Wednesday, October 21, 2009

4H1 - Planet of Evil 1

The first thing most viewers notice upon viewing Episode One of Planet of Evil is the exceptional jungle set created by designer Roger Murray-Leach. It truly is spectacular, but actually doesn't feature nearly as often as I remembered. Instead, most of the scenes set on Zeta Minor take place in the BBC studio, which, although still well designed, can't possibly hope to be as effective as the set filmed at Ealing Studios.

The key ingredient is water. Safety regulations prevent any such sets to have small pools or rivers of water in the television studio, but the film studios were not bound by such restraints. When Baldwin is running through the jungle to get back to base, the scene looks fantastic on film. He trips and falls in the water, staggers around the gloomy set, and all the while the camera shooting the scene from a distance to give the set a bit of scale. The Ealing set looks like that of Dagobah five years before The Empire Strikes Back. Cut to the BBC studio, and you can tell that Baldwin is on the very edge of a much smaller set, and he's a lot drier than he was at Ealing.

Sarah Jane has some great moments in this episode, almost at the expense of The Doctor. She deduces that the members of the science expedition are human with her powers of observation, she points out to The Doctor that they can escape from the scientists' ship because of the low power levels, and, somehow, she can sense when the antimatter beast is close at hand. Quite how she manages that last marvel (especially since none of the other characters, including The Doctor, seem to pick up on it) remains unexplored, it's a trait that even the hyper intuitive Leela would be jealous of.


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