Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"Planet of the Ood"

It is said you can judge a person by how he treats animals. Can you judge all of humanity by the same standard? “Planet of the Ood” takes a shot at it. In fact, it takes a shot at everything from animal cruelty to slave labor. It was enough to tug at the heartstrings, but I thought it was done much better earlier this year with Torchwood’s “Meat.”

It was cool to see the Ood again, though. The biggest head scratcher about them --how could a slave race develop separate from an enslaver --was answered. Tragically, I guess you might say. I also appreciated the Ood’s development beyond an allusion the Chthulu mythos present in “The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit.” I assume this was all part of a grand plan. Well, I have to admit I suspect Russell T. Davies did not have a grand, five year plan from the very beginning like he claims to.

The doctor sets the TARDIS on a random journey. He and Donna wind up on an ice planet where they discover a dying Ood. The Ood develops a red, glowing eye condition and acts rabid shortly before it dies. Further investigation reveals a processing plant where humans are making slaves out of the Ood and shipping them off to other worlds. Lately, the ood have been getting red, glowing eyes and going rabid. The company running the place opts to destroy the current batch. The doctor discovers the Ood are being lobotomized in order to make them slaves. Somehow, after 200 years, they are becoming aware of their own plight and rebelling.

The Doctor discovers the truth: the plant is keeping a giant brain-- the Oodcentral mind --under an inhibiting shield. A spy from Friends of the ood has been dampening the field, thereby allowing the ood to realize what has been happening to them. The Doctor frees the brain entirely. The entire ood race are subsequently freed from their enslavement all across the galaxy.

There was some heavy handed commentary here. The extermination of the rabid Ood was compared to the slaughtering of livestock infected with foot and mouth disease I have to confess I am unaware of the reaction of animal rights activists in the United Kingdom over the measures to prevent that, mad cow, bird flu, and whatever else has come along, but as as a typical Ugly American, I thought killing the animals was necessary. It is a bit unfair to pin it on the bad guys here. The Doctor references products made in sweat shops and the like which Donna enjoys without thinking about where they came from. Meh. That is an economic utility debate for another time.

A freed ood noted the Doctor’s journey was about to end. I am beginning to wonder if RTD is going to have a regeneration into the Eleventh Doctor as a surprise in the season finale or if the prediction is another ’only sorta true” one like the second season prediction of Rose’s death or how most everyone thought “You are not alone” last season meant theTime Lords would return. I am guessing the latter, but with a notion like the journey is coming to an end, it finale is going to have to deliver.

Rating: *** (out of 5)Here is an ood for anyone who might be reading, but does not watch the show. You get a good sense of the Siberian gulag feel the processing plant was an allusion to. Gray, drab, and very cold. it was almost a little too much, but their hearts were in the right place.

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