Shows - Review
One of the things that makes Doctor Who so appealing is that while the show could be predicable at times, it was willing to take chances--to challenge viewers with stories that were new, innovated and different. And there are some splendid examples of how experimental stories could and should be done--Ghost Light, Inferno, Greatest Show in the Galaxy are just a few that come to mind. Then there's the Web Planet--a story that's trying to be so much more than it actually is and failing miserably. The Web Planet is probably my least favorite remaining story from the Hartnell era. It also qualifies as one of my bottom five stories in all of Doctor Who history.
Simply put: the Web Planet is slow moving, dull and tedious. There's a plot, but just enough to ably fill two 25-minute episodes. Instead, we get six-episodes of story where the viewer is forced to sit through long spells where nothing happens in order to get to the next critical plot point. I know that over the years I've stated that the Hartnell stories were made in a different era--and that watching them all in one go is not what the creators intended. But the Web Planet moves so slowly and so tediously that it fails to build up any interest. Indeed, the best thing I can say about watching episodically is that every 25-minutes or so, the theme music plays and breaks things up a bit. Not exactly high praise for an era that features some rather underrated stories in my mind. Perhaps the most frustrating part is that you can see what they're trying to do--and failing.
The production staff is trying to create a truly alien environment. They're creating a planet that isn't just guys in rubber suits and is, instead, actual alien beings of some kind. I like the fact that the TARDIS crew must overcome a language barrier and try to communicate with these aliens. There's so many good small things screaming to get out, only to get lost under the tedium of an overly simple story and a high episode count.
This is not a story that I would recommend you show to non-Who fans in an attempt to convert them to the ways of Doctor Who. In fact, it's one that I'd pretty much keep at the back of the tape collection until after they've really sampled how great Who can be. Otherwise, you're apt to turn them away from Who for good.
And who can blame them? I can barely make it through the Web Planet without wanting to turn away from my lifelong love of Doctor Who.
Last Updated: 10/25/2006
Other Reviews by Michael Hickerson
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