Doctor Who

Season 2 Episode 8

The Impossible Planet (1)

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Jun 03, 2006 on BBC America
out of 10
User Rating
515 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Rose finds herself further away from home than ever before, on a desolate world in the orbit of 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 awake.


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  • If you have not yet watched this episode, please go and do so before proceeding.


    If you go to the TV Tropes website and look up the term 'Nightmare Fuel' under 'Live-Action TV' and 'Doctor Who' you will find that Mr. Steven Moffat has an entire page devoted solely to his work. Not that I'm surprised, mind you. This is the mind that schemed up both the Weeping Angels and Vashta Neradabut I digress. While The Empty Child might be scarier than a bag of used tissues, I would like to suggest that today's episode takes those used tissues and starts a blazing bonfire with them.

    Okay, so maybe that analogy isn't a perfect illustration of what this episode does because rather than just being all flashy fire and brimstone, it operates on so many levels of terrifying. While other Doctor Who writers are known for creating funny episodes or dark episodes or downright awful episodes, Moffat holds the title for creating the high-quality, frightening episodes in the revived show. Generally when you ask someone what the scariest NuWho episode is they'll mention something written by Steven Moffat. Yet somehow Matt Jones has managed to concoct a two-parter that makes the Silents seem like cuddly, pink teddy bears. It is full of good, old-fashioned horror and some surprisingly deep and dark concepts. So shall we take a look?

    What this episode does and does extremely well is giving an overriding feeling of impending doom. Even as Ida and The Doctor prepare to fulfil the crew's mission and enter the pit, we don't feel uplifted or ecstatic. If anything the mood is quite ominous and you just want to scream out and tell them not to go. Usually a sequence like this would be used to build up a false sense of security before the big mid-story cliff-hanger, but it is all the more powerful here because of the niggling seeds of doubt that grow ever taller the longer you watch. Danny's telling the Ood that no authority can override his instructions to them is merely the last nail in the coffin. Suddenly the danger becomes more palpable than ever and the tension jumps up at least ten more notches simply because the possession of the Ood was set up in such a creepy manner earlier. You can feel that the characters are on edge and uneasy. You can see that they're still grieving for Scooti, but have to complete their mission. You can see that Toby isn't quite all there. It is a tremendous performance from the cast, brilliant writing and direction, and a surprisingly subtle score that all meld together to form an amazing episode.

    As the capsule lowers into the shaft you get the feeling that The Doctor's curiosity and love of knowledge is going to get him into major trouble this time. The caverns and carvings are beautiful, yes, in the sense that they are intricate and amazingly well preserved; but they are hideously frightening. Then Ida and The Doctor find The Pit and, well, anyone who knows their biblical history knows that they are in deep, deep trouble! Between the Ood being possessed, Toby's troubles, and now an ancient entity that has been sealed in a pit I would say that it is time to start praying hard and possibly running.

    Normally about this point in my review I ask a variant on the question 'what did I think?' But I'm quite certain that I have made my thoughts abundantly clear throughout the course of the review. This episode is dark, the episode is creepy, this episode is adult, and this episode has an extremely underplayed and tense cliffhanger. The writing is intense and deep and the execution simply amazing. The special effects all look wonderful and the acting of the cast superb. I give The Impossible Planet an 9/10 and say that I look forward to its resolution in The Satan Pit.moreless
  • The Impossible Planet

    The Impossible Planet was a perfect and very entertaining episode of Doctor Who. I really enjoyed watching because the story was awesome and the actors were amazing as usual. It was intriguing to discover The Doctor and Rose landed somewhere in the universe the TARDIS had no knowledge of. I also really liked the hints at religion and found it interesting that something may be more powerful than The Doctor if not older. The strange writing and possession of the one crew member were awesome and I liked how strange transmissions were picked up on communications and through The Ood. The Black Hole and space scenes were Beautiful. I liked how every thing played out and The Ood were interesting creatures. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Nothing too special, fairly boring but okay I guess.

    This episode was nothing too special, it was fairly boring but maybe okay I guess.

    The scary aspects tried too hard, and they didn't succeed. The Ood were the only good thing about this episode, they were fairly clever creatures.

