Planet of Giants
|009 – Planet of Giants|
|Doctor Who serial|
The miniaturised Susan and Ian encounter a normal-sized ant
Douglas Camfield (episode 3)
|Written by||Louis Marks|
|Script editor||David Whitaker|
Mervyn Pinfield (associate producer, uncredited)
|Incidental music composer||Dudley Simpson|
|Length||3 episodes, 25 minutes each|
|Date started||31 October 1964|
|Date ended||14 November 1964|
Planet of Giants is the first serial of the second season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in three weekly parts from 31 October to 14 November 1964.
In the serial, the First Doctor (William Hartnell), his granddaughter Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford), and teachers Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) are shrunk to the size of an inch after the Doctor's time machine the TARDIS arrives in contemporary England. The Doctor and Susan head inside a laboratory to find Ian and Barbara after the two parties get separated.
Despite indications of a malfunction in the TARDIS, its fault locator shows nothing is wrong and that it is safe to go outside. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan consequently explore the vicinity, finding the remains of giant earthworm and ant, which appear to have died instantaneously. The travellers realise they have returned to Earth but have shrunk to the height of an inch.
Ian is investigating the interior of a discarded matchbox when someone picks it up. That someone is a government scientist called Farrow who is visiting a callous industrialist named Forester to tell him that his application for a new insecticide called DN6 has been rejected as it is far too deadly to all forms of insect life. News of this appraisal prompts Forester to fatally shoot Farrow. The Doctor, Barbara and Susan hear the gunshot and head for the house to find Ian unhurt near Farrow’s corpse.
Forester’s aide, Smithers, arrives but does not report the murder for fear of undermining the DN6 project to which he has dedicated his life. Ian and Barbara hide inside Farrow's briefcase to avoid being stepped on by Forester and Smithers, and get separated from the Doctor and Susan after the briefcase is brought inside the house. The Doctor and Susan climb up a drain pipe to find them. Forester alters Farrow’s report to give support to the DN6 licence application and, disguising his voice as Farrow’s, makes a supportive phonecall to the ministry to the same effect. This is overheard by the local telephone operator, Hilda Rowse, and her policeman husband, Bert, who suspect something is wrong.
Within the house, Ian and Barbara encounter a giant fly, which is killed instantly when it contacts sample seeds that had been sprayed with DN6. Barbara had foolishly handled one of these seeds and begins to feel unwell. The Doctor, realising the toxic nature of DN6 and the probable contamination of Barbara, proposes they alert someone by hoisting up the giant telephone receiver, but they cannot make themselves heard. At the telephone exchange, the engaged signal makes Hilda and Bert increasingly concerned. Bert heads off to the house to investigate.
The Doctor and his companions decide to attract attention by starting a fire, succeeding in manoeuvring an aerosol can into the flames of the Bunsen burner gas outlet. This coincides with Smithers discovering the true virulence of DN6 and demanding Forester cease his licence application. In the lab, the makeshift bomb explodes in Forester’s face as PC Rowse arrives.
Back in the TARDIS the Doctor succeeds in returning the craft and crew to normal size, a process which cures Barbara of her infection by DN6.
An early version of this concept – by C. E. Webber and entitled The Giants – was originally meant to be the first story of the first season. Planet of Giants was recorded in the production block it was decided to hold it for transmission as the start of season 2. This story was originally four episodes in length. Upon viewing Episodes 3 and 4, which focused more heavily on Hilda and Bert, Head of Serials Donald Wilson ordered them spliced together in order to form a faster-paced climax (Episode 3) focusing on the core characters of the series. Episode 4 was called "The Urge to Live" and directed by Douglas Camfield (instead of Mervyn Pinfield, who directed Episodes 1-3). When Episodes 3 and 4 were edited together to make the new Episode 3, only Camfield was credited.
The decision to splice the last two episodes into one would have ramifications for the second production block of the series, when the producers were left with a one-episode space following Galaxy 4. Rather than producing a single-episode stand-alone story or extend any of the planned serials, "Mission to the Unknown" was commissioned to serve as a prelude to The Daleks' Master Plan without the participation of any of the regular cast. This was produced in the same block as Galaxy 4, and both were held over to form the first five episodes of Season 3.
