Wednesday 21 December 2011

Planet Of Giants

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
-Anais Nin.


Me:  This is another one that I’ve never seen – that’s quite a few in a row.

Him:  What was the one before this?

Me:  The Reign Of Terror.

Him:  Ok.

Me:  Had you forgotten?  It’s been a week, I guess.

Him:  It’s been more than a week.

Because of various time-constraints, we’re pretty much only watching these stories over the weekend – although, every so often we have an extra mid-week watch, in the case of Planet of Giants we didn’t.

Me:  Right.  Planet of Giants.

Inside the TARDIS. 

Me:  Nice cape.
"Let's just hope there are no revolving doors, hmmmm?"

Him:  Is that the one from The Sensorites?

Me:  Everyone looks very smart.

Susan checks the instruments when suddenly there’s a ferocious honking.

Me:  Prototype Cloister Bell in action.  It’s much better than the one in Edge of Destruction.

Him:  “The Entity”.

Me:  You said that then as well.  Why?

Him:  Why who?

Me:  Why, “The Entity”?

Him:  What’s “The Entity”?

Me:  A film that a song called “Power” was based on.

Him:  I don’t think that’s what “the Entity” is.  Could be though.

Me:  Do you mean the thing that we don’t see in Midnight?

Him:  No, that’s not “The Entity” that’s the Random Shadow of Death and we’ll get to that in another couple of years.

Me:  If we keep on target, anyway…

The TARDIS doors are open, which causes some panic.

Me:  So, with the doors being able to open in mid-flight nobody thought this might be a bit of a design-error?

Him:  No.  It was “the Entity”.

The doors are closed.

Me:  That door was suspiciously hard to close.

Dudley Simpson makes his presence felt and the TARDIS lands.

Me:  This is the first of a long relationship with Dudley Simpson.

Him:  Doesn’t he still do the music?  Or, didn’t he do it until Tom Baker or something?  I remember seeing his name on the credits.

Me:  That’s right.

Everything’s fine according to the instrumentation – although, that doesn’t really prove anything.  The Doctor gets all apologetic in Barbara’s general direction.

Me:  It’s nice to see the Doctor appreciating Barbara, but this feels more out of character than mellowed.

It seems quite safe, so the decision to check the scanner is taken.   The scanner instantly, and unexpectedly, explodes causing the Him to jump.  Outside the TARDIS, Barbara is offering suggestions.

Him:  Shush, Barbara, you’re a history teacher.  This is Ian’s time to shine.

At a loss to explain what might have happened, the Doctor makes up a reason.

Me:  That’s an unlikely explanation.

Him:  “Oh, alright.  I pressed the wrong switch.”

Outside everything looks fine.

Him:  So, why didn’t the fault locator tell them?

Rough cement is discovered, but that’s nothing compared to the gigantic worm.

Him:  “Quickly!  We can ride it to safety!”

Sadly, the worm’s dead, so there won’t be any riding of it.  Elsewhere, Ian and Susan have found a huge jelly bean.  Ian complains about the heat.

Him:  “Worm, isn’t it?”

Iconic Moment # 20
Susan finds a great big ant and becomes upset.  Like the worm, the ant’s dead.

Ian:  I wonder.  What sort of a world could produce an insect that size?

Me:  Vortis?

Barbara and the Doctor have moved on from the worm – the Doctor feels that there’s something almost reminiscent of design in the canyons they’re walking.  Ian and Susan, meanwhile, have discovered a family-sized pack of night-scented stock.  This delights me.

Me:  No way!

Him:  What’s that?

Me:  Wow.*

Him:  It’s night-scented stock.

Me:  It is.  It’s also the name of a Kate Bush song.

Him:  You don’t actually know what it is though, do you?

Me:  No.  Seeds of some type…

Him:  He’s here again/The worm with the child in his eyes…

Me:  What?

Ian deduces that they’ve landed on Norwich.  Susan explains where it really is.

Him:  “Good job, Susan, you’ve obviously been paying attention in geography.”

The Doctor and Barbara have found a matchstick.  Ian and Susan have found the box it came from.  Slowly the clues thread together.  Dudley Simpson hammers the point home.

Him:  Does Susan call Ian, “Mr Chesterton”?

Me:  No.

Him:  Hmmmm…

In a very nice piece of intercutting, our heroes arrive at the conclusion they’re now roughly an inch tall.  The camera pulls back to reveal a garden.  What looked like a very small TARDIS when it landed, is revealed to be, in fact, a very small TARDIS.  Which is quite clever, really.

Me:  That’s pretty cool.

Suddenly, it gets dark.  A briefcase is picked up by an unseen, full-size, figure.  Ian has hidden in the matchbox and therefore been abducted.  Susan is upset.  I take this opportunity to make an unoriginal observation.

Me:  The sets are great.

Rejoined by the Doctor and Barbara, Susan tries to have a look over the top of the path.  No sign of Ian, but there’s a man sitting down with a notebook next to a house.  Next to the reading man and the house, there’s a cat.

Me:  I envisage trouble with that beast later on.

