Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Forty-Nine: Planet of Giants (Planet of Giants, Episode One)
You have no idea how lovely it is to get back to an actual, real, episode. Much as I've enjoyed my side-step into the world of 'what-if?' this last week, it's great to actually see the story as well as to listen to it. The episode has simply flown by, and it helps that there's a lot to look at.
It's been said many times over the years, but the design of the 'props' (if you can call them that) in this story is top-notch. The effect of the packet of Night Scented Stock is striking, as is that of the matchbox. The model ant is rather impressive, too, though the earthworm is a bit plain for my liking.
The most interesting aspect of the visuals, though, comes from the direction. there's a lovely shot when the travelers have deduced that they're now only around an inch high, when the camera pulls back from the model of the TARDIS to show the path it's sat in, and the house beyond. It's a great image, and one which deserves to be better remembered than it is.
We've also got Ian (and later the rest of the crew) being super-imposed onto a shot of the dead man's face. Though watching a freshly-VidFIREd copy of the story shows up one or two spots of overlapping in the images, it's still one of the most impressive shots that we've had in the series, and mush have looked great on a 1960s television set.
The downside to the story? Well… it's a bit… slow, isn't it? Planet of Giants wasn't originally intended to become the second season opener for Doctor Who, instead being just 'one of the run'. Moving it to this position, though, as the triumphant return of the series after a few weeks away from screens is a slightly odd decision, though.
I mean, yes, there's plenty to look at. Yes, there's a bit of a mystery to be had. Yes, it serves as another of those early episodes that is hung mostly around our regular cast… but it's all just a bit 'bog-standard-Doctor-Who. Knowing what's to come in a few days time, it feels almost as though this is the main course that you need to sit through to reach dessert.
Still, 'bog-standard-Doctor-Who is still better than several things in the world; where else do you find a cliffhanger based around your four main characters seeing a cat!? I'm just happy to be back where I can see everything on a screen again - I really have missed these four!
Next Episode: Dangerous Journey