Doctor Who C21.5: Planet of Fire review

Review

Planet of FirePlanet of Fire review

Turlough: I don’t want to go, Doctor.

Story Code: C21.5.
Production Code: 6Q.
Story Number: 134.
Countdown week: 8…

A story that returns to familiar Doctor Who themes: a civilisation which was once seemingly technologically advanced unaware of the technology, like The Daleks or The Face of Evil, plus the questioning of gods and ritual (The Aztecs) – but does it with much more style than actual content. One of the great plus points of this story is the look of it – the on location filming of Lanzarote is great, the volcanic landscape adding to the alien atmosphere – it would have perhaps have been wiser to minimise the Lanzarote-esque landscape for the sequences that are supposed to be Lanzarote though(!), so there is more of a contrast.

Peri is given characterful motivations for actually wanting to travel with the Doctor, and her background is sketched in a more detailed way that most Classic companions. She certainly makes a startling and spectacular entrance to the TARDIS, rescued from the waves by Turlough. The first episode is the most successful, as the rest of the story doesn’t quite have the same vim. Captures and escapes and runarounds are the order of the day, with the plot-device of a TARDIS component being removed, repeated from Time-Flight, repeated more than once in this story too (at one point it is hazy as to which component the Doctor is worrying about, the one taken by Peri or the Master).

Planet of Fire reviewThe “reason why” for Turlough being on Earth (and I suppose, by extension, the Trion device’s Earth salvage) is vaguely explained but doesn’t make much sense. It’s really an above-average story because of the characters and performances: Bryant impresses with Peri’s energy, Strickson’s Turlough has some nice (and for a change, subtle) scenes, while Anthony Ainley manages to imbue the Master with charisma despite some of his lines. The lure of the “blue flame” (obviously inspired by the 1965 film version of She) ultimately means another “end” for the Master, but, he always returns, doesn’t he?

Rating: 4/5

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