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Kleptomaniacs, coprophages and a scientist fanboy battle a civilisation-devouring sharknado from outer space

We open on Lady Christina de Souza stealing from Mission Impossible, Indiana Jones and The International Gallery, all at once. Escaping the scene of the crime, she boards a number 200 bus and is promptly joined by our Converse-clad hero, The Doctor.

Shazam! Wormhole alert. The bus takes an unexpected detour beyond the Scorpion Nebula to the planet of San Helios, where the unfortunate passengers encounter two shit-eating bug dudes appropriately called Tritovores and a swarm of civilisation-devouring stingrays.

It now falls upon the Doctor, in reluctant collaboration with Lady de Souza, to get “The Mighty 200” and its patrons back to London, without letting the stingrays through as well, and before U.N.I.T. closes the wormhole back on Earth.

Listen to this Doctor Who review now!


(Correction: In this episode, Ponken compares the Tritovores to the nightmarish vision of insect creatures that Pertwee has in The Mind of Evil, but upon closer inspection they look quite different. In fact, it’s possible that Pertwee has visions of Zarbi!)

Here's what we think of N057 Planet of the Dead

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Drew | @drewbackwhen


Marie | @hammashandjelly


Here's what we think of N057 Planet of the Dead

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Drew | @drewbackwhen


Marie | @hammashandjelly


Here's what you think 5 Responses to “N057 Planet of the Dead”
  1. Michael

    Hello WhoBackWhen gang!

    Here is my Planet of the Dead Mini.

    A Doctor Who desert-planet episode filmed in a REAL desert! Whatever else you think of this episode, the bus in the sand dunes is visually stunning, the return of kickass UNIT lady from ‘Turn Left’ is very welcome – and I’m glad UNIT finally got taxpayer Value for Money (VFM) for their expensive looking anti-aircraft gun.

    However. Not enough stuff happens to justify the 60 minute (Yawn) running time. Another plot element would have been welcome. Perhaps the human-fly people should have been villains, puking acid (David Cronenberg style) on some of the more annoying passengers.

    This episode reminded me of Classic-Who serials ‘The Three Doctors’ (where people are also transported to a desert planet) and who can forget the magnificent McCoy adventure ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ which features evil clowns driving around a desert in a hearse!

    3 out of 5 grains of sand from me.



  2. Matt Thomas


    Rating: “What the humans leave behind……from their behinds”

  3. Tracey | @yecartniatnuof

    Hi! It’s me Tracey. Shall we have a mini?

    Remember that episode of NextGen when Picard falls for a thief who collects ancient relics? I loved that character. Why do I hate Christina so much? Well she’s presented as an obvious sham while the Doctor comes off as a more competent bluffer. That list she recites to the bus passengers is cringeworthy. And mainly it’s her bag of gadgets that saves the day, not her brain. Although we get the sense she is smart, she’s not quite smart enough. She tries to exude confidence and wit, but the Doc somehow outshines her and makes her seem cheap by comparison. I can’t figure out whether we are meant to love or hate this character. Could it somehow be both? Not sure if this is bad writing, bad acting or bad directing.

    This very same episode, however, gives us Malcolm. A fantastic, lively, devoted brainiac, Malcolm is begging for more screen time than he is given. He is the Doctor’s equal in intellect and they have adorkable exchanges in technobabble.

    Last note: it’s a interesting choice to make the fly creatures not understandable. It’s clunky, it adds a layer of dialog we don’t need from the Doctor, it wastes time, but it serves to make the world seem even more alien almost like older classic Who.

    “I hate sand. It’s coarse, rough, irritating, and gets everywhere. But, I love you, I love you, I love you!”

  4. English Pizza

    Hello Who Back When crew, I’d like to start off by saying that I marathoned 50+ reviews that I was behind on so that I could ask you a question, but I’ll get to that towards the end of this email.

    Getting all that out of the way, I liked this episode for the most part, sure the acting is kind of silly if not dumb at times, with everyone just believing the psychic woman cause she says something like “death is riding on the wind” as well as the fact that the “fly people” some how have video of them even thought there is no sign of any kind of camera on this cremated planet. Another dumb thing is that when the Doctor and Cassandra get to the fly people’s ship, the fact that the Doctor simply kicks the space ship and that fixes it is SO stupid, but I can’t help but laugh at it. And while we are still on the topic of the fly people, does that mean that all the flies on earth are aliens, similar to the bees in Stolen Earth?

    But as for scenes that I did really is when the Doctor is trying to comfort them and saying that home is still out there and he will get them back, as well as when the Doctor it talking to the UNIT woman and she is genuinely honored to be speaking with him and in response he just says “Did you just salute?” Was very funny to me, as well as the nerdy scientist says he’s read all of the Doctor’s files, and the Doctor responds with “really, what was your favorite the giant robot?” I thought was a nice node to the Tom Baker serial appropriately titled “Robot” and even though I haven’t seen it but I still thought it was a nice reference. But that’s about it.

    When I first watched this episode I thought that it was fairly enjoyable, but around the second or third time it just became more and more silly as the episode when on and overall the whole thing didn’t make much sense.

    I give this episode a 2.8, has some funny/charming moments that I found enjoyable but other than that I just kept asking myself “why did that happen, why is this happening, and what’s going on?”

    I hope you guys thought that my review was somewhat intelligible, I’ve never really done one of these things before but considering that we are coming up on the Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor and the end of David Tennant I must ask a question. Could some of you possibly do a commentary on the End of Time, similar to your episode commentary for Rose, if there was ever an episode to do a commentary on it would be Tennant’s last episode.

    • Ponken

      What-ho, English Pizza!

      Welcome aboard! Just to answer your question here as well, as I said on the show, it’s unlikely — but not impossible — that we’ll get around to doing a commentary track for the Tennant Exit Episodes. It’s a fabulous idea, though! Thanks for suggesting it! It will now be brewing in the back of my mind for a while.

      Maybe when we have some more time on our hands, and certainly after we’ve all rewatched the episodes in question, we can take another stab at it.

      Thanks again,


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