C013 The Web Planet


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Doc & Co team up with butterflies and Rastafarian centipedes to battle man-sized ants, laser-nosed DustBusters and a giant wig from outer space



The TARDIS is pulled down to the planet Vortis, where Doc determines that his time machine is broken and the troupe is swiftly separated. Vicki stays in the TARDIS, pressing buttons for no particular reason; Doc and Ian are apprehended by giant bipedal ants (aka Zarbi) and their henchmen (aka Larvae Guns) that look like DustBusters and fire laser beams from their noses; and Barbara is at first zombified but then rescued by man-sized possibly-bees-possibly-butterflies (aka Menoptra).

It transpires the planet, once a harmonious garden ruled by the Menoptra, was taken over by a dark force from outer space (aka The Animus), that enslaved the Zarbi and used them to steal the planet out from under the Menoptra’s shower-curtain wings. But now, an undefined amount of years later, the Menoptra are about to attempt to retake the planet.

Fast-forward a tiny little bit: Doc and Vicky are now being interrogated by The Animus about the whereabouts of the Menoptra invasion force (which he gives up immediately); Ian has teamed up with a female Menoptra and some snot-centipedes to rescue Barb and some other bee-or-butterfly people (which they then actually don’t even attempt); and Barb is weeding the planet in a prison camp and about to die because she can’t breathe in the Vortis atmosphere (which doesn’t last for long, because moments later she’s leading a revolution and waging all-out war without a hassle).

This episode is freaking bonkers, in the most awful way imaginable.

Many thanks to Gina, Davis, Kyle and JD, whose mini-reviews are included in this podcast and available here below.

The Ratings and Reviews section of this podcast episode starts at 1h31min.

#DoctorWho #DrWho #ClassicWho

11 Responses to “C013 The Web Planet”

  1. Davis Williams / @ShrubThe

    So I wasn’t able to force myself to finish The Web Planet before today, but I have seen enough to write a decent review for a less than decent story arc.

    What I have seen so far seems like a mix random qualities of previous stories. From the Daleks (the larvae guns), and the Edge of Descrusion (Vicki got trapped in the TARDIS), to the Planet of the Giants (Take a guess). Squishing all of this together made for an awful story arc.

    However, other qualities made it awful as well. For example, Vicki’s acting was horrendous. Except when the Zarbi put the gold on her, she was really good at acting expressionless. And I can’t forget the wonderful ear piercing screams of the Zarbi. Finally, the blurriness of the atmosphere actually gave me a headache.

    Overall, I would rate this story a 0.2, only because Vicki seemed to live in the Matrix previously, and that was a good movie. In case you are wondering, I am referring to when she tells Barbara that she can learn anything in about an hour in Episode 1.

    Reply
  2. Kyle Rath / @sinistersprspy

    Doctor Who Season 2 Episode 5: The Web Planet Review

    This was a stupid episode. Let me explain.

    The Menoptera are a bee-like race, one of three indigenous species from the planet Vortice. The other two are their younger descendents, the Optera, and the ant-like Zarbi, who come in both a larval and adult developed carapace model.

    Up until a certain point, the three races lived in relative harmony with the planet.

    Then came the Animus, a ruthless, power-mad spider like creature that is bent on ultimate control of all life and resources on Vortice.

    The Animus enslaves the Zarbi, and turns them against the others, forcing the older, more advanced Menoptera to flee the planet. The Optera are forced underground to hide. The Animus then spoils the once-lush planet, turning it into a web covered wasteland.

    Ages later, the Menoptera prepare to launch a final campaign to win back their home planet.

    Seems simple enough right?

    About this time, the TARDIS shows up, and generally effs things up for everybody involved.

    Through one convoluted disaster after another, The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki manage to stumble, trip, oopsee-daisy and whoopsie their way into the middle of a class warfare fight of planet sized ethnocentric proportions.

    This was a really, really stupid episode.

    I kind of have to break down my issues with this one in point form. I also have to pick and choose the worst offenders, as there are a lot of offenders.

    What I didn’t like:

    1) Useless props:
    It seemed like there was a bunch of left over gadget ideas all tossed into this episode. The Atmospheric Density Jackets (ADJ’s) that only work for an hour, and have strange metal breast cups on them that do what exactly? The wavy-handy remote door opener that requires no power, aka – The “Swiss Army” ring. The “Time and Relative Dimension Link” that is ok to get damaged or overloaded but must NEVER BE UNPLUGGED FROM THE SOCKET. I’m shaking my head.

