Doctor Who #44: Dangerous Journey

"We’re freaks. They’d put us in a glass case and examine us through a microscope!"TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 2 of Planet of Giants. First aired Nov.7 1964.

IN THIS ONE... Ian and Barbara get themselves trapped in a giant lab via briefcase where the latter is poisoned by insecticide, and the Doctor and Susan climb up a drain pipe to find them. In the upscale world, criminal behavior.

REVIEW: You know, I didn't remark on it yesterday, but they ARE lightening up the Doctor. He's rather sweet and calm here, and even claims he would have interfered to put a stop to the crimes committed "above". In the previous episode, he did blow a gasket, but immediately apologized to Barbara - the one who was most peeved the last time a slough of malfunctions caused him to go ballistic, back in The Edge of Destruction - who, by this time takes it all in her stride. Shows routinely retool concepts and characters between seasons today, but it's more believable if those changes occur slowly and organically. Plus, we have to realize viewers weren't given much time to forget Doctor Who. The space between seasons was only about 7 weeks! After a full season of aching backs though, it's a bit hard to believe that he climbed that giant drain pipe (and quite the leap of faith).

Back in the story, we're getting more lovely giant props, sets and even creatures (that's a nice fly!), though scale does tend to vary, with the characters between 1 and 3 inches high against any given prop. That's ok. It doesn't take away from the roadside attraction fun of handling giant things. The cat just loses interest and takes itself out of the equation, so not the best cliffhanger resolution, but interaction with a giant cat would have been pretty limited anyway. If you were under the impression, as I was (curse you, The Five Doctors!) that Susan was always spraining her ankle, I should mention that it's Barbara who has the weak gams in this (Susan won't get a sprain until the next story). In fact, she's extremely accident-prone. Bangs up her knee on a paperclip, gets mesmerized by a fly, and of course, gets poisoned. Why can't she tell Ian though? It seems a bit ridiculous but I somehow find it a bit touching. She's initially embarrassed, and then refuses to believe it's true. Every time she's about to say something, she's interrupted. It would be ludicrous if it weren't so well played by the two principals. The funny thing is, Ian should KNOW she's touched the poison because he just lent her his handkerchief to wipe it off. But he's in the middle of solving this great big puzzle, and gets totally distracted.

The thing I question is the inclusion of the upsized drama. The ruthless Forester is joined by the irresponsible scientist Smithers, and they discuss their joint obsession with bringing their project to term, and staging a boating accident to get rid of Farrow's corpse. Smithers keeps going on about "the experiment" which turns a very real business and science concern into a bit from a mad scientist movie, but at least his motivations are purer than Forester's (stopping world hunger). But since our heroes can't interact with this story normally, except by becoming accidental victims, every scene takes us away from what we really care about. I think the story could have worked just as well, if not better, if the problems were all caused by mundane household activity. You at home could imagine that your doing the washing up could flush the Doctor down the drain! Grounding it instead in some kind of police drama does it no favors because it's not very good police drama.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - We like it for the same reason we like comics with Batman running around on giant typewriters. So obviously, anything that plays at the right size is boring.

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