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Doctor Who 4.3: The Planet of the Ood

Ood Sigma: I think your song must end soon.
The Doctor: Meaning?
Ood Sigma: Every song must end.

“Planet of the Ood” was a return to form for “Doctor Who” for me. We revisit the Ood who made their first appearance in “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” (maybe the best title for an episode EVER:-) back in Series Two. At that time, the poor Ood a seemingly subservient race were unfortunately possessed by Satan himself. A situation which though terrifying at the time allowed for one of the funniest lines in this episode!

The episode begins when The Doctor and Donna land on the Ood-Sphere planet in 4126. It is snowing, real snow this time not the ash from the Titanic, and it is cold. So cold that Donna runs back into the Tardis to grab a coat. I just want to take a moment to discuss the three companions and their luggage for a second. Rose went with the Doctor on a whim and basically had nothing. At some point, The Doctor returns Rose to her native place and time so that she can pack a proper bag. She does and brings it on board. Martha joins the Doctor because she’s hot for Doctor and she basically changes her outfit but doesn’t really seem to bring that much luggage with her, certainly we never see the moment where she packs or brings things on board. Donna, however, waits a full year to see the Doctor again and has filled her entire trunk with luggage to bring with her on the Tardis. The Doctor is overwhelming by the amount of stuff she is bringing on board in a funny scene where she fills his hands up with as much luggage as he can carry. If I were writing a compare/contrast paper for all three companions, I would use this as a talking point. Rose doesn’t have much baggage at all because well, she hasn’t really lived that much of a life. Just kind of waited about in London in a dead-end relationship working in a shop with no ambition or hope for anything better. Martha was totally driven by attraction. Unlike Rose, Martha knows exactly where she is going and exactly how to get there. She is driven and can handle the life she has been leading. She does not have a lot of baggage because she has been taking care of it all since the day she was born. She never really needed The Doctor, but she did want him. Once she realized that wasn’t going to happen, she is ready to move on with her life. Donna, unlike either of the other two, has lots of baggage both literally and metaphorically. Her fiance didn’t actually love her but was using her as a pawn in a plan orchestrated by a huge spider queen. She was left at the altar and found out that the man she loved and was soon to wed, didn’t love her at all. Her life seems to have been made of mostly disappointments and The Doctor introduced a life better than the one she was leading, so Donna waited, packed, and lived her life in pursuit of The Doctor. Where that will lead, who can say, but I just wanted to take a brief tangent to discuss the three companions briefly. Back to the episode…

The episode is well constructed despite being written by a first time Who writer, Keith Temple. We find out that the Ood are in fact not born to be slaves (shocking!) but are processed to become slaves through that old chestnut, lobotomy. The Ood continue to be endearing characters despite the fact that they have a face only a mother could love and by mother, I mean a gigantic brain surrounded by pylons emitting a force field. The red eye Ood are terrifying while the rabid Ood are even more so. Of course, a group of perspective buyers are walking around on tour during the Ood uprising which means they ain’t gonna buy nothing but death or have their face eaten by rabid Oods.

The commentary on slavery is of course well played. It is so easy for people to accept the situation without asking the questions that are in the back of their mind. Are the Ood really born this way? Do they really like it? Is this wrong? The different upgrades made to the translator sphere are especially disturbing, a sexy lady voice and Homer Simpson. Donna, of course, ever the bleeding heart cries all over this episode. Particularly when The Doctor and Donna discover a band of Ood in their natural state, huddled in a cage, holding their hind brain in their hands rather than a translator orb. That visual was especially effective. The Ood sing a song of captivity that The Doctor can hear all the time but Donna cannot. He allows her to hear the song although she can not bear it so he removes it from her mind. The Ood continually chant about the circle needing to be broken which I thought was an interesting contrast to the old spiritual hymn of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and the Mildred Taylor book “Let The Circle Be Unbroken”. Both have to do with the idea that families when they are together tend to form a circle (i.e. around a dinner table, around a campfire, etc.). As people die though, the circle becomes broken for a time being until the circle is completed again in Heaven. So the basic idea is that the circle refers to family being together. This imagery permeates the episode as the Ood at a pivotal moment form a circle to sing their song and lift their hands up to the heavens. Strong stuff. On the other side, Ood Industries is bastardizing the concept of the circle by enclosing the central brain for the race of Oods in a circle of pylons that generates a force field. It is only when this circle is broken that the family of the Ood are free to be together once more.

My last comment will be on one of the final lines from the episode in which Ood Sigma thanks The Doctor Donna and comments that he thinks The Doctors song will end soon because every song must end. It is a very tense moment that we now know is building up the end for the Tenth Doctor. It was a well played little scene to come at the end of such a powerful and tense episode. I do feel like there is a natural progression to David Tennants arc as The Tenth Doctor coming to a close. Better to finish on top than to just keep him around because those of us that love him can’t bear to have anyone else.

Random Thoughts:

-I’m not completely sold on Donna Noble as a companion yet, but I do delight in watching David Tennant and Catherine Tate play on screen because it is obvious how much they enjoy each other’s company.

-Even though I totally called Ood Sigma turning CEO Klineman Halpin into an Ood by slowly giving him “hair tonic” the reveal at the end was still AWESOME!!!

-I didn’t realize that brains could eat people, but clearly if they are big enough they can.

-I also like the counter argument that Donna presents when The Doctor asks her who made her clothes? Donna calls him out on whether or not he brings a human companion for company or to lord his morality above them. I don’t believe that is the case, but Donna’s perspective is an interesting one.

2 responses to “Doctor Who 4.3: The Planet of the Ood

  1. The Reader ⋅

    This, in hindsight, is one of my favorite episodes, just as it establishes some things that are key to the remainder of the series. Just remember all you’ve written here, as this series is one of the most tightly composed of them all.
    Nothing is wasted. Nothing is commonplace. Nothing is done without a reason!

    It also introduces the Song of the Ood, hauntingly sad. I’ll have to give you the soundtrack when you’re done with it all. There’s no way you’ll be able to listen to some of their song without welling (but it’s really only me who wells, as I’m dead inside…you may be inconsolable…)

    Excited for you,
    The Reader

  2. Great analysis on the companions and their baggage!

    I love the song of the Ood. So haunting and beautiful.

    Ironically… the whole circle being broken thing…. There are two circles in the workd ood.

    This was one of my favorite episodes of the season and picked by many as one of their top ten of the reboot show.

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