.  Where most stories will go out of their way to explain everything to the audience this story does not tell you who trapped the Beast or when, what the mysterious writing says or if the Beast is some kind of alien or the actual devil.  However, instead of being a bad thing these mysteries make the episode more interesting.  Each person will take away their own answers from this episode, but I for one like to believe that the Beast actually was the devil.

The first episode also isn’t afraid to take its time to establish the guest characters and the mystery around ‘Krop Tor’ before it slowly introduces the threat of the Beast, giving the audience time to care before we stat loosing characters.  The guest cast itself is well cast, with each character being nicely played and characterised well, each of them bringing something different to the table.

This story also marks the introduction of the Ood, a species that would go on to be used several more times over the course of the seasons.  The Ood are used well here, providing the Beast with minions to chase our heroes around the base.  Whilst in future episodes they become something of a victimised race, in this first story they make an amazingly frightening monster.
Is the Beast really the devil himself?
The Beast itself is an amazing creation, a giant cgi monstrosity that well and truly lives up to the idea that it may very well be the devil.  The Beast is voiced brilliantly by Gabriel Woolf a veteran to Doctor Who previously having played the villain Sutekh in ‘The Pyramids of Mars’.

An amazing horror mystery episode that isn’t afraid to leave the audience guessing or explore aspects of the Doctor Who universe not normally touched upon.  10/10


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