January 23: "Crisis" / "World's End"

(Planet of Giants episode 3 & The Dalek Invasion of Earth episode 1)

It's well-known (in Doctor Who circles, at least) that Planet of Giants was filmed as a four-part serial, but when BBC Head of Serials Donald Wilson saw the final two episodes, he deemed them unbroadcastable9 and ordered that they be edited down into a single episode.  The result is this episode, "Crisis".  You can sort of tell, occasionally -- for instance, in one scene they've decided to take Barbara back to the TARDIS, and in their next scene Ian's arguing for taking her back while the rest are taking Barbara's side to do...something; it's never exactly made clear what.

Forrester and Smithers are wanted for questioning.
("Crisis") ©BBC
Really, though, the TARDIS crew barely make a difference in this episode.  About the most important thing they do is cause a telephone to go off the hook -- except the switchboard operator was already suspicious of the goings-on at the Smithers farmhouse and was probably going to send her policeman husband down to investigate anyway.  Oh, and I guess they caused a can of insecticide to explode in Farrow's face, allowing Smithers to grab the gun off him.  But really, Smithers has already worked out how poisonous DN6 is, and Bert the policeman is already on his way anyway, so unless had Farrow gotten desperate and shot both Smithers and Bert, things would have turned out the same.

In a nutshell, this is sort of the problem with Planet of Giants.  It's so unlike any other Doctor Who adventure thus far that it's rather difficult to come to grips with.  The Silent Spring-influenced DN6 plot carries on more or less largely on its own, and for the TARDIS crew it's about exploring a familiar environment from a strange new perspective.  That's entertaining enough fortunately, but any other attempt to put it into the larger context of the show essentially falls flat.

But it's on to the next adventure10, with "World's End".  It's a suitably effective exercise in mood, as we see what appears to be a deserted London in the future.  There's some great location footage here, being used much more extensively than in "Guests of Madame Guillotine", and it must be said that the Robomen do rather resemble the Cybermen (not that at anyone in 1964 knew that, of course), which makes them a bit more effective than they otherwise might be, as they're really just men in grubby clothes wearing metal headgear.  (Special mention, by the way, goes to the "dead" Roboman the Doctor and Ian find in the warehouse, who seems to be moving quite a bit under his own power.)

Still, it has to be said: this episode is one great big delaying tactic for the big reveal at the end: the Daleks are back!  Of course, as this had been promoted in the British press prior to the actual episode (with their own Radio Times cover!), holding back the main baddies is less a shocking cliffhanger and more a tease: we have to wait until next time to actually get any Dalek (tricky) action.

9 Having previously seen the reconstructed versions of the original "Crisis" and the follow-up "The Urge to Live" on the Planet of Giants DVD, complete with a lengthy sequence where we actually see them map out the formula for DN6, I get the distinct impression that he was probably right.
10 Side note to say that on the Region 1 DVDs you can work out roughly when a story came out on DVD by the BBC Wales Doctor Who trailer included at the beginning.  I've mainly been experiencing Matt Smith trailers, indicating that the majority of season 1 was released quite recently; The Dalek Invasion of Earth, by contrast, is old enough to not have any trailer at all.