Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (2009)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

The Doctor and Lady Christina's interaction

Story feels a bit all over the place


This is the best bus service ever!

A professional thief named Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan) has just made the steal of a lifetime from a museum.  With police hot on her trail, she ducks into a bus and meets the Doctor (David Tennant).  The bus is pulled into a tunnel and ends up on another world.  With the portal only passable by vehicle, the Doctor must find a way to get everyone back to Earth.  As the Doctor works on the desert planet, a UNIT team led by Captain Erisa Magambo (Noma Dumezweni) and Malcolm Taylor (Lee Evans) is working to get them home.  The discovery of a wrecked ship of Tritovores, the Doctor and Lady Christina learn that the danger on the planet is could become a threat to Earth.

Directed by James Strong, Doctor Who:  Planet of the Dead was part of a series of Doctor Who specials which fell between the fourth and fifth seasons of the current Doctor Who series.  It aired on April 11, 2009 and followed Doctor Who:  The Next Doctor.  In the traditional numbering, Doctor Who:  Planet of the Dead is listed as Story #200.  The animated episode Doctor Who: Dreamland also takes place between Doctor Who:  Planet of the Dead and Doctor Who:  The Waters of Mars.


I’m still looking for Mary!

I wish this special was a bit better.  I like Lady Christina and her relationship with the Doctor and wouldn’t mind seeing her return again…maybe meeting the new Doctor for a different experience.  Michelle Ryan was the it thing for a bit with her starring role in the remake of The Bionic Woman, but with that failing, I think she’d be available for a return appearance.

The episode is fast and furious but it is more of an adventure movie than the follow up special Doctor Who:  The Waters of Mars which is scarier, smarter, and fun.  This special isn’t bad, but it leaves you wanting a bit more by feeling like more of a throwback to the older episodes.  I do like the flexibility of the series since the bus wreckage had to be written into the script to make sense when the bus shipped to Dubai and I also like that it was called the 200 (for the bus number) but also because with it was Story #200 so it is a nice throwback to the original series by honoring the monumental episode.


Jeff Goldblum does a great imitation of you!

What does work in this movie is that the Doctor is still in flux with the loss of Donna Noble.  He’s realized he’s poison and hurts anyone so despite feeling a connection with Lady Christina, he finds he cannot take her with him.  The story does open him up to the idea since Lady Christina does have a sense of independence and fun that he finds attractive.

Doctor Who:  Planet of the Dead is definitely watchable if nothing else Tennant’s fun, but it doesn’t really need to be seen since the Doctor seems to just reset for the better Doctor Who:  The Waters of Mars.  It does introduce the idea of “he’ll knock four times” which becomes the theme for the rest of the specials.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Next Doctor (2008)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Waters of Mars (2009)

Related Links:

Doctor Who:  Dreamland (2009)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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