Him:  So do I.

We are introduced to Forrester, who isn’t a scientist, and Farrow, the man with the briefcase.  Forrester has developed an insecticide called DN6 and is hoping for approval from Farrow who represents the people that approve this sort of thing.  Unfortunately, DN6 destroys everything it encounters, and that includes things that an eco-system really needs.

Forrester:  Surely we can work something out?

Me:  “We can’t.  And don’t call me Shirley.”

Forrester:  Do you know why I’m a success, Mr Farrow?  It’s because I’ve never allowed the word ‘can’t’ to exist.

Him:  He just said it there.

Forrester opts to skip straight to aggressive negotiation, and shoots Farrow.  Elsewhere, a bee falls from the sky and nearly crushes our heroes.

Him:  What is it?

Me:  Killer bee.

Him:  “Maybe we can ride it.”

There’s a strange smell.  Suddenly a distant roar startles our friends.  Ian climbs out of the matchbox and stares at Farrow’s giant, dead face.

Him:  That’s weird.  It looks like something from Monty Python.

Ian rejoins the others and tells them what he’s seen.

The Doctor:  What’s that smell?

Him:  Petrichor?

The mystery of the dead beasts is discussed and, continuing the point begun earlier, the Doctor points out that life is a complex balance of lots of different creatures and processes.

Me:  It’s being educational.

The Doctor:  It’s fortunate for us that everything is dead.

Making its contract-fulfilling second appearance, the cat returns.

Me:  “Except the cat.”

*This was an unintentional reference at the time.  Ahem.


The Doctor:  Whatever you do, don’t look into the cat’s eyes.  Close your own if you want to.

Me:  “Because then it won’t hurt.”

Luckily, the cat gets bored and trots off.  With the cat about, the way back to the TARDIS is compromised.  The Doctor points out that the house owners are murderers, so even if they could contact them, they probably wouldn’t help.  It falls dark again as someone approaches.  Barbara and Ian hide in the briefcase.  We meet Smithers, who is a scientist – and a wrong ‘un.  Forrester offers to get rid of the evidence if Smithers carries on with the experiment.

Forrester:  I’ll put his briefcase in the lab first.

Him:  Why?

Me:  Because, otherwise the story’s over for Ian and Barbara.

In the briefcase, Barbara is injured by a paperclip.

Him:  Imagine if that cat had fleas…

Farrow’s body has been moved.  The Doctor and Susan discover a corroded drainpipe and come up with a plan to get into the house and find the others.

Him:  That’s not a good idea.  If the pipe’s all corroded then things must be being poured down there quite frequently.

Ian and Barbara explore the inside of the lab.  The Doctor and Susan climb the pipe.  Ian and Barbara arrive at the Table Of Doom, and come across a pile of sugar puffs that look like…

Him:  Pecans?

Ian thinks it’s wheat.  When he turns away Barbara picks one up.

Him:  Barbara – don’t!

Barbara realises what’s happened to her.  Ian offers a heartless analysis of the poisoned wheat.   

"Why, to even touch that, you'd have to be an idiot; a moron; a half-wit; a raving poltroon..."

Barbara gets a bit down.

Ian:  Hey, Barbara.  We can get back.

Him:  “But, when I say ‘we’…”

They opt to make a string of paperclips to escape.  The Doctor and Susan are still climbing the pipe.  Ian and Barbara are trying to open the briefcase in order to get hold of some paperclips.  A fly sneaks up behind Barbara.

Him:  “Help meee!”

Me:  That’s a pretty good giant fly.

Him:  Infinitely better than Planet of the Spiders.

Me:  And the one in The Green Death.

Barbara faints.

Him:  It’s the Glaring Fly.

Me:  I’m hoping Barbara collapsed because she’s ill.  Fainting’s not really a recognised symptom of fight or flight.

Him:  What?  It’s the Glaring Fly – she didn’t have a chance.

Ian picks up Barbara and carries her off.  Forrester’s cleaned up, but Smithers is concerned about the blood on the flagstones.

Me:  There’s two different programmes going on at the same time here.

Him:  Yup.

The Doctor and Susan have reached the sink.  Barbara recovers.

Me:  Barbara’s day just gets worse and worse.

Ian tells her not to worry, the fly that frightened her landed on the wheat seeds, where it died instantly.

Me:  Alright, don’t rub it in.

Him:  Oh my god – she’s touching his hand!

Barbara is about to reveal she’s been poisoned when the sound of Susan shouting comes from the sink.  The Doctor explains that their voices are at a different frequency and so the giant people wouldn’t be able to hear them.  Ian and Barbara follow the bellowing to the sink.  Reunited with the Doctor and Susan, they begin to climb into the sink.

Me:  It’s amazing.  That sink looks brilliant.

Him:  Pretty cool, I suppose.  Did they actually have to make a giant plug chain?

Me:  Yeah.  See what Ray Cusick could do with a budget when he didn’t have to make a new world from scratch every week?

Him:  Rather than every story?

