Planet of the Ood

The Ood first appeared in The Impossible Planet a season before last, but their appearance was secondary to all the business with the Devil. This time we get to see where the Ood come from in an episode devoted to learning all about them. It’s also the second episode in a row that has a strong moral underpinning, giving Donna another chance to show her compassionate human side. And once again, it works.

The Doctor and Donna slip into the buyers' tour of the Ood facility.

The Doctor and Donna slip into the buyers’ tour of the Ood facility.

Surely the notion that “slavery is bad, m’kay” should go without saying, but Planet of the Ood serves as a reminder of how far astray from the moral straight line humanity can roam when it’s comfortable to do so. In this case, a slave race apparently volunteers its service to anybody who wants it, so why should we ask any questions that might threaten to take that away. The comparison with sweatshop clothing is cutting and its good to see the show tackle some actual issues that aren’t just “argh, monsters, run!”.

The Ood turn red-eyed and attack.

The Ood turn red-eyed and attack.

That said, the Ood do turn into a load of rabid monsters and there’s a lot of running and gunning and freaky red eyes before they are freed from slavery. The bit where Halpen transforms into an Ood himself, ripping the flesh of his head apart, is the most fantastically disgusting thing I’ve ever seen on Doctor Who, although it makes little sense. Nor, particularly, does the idea of a species evolving with external second brains that they have to carry around with them… but life works in mysterious ways.

The Ood's collective brain... thing.

The Ood’s collective brain… thing.

Donna has been pretty great so far. I never disliked her character before, I just don’t actually remember a lot of these episodes or how good she was in them – the polar opposite of the materialistic and shallow person she came across as in her first appearance. Catherine Tate tackles the emotional scenes brilliantly.

The occasional CGI-expanded wide shot gives the OodSphere a sense of scale and alien majesty. The rest just looks like a quarry - huzzah!

The occasional CGI-expanded wide shot gives the OodSphere a sense of scale and alien majesty. The rest just looks like a quarry – huzzah!

It’s reference time! The OodSphere is near the SenseSphere, where the Doctor met the Sensorites “ages ago”. I can see the resemblance, although there needn’t be one, biologically speaking. Ood Sigma refers to the Doctor’s song coming to an end shortly, the first premonition of David Tennant’s run coming to an end. Of course, it’s not quite over yet.

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