Doctor Who

Planet of the Dead (26 Jul. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Family
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,575 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 6 critic

A meeting in a London bus with jewel thief Lady Christina takes a turn for the worst for the Doctor when the bus takes a detour to a desert-like planet, where the deadly Swarm awaits.


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Title: Planet of the Dead (26 Jul 2009)

Planet of the Dead (26 Jul 2009) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Episode complete credited cast:
Noma Dumezweni ...
Victoria Alcock ...
David Ames ...
Ellen Thomas ...
Reginald Tsiboe ...
Bus Driver
Ruari Mears ...


The Doctor is in present-day London and hops on a number 200 bus that suddenly travels through a wormhole. He and the other passengers find themselves in the middle of the desert which he later determines to be on a planet in a galaxy clear across the universe. Aboard the bus one of the passengers is Lady Christina de Souza, a rather accomplished thief who was on the run after having successfully stolen a very valuable piece from a museum. She's quite enthusiastic and proves to be quite helpful as The Doctor tries to unravel what has happened to them and most importantly, devise a means of returning, given that the bus is firmly stuck in the sand and heavily damaged. Back in London, Captain Erisa Magambo has taken charge of the situation and faces the prospect of having to permanently close the wormhole before the travelers can return. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

26 July 2009 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Two double decker buses have been used for this episode. The bus in Dubai is RUA 461 W, a Bristol VRT/ECW formerly with Yorkshire Woollen bus company. The other one is an almost similar Bristol using an unknown license plate. See more »


The number of the bus in England is W974 GHM, while the number of the damaged/CGI bus is RUA 461W. See more »


[final lines]
Christina: We could have been so good together.
The Doctor: Christina, we were.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Credit at the end of "Planet of the Dead": LATER THIS YEAR THE WATERS OF MARS See more »


References Doctor Who: Midnight (2008) See more »


Written by Ruthann Friedman
Performed by The Association
See more »

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User Reviews

2009 Easter Special: Fairly standard stuff that provides colour and noise for children but lacks the edge required for older viewers
4 May 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It took me a minute or two to get round to watching this first of the specials that will see David Tennant give up the role of Dr Who to a teenager who won the role in an online raffle. Anyway, I'm not a massive Who fan or anything so I only approach Planet of the Dead as a piece of entertainment and, if it can entertain me then it is god enough for me. As it is though this special just seemed like it was in some sort of holding pattern in almost every regard. In terms of building up to Tennant's exit, it doesn't do anything other than end with a cryptic warning of the future but it is in the rest of the special where the "doing the basics to pass the time" aspect comes over.

The plot is a bit like Pitch Black but of course this is a Saturday evening family piece of entertainment so the darker, more thriller stuff is limited to what kids can cope. This is not a massive problem but it is when you temper it with so much noisy and silly stuff that it prevents the adults accepting it as well. This happens here as we have the usual "big, colourful" Doctor doing his stuff but too much silliness, weak comedy and daft action sequences that lack a reason to care or believe – they all pile up and the end result is a special that will work best for children and not the family as a whole. Things get a bit better in the second half as the creatures are introduced but even then the colourful spectacle of it all takes precedence over the rest. This in turn produces those terrible "cringe" moments that Doctor Who has occasionally – moments that remind you that this is not a massive American production but a BBC Wales production aimed at the Saturday evening telly crowd.

Indeed on such "moment" is all through the special, and that is the presence of Michelle Ryan. Fresh from her attempts to break America (how she got the opportunities she got mystifies me), Ryan attempts to be light, flirty fun while delivering an action character. The problem is that she never feels natural doing it at all. She attempts to match Tennant's larger-than-life approach but she hasn't got the acting skills nor the charisma to make it work and she ends up coming over either wooden or like she is overacting in a "big smile, lots of teeth" way. Tennant is his usual solid self and matches the "fun" approach of the special even if he doesn't have much else to do here aside from the usual running and shouting stuff. Evans is amusing but a bit too obvious while Dumezweni, Kaluuya, Ames, Thomas and others are all TV-standard.

Overall, Planet of the Dead will suffice for those younger viewers of Dr Who as it produces the standard requirements of the show. However for the casual viewer it will unavoidably come over as overly noisy, colourful and all a bit silly. As a "holding" film then I suppose it does the job, but the next few specials will need to step up their game somewhat as this is the sort of special/episode that you can forgive as the exception, not as the norm.

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