The Web Planet (1965)

The Web Planet is a bonkers story. I have watched it several times over the last few years and every time I get to about the second episode mark before losing my understanding of what the heck is going on. I even have trouble listening to the Target audio of the story because the story is just plain weird. Written by Bill Strutton, this six part adventure is two episodes too long. Granted, the story does aim for the sky and with a limited budget and limited resources, it was going to happen that the ambitions of the production crew would fall short. They still deserve praise for trying because there is just as much chance that it could have worked.

The story is the first that doesn’t feature any non-humanoid looking characters beyond the regulars. This is a problem because in something like The Daleks, at least the Thals looked human, slightly odd humans but still human looking. In this the closest that we got were the bumble bee looking creatures. I think that with no humans other than the regulars its difficult to really bond with the characters. Onto the subject of the regulars, it’s a different Doctor that we are getting following the departure of Susan even though this is the third story since her exit. I think that the current line up is a cracking one and its possibly the best of the Hartnell era. In particular Jacqueline Hill and William Russell give wonderful performances (as they always do). Maureen O’Brien is also on good form in what is her first story on an alien world.

The sets that are used are ok and they do the job of transporting us to an alien world that doesn’t just look like a quarry in Dorset. The pool of acid was a nice little touch to remind us that not everything is good (just remember the acid water in The Keys of Marinus). However, all that goes for nought when you see the costumes of the Menoptra and the Zarbi. The Menoptra were ok though they did look at times almost cuddly and that’s never good unless their in Rainbow or Sooty. The Zarbi are truly terrible looking like someone in black tights and bent over inside a giant ant costume. It’s a funny moment when one of them bumps into the camera. It’s incredible just how unincredible this story is. I did start getting a bit bored at times throughout the middle to latter half of the story. At times the story is mercilessly slow and your learning for a Dalek to exterminate the lot of them or even Cybermen (though they hadn’t been invented yet!).

The Web Planet isnt one of my favourites yet its amazing how it managed to achieve the highest ratings for Doctor Who in the 1960’s with 13.5 million tuning in for the first episode and still keeping 11.5 by Episode 6. The Web Planet is a story that does suffer from its own ambitions.

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