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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who - Planet of Evil [VHS] [1963]
Format: VHS Tape|Change
Price:£4.28+ £2.80 shipping


TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 January 2014
"You just happened to be passing?" asks Commander Salamar sarcastically. He's got a point. The Doctor was aiming for London (from Scotland), overshot by the length of the universe and landed on Zeta Minor instead. Here our universe of matter intersects with a neighbouring anti-matter universe, here (and we assume only here) matter and anti-matter can co-exist without instantly annihilating. There's plenty of annihilation but it's slower and much more alarming!

`Planet of Evil' is sometimes criticised for drawing on both `Forbidden Planet' and `Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde', but those two classics owe debts to `The Tempest' and werewolf legends respectively. There is nothing totally new under the sun - not even the sun that shines on Zeta Minor.

`Planet of Evil' is totally, convincingly alien. Nobody would want to spend time in that steaming, haunted jungle lit by the savage red light of a strange sun. Nobody except Professor Sorenson, last survivor of a lost expedition.

The design work is outstanding; the jungle sets are very popular and highly praised and the monsters still look very good, but the interior of the Morestran spaceship attracts some criticism as `low-budget'. True, it was all done on a tiny budget but the spaceship is bleakly functional and military and makes a very sharp contrast with the hideously alive jungle world it has landed on.

Beyond the well-written story, the sets and the eerie soundtrack, the strength of `Planet of Evil' lies in three excellent double acts. Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen look so at home in their roles it's no surprise to learn from the DVD documentary that this was Elisabeth Sladen's favourite story. A poignant moment comes late in the narrative as the Doctor effectively says what might be his final goodbye to Sarah, with the famous quote from Captain Oates, a hero from another, real lost expedition. Trademark touches of humour are shared between them amid the danger; the Doctor quotes Shakespeare at one point and casually comments "charming fellow"!

Prentis Hancock (playing Commander Salamar) and Ewen Solon (playing Vishinsky) bring depth to the uneasy relationship between their characters. It's obvious right from their initial scene that the youthful Salamar has been promoted over the older, wiser and far more experienced First Officer. Salamar radiates insecurity and the need to prove himself as Commander; you just know it won't end well.

Finally, Professor Sorenson (a wonderful, edgy performance from Frederick Jaeger) is becoming lost, deep in a double act with himself. The scene where the Doctor reminds him of the moral responsibility of science is one you'll remember.

DVD extras include a very entertaining commentary and two excellent documentaries. One focuses mostly on the famous design elements of the show, the other is from the actors' perspective, both are interesting and help explain how such great shows were made with such small budgets - in a word, skill.

5*

NOTE: The DVD menu shows clips from the programme as background, so if you don't know the story already, press `Play' ASAP. Hunt for the `Easter Egg', it's a good one.
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on 11 August 2017
Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. Dr Who at its best.
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on 18 May 2017
Great Dr Who.
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on 1 January 2013
1975's classic Tom Baker story, Planet of Evil, is yet another Hinchcliffe / Holmes / Baker masterpiece that I absolutely adore. This is a very straightforward tale, no great depth to the plot so it's not taxing on the brain and makes for essential late night viewing. I, like others, have found that this story's incredible design work stands out as just possibly the best in the series run, new series included. That jungle set is just gorgeous. I mean, how on earth did Roger Murray-Leach come up with such a phenomenal set piece for just £500?. In today's money that is the equivalent of the new series coffee budget. Needless to say, I am in total agreement with producer Philip Hinchcliffe when he put forward Roger's name for a BAFTA award.

Design aside, Tom Baker's Doctor is in the middle of the zenith period of his reign. As I have mentioned before in other reviews from this era of the show, Tom is just electric. He dominates every scene he is in and just commands presence. Tom's early years were characterised by a total belief in the part he was playing, and although I would never accuse Baker of losing that quality, his later years lack the true conviction that his early years had in spades. Not to be left out in all this domination by Baker, however, is Liz Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith. At this point in their working relationship, Baker and Sladen are at their most comfortable and thusly enthralling. I believe, like so many others, that the pairing of these two great actors was the best that the series had ever known. Here, they are untouchable, strong and so utterly believable. Their little improvised scenes just add so much more depth to the script. Season 13 is one of only two seasons in classic who that scores 10/10 for me all the way through, and this is in no small part to the performances of our regulars here.

