Donna’s first visit to the future brings the TARDIS to a barren, snowy planet, where she and the Doctor find a dying Ood. But before it dies, it says “the circle must be broken” and then glares at them with red eyes – the same sign of malignant external mind control that the Doctor witnessed in his last encounter with the Ood. The Doctor and Donna spot signs of civilization, though Donna becomes less convinced of that when she discovers that it’s a sales and distribution center for Ood slaves. Donna is disgusted that the advanced society that humanity has become is still relying on slave labor, but the Doctor is curious as to what is driving some Ood to calmly kill their masters, and what is causing others to fly into a deadly berserker rage. Then the time travelers discover the secret that is taken from the Ood before they are “processed” into docile servants…but that secret may die with them as the Ood revolt against all humans on the planet en masse.
written by Keith Temple
directed by Graeme Harper
music by Murray Gold
Guest Cast: Tim McInnery (Mr. Halpen), Ayesha Dharker (Salana Mercurio), Adrian Rawlins (Dr. Ryder), Roger Griffiths (Commander Kess), Paul Clayton (Mr. Bartle), Paul Kasey (Ood Sigma), Tariq Jordan (Rep), Silas Carson (voice of the Ood)
Notes: The Ood were introduced in season two of the new series in the two-part story The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit, during which time they succumbed to “red eye” for entirely different reasons.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: The Doctor is no newcomer to helping enslaved species throw off the shackles of servitude, but in Planet Of The Ood it all happens so quickly that you almost don’t have time to think about what just happened. A story about helping an oppressed people escape slavery is worthwhile, but this story’s treatment of that theme is surprisingly shallow and simplistic. Losing just a little bit of the breakneck-speed action sequences – running/shooting soldiers, and the warehouse chase with the lifting claw – could have allowed more time to be spent on building up the backbone of the story.
That being said, the Ood are one of the more interesting alien inventions of the new series thus far, so it is interesting to see them and to hear more about them. It’s also refreshing to see how quickly Donna adjusts to the Ood’s appearance (versus Rose’s reaction in season two), and her strong streak of decency. She’s quickly risen to the rank of my favorite companion in the new series so far, by a vast margin, and anyone who thinks that Catherine Tate can’t cut it in a dramatic role should give this story a look.
But unfortunately that means they’ll have to trip through a minefield of plot holes, not the least of which is the very quickly glossed-over (and rather graphic) transformation of a human into an Ood – an explanation is given which might as well be summed up as magic, and it’s an implausible deus ex machina that rushes the story to its completion. Maybe this should’ve been a two-parter – or maybe it should’ve been a little more coherent so that the story was equal to the performances and characterization that are built up for the first 3/4 of the episode.