    2) “Alien” looking Aliens:
    Sometimes less is more. In the beginning I had a hard time trying to figure out why there were so many different types of insects on this planet. Bees. Ants. Creatures that looked like you’d buff your car with them after a wax. It was confusing, and seriously detracted from the story.

    On a related note – The Zarbi should never be allowed to talk again. It reminded me of toy laser guns with 18 sound settings from the 1980’s. Having them silent would have been more menacing.

    And WTF is a “larvae gun”. I’m a parent. If my kid shot bazookoids out of it’s nose I’d be seriously going to the ER. Just saying.

    3) Show don’t Tell:
    It is an easy thing for us to sit here and criticize now, but a problem that is as much in evidence now as it was then is forgetting your audience aren’t all dumb as soup. A lot of time was wasted running around meeting the different groups, waiting to get to the point.

    At one point, The Doctor appeared to have knowledge, passing at best, of the planet and civilization. Why not start with that!?? A place he knows, or has been to before, and is dismayed to find it in ruins!

    Six episodes of limping to the next “crisis” was hard to sit through. Especially, when in the meantime, a lot of things happened that either didn’t make a lot of sense (leopard print anti-TARDIS tractor beams/ghillie suit traps/random sink holes) or showed various “plans” that failed miserably.

    Oh yeah: EVERY PLAN THEY MADE FAILED. Even as Ian (or ERRON, or however we are pronouncing it this week) cut through the floor “like treacle”, Barb struggled to get “the destructor” (which I still don’t know what it is) close enough to the Animus. And it died.

    So I’m not really sure how they won, but they did. Which is good, because it brought the end that much closer.

    What I liked:

    1) The Doctor and the TARDIS:
    There was a very sad, beautiful moment at the end of episode One, “The Web Planet”, when Vicki appears to have whisked off in the TARDIS. The look on The Doctors face, and the emotion upon realizing the loss of his beloved TARDIS was amazing. For the first time, we got a real sense of just how important that old Blue Box is to him. I’m just sad it didn’t get carried over to when he finds it.

    2) The story behind the story:
    I think there was merit to the background of this tale. An idyllic world, shared in harmony turned on it’s end and fouled by evil, discovered by The Doctor and his Companions, who charge in and save the day is a story I can get behind. Tremendous character building opportunity. Great backsplash for socio-political commentary on class structure, environmental and long term resource dependence. Great story!

    Unfortunately that is not this story.

    3) The opening shot:
    The first episode opened with an interesting mix of establishing shots, pans, zooms, rack focus and pull backs of sound stage sets and model miniatures. It was creative, subtle, and unique enough to pique the interest of my inner cinematographer. That must have been where the budget went.

    Upon reflection, there were a lot of things wrong with this serial. The actors never seemed at home in the story, no one ever seemed to have a definitive role to play. Everyone was generally reacting to everyone else. It was sloppy, irritating, and kind of haphazardly executed.

    After the emotional roller coaster of “Dalek Invasion of Earth”, and the humorous highlights of “The Romans”, this serial sunk back towards the level of “The Rescue”.

    Which is too bad, because the effort expended on costumes and social dynamic woven into the backstory suggested the potential for a far deeper and more compelling adventure.

    Score: 1.8

    Some things to ponder: A few of the notes I made while watching this serial, as a clue to how it made me feel:

    Young people and young animals hear extra sonic sounds. Nice that The Doctor didn’t specify which category applied to Vicki.

    Ian and Doc discover some ruins, and an acid pool. And then there is this;
    “What have we got. Echos. Interference. Gold. Now, Acid”. Why did he say gold? Is it Barbs bracelet thats moving her arm? How does the Doctor know that FROM 100FT OUTSIDE THE TARDIS!!!

    Alas, poor Zombie Barb (Zarbi?), wandering the desolate sands.

    The Zarbi have the Phonebox.

    The Bees first reaction to Barbs story – Kill Her. Strangers are not to be trusted.
    Logically, Barb decides the path to diplomacy is through blunt force trauma.

    The Doctor: “History doesn’t mean anything when you travel through Space and Time”. WOW.

