The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan continue their fight against DN6’s development and Barbara begins to succumb to infection.
“There‘s nothing like a good fire, is there?”
The Doctor and companions find the notes on DN6 and discover that it is designed to be “everlasting”. What this means is that it permanently seeps in to the water and soil and remains there. Quite obviously to our characters and to us, this is a bad thing. We know that this will do irreparable damage. Given enough quantities, DN6 would prove fatal to humans, even normal-sized humans. If DN6 is in the soil and water, it would penetrate all food and it would not take long to reach lethal quantities. Meanwhile, Barbara is still infected and refuses to tell anyone. She hopes for a cure, but The Doctor and Susan rightly insist that no cure is necessary if no one is infected. Barbara, foolishly, goes along with this. I can’t quite understand why she has been so reluctant to tell anyone she touched the poisoned grain. Is she embarrassed? Does she feel foolish? I realize that she won’t die from it, but by not telling the others what she has done, she only serves to hurt herself more and make the others feel worse since she wouldn’t tell them. This is one thing that really irks me about people in general. We often hold back information, even if it is perfectly safe and wouldn’t hurt anyone, due to pride or shame. Often, this compounds the problem. But, I digress.
Forester impersonates the inspector and makes a call to Whitehall. He agrees to send the report (with alterations) in exchange for authorization to continue work on DN6. Whitehall notice that the inspector sounds different, but they seem satisfied. The Doctor and companions decide to try to use the phone to warn Whitehall about DN6, a plan that is doomed to failure for a variety of reasons. The receiver is too heavy and their voices are at the wrong frequency. Plus, how do they explain things? When this plan fails, Barbara passes out, succumbing to the DN6. The Doctor and the others finally figure out what Barbara has done. Barbara’s cells are too small to fight the infection, but if she returns to normal size, her cells will easily fight off the infection. The quickest solution is to return to The TARDIS and return to normal size.
Smithers finally turns against Forester when he realizes the DN6 does more harm than good, and Whitehall sends the police around when they realize that the person on the phone had not been the inspector. Our heroes return to The TARDIS and return to normal size, which cures Barbara. All’s well that ends well. The most curious aspect of this episode is when The Doctor takes an infected seed. Ian asks why, and The Doctor says, “You’d be surprised.” Presumably, it is so he can insure that they have returned to normal size (the seed shrinks as they materialize), but I’d like to think there is something more devious going on here. No real reason, but perhaps The Doctor would like to have some DN6 on hand, just in case.
So ends Planet of Giants, which really has been a mediocre season opener. Yes, it was written at a time when shows didn’t pull out all the stops for the premieres, but in comparison to what came before (and what comes after), it is a bit bland. The sets were well-realized, but the story was a bit uninspiring and slow, which is quite the accomplishment as this was a three-part story. It barely sustained that length. Planet of Giants is certainly not the best of The Harnell-Era, but it was an attempt at something different. It’s just a shame that the DN6 plot was so uninteresting.