Doctor Who

Episode Special

Planet of the Dead

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Apr 11, 2009 on BBC America
out of 10
User Rating
510 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


In the first of four specials to mark the departure of David Tennant, The Doctor finds himself taking a bus ride that leads him and everyone else into serious danger. Along with the mysterious Lady Christina de Souza, can The Doctor escape the desolate wasteland on which they're trapped on and stop the mysterious, deadly force looming on the horizon?


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  • Planet of the Dead

    Planet of the Dead was a perfect episode of Doctor Who and I really enjoyed watching because the story was intriguing, well written and full of surprises. It was awesome to see The Lady Christina De Souza and to learn what she was doing and why. I liked how the bus was transported and watching The Doctor and Christina figure things out was very entertaining. I liked the other aliens stranded on the planet and the mechanical looking mantas were cool in their own way. I liked how every thing played out and there was definitely some great character and plot development! I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Why isn't Christina the Doctor's apprentice instead of Donna?

    Why isn't the supremely confident, infinitely resourceful, too cool for school Christina de Souza the Doctor's protege, instead of the screaming hysteric Donna?

    Why is she relegated to a special guest role, while Donna is the regular? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

    As Christina put it "We could have been so good together."
  • There is such a thing as a terrible romp

    This episode has been described as a romp before it was broadcast. I thought that was great, some of the all time classic stories are romps of some sort ('The Daleks' starts of as a romp) but when I came to this story it did indeed feel like a romp, a romp with which the writing was so poor all of the characters are so absurd even within the context of the show.

    So we have Lara Croft there, she steals a diamond or a necklace or something from a museum, my eyes were not on the supposed priceless thing, it was on that fact that 4 guards were needed to protect it and yet nobody thought to put a camera up, or maybe not too look in all different directions so they easily have a blind spot, that isn't "romp", that is poor writing.

    This is all pre-titles, and when the good Doctor finally does arrive he does succeed as he always does to give a good smile and a giggle offering some easter egg to Lara.

    From then on the story is just, well, is there a story? They go to a desert, find some flies, find some clamps and fly back. Now to me you need a little more of a story than that.

    Oh and all those people on the bus had generic or annoying written all over them and at times it felt like a prequal to 'Midnight'.

    Lee Evans is not funny, he is annoying, he wasn't so bad in this but him being cast didn't help for my enjoyment of the story.

    That is all in the writing though, now onto the CGI, regardless of what many are saying I thought those manta ray space thingies were very well done though the flying bus was quite bad, I say quite, I mean alot bad.

    The flies looked quite good but here I see no reason for their inclusion in the story, the story could have been better paced if all that attempting to talk to them didn't go on.

    I hope the next 3 specials are better than this.moreless
  • A joyless, formulaic "romp". The RTD era is running out of steam.

    Remember when New Doctor Who was exciting and unpredictable and pushed boundaries? I do too just about, even if Russell T Davies seems to want us all to forget that it ever was despite making it so in the first place. I remember the time when an RTD script guaranteed some biting satire or some audacious dialogue or some moments so dark they'd take you by surprise. Not anymore. Planet of the Dead is so safe and traditional it defies believe. It's entertaining in a superficial way, but it does and says nothing of worth. The more you think about it afterwards the more unimpressive it becomes. There's not a single risk taken in the entire episode. The Next Doctor may have been pretty traditional and not enormously interesting either, but it at least had the character of Miss Hartigan to give the story some edge. This has literally nothing. Er... "crime is OK if you're rich"? Did I understand that right? I would've loved it if the Doctor had dismissed Christina (a character who while nice to look at doesn't resemble any sort of actual person) because she was a thief, not because he's such a misery guts angst merchant when it comes to his companions these days. If she'd been arrested the episode would've ultimately had some kind of bite, but instead we have her flying off in a bus accompanied by some of the worst music Murray Gold has ever composed (along with more people cheering, urgh).

    And the Doctor. I'm not going to blame David Tennant for this (even if he did look bored throughout), I'm going to blame the writing. I've become thoroughly sick of Ten since season four when the writers decided to stop doing anything interesting with his character, apart from actively ruining it in a few episodes. Remember the moment in Planet of the Ood when the Doctor asked Donna who did she think made her clothes? A great scene, quickly ruined by him apologising almost straight after. No. No. The Doctor simply wouldn't apologise. And then there's Journey's End where the Doctor actually says he's a pacifist and I nearly put my foot through the TV screen. Not only that but he then has the gall to condemn his clone for doing what he should have done in the first place.

