Serial Review: Planet of Evil (Season 13)
I know I’m some kind of weirdo for not liking Tom Baker, but that’s just kinda the way it is. And the even stranger thing is, no matter how much I see, he isn’t really growing on me. Unlike Paul McGann, who I am enjoying more and more for each audio I hear, I’m actually liking Tom Baker less and less as every story goes on. That’s not to say he’s getting worse, it’s just that it is becoming more clear that I don’t like him. When I had only seen a few stories, I could tell myself that I just haven’t seen enough yet. I’ve now basically seen two seasons worth of serials, and am still scratching my head as to why everyone likes him so much.
That being said, I like him the best so far in “Planet of Evil.” This isn’t my favorite story of his that I’ve seen, but as far as Tom Baker himself in the role, I think he is strongest here of what I’ve seen. There are actually moments here where he has to be slightly dramatic where I don’t think he’s hamming it up. Everyone knows he does the comedy part well, but he is significantly bad when the scene requires him to be dramatic. The scene in “Genesis of Daleks” when he contemplates whether he has the right to kill all of the Daleks at once before they have a chance to take over the universe is seen by many to be one of the seminal scenes in Classic Who. For me, it’s a wasted opportunity, because I think Baker is pretty shit in that scene.
“Planet of Evil” is most notable for it’s excellent sets, and that is definitely worth mentioning. The jungles here look like they were made on about ten times the budget they actually had. Sure, they re-use them endlessly and run past the same square of jungle a dozen times, but it’s such a good set that it doesn’t bug me. This serial also gets some points on my good side for just being bizarre. I love the really strange moments in this, much like I enjoy the slow motion fight of the minds between the Third Doctor and Omega in “The Three Doctors.”
That being said, I never found myself REALLY into the story; it just doesn’t have enough there to be one of my favorites. Still, with great sets, enough bizarre to keep me amused, and an actually pretty solid Tom Baker, I think in the end, “Planet of Evil” is an above average story. Worth a re-watch down the line.