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23 January 2015

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 753: The Satan Pit

Dear diary,

I made a note yesterday to the effect that the ‘reveal’ of the Ood (‘we must feed’) didn’t quite pack the same punch that it did first time around, now that we’re so used to the idea that the Ood are a largely peaceful slave race. Although I could recall it being one of the things I really liked about the episode the first time I watched it, having seen the creatures pop up several times since had somewhat taken the edge off things. But then, as is always the way when I’m writing up these entries, I ended up talking about something else entirely, and didn’t even mention the Ood. 

And it’s probably a good job,m because I’d be completely retracting that statement today! The Ood are actually scary. Scary in a way that I’m not entirely certain they were when I first saw this one (my attention had probably lapsed too much by this stage). I’d even go so far as to say that in this particular episode, they’re one of the scariest creatures the programme has ever given us. There’s just something about the way that they become damn near unstoppable once the Beast has taken possession, coupled by the way they move (especially in the not-a-ventilation-shaft-honestly sequences) that’s really made an impact on me today. Now, though, I can’t help but wonder if the success of the creatures here may impact the way I view them by the time we reach Series Four and Planet of the Ood - because they undergo a similar ‘red eye’ transformation there, and there’s a risk it may end up looking like a watered down version of this… 

Still, If I’m entirely honest, it’s not the only thing to have made an impact this time around which I’d not really picked up on before hand. I really like the idea that right up to the point where he’s facing down the creature in the pit - and even after that once they’re safely back in the TARDIS - the Doctor still tries to find excuses for what this thing can be. It’s nicely offset with discussions about the way that we all have our own set of rules about what we’re willing top believe, and it’s possibly the most interesting part of the episode. It also gives David Tennant a chance to really shine, as he hangs alone in the dark pit, just soliloquising. We’ve seen a fair few extremes of the Tenth Doctor so far this series (probably a broader range of emotions than the Ninth Doctor was able to give us in his year), so it’s always nice when we get to see him playing things quietly and with some real consideration. It’s when Tennant is really at his best.

I’m left wondering, though… the Doctor refuses to believe that the Best could have come from a universe before this one… but haven’t we encountered such creatures before now? Certainly if we take in to account things said in some of the novels and audios then creatures like the Animus, the Great Intelligence, and the Gods of Ragnarok are said to have existed in previous universes, but I’m sure we must have had at least one being in the series before now which is unequivocally stated to have existed before time? Ferric, maybe? Answers on a postcard…

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