    When did my Doctor have his backbone removed?! The Tenth Doctor is now a barely tolerable series of tics, mannerisms and catchphrases who peddles out the same old routines every time. I have never been more bored of a Doctor in my entire life than I am now. Every time he says "Allonsy" I grind my teeth into powder. I hate him. I actually hate him and that worries me a lot. I wouldn't mind so much if they'd stop endlessly banging on about how great he is, but they don't. I can make my mind up about how great the Doctor is thanks, I don't need to be constantly told. Nor do I need to be constantly told about how great and feisty and modern the companions are either. Nor do I need yet more speeches about mundane boring people and their brilliance. Show, don't tell Rusty.

    Oh, and nothing really happens. Plot? What plot? They go through a wormhole, wander around some sand dunes (which after all the Dubai filming bally-hoo could've been absolutelu anywhere, let's face it), chat to some unconvincing fly people (oh, yet another New Who alien race that looks like a species of earth creature, zzzzzzzz), get some alien gizmo, attach it to the bus and go home again. The end. Thrilling. But there's lots of spectacle and shiny effects in there, so that's OK. Oh, no it isn't. Because whizzy CGI is simply no substitute for a good plot, wit, atmosphere and memorable characters.

    I can't help but feel it was a mistake to not have any of the non-human characters speak, too.

    I love Doctor Who, both new and old and very rarely dislike an episode. But this might be the low-point of RTD's tenure, as Planet of the Dead makes disturbingly clear that his era has run out of creativity, energy and imagination. It's too safe, too pleased with itself, too by-the-numbers. I've loved the majority of his era and will defend almost all of his episodes to the hilt, but watching Doctor Who at the moment is akin to the sound of a balloon slowly deflating. For god's sake surprise us and stop going through the motions - it's what made the show such a smash when it returned in the first place!

    Fortunately The Waters of Mars looks like it'll be back up to the high standard we're used to and kick off David Tennant's final batch of (hopefully excellent) stories in a big way. Here's to the future.moreless
  • Bit like a Alton Towers, A great romp but not worth the cost of the ticket.

    Theres no doubt that it was great to see Doctor Who back on TV, but this episodes was somewhat misleading calling it a 'special.'

    Special is not the word I would use, it was ordinary, but with spice and aroma. Before I continue I have to give a special mention to the special effects, which given the tight deadline were surprisingly good.

    Planet of the dead felt like a classic mundane episode with a few extra bells and whistles. This isn't a bad thing, it certainly felt fresh and at the same time reminisant of good times past. It could have been a classic Star Trek or Doctor Who episode; a self contained story with fun frills and a happy ending. It was a shame that style has been lost, so it was good to see it revitalised in this special.

    This however was it's downside. At my age I appeciate Doctor Who is aiming to appeal towards a wide and family friendly audience, but this episodes didn;t even bring me to climax, and no, no innuendo intended. I didn't feel the frill or excitmentm I wasn't surprised or shocked, it just kept me smiling and regretably hoping thier was a bit more to it. This episode will not be making the best 10 or even top 20 episodes.

    Theres no doubt that Lee Evans saved the day. His perfectly timed comedy and repitoire with the Doctor was the highlight. Including UNIT in the story was a good choice too, something the show should do a bit more often...Perhaps next time however they could make UNIT seem a bit more intimidating, not like they had just come from a guest appearance on Cbeebees. It was a bit camp, a bit soft, but easily forgivable because of Evans.

    The cast and crew were all good choices, I personally was glad to see Victoria Alcock (Of Bad Girls and House of Elliott) it's just a shame we didn't see more of her. The black lady too (forgive for not knowing her name) was a welcomed charecter. Where has this women been? She's a fantastic actor! I clung on her every word and credit to her for adding something good to this special. If this doesn't open up doors for her then theres no justice in the acting world. Talk about talent!

    All in all a great easter romp, but not really worthy of any awards or special recognition.moreless
Lee Evans

Lee Evans

Dr. Malcolm Taylor

Guest Star

Noma Dumezweni

Noma Dumezweni

Capt. Erisa Magambo

Guest Star

Adam James

Adam James

D.I. McMillan

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • The phone the Doctor uses in this episode is a Nokia 7500 prism

    • The Doctor previously used a Rhondium sensor in the Third Doctor serial The Time Warrior.

    • When Malcolm tells the Doctor that he has read all his UNIT files, and The Doctor replies "What was your favorite? The giant robot?", it is in reference to the original Doctor Who series serial Robot.

    • As the bus is being chased by the police at the beginning of the episode, McMillan reports the bus's registration number as being W974 GHM. However, as the Doctor lands the bus at the end of the episode, the registration is clearly RUA 461W. Although both 'W' registrations, the prefix and suffix systems would alter the age of the bus by around 20 years.

    • According to Russell T. Davies, this is the 200th story of the series.

    • This marks the first time an episode of the series has been shown in High Definition.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • The Doctor: Right...Fine...But um, before I die of old age (which in my case would be quite an achievement so congratulations on that.) Is there anyone else I can talk to?

    • The Doctor: Right... fine... but um, Before I die of old age (which in my case would be quite an achievement, so congratulations on that), is there anyone else I can talk to?

