Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Web Planet - May 2009: Week 13.


  1. Now this is more like it!
    It's what I would consider a good old fashioned Doctor Who stry about alines, alien culture and strange alien settings and planets.
    The scope of ambition on display is amazing for the time. every nuance is thought about. From the alien way of talking, and moving. to the set design and the echoey sound. It's a genuine attempt to try something utterly different and I can only imagine being a child at the time, and being absolutely thrilled and terrified.

    Of course. In 2009, the costumes and effects are woefully outdated. But, for me the strength of the story allows me to suspend my disbelief and enjoy it for what it is.

    I'm slightly puzzled when people poke fun at The Web Planet, because although it does look dated, the ambition of it shines brightly through.

    Unlike other stories, like Sensorites where I smirk at some of the sillier aspect, I find myself forgiving The Web Planet.
    It has scope and a very dark story at it's heart, and I personally find the realization of the alien races very very good, especially the Menaptra, who look brilliant.

    I think also, The Web planet, was my first real glimpse of what was to come from Doctor Who. It had echoes of many elements to come, and I found that rather astonishing, given when it was made.

    I think what i'm trying to articulate here is that The Web Planet could be hindered by it's outdated effects and costumes etc, but I genuinely found myself engaged and fascinated. I didn't hardly ever groan or snigger, and because I was watching something with so much invention, I forgave a lot of the shortcomings of the period.

    On an entertainment level, I thought it was really satisfying, with only a period during episode 5 where I was a little bored. the rest, I found to be absorbing.

    For me, I would say a 6/10.

    More like this please!

  2. Am I imagining it, or has the Tardis suddenly become smaller on the inside?

    The set's changed. No longer do we have the giant machines throbbing behind the glass wall - just a small cubby-corner with an Astral Map in it. Shame really; it feels like the Doctor's Ship has become a slightly less fantastic place.

    On the other hand - Vortis! A much more fantastic world than any we've seen so far. As Dan mentioned, there are some lovely touches here to sell the fact it's an alien planet - the echoing effect on the voices, the altered quality to the light...

    (OK, so you and I know it's vaseline on the lens - but that doesn't matter. It's something different, and bold.)

    Vortis, it seems, also has acid puddles and lakes. Note to self - if ever I go travelling across space and time, always check first to see if the water is made of acid before drinking. The fact that the Doctor actually tests the water to see whether or not it's acid suggests these damn things are more common than not!

    After the last few episodes in Rome where everyone kept missing each other, Barbara reveals all to Vicki, which is kind of a shame as I quite liked the idea that they'd never know they were in the same place at the same time. Still, I suppose she does need to establish the Plot Device. And I don't think Ian and the Doctor ever do find out.

    All this, mind, after about five minutes of This Is How The Future Works travelogue from Vicki. Bless. You don't see those much any more.

    The Menoptra flying effects are marvellous - I jumped the first time one of them took off!

    On the whole, I enjoyed it, but it's probably not something I'd recommend to a non-fan. The idea of having no human characters at all brings its own joys and problems.

    Finally, in episode six, where our heroes confront the Animus at last - am I the only person thinking of Hentai Fun here?

    I am?

    That's probably just as well.

  3. Bah. I correct myself.

    It was not vaseline, but Special Camera Lenses.

    As you were.

  4. Well. I will try and keep this short. I just can't get on with The Web Planet. I feel guilty about it, knowing it is bold, ambitious and takes risks. But there are so many things that drag me out of the story that it never gels for me, never makes me feel involved.
    The Zarbi costumes don't convince because the large hind legs are clearly human, and when one of them absolutely hammers a camera it makes my toes curl with embarrassment. When the Doctor says to the Animus "get this hairdryer or whatever it is off of me" it really annoys me. One of the menoptra has a french accent for no good reason, though I suppose lots of planets have a France. Wings fall of when there are fight scenes. There is another long (and uninteresting to me) trek through tunnels, though this is enlivened by the self-sacrifice of one of the optra, for me the highlight of the six episodes. I don't symapthise with the Menoptra at any point, and it seems that the point of the story is that the Zarbi are better off being cattle for the Menoptra than soldiers/guards for the Animus. Spot the difference?

    I really find this story hard to watch. Yet I would still rather watch this than, for example, Keys of Marinus. So I will give it 2 for that and an extra 1 for ambition and knowing the reason I struggle with it is down to me.

  5. I'm not a fan of this story.

    Admiration for the ambition that drives The Web Planet will get you so far, but I don’t really care for the story very much and some of the “effects” are just plain irritating.

    I love the Zarbi, I see right through the obviously human legs and seem to just picture what they were attempting. Imagine the Zarbi in modern Doctor Who – they’d look amazing (FAO: Upper Boat – Please do not bring back the Zarbi). I think kids are usually fascinated by ants anyway so they’re a great idea for a Doctor Who story (actually, I’m sure I remember Dan Dare and Digby being prisoners of giant ants at some point too...).

    I’m a big fan of the Optera too. They look good and their dialogue is incredibly alien. And the voice of the Animus is lovely and creepy.

    The Menoptra, though, are never more than people in suits to me. I don’t know what it is but I can’t accept them as anything else. It's me, not them. Logically I know that their costumes are better than the Optera but I’m just not buying in to them. Their voices don’t help, neither do their movements, no matter how much consideration went into them. The flying sequences are great and it’s a lovely detail that each of their faces have different markings but they just don’t do it for me.

    The regulars are pretty uniformly mediocre here. Hartnell is good when talking to the Animus, and exploring with Ian, Hill has a bit of a holiday, Russell really does look bored out of his skull and as for poor old Maureen O’Brien, she’s given nothing at all to do. I do hope this isn’t the beginning of a Susan-style side-lining for Vicki as she’s been a worthwhile addition to the crew so far.

    I know I go on about six-part stories but.. well, here I go again - This story would struggle to keep me entertained if it was four episodes, so to sit through six of the buggers is a bit of an endurance test. Especially given the headache inducing combo of Zarbi-car-alarm-beeps and Vaseline (or whatever) smeared lenses (and about those blurry lenses, what on earth is the point in creating a lovely alien planet surface if you’re going to shoot it with butter on your camera? Sheesh).

    I’m coming off a lot more negative than I meant to be. I didn’t hate The Web Planet, but it isn’t one of my favourites. And I watched it twice to be sure. Urgh.

    Oh, one last thing – let’s have a big round of applause for John Scott Martin in his first Doctor Who appearance – he’s one of the unfortunate souls trapped in a Zarbi costume (and apparently was the one photographed in unlikely surroundings for the Radio Times feature).

  6. Better than – Planet of Giants
    Not as good as - The Romans