    Vicki “accidentally” re-aligned the fluid link? BS

    The Doctor: “Come along, drop this hairdryer or whatever it is”.

    So The Zarbinet doesn’t trust the Doc, and Ian meets Veristen. Then they get lost in an unexplained avalanche. This is the “Escape to Danger” – a whole episode title for a silly plot device.

    Barb and the Bees are busting boulders.

    Vicki – WTF?? How come the golden dowsing rods of hypnosis are suddenly not working?
    What ring? The wavy-handy ring from the beginning? WTF is going on? Is this a different episode all of a sudden? I’m so confused.

    CODEWORD:ELECTRON FFS!

    They beat the Zarbi by playing “Monkey in the Middle”. Brilliant. Easy to do when your enemy HAS NO HANDS!!!

    The TARDIS windows are cranked open again. Details, BBC, details. (see opening TARDIS shot in “Dalek Invasion of Earth”)

    Reply
  3. Al / @fraze_alex

    The web planet is the first and I think one of the only serials with an entirely non-human/humanoid cast, excluding the doctors crew. Unfortunately, one species talks like slam poets and walks like interpretive dancers while the other are constantly accompanied by never-ending ringing. But it’s okay because the doc and crew have the tools to ward them off, like their respiratory comparator, atmospheric density jackets, the doctors magic mind control ring, larvae guns and the tardis’s astral map (just don’t unplug it, you must never break the time and relative dimension link!). The odd visual effects, painfully annoying sound effects, and less than affective costuming all culminates in a serial the viewer has to slowly trudge through, presumably like the difficulty Hartnell had in filming this serial, as evident by his great hair dryer quip. Othe! r detractors of this story include the Vaseline camera, the Zarbi running into the camera, Vicky’s overall presence, and just about anything else not mentioned in this short review. This serial gets a 0.4 only for the opening chemistry of Ian and Barb, Hartnell’s obvious displeasure, and the few irritated laughs at the wholly wtf nature of this story.

    Reply
  4. Gina Guerrero / @GinaGuerrero1

    Two points:
    1) Fuck Bill Strutton!
    2)This was one batshit crazy story.

    I had the hardest of times keeping up with the story due to disinterest and bleeding ears. The story tried really hard to be creative and innovative but, lost the plot in the process. I confess that I had to read Wikipedia to get a better understanding of the plot after I watched it. The Davis Principle was fully represented with the Tardis being trapped on the planet Vortis. The Zarbi were just giant ants, butterflies and cybermat-looking aliens with little purpose. The Tardis crew seemed bored with the story and Hartnell irritation shined through his performance. Vicki was annoying and lackluster as usual. The lack of music was so apparent due to the incessant bleeping noise made by the Zarbi that permeated every episode. The Vaseline on the camera lens during the exterior ! shots were just annoying. The Menoptra speech patterns and weird arm movements were confusing. What made me more annoyed was when I read the hired a choreographer to come up with both, what a waste. The animus and it’s cone of silence communicator proved to be pretty pointless and not that scary. So overall, this was a miserable story to sit through. However I did appreciate the costumes and sets and the fact that it was a Sci-fi story (barely).

    My rating is 0.6 for effort. Je vous aime mes amis!!!

    Reply
  5. John David (jD) / @mariuskane

    The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and the Pointless one land on the planet of Lens Flare where the worst collection of monsters in the universe try to kidnap and abuse them. And It’s Six Episodes Long… Oh God… We’ve Reached the Web Planet

    The Good

    Erm…. Erm… Erm…. Erm…. Nope, nothing here. Move along..

    The Bad

    This episode contains possibly the most irritating, pointless, ridiculous, annoying, stupid thing in the thirteen episodes that have gone so far – and the 207 that come after. The start of Episode 6 contains the following dialogue… ZARRRBI!!!! ZAAAAAAAAARBBBBBBBBBI!!!!

    The planet itself looks awful, it looks like the print is damaged everytime they go outside, but the fact that they smeared Vaseline on the lens to get this effect just makes it awful to watch.

    Hartnell gets in on the hatred himself. “Drop this hairdryer or whatever it is.” when the stupid mind control device that looks EXACTLY like a hairdyrer is in shot.

    The Zarbi runs into a camera and the whole picture shakes. It’s like even the monsters have stopped caring by this point.

    The Optera sacrifices itself by sticking it’s head into a hole in the wall.. it’s meant to be emotional, it just makes me laugh… not the emotion they were going for.