    • Police Officer: Open the door or I'll add resisting arrest!
      The Doctor: I'd step back if I were you.
      Police Officer: I'm charging you too! With aiding and abetting.
      The Doctor: Yes. I'll just step inside this police box (points to the TARDIS) and arrest myself.

    • The Doctor: Far away. Chops and gravy. Watching TV. Mike and Suzanne, and poor old Tina.
      Barclay: Hey!
      The Doctor: Just think of them. 'Cause that planet out there, all three suns and wormholes and alien sand, that planet is nothing. You hear me? Nothing, compared to all those things waiting for you. Food and home and people. Hold on to that. 'Cause we're gonna get there, I promise. I'm gonna get you home.

    • Magambo: It's the Doctor.
      Malcolm: Do you mean "The Doctor" Doctor?
      Magambo: I know, we all want to meet him one day, but we all know what that day will bring.

    • The Doctor: I'm the Doctor, by the way, and this is Christina, the honourable Lady Christina, at least I hope she's honourable.

    • Christina: Those things are going to turn the entire Earth into a desert. So why exactly are you smiling?
      The Doctor: Worse it gets, the more I love it!
      Christina: Me, too.

    • The Doctor: The spaceship's a write-off. but the 200's small enough.
      Christina: How does a crystal drive a bus?
      The Doctor: In a super-clever, outer-spacey way. Just trust me.

    • Malcolm: I'm measuring an oscillation of 15 Malcolms per second.
      The Doctor: 15 what?
      Malcolm: 15 Malcolms. It's my own little term. A wavelength parcel of 10 kilohertz operating in four dimensions equals one Malcolm.
      The Doctor: You named a unit of measurement after yourself?
      Malcolm: Well, it didn't do Mr. Watt any harm.

    • The Doctor: Anyway, come on. Allons-y!
      Christina: Oui, mais pas si nous allons vers un cauchemar. (Yes, but not if we go towards a nightmare.)
      The Doctor: Ho, ho! We were made for each other.

    • Christina: The aristocracy survives for a reason: we're ready for anything.

    • The Doctor: (regarding the Tritovores' ship) Oh, this is beautiful! Intact, it must have been magnificent! A proper, streamlined, deep-spacer!
      Christina: Oh, I'll remember that as I'm being slowly tortured. At least I'm bleeding on the floor of a well-designed spaceship.

    • The Doctor: (using his Rhondium Sensor) Oh, we've got excitation! And I'm definetely picking up something very strange.
      Lady Christina: Yeah, I know the feeling.

    • The Doctor: (first meeting Christina) Hello, I'm the Doctor. Happy Easter.

    • Christina: But you were right, it's not about the money. I only steal things for the adventure and today with you; I want more days like this. I want everyday to be like this. We're made for each other, you said so yourself. The perfect team. Why not?
      The Doctor: People have travelled with me and I've lost them. Lost them all. Never again.

    • Christina (as she's driving off in the flying bus): We could have been so good together.
      The Doctor (smiling): Christina, we were.

    • Christina: And what's your name?
      The Doctor: I'm the Doctor.
      Christina: Name, not rank.
      The Doctor: The Doctor.
      Christina: Surname?
      The Doctor: The Doctor.
      Christina: You're called the Doctor?
      The Doctor: Yes I am.
      Christina: That's not a name, that's a psychological condition.

    • Carmen: Doctor, you take care now.
      The Doctor: You too. Chops and gravy, lovely.
      Carmen: No, but you be careful, because your song is ending, sir.
      The Doctor: What do you mean?
      Carmen: It is returning. It is returning through the dark. And then, Doctor... oh, but then... he will knock four times.

    • Christina: That Lordship of yours ... the lord of where, exactly?
      The Doctor: Of Time. I come from a race of people called Time Lords.
      Christina: You're an alien?
      The Doctor: Yeah but you don't have to kiss me either.
      Christina: You look human.
      The Doctor: You look Time Lord.

  • NOTES (3)

    • This is the second appearance of Noma Dumezweni as Captain Magambo. Her previous appearance was in Donna Noble's parallel world in the Season 4 episode "Turn Left", where she and UNIT were helping Rose use the TARDIS to send Donna back in time.

    • In The Mighty 200 poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine, this is the readers' 99th favourite story.

    • International Airdates:
      Turkey: May 15, 2011 on CNBC-e


    • Malcolm: No, that's Quatermass.

      Malcolm's invented unit of measurement the 'Bernard' is named for Bernard Quatermass, a seminal British science fiction character who was featured in popular and critically acclaimed television serials starting in the 1950's. The Quatermass stories were adventures that dealt with threats from space and ran sporadically until 1979. A brilliant and highly moral astrophysicist who has been played by many different actors over the decades, Quatermass is often cited as an influence and precursor to character of the Doctor.