Sunday, January 25, 2015

Planet of Giants – Blogging Doctor Who

No such scene occurs
Miniaturization plots—ones in which the characters are greatly reduced in size—never really divert me, since they raise so many questions, but that’s the sort of plot we get in “Planet of Giants.” Beyond the question of how the air interacts with the (presumably) shrunken atoms of our heroes, there’s also the question of the missing mass. If the Doctor, Susan, Barbara, and Ian were shrunk, where did their mass go? And clearly, Ian weighed less than he normally did, since Forester was able to pick up the matchbox with Ian inside and carry it, despite having what would otherwise be this dense object (one inch high, but about 160 pounds in weight) inside it.

The script makes it clear that the characters have lost mass. There are repeated references to how light they are. But, if that’s the case, Ian’s brain is about the size of a mouse, and there probably isn’t room for any real sort of thought (maybe the reduction in brain size accounts for everyone failing to realize that Barbara has touched the poison). There is the other side of the miniaturization plot. Either you’re an inch high and 160 pounds (and thus made of smaller atoms, whatever they might be) or you’re only a few ounces, which means that most of you has simply vanished.

The set design is dreadful. Things that purport to be proportionally larger are for the most part unconvincing backdrops. The grass growing at the edge of the path is a fairly slapdash painting. The stake through the seed packet is also painted. I’d like to think that with great care these things could be convincingly faked, but the history of miniaturization plots doesn’t bear this out. Things with higher budgets have looked every bit as fake.

One good aspect is that after the Doctor realizes how toxic the pesticide is, and that the chemical doesn’t break down, he notes that a sufficient dose would eventually accumulate in humans. Shades of DDT; someone must have been reading Silent Spring.

The story not involving the Tardis crew, that of the owner of a chemical factory so eager to get a profitable pesticide to market that he is willing to kill, and the scientist who so much wants to wipe out famine and disease that he’s willing to overlook that his employer has committed murder to bring the pesticide to market, is actually a pretty good one. Without the elements of the miniaturized crew, it might have made a good story. Of course, then it wouldn’t be an episode of Doctor Who.

Then there’s the effect of the pesticide. It kills a fly directly on contact, yet Barbara’s skin absorbs only enough to make her dreadfully ill. She’s shown as being not that much bigger than the terrifying fly (with visible strings) that menaced her.

Eye Candy for Gay Time Lords

So, Is This a Must-See?
No. It’s a somewhat muddled story, filled with impossibilities. If it had been played for camp, it might have been an improvement, but it wasn’t.

Next time: They’re back!
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