Doctor Who 4.15 – Planet of the Dead

The kid absolutely loved “Planet of the Dead,” a one-off episode first shown in April 2009. It was co-written by Russell T. Davies and Gareth Roberts, and shares a similarity or two with an earlier Who novel by Roberts called The Highest Science. When that rumor started buzzing, there was some speculation that the TV show was finally going to give us an appearance by the Chelonians, an incredibly fun race of war-loving turtle creatures. Eleven years later, we still don’t have any Chelonians, but we did get some fly creatures called Tritovores and a gigantic swarm of flying metal stingrays, so the kid was in heaven. He absolutely went nuts with excitement, and says this is one of his all-time favorite stories.

Joining the Doctor this time, it’s Michelle Ryan as a rich girl thrill-seeker called Lady Christina. Captain Erisa Magambo, who we met in the parallel timeline of “Turn Left”, is also here in the company of comedian Lee Evans as UNIT’s hero-worshiping scientific adviser. I’m sorry to be an old fogey, but I like UNIT best when people are telling the Doctor to see here, he really has gone too far this time instead of saluting him and saying “I love you” repeatedly. So the UNIT stuff is, frankly, utterly awful, but Lady Christina and the Tritovores and the five passengers stuck in a bus on a desert planet are incredibly watchable and entertaining. I don’t know why I’ve never returned to rewatch this episode before. It’s mostly great fun, and I like Lady Christina a lot.

I just looked up Michelle Ryan to see what she’s done recently and see that Big Finish have cast her in a few Lady Christina audio adventures. And sure, that’s typical of Big Finish to give every supporting character they can think of an audio spinoff of their own, but I’m telling you, if the BBC is going to insist on a year’s break in production after every run of episodes, whether or not there’s a pandemic screwing with filming, then they could do a whole lot worse than bring Ryan back for some more solo stories while we’re waiting for them to make more adventures of the Doctor.

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