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Doctor Who Original Series 13 - The Web Planet

2.16 The Web Planet Pt. 1 - The Web Planet Written by Bill Strutton, Directed by Richard Martin

The Tardis is pulled down to a strange barren planet, and the crew must solve the mystery of what has done this if they are ever to leave again.

A great set-up episode for what follows, laying down aspects of the mysterious planet, and setting some questions to be answered later. I love the character stuff between Barbara and Vicki, with Vicki's background fleshed out nicely. And there are also some nice moments between the Doctor and Ian.

The last few minutes building to the cliffhanger are wonderfully atmospheric and creepy, and we effectively end with a four-way cliffhanger.


"Let me see now, now what have we got, hm? Echoes. Interference. Gold. Now... Acid! Yes, similar properties to formic acid. Yes, it's strange. It's very strange. - William Hartnell (Doctor Who)

2.17 The Web Planet Pt. 2 - The Zarbi Written by Bill Strutton, Directed by Richard Martin

The Tardis is stolen and the crew meet the inhabitants of Vortis.

This epsiode allows the audience to fully meet the creatures of the story, building as it goes. We continue to learn more about the planet and the current situation - a growing building, new sattelites in the sky, the importance of gold, etc. It's also quite harsh in places, with Barbara's reaction to the offscreen clipping of a Menoptera's wings selling the horror of the moment beautifully.


"If we do not contact our forces, they face destruction. We must warn them of the power of the Animus." - Roslyn De Winter (Vrestin)

2.18 The Web Planet Pt. 3 - Escape to Danger Written by Bill Strutton, Directed by Richard Martin

The Doctor, Ian, and Vicki are the prisoners of the Animus.

This episode establishes the Animus and explains where things are at. The Animus attempts to use the Doctor while he's attempting to outwit it, so there's a nice low level battle of wits going on. There's also a short scene with the Zarbi swinging into action when Ian tries to escape that's quite quickly paced and ambitious for the day.


"The Zarbi are not an intelligent species but they were essential to the life pattern here. We lived at peace with them, until they were made militant by the dark power." - Roslyn De Winter (Vrestin)

2.19 The Web Planet Pt. 4 - Crater of Needles Written by Bill Strutton, Directed by Richard Martin

Can Ian and Vrestin convince the Optera that they are allies? Will the Doctor be able to continue fooling the Animus? And can Barbara help the invasion force?

Barbara is really getting the worst of it in this story. Made a slave, trying to save the invasion force... The Doctor, Vicky and Ian have a comparitively easy time this episode. The world and cultures continue to be fleshed out, showing a level of thought and detail rare in most stories.
Much as I love this story, it always seems to be running a little slow. That said, the ecosystem is solidly established, Strutton obviously having sorted out his backstory and understanding how things work in this world.


"If you throw us into the fire, you destroy your own future." - William Russell (Ian Chesterton)

2.20 The Web Planet Pt. 5 - Invasion Written by Bill Strutton, Directed by Richard Martin

The plan to defeat the Animus is made, but will it succeed?

A fair amount is thrown into the episode. The escape and return to the web by the Doctor and Vicki, Ian and Vrestin's journey with the Optera to find the root of the web, and Barbara working with the leader of the invasion force.

Of particular note is the dialogue from the Optera and the Menoptera - their descriptions of things are unusual, but understandable with a little thought, giving them a slightly more alien mindset.

The death of Nemini, as she sacrifices herself to save the others from the acid is a harsh moment, one that the Optera accept as necessary. As they point out to Ian, this is a danger they always live with.

How does the Doctor find not only the temple, but the secret entrance? And where does he expect Vicki to hide the Isoptope given the outfit she's wearing?


"A silent wall. We must make mouths in it with our weapons. Then it will speak more light." - Ian Thompson (Hetra)

2.21 The Web Planet Pt. 6 - The Centre Written by Bill Strutton, Directed by Richard Martin

The Doctor and Vicki are taken to the Animus to be absorbed, while the Menoptera mount a last ditch assault.

The last episode shoots along at a fair pace given how slow the previous episodes were. It's a good finish, with the Menoptera talking about how they'll sing songs about the Earth people who helped to save them.


"What I take from you will enable me to reach beyond this galaxy into the solar system, to pluck from Earth its myriad techniques, and take from man his mastery of space. - Catherine Fleming (Animus voice)

7.6/10 The Web Planet

Web Planet is a magnificently insane attempt to bring an alien planet full of giant insects to the screen. Even with today's effects technology it would tax a feature film. So trying to do it in 1965 on television with a tiny budget, in small studios, is unbelieveably ambitious. To give a sense of proportion, in 1966 the average cost of a 50 minute episode of Star Trek was US $180,000 (£75,000). The whole six part story of Web Planet cost £16,525.

The Zarbi are large and clumsy, however in an age where most aliens were humanoids, they are an interesting idea. The same can be said of the larvae gun. The Menoptera are also primitive costumes, but still striking and lovely. And I love the effort that has been gone into to give them an alien way of moving and talking. It may often seem a little silly, but at least some effort has been made to move away from standard speech.

I especially like how each creature has its part to play in the planet's ecosystem, even the larvae guns, as is explained at the end.

There's no doubt that Web Planet's flaws are many, but the core of the story is solid enough if one can get past the visuals and slow pace.
Tags: doctor who story reviews

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