Having washed the flagstones, Forrester and Smithers decide to wash their hands.  Dudley points out this is exciting, which is nice of him.  Barbara and Ian climb back up the plug-chain quickly while the Doctor and Susan clamber back down the pipe.  Smithers finds the dead fly and becomes quite excited.  Farrow’s damning report is revealed to be in his briefcase.  The plug goes in the sink.  Ian and Barbara head back to the briefcase.  The villains finish washing their hands, and in a wonderful moment – that would be both thrilling and understated even without Dudley trumpeting all over the top of it** – the plug is pulled and the water begins to flow away.

Me:  That’s a great cliffhanger.

**In fairness, it's only the woodblock that really annoys me - the rest of it's fine.


The Doctor and Susan hide in an overflow pipe and the water misses them.  Barbara and Ian head to check up on the others.  Having done a bit of research, I decide to impress, inform, educate and amuse:

Me:  This episode is actually two edited into one – which is also why we get Mission to the Unknown later on.

Him:  Oh.

Not quite the reaction I expected.  I try again.

Me:  I don’t know if you remember me mentioning Douglas Camfield before?

Him:  No.

Me:  He directed the fight scene in the cave in An Unearthly Child – the one with the silent splat?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Well – I think – about half of this is directed by him, okay?

Him:  Oh.

Me:  And he’s worth looking out for.  Y’know, as a director.

Him:  Oh.

The Doctor and Susan are fine.  Forrester decides to make a phonecall disguised as Farrow.  His optimism is impressive.

Me:  “They won’t suspect a thing.”

Operator:  Doesn’t sound like Mr Farrow at all.

Forrester offers the false information and begins figurative moustache twirling.  Our heroes have found the report.  The Doctor decides to map it out step by step.

Him:  That’s going to take forever.

There’s a sudden cut and when we return, they’ve done the whole thing.

Me:  Do you think that was one of the episode breaks there, then?

Him:  It was originally eight episodes long because the entire notebook was full.

Barbara’s putting a brave face on it, but it does seem as though everyone’s being quite insensitive.

Him:  It would help if Barbara wasn’t biting her nails.

Me:  And another cut there, I reckon.

Our chums have found a telephone.  Barbara’s getting worse.

Him:  She’s going to die.

Me:  Without the music it’d be quite tense.  Barbara’s dying and –

Him:  Dudley Simpson, what hast thou done?

Ian uses corks in an attempt to make a phonecall.

Him:  Ian can’t lift it.

They get the handset lifted, and there’s a dial-tone.

Him:  Is that what phones used to be like?

Me:  It is.

Everyone starts shouting into the telephone.


Barbara collapses and, finally, Ian notices she isn’t very well.  The Doctor spots insecticide on Barbara’s hands.  The Doctor says they need to get back to normal size quickly and that’ll dilute the poison.  They decide to start a fire.  Ian, being the science-hero of the team, spots a gas tap.  Forrester can’t get an outside line because the phone’s off the hook.  Smithers is making himself more disposable than perhaps he means to.  Reconnected, the phone begins to ring instantly.  The operator asks if she’s speaking to Mr Farrow.

Forrester:  'Farrow?'  No...

Me:  Not suspicious at all.

The gentleman who’s been hanging around with the Operator reveals himself to be a policeman, and opts to head to the house to see exactly what’s up.  Our heroes have turned the gas on.  Ian prepares to strike a match.  Smithers finds that DN6 is a lot more brutal than perhaps he’d first thought.  There’s another cut.  Ian strikes a light – the gas flames on.  The Doctor starts talking about zeppelins.

Me:  Another unseen story.

The can of DN6 explodes and Forrester is hit in the face.

Us:  Ooo.

The Doctor picks up a poisoned sugar puff and Forrester and Smithers greet the policeman.  Back in the TARDIS the Doctor plans to return everything to the right size.  It’s a success and Barbara is cured.  The TARDIS takes off.

Him:  That doesn’t make sense.  How did their clothes change size?  Why hasn’t the poison grown too?

It’s been a few years since we last watched The Invisible Enemy, and none of these queries were raised then.  Just saying.  Anyway, the scanner’s still knackered, so when the TARDIS materializes the episode ends with a very weird cliffhanger.

The Doctor:  Perhaps I shall now know where we are.

Me:  Thoughts?

Him:  Don’t have any.

Me:  Did you like it?

Him:  Yeah.  How about you?

Me:  I did.  I’m glad that it’s three parts though.

Him:  Rather than four?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Why?

Me:  The last part really thunders along – and I think that helps the whole story.

Him:  What was the last part called?

Me:  “Crisis”.

Him:  Oh.  Why?

Me:  Because they’ve got to get back to the TARDIS rather than pick up souvenirs or take in a show.  Do you know what’s coming up?

Him:  Oh yes.

Him:  Who wrote Genesis of the Daleks?

Me:  Terry Nation.

Him:  He was still doing it at that point?

Me:  Well, he’d been unsuccessful in his attempt at conquering the States.

Him:  So the Daleks went from being able to move through forests to only being able to move on metal?  That’s not the best form of evolution.


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