Doctor Who – Planet of Evil

Doctor Who Story 081 – Planet of Evil

Sorenson begins to transform.
Plotting evil. (Source: TARDIS Index File. Copyright 1975 by BBC.)

Who Wrote It: Louis Marks

What’s It About: The Doctor and Sarah respond to a distress call on the planet Zeta Minor—a planet that is on the edge of the known universe. Uniquely, the planet has a portal to the anti-matter universe, which makes it valued as Professor Sorenson feels anti-matter could be a viable alternative resource. Unfortunately, forces exist that prevent the extraction of anti-matter from the planet, and these forces are killing members of the research team.

During my viewing of Doctor Who, I have occasionally re-evaluated stories I have already seen. For example, I’ve fallen completely in love with the Hartnell era. The Tom Baker story Robot seems to be less interesting each time I watch it. But occasionally, I come across a story that seems no better or worse than my original viewing. Planet of Evil is such a story. I’ve seen it four times now, and each time I feel about the same. I think there are interesting ideas, but they are explored in a slow, dull way.

Starting with the positives, I like the idea of alternative energy resources. This is a theme that comes up again and again in Doctor Who, and it is an interesting reminded that as much as humanity progresses, we still have the same old problems. Tom Baker is still at the top of his game. This is part of the success of the Hinchliffe era; Baker and Hinchcliffe worked well together. The set designs on this story are great. The jungle looks magnificent. The ship, while not as impressive as the jungle, is still visually interesting. Many parts of the ship have multiple levels. This allows interesting camera placement as characters move up and down stairs.

At its heart, however, Planet of Evil is a Jekyll and Hyde homage—one of many horror homages we will see in this era. This aspect of the story doesn’t really arrive until episode three as Sorenson begins to transform due to exposure to anti-matter. Prior to this, duality existed in the discussion of the collision between matter and anti-matter. Unfortunately, these themes are not adequately explored, and the eventual transformation of Sorenson lacks the thematic depth of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original tale. In the end, this story is just horror for the sake of horror, which isn’t bad in itself. I just wanted something more. The pace of the story wasn’t exciting, so I was hoping for more thematic meat. And following the conceptual heights of the preceding story, Planet of Evil merely feels run-of-the-mill.

My Rating: 2/5

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