Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Fifty-One: Crisis (Planet of Giants, Episode Three)
I've made no secret in the last six weeks that I tend to think the six-parters in Doctor Who run on a bit. They all seem to start strong, sag badly, then return to form at the end. The same can be said, on some occasions, for the four-part stories, too. All things considered, when it comes to twentieth century Doctor Who, I tend to think of three-episode stories being just about right.
Which is why this story seems to end at just the right time. There's just enough incident in this final episode to wrap up the story nicely. It doesn't feel like the story has been drawn out any longer than it should have been, and equally it doesn't seem at all rushed. So it's always fascinated me that when it was first made, this story was four episodes long!
The DVD version of Planet of Giants contains a recon of the original episodes three and four, with William Russell and Carole Ann Ford coming in with some impersonators to re-record lines for the missing parts of the tale. This is then put together with some clever use of other footage to restore it to full-length.
I'm sad to say that I tried watching the recon when the DVD first came out, but it just wasn't to my taste. I got most of the way through episode three, but the thought of having to sit through any more of it was too much. Watching the story over the last three days though, I can't help but feel that, actually, I don't want to experience this one as a four-parter - it's just right here and now!
I seem to have been on a constant loop of praising the effects in this story over the last few entries, so I won't dwell on them too much here. Suffice to say that they finish up looking as good as they have all along, and I love the idea of the Doctor taking the seed back to the TARDIS with them to see if they've returned to normal size once more.
I also like that the story wraps itself up quite neatly in the end, even though the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan don't actually get involved. The only real impact they have on the plot is the unhook the phone and the blow up the can - but Hilda and the policeman were already suspicious enough as it is, so things would likely have reached the same conclusion.
In some ways it comes back to what I was saying yesterday about the story feeling so indistinct that it could fit anywhere, not just into Doctor Who. It's been an interesting, three-episode interlude, but it's just felt like a bizarre (and not entirely successful) experiment.
Still, we've got Daleks coming up tomorrow, and there's not many things more 'Doctor Who' than a Dalek…
Next Episode: World's End