The Impossible Planet

Doctor WhoThis time, the TARDIS has gone too far – so far into the future that it doesn’t know when or where it is. The Doctor and Rose do a bit of exploring and find that they’re on Sanctuary Base 8, a human outpost built on a planet whose stable orbit around a massive black hole isn’t just improbable, but should be absolutely impossible. Ancient writing on the base’s walls is so old that even the TARDIS’ gift of translation can’t help the Doctor decipher it. The bedraggled human crew – including an officer who has had to step uncomfortably into a command role following the death of the expedition’s captain – has found that some source of power under the planet’s surface is keeping it at a safe distance from the black hole. Entire star systems fall past the planet and into oblivion, but inexplicably, the planet itself remains; but even then, the base isn’t completely safe, as earthquakes rattle their delicate habitat (and one particularly violent tremor seems to swallow the TARDIS whole, trapping the Doctor and Rose on the base). The small human crew is supplemented by a servile race called the Ood, who don’t seem to object to working for the humans. A member of the base’s crew begins hearing voices, and then finds that he’s covered with the same symbols as the alien writing. The Doctor joins a foolhardy expedition beneath the planet’s surface, hoping to find out for himself what’s keeping the planet in place – but that’s a question that everyone there may soon regret asking.

Download this episodewritten by Matt Jones
directed by James Strong
music by Murray Gold

Guest Cast: Danny Webb (Mr. Jefferson), Shaun Parkes (Zachary Cross Flane), Claire Burnbrook (Ida Scott), Will Thorp (Toby Zed), Ronny Jhutti (Danny Bartock), MyAnna Buring (Scooti Maniska), Paul Kasey (The Ood), Gabriel Woolf (voice of the Beast), Silas Carson (voice of the Ood)

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: A dandy thriller in the same basic mold as The Ark In Space, The Impossible Planet scoots along and builds its mystery at a nice pace without having to resolve everything in one episode. The cast is convincingly worn-down and yet likeable, and their setting is superb – possibly the best representation of a space colony that Doctor Who has ever been able to afford, complete with the Ood, who may well be the most unsettlingly alien aliens that the new series has given us. With their unnaturally calm voices (provided by Silas “Ki-Adi Mundi” Carson) clashing with their grotesque appearance and their increasingly threatening behavior, the Ood are a nasty creation indeed.

The Impossible Planet spends a lot of time setting an intriguing stage for the second part’s revelations, but in and of itself it’s very enjoyable, and more than a little bit unsettling. It succeeds in giving us a claustrophobic setting where one door opening can send the crew to their deaths. And this time, it really doesn’t look like a studio or a rock quarry (though the exterior scenes on the “planet surface” are precisely that, a time-honored Doctor Who tradition).