    The plot was a unbelieveable and the characters were boring. This was meant to set things up for the next part which it didn't do successfully.

    I lost interest very quickly, and at one point I changed the channel because it was getting boring.

    Some of the scenes went on for a long time and the music was a bit screechy with a lot of violins.

    Nothing special.moreless
  • This Doctor Who in "classic mode" reminds me of Pyramids of Mars with Tom Baker!

    This Doctor Who in "classic mode" reminds me of Pyramids of Mars with Tom Baker! Humans exploring deep space in the far future. A black hole consuming everything but this one tiny little planet with humans on it and the Doctor and Rose land there. Ancient Earth civilization in the deep buried core of an un-named planet. An unknown power source is holding back the black hole, cryptic language that even the Doctor can not translate. A race of people born to be willing slaves. Voices whisper names in the corridors and the TARDIS is lost, leaving the Doctor and Rose with no way out.moreless
  • Wow I really liked this one.

    This is a review of both episodes so don't get upset with me.

    I really like the ideas of themes of God and religion and bringing them into this. I really liked all of the characters in the Torchwood team and I'd like to see more of them in the future.

    These episodes were probably the best episodes of the seies so far and I was very impressed.

    And the big devil at the end of the second episode was a brilliant idea and i liked the idea of the tardis toeing the other spaceship.

    And "the girl who will die in battle so very soon"moreless
Ronny Jhutti

Ronny Jhutti

Danny Bartock

Guest Star

Gabriel Woolf

Gabriel Woolf

The voice of the Beast

Guest Star

Silas Carson

Silas Carson

The voice of the Ood

Guest Star

Paul Kasey

Paul Kasey

The Ood

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • The Doctor's statement that nothing can be in orbit around a black hole or it would be sucked in is a common misconception. As long as something is outside the event horizon (and unaffected by friction) it can maintain a stable orbit. Indeed, the existence of black holes can only be proven by measuring the motion of objects in orbit around them.

    • The Doctor: Indigestion, like she didn't wanna land.

      The last time The Doctor referred to the TARDIS as having indigestion was after she had swallowed The Master via the Eye of Harmony in the 1996 TV Movie AKA The Enemy Within.

    • The Doctor: They were grown, not built.

      The statement that TARDISes are grown seems to contradict Warriors' Gate where it is mentioned that K-9 has a full set of TARDIS blueprints and Romana can build one with the help of the time-sensitive Tharils. The renegade Time Lord Omega also boasted that he would be able to build a new TARDIS while stranded on 20th century Earth in Arc of Infinity.

    • Jefferson:Captain... report Officer Scootori Manista PKD... deceased. 43K2.1.

      Jefferson reports Scootie's full name as Scootori Manista PKD. Jefferson himself has the same designation appended to his name in The Satan Pit. In science fiction fandom, the initials PKD are most frequently used to refer to science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who wrote a short story entitled The Impossible Planet in 1953.

    • You see a rare case of TARDIS prop failure as well as the apparent "queeziness" of the TARDIS.

      When she materialises at the beginning of the episode, viewed from above, you can see two lines of light appear on the left of the roof.

      The left most line is clearly the Police Public Call Box signage, but the right most line shouldn't be there (and isn't on the front face). This is light leaking from inside the prop where, presumably, tape was not applied over the join between the roof and the side as the prop was assembled.

    • The 'Impossible Planet' is said to be in geosynchronous orbit around the black hole.

      Geosynchronous satellites orbit over the same place on the Earth's equator, orbiting at the same rate around the Earth as the Earth rotates under the satellites.

      However, as black holes are not the Earth, the term "geo" is a misnomer.

      But as almost all black holes derive from rotating stars, and thus possess angular momentum, a "synchronous" orbit would be possible, although an advanced definition of "synchronous" would be necessary, since rotating black holes twist the space-time around them (known as "Lense-Thirring-effect").

  • QUOTES (15)

    • Rose: Don't forget to breathe! Breathing's good.

    • The Doctor: There we go! D'you see? To generate that gravity field, and the funnel, you need a power source with an inverted self-extrapolating reflex of six to the the power of six every six seconds.
      Rose: That's a lot of sixes.
      The Doctor: And, it's impossible.
      Zack: It took us two years to work that out.
      The Doctor: I'm very good.

