Rose finds herself farther from home than ever before when
the TARDIS lands on a desolate world in the orbit around a
black hole. Trapped with an Earth expedition and the mysterious
Ood, the time travellers face an even greater danger as something
ancient beneath the planet's surface begins to awaken...
two-part story The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
is not the absolute highlight of David Tennant's first season
as the Time Lord (that honour must go to The
Idiot's Lantern or Army of Ghosts/Doomsday).
It marks the new show's first full foray on to an alien world,
with no scenes set on or near Earth, though its themes of
human endeavour and, of course, the devil remain distinctly
this is certainly the revamped programme's scariest storyline
to date. Writer Matt Jones (author of the Doctor Who
and Bernice Summerfield New Adventures novels Bad
Therapy and Beyond the Sun, Children's Ward
writer and producer of Shameless, among many other
impressive credits) and director James Strong (Doctors,
Holby City) work in many strange and sudden sights
and sounds to unnerve you and make you jump. Then there are
the oh-so-creepy tones of Gabriel Woolf as the voice of the
Beast ("Don't turn around").
involvement of Woolf, who played the similarly diabolical
Sutekh the Destroyer in Pyramids
of Mars, makes it tempting to imagine a connection
between Sutekh and the Beast. Both villains are said to have
been known by many names, including Satan. Is Sutekh some
sort of incarnation of the Beast? We know that the Beast's
legend has influenced countless civilisations, including our
own, so maybe he influenced the Osirians, Sutekh's people,
too. A more explicit link is made to the similarly satanic
Dæmons, when the Doctor refers to the planet Dæmos.
connection with Who's past (though almost certainly
coincidental) is the story's homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
The notion of the Beast as an ancient and powerful evil originating
from a time before human civilisation is inspired by Cthulhu,
one of Lovecraft's Great Old Ones. The octopoid appearance
of the Ood is also strongly reminiscent of Cthulhu.
literary mythology has its own versions of the Great Old Ones,
including Cthulhu, who featured in the New Adventures
novel White Darkness. Subsequent books, such as All-Consuming
Fire, went on to establish that many of the Doctor's mightiest
foes, including the
Great Intelligence, the Nestene Consciousness,
the Gods of Ragnarok and Fenric,
are survivors of the destruction of a previous universe. These
beings were altered because of the differing physical laws
between the two universes and many of them lost their corporeal
forms altogether as a result of the crossover.
There lies a slight problem with this story. When the Beast
claims that he has existed since "before this universe was
created," the Doctor states that this is impossible: "No life
could have existed back then." But we know that, in the worlds
of Doctor Who, life did exist prior to the creation
of the present universe. Even if you discount the novels,
the dead pilot and his ship in Terminus came from a
is notable that the Beast also states that he originates from:
"Before time and light and space and matter." This could mean
before our universe was created, but not actually during the
existence of the previous one - despite the different physical
laws of the prior universe, there would still presumably have
been time, light, space and matter in some form or other.
It could mean that the Beast somehow existed in a no-man's-land
between the destruction of the previous universe and the creation
of the current one. Or it could mean that he existed before
the creation of any universe. For more musings on this
subject, click here.
from that (rectifiable) little quandary, The Impossible
Planet/The Satan Pit is hella good.
An ordinary man, Elton Pope, becomes obsessed with the
Doctor and Rose and their mysterious blue box. But when his
investigations bring him to the attention of the enigmatic
Victor Kennedy, his harmless hobby plunges him into a living
& Monsters is an episode that has split fandom right down
the middle. There are those who love its experimental style
and high level of comedy, and there are those who loathe the
fact that the Doctor and Rose (Billie Piper) are only in it
for a few minutes. Then there's the silly Abzorbaloff (Peter
Kay, recycling his Brian Potter voice from Phoenix Nights),
a monster designed by a schoolboy for a Blue Peter
that the episode's raison d'etre is to showcase Abzorbaloff,
it's ironic that the revelation of this ridiculous creature
is the one and only area, I feel, in which the story comes
slightly unstuck. Prior to this point, Kay's performance as
Victor Kennedy is superbly arch.
what the critics overlook (or choose to ignore) is that the
plot offers the perfect excuse to be silly. What makes this
episode so experimental is that it is Doctor Who's
first venture (on television at least) into the realm of the
unreliable narrator. Everything is told from the point of
view of Elton (Hustle's Marc Warren) and so it might
not be the literal truth. Thus the Doctor, Rose and the monster
at the beginning of the show might not really have been running
around like characters from Scooby-Doo. This episode
is, in fact, Who's answer to The X-Files' brilliant
Chung's "From Outer Space". The X-Files
connotations are reinforced by the conspiracy theory angle
and by the Mark Snow-style riff used as Victor Kennedy's theme.
T Davies's script also has a lot to say about fandom itself.
LINDA (London Investigation 'n' Detective Agency) is a neat
metaphor for a fan group. Its members meet to discuss their
shared interest in the exploits of the Doctor. The members
become friends and thus widen their interests and activities.
Then Kennedy turns up and spoils everything by taking it all
Kay and Warren aren't the only high-profile cast members.
Their group also includes Harry Potter and Bridget
Jones actress Shirley Henderson and comedy actor Simon
Greenall, from series as diverse as I'm Alan Partridge,
Modern Toss and The Charlotte Church Show. Even
Bella Emberg puts in a cameo appearance!
humour is also more risqué than usual, with even the suggestion
of oral sex (not that the kiddies would notice, though).
So what if the Doctor and Rose only appear for a few minutes?
Instead we have some splendid Jackie (Camille Coduri) scenes.
& Monsters: what's not to love?