    ZAAAAAAAAAARBBBBBBBBBBBBBBIIIIIIIIIIII! Oh I had to mention it again… it’s stupid.

    Vicki Emotion in this episode is “Giggling” and “Bland” and her Irritation Index is a 3.9, except in Episode 1 where it hits a 4.8

    Zarbi Sound Effects – My Ears are Bleeding… Really.. After Six Episodes of this, I’m amazed I have any ear drums left.

    Overall

    0.5
    0.1 for the Doctor destroying the Cole Hill Tie
    0.1 for Barbara mentioning cleaning the TARDIS
    0.1 for Hartnell obviously hating the episode as well as me.
    0.1 for Mentioning Nero’s Bracelet again.
    0.1 for the oddest end credit in Doctor Who History – ” ‘Insect Movement by Roslyn De Winter’ ”

    Never.. Watch … It…

    Reply
    • I just realized….The Menoptera “corralling” The Zarbi, I half expected them to start chewing hay and waving their hands with a distinctive Southern drawl…..

      Reply
  6. Funny thing is is that in Region 1, “The Web Planet” is out of print. I recently found a copy of the R1 version on eBay, and it was $500! In comparison, “The War Games”, which is also out of print in America, can cost up to $300. “The War Games” is much longer, but infinitely better than “The Web Planet”. My question is, who would pay $500 for that garbage?

    Reply
  7. Peter Zunitch

    Funny that this story also has the most listener comments of any classic story on the website.

    So pretty much everyone dislikes this story (many angrily so), and I’m not going to break the trend. I will however talk about a few thinhs not previously mentioned.

    The first time I watched it, I found it unwatchable and incomprehensible. I don’t like it when baddies whisper with an echo. You’ve got to get the mix just right or the entire dialog will be inaudible on some devices. One might argue that 60’s television productions are by no means accountable for such a thing, except mono televisions with cheap speakers (ie. Almost every television made prior to 1996) are top of the “doesn’t play well” list.

    Of all classic stories this one is really a sign of it’s time, and I think that is a sticking point here even when trying not to judge that part of it.

    At the heart is a great concept let down by some writing choices (everyone always blames the writer for this one) but more by directing IMO. To be fair, this one was epic in scale, nearly too big for the budget they must have had, even for the BBC geniuses that regularly made wonder out of paper and garbage. They made an entire world with many unique locations that is totally alien on a budget. Unfortunately all the sets are thus bland and uninteresting even if unique. The aliens are so incredibly alien. Unfortunately they’re so alien in the wrong ways that they are pantomime Yo Gabba Gabba silly and/or annoying in their portrayal. There were some amazingly creative ideas to show such an alien environment (the vasoline on the lens, the star filters), unfortunately they were used too much or in the wrong way that the shots became muddy in many parts. There were also so many characters that in the end we cared for none of them.

    A remake (and rewrite) of this today, or a [revised] book version of this would actually be one heck of a story, but this one as it stands is an adult story made with Barney-aged kids in mind. It’s performance art on an elementary school budget. The interesting parts of the script are glanced over, and the filler scenes are drawn out. Finally, the story drags on and is repetitive, and yet the ending is rushed and convoluted. Overall it had grand plans but just doesn’t ever get off the ground. Really with different production and direction it could have been an epic story to remwmber. Instead it’s an epic flop people will find it hard to ever forget. It’s a shame as I truly believe. There was something good here at it’s heart.

    I can’t say I dispise it as much as some others do, and there are a few good moments, and interesting (perhaps daring) ideas, but it is in my bottom three Dr who episodes of all time. 1.1

    Reply
  8. I finally had the displeasure of watching this serial. And here is my listener mini for it:

    IT SUCKED!!! You already know why it sucked, I don’t need to repeat the reasons. If you want my advice, take this one an episode at a time (I was foolish enough to watch it all at once). And only watch it once, just to say you did. There is no reason to subject people to this sort of torture. The rating this one gets is a 0.25/5. It was just full of annoying sounds and just plain stupid overall. Watch it once to say you did, then never ever touch this serial again.

    I’ll end this with a quote from Mervyn Haisman (Of Abominable Snowmen/Web of Fear fame): “There are so many [Doctor Who serials] missing, and with this one we have the whole damn lot!”

    Reply

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