Weighing in at an impressive 800 episodes, Doctor Who has been entertaining audiences for the past 50 years. Yet, despite this vast backlog of content, I know next to nothing about the actual series. For that reason, I’ve decided to watch this unusual show from the beginning, to discover the source of its unique appeal. Come with me as I tackle this daunting sci-fi phenomena from the very beginning in The Complete Doctor Who.
Warning: the following contains spoilers.
Doctor Who: Serial 9 Planet of Giants, Episode 2: Dangerous Journey
Hi everybody and welcome back. As you may recall, last time our heroes became teeny tiny after the doors of the TARDIS flew open exposing them all to a heavy dose of shrink radiation…or something like that. It’s really not important. The takeaway here is that they’re small now and stuck in some British guy’s backyard. We were also introduced to the yard’s owner, a scientist named Farrow who went and got himself murdered after logging roughly twelve minutes of screen time. Oh, and while all this was going on, our tiny travelers were suddenly discovered by a cat!
Now seeing as how they’ve put the episode’s title right up there by the cat’s eyes, you’re probably thinking it plays a pretty important role in this week’s story. After setting up a cliffhanger like, there’s got to be some sort of payoff. Maybe a big confrontation or at the very least some sort of frantic escape, right?
Well, as it turns out, no. The crew just sort of stands there until the cat loses interest and slowly walks away. Guess what, the cat’s not the only one losing interest around here. Zing!
With our main source of conflict taken completely out of the picture, the Doctor, Barbara, and the rest turn their attention to finding a way back to the TARDIS.
They’re quickly interrupted, however, by the appearance of two regular sized people, or as Ian says, “I can see a huge leg coming!”.
In strolls everyone’s favorite scientist killer Forester along with his associate Smithers.
Nope, not that one. This far less interesting Smithers is the inventor of the insecticide that kicked off this whole murder nonsense in the first place.
As the two of discuss the finer points of body disposal, Ian and Susan take refuge in the dead man’s briefcase. Then, after a few minutes, Forester scoops up the briefcase and takes it into the house where he deposits it on a lab table.
Ian and Barbara stumble out from their journey and decide to take a stroll through their new digs. They wander past a set of giant test tubes, then stumble onto a pile of wheat seeds which Barbara immediately decides to pick up.
Unfortunately, the seed is coated with some kind of sticky substance, but before she can make too much of it, Ian hatches a plan to chain together paper clips into a makeshift ladder.
This involves an amusing little sequence in which Ian attempts to pop the lock on the giant briefcase.
While all this is going down, a fly manages to sneak on Barbara and guys, it is really gross. Like REALLY, REALLY gross!
I know this show may not always astound us with its production values, but whoever designed that thing really nailed it. God!
As Ian and Barbara labor away in paper clip land, we cut away to the Doctor and Susan who are hatching a plan of their own, which involves climbing into the house using the inside of a corroded drain pipe.
With rescue on the way, we bounce back to Ian and Susan who have discovered that the nasty ass fly has died suddenly after sitting down on that pile of wheat seeds. This is obviously pretty alarming to Barbara who moments ago touched the very same seeds.
Ian, however, remains completely oblivious and launches into a prolonged lecture about how Barbara should avoid touching them at all cost, which is insane because he watched her do that very thing not ten minutes prior. He even lent her his handkerchief to wipe the goo off her hands.
Come Ian, get your head in the game!
As Barbara breaks down into tears, Doc and Susan reach the top of the drain pipe and climb out into the middle of a sink.
I’ve got to admit, I really dig this set.
Then, in a genuinely clever moment, Susan uses the echo from within the pipe to magnify her voice.
Ian and Barbara hear her and calling and show up at the sink, but wouldn’t you know it, just as they do, those bumbling murderers Forester and Smithers show up wanting to wash their hands.
Doc and Susan dive back down into the drain pipe just before Smithers plugs up the sink and begins washing his hands. Then, in one of the series’ strangest cliffhangers, he pulls the plug, flooding the pipe with water.
This story remains one of the more unusual of the Doctor’s outings. Admittedly there’s not much going on here; it’s really just an attempt to get from Point A to Point B, but it’s fun and clever enough to keep things watchable. Plus, you know oversized props. Those are always fun.
I really wish we’d get more interaction between the regular-sized humans and our tiny stars though. This time around, the two plots remain entirely separate, only overlapping for a few brief throwaway moments. What I really want is for the Doc and company to take on the role of tiny crime busters and foil Forester and Smithers Ant Man style. After all this show has put me through, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.