The Web Planet

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013 – The Web Planet
Doctor Who serial
Captured by the Animus.jpg
The Doctor and Vicki are captured in a web by the Animus.
Cast
Others
  • Catherine Fleming — Animus (voice)
  • Roslyn de Winter — Vrestin
  • Arne Gordon — Hrostar
  • Arthur Blake — Hrhoonda
  • Jolyon Booth — Prapillus
  • Jocelyn Birdsall — Hlynia
  • Martin Jarvis — Hilio
  • Ian Thompson — Hetra
  • Barbara Joss — Nemini
  • Robert Jewell, Jack Pitt, Gerald Taylor, Hugh Lund, Kevin Manser, John Scott Martin — The Zarbi
Production
Writer Bill Strutton
Director Richard Martin
Script editor Dennis Spooner
Producer Verity Lambert
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Stock music by Les Structures Sonores
Production code N
Series Season 2
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 13 February 1965
Date ended 20 March 1965
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Romans The Crusade

The Web Planet is the fifth serial of the second season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 13 February 1965 to 20 March 1965. The serial involves the TARDIS crew landing on the desolate planet Vortis, and allying themselves with its former inhabitants, the Menoptra, as they struggle to win back their planet from the malignant Animus.

Plot[edit]

An unknown force pulls the TARDIS off course and forces it to land on an unknown planet. The landing attracts the attention of the ant-like Zarbi, which now monitor the TARDIS and their natural high-frequency communications disorient Vicki. Whilst Barbara tents to Vicki, the Doctor and Ian leave the TARDIS to investigate. The planet they landed has a thin-atmosphere with natural crag-like rock formations and what appear to be pools of acid. From this the Doctor recognises the planet as Vortis; however, the presence of several moons in the sky of the normally moonless planet puzzles him.

Meanwhile, inside the ship, an unknown force acting through Barbara's gold bracelet, draws her outside. Leaving Vicki alone, the TARDIS begins to slide across the planet's surface, pulled by an unseen force.

In her trance, Barbara walks into a trio of the butterfly-like Menoptra. They remove her bracelet freeing her of the trance, then debate what to do with her. She escapes, but the Zarbi immediately capture her. Brainwashed through the use of a gold collar, the Zarbi use Barbara to find the Menoptra. The Zarbi kill one and capture another, whilst the third escapes. The Zarbi take Barbara and the captured Menoptra called Hrostar to the Crater of Needles, where the Zarbi force them to gather vegetation and drop it into rivers of acid which feed the Animus, what the Menoptra call the central force of the Zarbi.

The Doctor and Ian discover the theft of the TARDIS. Before they can track the trail leading away, the Zarbi capture them and take them to the Carsinome. There they find Vicki and the TARDIS, they also indirectly meet the Animus, who talks to the Doctor. The Animus forces the Doctor to help it track down the Menoptra invasion spearhead and the following main invasion force. Ian escapes, whilst the Doctor, who has already worked out the invasion plans of the Menoptra, and Vicki try to bide their time.

Ian, trying to find Barbara, meets with a Menoptra called Vrestin, the only escapee of the Zarbi ambush which captured Barbara and Hrostar. He learns from Vrestin that the Menoptra were native to the planet Vortis along with the Zarbi, until a great evil force, the Animus, slowly and gradually took control of the planet through the Zarbi. By the time the Menoptra noticed the danger it was too late, and they had to flee the planet to one of the moons the Animus pulled into orbit around Vortis.

Back in the Carsinome, the Doctor accidentally releases a bit of information about the Menoptra invasion force, particularly that the Menoptra spearhead plans to land at a place just north of the Crater of Needles. The Animus uses this information to ambush the spearhead.

The Zarbi soon locate Ian and Vrestin, but they escape when they fall into an underground tunnel. Inside they meet the Optera, descendants of the Menoptra who fled the Animus underground. Ian and Vrestin convince the Optera to join them in fighting the Animus.

At the Crater of Needles, Barbara and Hrostar escape and try to meet up with the spearhead to warn them, but the spearhead is massacred. Only a few survivors manage to hide in one of the Menoptra's old temples. There they try, without success, to radio the main force and warn them of the danger.

At the Carsinome, the Doctor works out that the Animus uses gold as a conductor to channel its mesmerising force. He counteracts this force to control one of the Zarbi. The Doctor and Vicki escape with his captive Zarbi. They meet up with Barbara and the Menoptra and devise a plan to attack the Carsinome.

The Doctor and Vicki return to the Carsinome, where the Zarbi take them to the Animus, a great spider-like creature, which mesmerises them instantly. Meanwhile, Barbara and the Menoptra launch their attack on the Carsinome from outside. At the same time, Ian and Vrestin with the Optera reach the Animus from below.