    • Beast-Possessed Toby: Mr. Jefferson. Tell me, sir, did your wife ever forgive you?
      Jefferson: I don't know what you mean.
      Beast-Possessed Toby: Let me tell you a secret. She never did.
      Jefferson: Officer, you stand down and be confined.
      Beast-Possessed Toby: Or what?
      Jefferson: Or under the strictures of Condition Red, I am authorised to shoot you.
      Beast-Possessed Toby: But how many can you kill?
      (Toby's eyes glow red and he roars. The markings disappear from his face and they go into the Ood. Toby collapses. The Ood's eyes glow red and they turn to face Jefferson, Rose and the others)
      Beast-Possessed Ood: We are the legion of the Beast.

    • The Doctor: (as he and Ida find the opening to the pit) We've found something. Looks like metal. Like some sort of a seal or… I've got a nasty feeling the word might be 'trapdoor'. Not a good word, 'trapdoor'. Never met a trapdoor I liked.
      Ida Scott: The edge is covered with those symbols.
      Zac: Do you think it opens?
      The Doctor: That's what trapdoors tend to do.

    • Ida Scott: We've come this far. There's no turning back.
      The Doctor: Oh, did you have to? No turning back? That's almost as bad as 'nothing could possibly go wrong' or 'this is going to be the best Christmas Walford's ever had'.

    • Danny: What about your communicator? What did that say?
      Rose: "He is awake."
      The Ood: (all together) And you will worship him.
      The Doctor: (walks to railing, talks to the Ood) He is awake.
      The Ood: (all together) And you will worship him.

    • Ida Scott: This lump of rock is suspended in perpetual geo-stationary orbit around that black hole without falling in. Discuss.

    • The Doctor: A black hole is a dead star. It collapses in on itself. In, in, in, in, in, until the matter's so dense and tight, it starts to pull everything else in too. Nothing in the universe can escape it. Light, gravity, time. Everything just gets pulled inside and crushed.
      Rose: So they can't be in orbit. We should be pulled right in.
      The Doctor: We should be dead.
      Ida Scott: And yet… here we are. Beyond the laws of physics. Welcome on board.

    • (Toby sits in his room working)
      The Beast: Toby… (Toby goes to turn around) Don't turn around.
      Toby: Dan?… That's not Dan… (Toby goes to turn around)
      The Beast: Don't look at me.
      Toby: Who…who are you?
      The Beast: I have so many names.
      Toby: If I could… (Toby goes to turn around)
      The Beast: If you look at me, you will die.
      Toby: Who… who are you?
      The Beast: I'm behind you, Toby. I'm right behind you. (Toby goes to turn around) Don't look! Don't look at me. One look and you will die. I'm reaching out, Toby. I'm so close. (Toby goes to turn around) Don't turn around. Ohhh… I can touch you!
      (Toby snaps around to find the room empty; he looks down to see the fragments he's holding have no writing on them. He takes his gloves off and finds his palms covered with the writing. Panicked, he grabs a mirror and sees his face covered with the writing and his eyes glowing red. His body convulses and he falls to the floor.)

    • Jefferson: For how should man die better
      Than facing fearful odds
      For the ashes of his father
      And the temples of his gods?

    • Rose: Can you build another TARDIS?
      Doctor: They were grown, not built.

    • The Doctor: So. When it comes right down to it, why did you come here? Why did you do that, why? I'll tell you why. (pauses) Because it was there. Brilliant! Excuse me uh... Zac, wasn't it?
      Zac: That's me.
      The Doctor: Just... stand there cause I'm gonna hug you. Is that alright?
      Zac: I suppose so.
      The Doctor: Here we go. Comin' in. (hugs Zac) Human beings, you are AAAMAZING! HA! Thank you.
      Zac: Not at all.
      The Doctor: But apart from that, you're completely mad. You should pack your bags, get back in that ship and fly for your lives.

    • The Doctor: I've trapped you here.
      Rose: No, don't worry about me.
      (A loud rattling sound is heard above and the building structure shakes a bit)
      Rose: Okay. We're on a planet that shouldn't exist, underneath a black hole... and no way out. Yeah, I've changed my mind, start worrying about me.

    • The Beast: The pit is open and I am free!

    • The Ood: The beast and his armies shall rise from the pit to make war against God.
      Rose: I'm sorry?
      The Ood: Apologies. I said I hope you enjoy your meal.

  • NOTES (16)

    • The Ood actors were almost blind in their costumes and had to be helped around. Also there was only one Ood costume which had blinking eyes and a moving head, there were 12 Ood costumes in total.

    • The weapons carried by the security officers are current modern day P90 submachine guns first introduced in 1994, more commonly seen on the Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis series.

    • International Airdates:
      Turkey: August 29, 2010 on CNBC-e

    • The differential forms of Maxwell's equations, which describe the gravitational analog of electromagnetism, can clearly be seen written on the table that the Doctor and Rose are sitting at while they are watching the Scarlet System being swallowed by the Black Hole.

    • Scootie's communicator changes from her left arm to her right arm as she appears floating in space. The footage from the Doctor Who Confidential episode confirms that the special effects crew used a mirrored image.

    • This is the first episode to be given a rating beyond 5 by the BBC's fear forecasters. The episode was given a rating of 6 - Amy, the youngest, rating it a three, and the other three rating it a six, making the number '666' visible in a row.

    • Certain sound effects, such as the sound of the automatic doors opening, are taken from the computer game Doom, which features a story involving a demonic invasion of a base on the Martian moon Phobos.

    • Before episode nine was named, this episode (eight) was called The Satan Pit. Because the actual "Satan Pit" didn't feature in episode eight the title was given to episode nine instead, in which it did.

    • The final viewing figure for the BBC One airing of this episode was 6.32 million.

    • As the Doctor is now fighting an enemy which, by all sciences, should not exist, this is the first episode to have a truly Gothic genre.

    • The TARDISode for this episode was filmed in the BBC Wales canteen.

    • This was the first episode since the show's revival to have filmed on location in a quarry. Quarries were something of a running joke in classic Doctor Who as they were regularly used as a ready-made alien landscape.

    • Will Thorp's tattoos for whenever Toby Zed was possessed by the beast took three hours to apply.

    • Music Featured: Bolero by Ravel.

    • Actor Gabriel Woolf previously played Sutekh in original series story Pyramids of Mars opposite Tom Baker.

    • The shots of Scootie floating dead in space were filmed in the underwater stage at Pinewood Studios, near Slough, so as to give the impression of zero-gravity.


    • "How can a Man die Better than facing Fearful Odds, for the Ashes of His Fathers and the Temples of His Gods"

      These are the first two lines on a memorial at the site of the famous last stand of the Ahirs of 'Charlie' Company of the 13 Kumaon during the Sino-Indian War in 1962. C Company of said war was led by one Major Shaitan Singh, an interesting double nod in this case because "Shaitan" is one of the Arabic names for the devil.

    • Jefferson: For how should man die better
      Than facing fearful odds
      For the ashes of his father
      And the temples of his gods?

      Though he does not get the quotation exactly right (the first line is: "And how can man die better"), Jefferson is reciting the poem "Lays of Ancient Rome" (1842) by Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay.

    • The Doctor: So. When it comes right down to it, why did you come here? Why did you do that, why? I'll tell you why. Because it was there.

      George Mallory, one of the first men who attempted to climb to the top of Mount Everest (and died in the attempt) is famous for replying to question as to why he wanted to do it: "Because it is there".

    • Rose: Well, if you think there's going to be trouble we could always get back inside and go somewhere else.
      (Rose and The Doctor burst out laughing)

      This is on screen acknowledgement of a long held criticism of Doctor Who, that any sane person would usually get straight back in the TARDIS and leave at the first sign of trouble. Of course this wouldn't make for a very interesting series.

    • After the Doctor has entered the cavern containing the pit, he makes the statement that "This'll be the best Christmas Walford's ever had."

      This is a reference to the British soap opera 'Eastenders' that takes place in a fictional area of East London named Walford.