Jan. 27th, 2019

purplecat: The  First Doctor (Who:One)
The Tardis doors open during flight and as a result of "space pressure" the Tardis crew are all shrunk to the size of an inch. Planet of Giants is one of those Doctor Who "might-have-beens". The idea of a minaturised crew was mentioned in the original outline for the series but seems like an outlandish idea now, one that, as presented here, doesn't quite fit in with the show's internal logic (even given the show has a massively inconsistent internal logic). The result is a story that is quite strong on visuals, particularly set design, but a little weak in terms of story - even more so given that episode 3 was originally intended to be two episodes, and this shows in places. Dudley Simpson's first score for the program is oddly intrusive.

Episode 1 is probably the best. The reveal of the problem takes up a lot of the episode and the secondary plot - of the development of a deadly insecticide that will eventually wipe out life on Earth, and the attempt to cover up its effects - is interestingly topical (particularly for 1964). However, as is so often the case, its easy to set up a situation in an engaging fashion, but less easy to resolve it. The result is a lot of the Tardis team climbing up things or down things. There is some really pointless stupidity on the part of Barbara (and weirdly not even stupidity that is needed to move the plot along). Barbara gets her hands contaminated by some of the deadly insecticide. Initially she doesn't mention this because events keep interrupting, but then it moves on to a point where she is just wilfully not telling people she is ill, until the Doctor works it out. At this point Barbara persuades the rest of the crew that nevertheless they need to stay to expose the creators of the insecticide and everything continues. That said, the plot about the insecticide is actually mostly resolved through the intervention of a nosey telephone switchboard operator and the Tardis crew have relatively little to do with it. Meanwhile, a lot of the discussion about how Barbara will recover if bought back to her original size, just rather highlights some inconsistencies about what does and does not shrink (or grow) under "space pressure" so that Tame Layman started worrying about how everyone's miniature lungs were coping with Oxygen.

At the end of the day Planet of Giants is an interesting curiosity. At only three episodes, at least it doesn't really have the time to get too dull, and it definitely looks good (better than I suspect it would have done if made 10 years later when CSO would probably have been used extensively) but the plot doesn't really work and its not clear the writer knew what to do with the concept beyond showing off some nifty ideas about how miniature people would interact with everyday objects. It's kind of Doctor Who does The Borrowers and fun for that, but there isn't much else there.

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