Funnily enough, the writer of this tale, Louis Marks wrote 4 tales in all for the show and this is the only one barring Planet of Giants that I can stand. Day of the Daleks was possibly the biggest let-down I ever saw, especially when I was expecting so much from it and Masque of Mandragora is not my cup of tea either. Too much Italy and too much history. I was never a fan of the renaissance anyway. Luckily for me however, Day of the Daleks was released as a special "modified" {or as I like to call it "corrected"} version and Planet of Giants was given a fantastic release a few months ago. Planet of Evil on the other hand shows us what Louis was really capable of when he put his mind to it. The story is a fantastic "steal" from Forbidden Planet" no end but I think there are some genuine moments that inspire and are totally original.

The BBC's DVD release of this classic Tom Baker serial is another truly fine addition to the line. The Doctor Who Restoration Team, as ever, have done the most scintillating job of cleaning up these episodes for DVD and they could not look better if they were filmed in HD yesterday. The special features are fantastic also. We have the traditional making-of documentary and a doco on the performances that the excellent guest cast threw in. A great DVD and a great way to enjoy the story. 10/10.

Many thanks for reading my review of Planet of Evil, it's greatly appreciated.

M.B.
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on 7 April 2017
From what I remember it's an ok run of the mill story.
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on 23 September 2010
Planet of Evil is a Doctor Who story very much in the classic Who producer Phillip Hinchcliffe mold! An Earie planet, a bizarre scary moster and lashings of dark drama. This story was made in 1976 when the show was very much on a roll. Baker had found the perfect companion and foil in the lovely Liz Sladen, Hinhcliffe (the producer) was supervising great story after great story and script editor and writer Bob Holmes was responsible for a lot of the classic scripts in this era.

Ths story itself is some what reminiscent of Forbidden Planet but Hey ! all good stuff rips off others in some ways you know ! There's 2 big plus points to Planet of Evil. Firstly the planet set itself (shot on film, not video at Ealing studios) is absoloutley top notch,this set would hold up even by today standards. Had star wars film been shot on this set no one would have known it was a cheap Dr who set - it's that good ! All the more miraculous that it was created for only 500 pounds ! Yes you read that right !

The other great plus this story holds is the excellently rendered anti matter monster. Now Dr Who would churn out some great craetures but as well all know they would also create some real clunkers too ! but the who team were very smart here,knowing that they probably couldnt pull it off properly with regular make up techniques they resorted to crude visual fx that work effectively well with an image of the creature that will stay with you for some time after.

As a side note this is Liz sladens favourite story as she said it was made when she was really at home starring in who and by listening to the commentary its clear that both Baker and Sladen still have great fondness for each other.

The extra's are the usual fare,commentary,making of etc.

Planet of fire isn't Who at its very best but it is a solid story with a fantastic set and monster. Recommended.
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on 14 July 2017
Another favourite (I really need to review a story I hate), I love a good, Doctor Who, Horror, Space-Opera & this one certainly delivers. I don't care about the CSO monster effects, in fact, for me at least, it adds to the dark 70's atmosphere. I LOVE the groovy, Morestran spaceship. Yes, you read right, I LOVE IT! Some aspects are a bit confusing, the technobabble "science" involving Antimatter, & Sarah-Jane Smiths "possession".