Broadcast and reception
|Episode||Title||Run time||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||"Planet of Giants"||23:15||31 October 1964||8.4||16mm t/r|
|2||"Dangerous Journey"||23:40||7 November 1964||8.4||16mm t/r|
|3||"Crisis"||26:35||14 November 1964||8.9||16mm t/r|
In 2008, Radio Times reviewer Patrick Mulkern wrote that the story had ambition and impressive set design, but felt that "the drama itself is less than enthralling". He pegged the scientists to stereotypes and found it disappointing that they did not directly interact with the miniature TARDIS crew about their plans. Mulkern also noted that Barbara "[came] across as uncharacteristically wet" and Dudley Simpson's score was "annoyingly childish". DVD Talk's John Sinnott gave Planet of Giants three out of five stars, feeling that it was an average "solid installment". Sinnott noted that it was a strange story because the TARDIS crew did not directly interact with the "pretty stupid" criminals and they seemed more concerned about exploring than returning to their normal size. Dave Golder of SFX gave the serial two and a half out of five stars, feeling that it was "undeniably slow, talky and lacking in excitement" and "not quite in synch with the main show" because Barbara and Ian never note that they are in contemporary Britain, to which they are trying to return. Despite praising the TARDIS crew for using "intelligence, ingenuity and simple science to get themselves out of problems", he felt they lacked their usual chemistry and also criticised Barbara's characterisation. The A.V. Club reviewer Christopher Bahn described the serial as "not lacking in ambitious ideas but never quite [gelling] together, and a last-minute re-edit that condensed the original third and fourth episodes into one hurt the story more than it helped". Bahn felt that the script "is constantly undercutting its own dramatic potential in subtle but pervasive ways", such as when the characters tried calling the police on a telephone, and the "plot-dragger" of Barbara keeping her illness a secret. However, he praised set design and acting of Hill and Tilvern.
|Episode||Title||Run time||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||"Crisis, original recorded version"†||-||Unaired||n/a||Only stills and/or fragments exist|
|2||"The Urge to Live, original recorded version"†||-||Unaired||n/a||Only stills and/or fragments exist|
|Cover artist||Alister Pearson|
Doctor Who book:|
|18 January 1990|
A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in January 1990. It was the final serial of the William Hartnell era to be novelised. The novel also reinstated much of the material cut to make the televised serial into three episodes.
The 2012 DVD includes recreations of the original Episodes 3 and 4, based on the original scripts and featuring newly recorded dialogue from regular cast members Ford and Russell and other actors impersonating the remaining (all deceased) cast. A variety of techniques has been used to re-create the missing visual material, but most of this is done by re-editing existing footage from the finished episode 3.
- Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1994). Doctor Who The Handbook - The First Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. pp. 178–9. ISBN 0-426-20430-1.
- "Serial J: Planet Of Giants" A Brief History of Time Travel 27 June 2012
- Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1994). Doctor Who The Handbook - The First Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 275. ISBN 0-426-20430-1.
- Sullivan, Shannon. "Mission to the Unknown (aka. Dalek Cutaway)". A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 24 April 2007.
- "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
- Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "Planet of Giants". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 31 March 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
- Mulkern, Patrick (14 November 2008). "Doctor Who: Planet of Giants". Radio Times. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Sinnott, John (31 October 2012). "Doctor Who: Planet of Giants". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Golder, Dave (17 August 2012). "Doctor Who: Planet of Giants Review". SFX. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Bahn, Christopher (9 December 2012). "Planet of Giants". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- Roberts, Steve (28 September 2001). "Planet of Giants". Doctor Who Restoration Team. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Roberts, Steve. "VidFIRE". Doctor Who Restoration Team. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2007.
- "DVD Update: Summer Schedule". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
- "Doctor Who Online - News & Reviews - Planet of Giants - DVD Cover and Details". News.drwho-online.co.uk. 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: First Doctor|
- Planet of Giants at BBC Online
- Planet of Giants at Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Planet of Giants at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Planet of Giants on Tardis Data Core, an external wiki
- Planet of Giants reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- Planet of Giants reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide