Planet of the Ood
"Planet of the Ood" is the third episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 19 April 2008. It features the return of the Ood, who appeared in the second series episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit".
|191 – "Planet of the Ood"|
|Doctor Who episode|
An "uncultivated" Ood shows his hindbrain to the Doctor. The Ood are born with external hindbrains which are removed during processing to become subservient slaves.
|Directed by||Graeme Harper|
|Written by||Keith Temple|
|Script editor||Lindsey Alford|
|Produced by||Phil Collinson|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|First broadcast||19 April 2008|
The episode takes place in the year 4126 on the Ood-Sphere, the titular planet of the episode. The Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) investigate Ood Operations, a company that is selling the Ood as a servant race, to discover the reason the Ood are happy to serve. When they find a group of unprocessed Ood, they become horrified at the alterations performed and resolve to free the Ood. The episode was well-received for its central theme of slavery.
The Tenth Doctor and Donna land on a planet called the Ood-Sphere in 4126, where a company called Ood Operations has been harvesting and selling the Ood as servants. Several people have been killed in the weeks before the Doctor arrived. The CEO of Ood Operations, Klineman Halpen, tells the Doctor the method of killing each time is identical: the victims are electrocuted by the Ood's translation spheres.
Donna becomes sympathetic to the Ood and is horrified by their enslavement. The Doctor also takes an interest in the Ood, noting that no species could naturally evolve to be servants. He and Donna travel through the complex and find a batch of uncultivated Ood singing together. Instead of a translation sphere, they hold a "hindbrain" that gives them individuality. This hindbrain is being removed and replaced with the translation sphere by the humans to make them subservient, and the Doctor rebukes Halpen for lobotomising the Ood. The Doctor and Donna are captured by Ood Operations' security force. Shortly after, the Ood begin a mass revolution and the complex is evacuated, but everyone from the complex is slaughtered en masse. The Doctor and Donna escape with some help from the Ood (after convincing them to resist their brainwashing) and follow Halpen to a locked warehouse that contains a large brain, which is revealed to be the Ood's collective consciousness. The brain's control of the Ood is limited by a circle of pylons emitting a forcefield. Halpen plans to kill the brain and by extension all of the Ood, but is stopped by the Doctor, Donna, and Dr. Ryder. Dr. Ryder reveals that he is secretly an activist for "Friends of the Ood", and had slowly infiltrated the company to gain access to the pylons and lower their force field to cause the revolution. Halpen is outraged at his betrayal, so he throws Dr. Ryder into the brain, killing him. Halpen's personal Ood servant, Ood Sigma, has been using Halpen's hair loss medication to slowly convert Halpen into an Ood. Ood Sigma tells the Doctor and Donna that he will take care of Halpen.
The Doctor shuts down the pylons, freeing the Ood and allowing them all to sing in a telepathic collective. As the Doctor and Donna prepare to leave, Ood Sigma promises to include the "Doctor-Donna" in the Ood's song. He also tells the Doctor that his song will soon be ending.
The episode was written by Keith Temple and directed by Graeme Harper. Executive producer Russell T Davies had envisioned the Ood's return because their previous appearance, the 2006 two-part story "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit", had been overshadowed by the appearance of the Devil. Davies subsequently provided Temple with a brief for the episode which included the term "ice planet" and the storyline of a business selling the Ood as a commodity. Temple's drafts of the episode were described as "too dark" and "too old Doctor Who"; Temple stated on the episode's commentary that his early draft was "a six-part [serial] in 45 minutes".
Temple and Davies thought that the episode was not a "fun reappearance" of an old monster; instead, they felt that there was "an actual story to tell". Temple emphasised in his script that the Doctor overlooked the Ood under the shadow of the Devil, and the character had to see his shortcomings. Temple's script also emphasised the Ood's slavery; both Temple and lead actor David Tennant commented that the existence of a species born to serve was complicated, the latter stating complications with Richard Dawkins' selfish gene theory. Donna's role in the episode was to further humanise the Doctor, and her opinion of the Ood changing from her initial disgust at their appearance to empathy for them was important to the episode and her character development. Susie Liggat cited the writing as part of Doctor Who's importance—she thought the story about "liberating oppressed people" could be applied domestically or globally.
The episode's antagonist, Klineman Halpen, is portrayed by Tim McInnerny. Davies considered his character—"a middle manager who's out of his depth"—a perfect villain. Temple described him as "narcissistic", "preening" and "ruthless ... without sentiment". McInnerny said "It's always nice to play a bastard... I'm glad Halpen's a three-dimensional bastard! That makes him interesting!". Temple epitomised Halpen in a scene where he kills an operative for the activist group "Friends of the Ood"; Davies and Tennant felt that his "disgusting" and "gothic ... Edgar Allan Poe" fate would be undeserved otherwise.
Filming for the episode took place in August 2007. The opening and closing outdoor scenes were filmed in Trefil Quarry in the Brecon Beacons, the external scenes of the complex at Aberthaw Cement Works, and scenes in the "battery farm" were filmed in a hangar at RAF Saint Athan. CGI was used sparingly in production; the snow was paper snow adhered by water, and the Ood heads contained complex animatronics. McInnerny wore a prosthetic mask with two layers for his transformation scene though the production team's best boy provided motion capture for the computer-generated profile of the appendages coming out of his mouth when this needed to be refilmed and McInnerny was unavailable.
"Planet of the Ood" was the most watched programme in its timeslot, with 7.5 million viewers. The episode was the second most-watched programme of the day, beaten by Britain's Got Talent, and was the twelfth most watched programme of the week. The episode's Appreciation Index was 87 (considered Excellent).
Scott Matthewman, writing for The Stage, gave a mixed review of the episode. He thought that "pretty much the only surprise in the way the humans who made up the Ood Corporation were presented came as PR girl Solana (Ayesha Dharker) escaped with the Doctor and Donna, only to betray their position by calling for the guards," and "the revelation that Ryder (Adrian Rawlins) has been working to infiltrate the Corporation is thrown away... as quickly as it is revealed." However, he thought Donna was becoming "fast ... one of the strongest and most well-rounded companions in the series’ history", and "there were some nice interpretations of the Ood’s natural development". Caitlin Moran of The Times thought the episode was "really really good ... – one that will have you staring at your screen and asking, once again, 'How can something so good be happening so early on a Saturday night, in my own front room?'". She enjoyed the scene where the Doctor and Donna talk about slaves in contemporary culture, saying that Tate "really, really isn’t that bad when she says ["We don't have slaves."]". Ben Rawson-Jones of Digital Spy gave the episode five stars out of five. Rawson-Jones opened his review by saying "Doctor Who can occasionally transcend the properties of a mere family television show to reach out and give viewers a poignant, beautiful epiphany and greater sense of the world they inhabit," citing Donna's reaction on seeing the uncultivated Ood as the moving part of the episode. He thought the episode as a whole "exemplifies just how powerful and emotive Doctor Who can be when writing, direction and performance are all harmonious and complete their own Ood-like circle", and was appreciative of the acting. The episode's only flaw was when Donna said "Why do you say 'Miss'? Do I look single?", but was otherwise "an extremely impressive, contemplative examination of the abhorrent nature of humanity".
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- Moran, Caitlin (19 April 2008). "Catherine Tate as Doctor Who's new assistant? She's not that bad". The Times. Retrieved 22 April 2008.
- Rawson-Jones, Ben (19 April 2004). "S04E03: 'Planet of the Ood'". Cult: Doctor Who - Review. Digital Spy. Retrieved 22 April 2008.