This is another Hincliffe/Holmes Horror influenced one. I won't state the bleeding obvious on the influences. The alien jungle set of Zeta-Minor, last planet in the known Universe is pretty fab, maybe it was because the studio set was on film, I think. Tom Baker & Elisabeth Sladen shine as usual, the speech about being tempted to let the Morestrans destroy themselves is funny. The flawed, obsessed, Morestran scientists glowing eyes reminded me of Horror Express, there is a disturbing scene involving him & The Doctor & suicide. My favourite is Prentis Hancock as Salamar, he gets a lot of flack for OTT acting, but, it doesn't ruin my enjoyment of this fab story. His constant jealous reactions after being demoted is hilarious & is an interesting look into Morestran military culture. Why they call this Planet Of Evil when, technally, it isn't is strange. Maybe for a cool title (?).

All in all, this is groovy, 70's, fab, Space-Opera with a Horror flavour. Enjoy!
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on 14 December 2014
Following Doctor Who's 12th season opening serial Terror of the Zygons, companion Harry Sullivan departed the show, leaving Sara Jane Smith and The Doctor and thankfully the two of them have such great chemistry that the result is one of the best Doctor/Companion duos in the history of the show. While Planet of the Evil may not be one of the strongest stories in the history of the show, it's still a very entertaining serial with great pefromances all around including from Elisabethn Sladen as Sara Jane and Tim Baker as The Doctor.
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on 8 November 2010
When I was a teenager I sort of fell in love (is that the right noun?) with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. This may mean that my reviews of this period of Dr Who may be a little biased. I do think, though, that the Hinchcliffe period was one of the show's strongest and this story doesn't disappoint.

The story is a rather weird conflation of "Jekyll and Hyde" and "Forbidden Planet" that doesn't really address the core idea of either. That sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does because the two precursors are simply influences on what has become a new and original tale. The script is taut and the characters are well-drawn and sub-plots like the antipathy between Salamar and Veshinsky, are allowed to play out believably.

Tom Baker is beginning to get into his stride as the Doctor. He is still evidently more comfortable when the character is in "dynamic" mode, but he is still a joy to watch. Elisabeth Sladen is well-established in her role and she delivers a confident performance that I could watch again and again. Frederick Jaeger and Ewen Solon were, at this time, established actors and their performances do not disappoint. Neither does that of Prentis Hancock.

Special mention should be made of the set design, which is top-notch, and the "monster".

Why not 5 stars? Only two real weaknesses. Firstly it was probably a mistake to make the "parallel universe" one of antimatter. Too much is widely known about antimatter to make the idea of being "infected" by it entirely believable. Secondly, there should have been a better way of presenting the "infected" Sorensen than going caveman. These are minor points, though. Enjoy.
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on 18 April 2014
The Dr and his accomplice Sarah Jane, land on a planet after locking in on a distress signal (If I were them I'd avoid doing this like the plague!!). Whilst there, they find some desiccated corpses and are accused of murder by the crew of a ship sent in to help the original scientific exploration team. Incarcerated and finding that escape from the planet is turning out to be a real drag, the Dr and Sarah Jane are left with no option but to try and solve the mystery and save the day. But who or what unspeakable horror is the cause of these murders and why...?

This is a fairly good little story, and caught me by surprise. First of all I must say I'm not really a Dr Who fan but nonetheless, I've been watching a few recently, recommended by friends who are Dr Who fans, for purposes of nostalgia, and found myself enjoying this quite a lot.

It's not a story I remember having seen before, but the sets are really good and it has a pretty scary idea and decent pacing. The Dr actually comes into contact with quite a bit of 'real' peril in this one and the cliffhanger ending to one of the episodes (I don't want to give anything away by saying what it is) had me instantly wondering 'Eh? Hows he gonna escape from that?', making it impossible not to watch the next episode immediately. In the end there's a lot of running from place to place and wild accusation throwing, which gets a bit tedious and samey, but with a pangalactic gargleblasting Dr Jekyll and Mr Homebrew plot, infused with elements from Horror Express, it respectably holds it's own over the course of the four episodes. All of which are backed by the usual Who style pseudo science and 'back in time for tea and medals' attitude one would expect..
Would this appeal to any new Who fans? Errr.... I dunno, I guess so, I certainly thought it was enjoyable enough.

4.25/5
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