Classic Doctor Who: “The Web Planet”

The Doctor and the Tardis gang are pulled towards a mysterious planet of insect people who are embroiled in a war between good and evil and, as usual, the Doctor is placed right into the middle of it as the Tardis is stolen, Barbara, Ian, and Vikki are separated, and the story takes forever to go anywhere.

For “The Web Planet” to work, the viewer has to swallow several heaping shovelfuls of bull to suspend their disbelief and not choke on it as they try to force it down. Simply put, “The Web Planet” is ambitious – more ambitious than anything Doctor Who had attempted before this point. The downside is, it’s more ambitious than anything Doctor Who had attempted before and, in this case, the show overstepped its own abilities and the result is something that looks as ridiculous as it is silly.

It’s kind of sad, really, because this serial had so many things going for it. The idea of so many insect-aliens was promising and the sets looked really good for what a 60’s shoestring budget could muster (even if the painted flats were betrayed a few times by poor camera angles), but the story was a boring, plodding mess of filler and repetition and the dialogue, delivery, and movement from the insect people was so badly handled and directed that, rather than alien, the whole bunch looked goofy as hell and hard to take seriously.

I know that technology and budgets were different during the Hartnell era, but so much of the costuming didn’t work even with that understanding. The Menoptra looked okay, all things considered, but the Zarbi were laughable in appearance and their chittering shrill whatever-the-heck-that-was noises they kept making were like a screwdriver in the ear. The Optra actually had some pretty impressive costuming, but even it looked cheap and watching the actors hop from place to place made me feel embarrassed for them.

This one was bad… it was bad to the point that finishing it felt like work. The first installment is actually pretty good as it sells the alien world, but through the subsequent five additional episodes, it’s obvious that the ideas of the story aren’t enough to support six episodes. Perhaps if “The Web Planet” had only been made up of three episodes total, it would have been tolerable – still not great, but it wouldn’t have felt like a slow torture at the end… an embarrassingly bad ending, I might add as the entire Animus sequence was the most overacted melodramatic turd I’ve ever seen pooped out on sci-fi TV.

Needless to say, I’m happy this one is over. I can only hope at some point the Daleks visited this stupid world with a can of bug spray.

Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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