Doctor Who: Planet of the Ood

Recap

When the TARDIS is set on random, you can end up anywhere, anytime- and as it happens, the Doctor and Donna have landed in the 42nd century, on the so-called “Ood sphere” where Ood are raised and shipped across the galaxies to serve humanity. According to those in charge, the Ood are happy to serve, but when a condition known as “Red-Eye” starts turning the docile aliens into angry killers, it may only be the first clue as to the questionable practices going on behind the scenes.

Alien and Planet Guide

  • Ood (revisited): The mildly telepathic subservient aliens were last seen in season two, but now further details about them have been uncovered. In their natural state, Ood have an external hindbrain attached to their body by a long flexible string-like protrusion, with coordination between the two halves handled by a giant central brain with the telepathic capacity to reach across three galaxies. When ‘processed’ for human needs, the external hindbrain is removed and replaced with a translation globe, rendering the Ood docile and able to communicate with humans. The translation globes can also be adapted to render a fatal electric shock.
  • Ood Sphere: an important planet in the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire, it handles the ‘production’, sale and shipping of Ood across the three galaxies controlled by the Empire. The planet was originally the Ood’s home, and seems to be a largely icy world.

Episode Thoughts

Some implausibility, a few plot conveniences- then again, isn’t that a typical week on Doctor Who? I quite enjoyed this episode (certainly more so than last week), but again I’m left with the feeling that the whole thing just needs to be a bit more focused and slick when it comes to the writing. It was, however, good to see Tim McInnerny back on our screens.

Nitpickers’ Corner

  • Let’s start with something that isn’t even a nitpick, but I’m sure the astute have already noted that this week and in episode one it’s been mentioned that “the bees are disappearing” on present day Earth; presumably this is the season’s equivalent of Bad Wolf/Torchwood/Harold Saxon. Where are they going? Are they slipping through some crack between dimensions, perhaps to the parallel Earth inhabited by the Tyler family?
  • Also a non-nitpick, but Martha is back next week.
  • The third observation is that, according to the Ood, the Doctor’s “song” is ending soon- does this mean the end of David Tennant and the Tenth Doctor? Although I fear it must do due to Davies’ desire to keep things fresh by getting through characters swiftly, I really don’t want to see Tennant leave (a haircut might be in order after this episode, though).
  • Now onto the real nitpicks- how could a race with an external brain that needs to be carried in the hands even evolve? If the central brain is needed to coordinate them, how did that even come about, and why weren’t the “unprocessed” Ood unstable without the brain’s influence?
  • If all the Ood are coming back to their home planet at the end, how will there be room for three galaxies’ worth of them on one tiny rock?
  • How could Halpen transform into an Ood so suddenly? The drinks apparently contained “Ood graft” (presumably DNA), but in order to change him, a retrovirus would be required to rewrite his DNA. It also seems unlikely that the process would be extremely slow at first and then suddenly speed up, unless the giant brain was somehow using telekinesis to rearrange his molecular structure.

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