In the end, with Vortis free from the control of the Animus, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki leave in the TARDIS.

Production[edit]

The story had the working title of The Webbed Planet. Episode six was initially titled "Centre Of Terror". The novelisation restores this title for the sixth chapter.

Jacqueline Hill was not written into "Escape To Danger", in order to give her a week of holiday. She was not credited on the episode. She requested that the credits be amended for overseas sales, but this did not happen.[1]

Daphne Dare created the unique costumes for the varied alien species.

Cast notes[edit]

Noted choreographer Roslyn de Winter was hired to create the distinctive movements and stilted speech of the Menoptra. She was so successful that the production team asked her to take on the role of the Menoptra Vrestin (which she accepted).

This serial marked the television debut of Martin Jarvis. He later appeared as Butler in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and as the Governor of Varos in Vengeance on Varos.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
Archive
"The Web Planet" 13 February 1965 (1965-02-13) 23:57 13.5 16mm t/r
"The Zarbi" 20 February 1965 (1965-02-20) 23:20 12.5 16mm t/r
"Escape to Danger" 27 February 1965 (1965-02-27) 22:52 12.5 16mm t/r
"Crater of Needles" 6 March 1965 (1965-03-06) 25:50 13.0 16mm t/r
"Invasion" 13 March 1965 (1965-03-13) 26:04 12.0 16mm t/r
"The Centre" 20 March 1965 (1965-03-20) 24:32 11.5 16mm t/r
[2][3][4]

The first episode of the serial was watched by 13.5 million viewers, the highest number for any Doctor Who episode in the 1960s.

Believed lost in the BBC's early 1970s purge, negative film prints of all six episodes were recovered from BBC Enterprises in the late 1970s. Unedited prints of all six episodes were also discovered in Nigeria in 1984. The BBC holds two different versions of episode six; one in which the "Next Episode" caption referred to "The Lion" and the other with the caption naming "The Space Museum", which was the only story still available for sale by the BBC in 1974. (The different caption is not due to The Crusade being withheld from sale to Arab countries as is commonly thought, since the package of serials sold to Arabic countries did not extend beyond The Rescue.)[5]

In 2008, Mark Braxton of Radio Times acknowledged the effort put into the costumes and "superbly atmospheric" sets, despite the fact they did not hold up well. He felt that the story had an "almost total absence of excitement" and might not even work as a four-parter, but it did have ambition and a deeper meaning about good versus evil.[6] Neela Debnath of The Independent stated that The Web Planet was "enjoyable" with ambitious writing that "lacks impact given the poor quality of the visuals".[7] Den of Geek named The Web Planet as one of the ten most underrated classic Doctor Who serials, noting that it "is a joy for being so different" even if "the ambition might outstrip the execution".[8] Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping said the story was "Imaginative, ambitious, and, by modern standards, slow and silly looking. It's hard to judge a story that, at the time, was astonishing but has aged so badly." They nevertheless said "You've got to appreciate lofty ambitions."[9]

Commercial Releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who and the Zarbi
Doctor Who and the Zarbi.jpg
Author Bill Strutton
Cover artist Chris Achilleos
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
73
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
2 May 1973
ISBN 0-426-10129-4

The serial was the second to be novelised by the publisher Frederick Muller. It was written by Bill Strutton under the title Doctor Who and the Zarbi in 1965. In 1973 Target Books acquired the rights to the novelisation and reprinted it as one of the first in their long-running series of Doctor Who novelisations, although when the imprint began numbering the books in the series, The Zarbi was listed as Number 73 in the series. A Dutch translation was published in the Netherlands in 1974, and a Portuguese one in 1983.

In 2005 the novel was also issued by BBC Audio as part of the Doctor Who: Travels in Time and Space audio book collectors' tin, read by William Russell.

Home media[edit]

The Web Planet was released on a double VHS in 1990. In North America it was released as a single VHS. It was released on DVD on 3 October 2005 in the United Kingdom.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1994). Doctor Who The Handbook - The First Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 92. ISBN 0-426-20430-1. 
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The Web Planet". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ "The Web Planet". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2005-07-03). "The Web Planet". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Molesworth, Richard (2010). Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes. Telos Publishing Ltd. pp. 316, 419. ISBN 978-1-84583-037-3. 
  6. ^ Braxton, Mark (21 December 2008). "Doctor Who: The Web Planet". Radio Times. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Debnath, Neela (28 February 2012). "Review of Doctor Who ‘The Web Planet’ (Series 2)". The Independent. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Ten Under-rated Classic Doctor Who Stories". Den of Geek. 6 July 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  9. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/webplanet/detail.shtml

External links[edit]

Reviews
Target novelisation