The Impossible Planet

Roots: There are lots and lots of influences, including HP Lovecraft, The Exorcist, Event Horizon, Alien and lots more. The base plays Ravel's Bolero and Jefferson (slightly mis)quotes Macauley. An Ood alludes to or misquotes the Biblical book of Revelation by saying "The Beast and his armies shall rise from the pit to make war against God" and the reference to legion is referring to Mark 5.1-20. The Ood look an awful lot like the Pak'Ma'Ra from Babylon 5, the Grel from the Benny books, and the Mind Flayers from Dungeons and Dragons. The CGI Beast is based on the artwork of 2000AD artist Simon Bisley. There are many similarities to Adrian Middleton's Doctor Who fan novel The Blink of an Eye.

Goofs: Why does nobody attempt to evacuate the Ood to a safe area when the impact hits?

Just why is it impossible for a planet to be orbiting a black hole? [Perhaps it's not the orbit that's being described as "impossible" but that it's orbiting the black hole much closer than things that are being sucked in. Or the fact that it would have to be orbiting ridiculously fast.] And how is the term "geostationary" orbit relevant to a black hole, which has no geography to define which point the planet is above? [Perhaps they meant tidally locked - so that the same side of the planet is always facing the Black Hole.]

If, as Ida says, the planet doesn't have a name, then how can she later mention the name the Veltino gave it?

At the end of The Age of Steel, the Doctor told Mickey to keep Rose's mobile, but she still has it in this story.

Why is Scooti's corpse floating above the base rather than staying on the planetoid's surface?

Why is there gravity at the centre of the planetoid? [The next episode implies that it is artificial, as does the odd nature of the planet's gravity field.]

There is no way that the trapdoor is 30 feet in diameter like Ida says.

Dialogue Disasters: All the puns on Ood and Odd.

Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: 'Did you have to? No turning back?! That's almost as bad as "nothing can possibly go wrong", or "this is going to be the best Christmas Walford's ever had".'

The Doctor: 'I've got a feeling the word might be trapdoor. Not a good word, trapdoor. I've never met a trapdoor I liked.'

Continuity: The Doctor describes the TARDIS as queasy and having indigestion. The Doctor says that TARDISes are grown not built (as mentioned in various books). He says that it's ages since he's worn "one of these" spacesuits.

The writing is something that the TARDIS cannot translate. The Doctor says that that it must, therefore, be impossibly old.

The Ood's speech systems can be interfered with by electromagnetics. The Ood have no names and are basically a slave race - they offer themselves as such, without orders they pine away and die. "Everybody" has one and there is a group called "Friends of the Ood" who would like to see them set free. It appears that Danny Bartok's role as head of the ethics committee involves looking after the Ood. They are empaths - communicating by a low-level telepathic field (at basic 5). They don't tell their human masters when they are ill. A basic 30 telepathic field is equivalent to shouting whilst basic 100 is brain death.

The scriptures of the Faltino describe the planet as Krop Tor - the bitter pill. They believe that the black hole is a mighty demon that was tricked into devouring the planet, only to spit it out as it was poison. It generates a gravity field - kept in constant balance against the black hole. The field generates a gravity funnel into clear space away from the black hole. The power source has an inverted self-extrapolating reflex of 66 every 6 seconds. - which is impossible. It is buried 10 miles below the surface under solid rock and registers over 90 statz on the blazen scale. The planet supported life aeons ago before the human race had learnt to walk.

The creature on the planet can possess a human, whose body becomes covered in the native runes as well as the Ood. It has telepathic abilities and can unsettle people by claiming to know things about their lives. The possessed Ood claim that he is called Abaddon, Krop Tor, Satan, Lucifer, The pit of despair, and the bringer of night.

The Scarlet System was home to the Pelushi - a mighty civilisation that spanned a billion years. It is consumed by the black hole.

The Doctor and Rose discuss black holes being gateways to other universes, and the Doctor say that this one isn't. This is the first time that Rose's mobile has gone out of range.

One of the foodstuffs on offer is "protein 1 with a dash of 3".

A gravity globe is a light source which can be flung upwards to illuminate large caves/caverns.

Links: Rose mentions being a dinner lady (School Reunion). The Doctor mentions promising Jackie he'd always take Rose home.

Extras: This story has an episode of Doctor Who Confidential. The BBC created a one-minute trailer called a "Tardisode" for each episode of series two, available to download on your mobile or watch at the BBC website. They also made a commentary track available online, and with the red button during the digital repeats. Neither is still available online.

Location: A sanctuary base on the planet Krop Tor orbiting black hole K37J5 in the drifts of the universe. The Doctor says that they are 500 years from Earth. The date of Scooti's death is given as 43k2.1.

Future History: Future moonbases, seabases, spacebases, and sanctuarybases are built from kits.

The Bottom Line: 'Here we are. Beyond the laws of physics.' Now this is more like it. After the style-over-substance Cyberman two-parter and the lacklustre The Idiot's Lantern, Doctor Who is back on form. The Impossible Planet is a fantastic start to a story, with traditional Who plot elements delivering a massive promise for the second half. The build-up of suspense is perfect, and the alien planet combines the ambition of the Hartnell era with the special effects of the 21st Century. There are a few moments that aren't to my taste, but they really are minor quibbles.

Discontinuity Guide by Stephen Gray

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