Which One : Tardis crew shrink.
Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Susan : Carol Ann Ford
Ian : William Russell
Barbara : Jacqueline Hill
Forester : Alan Tilvern
Farrow : Frank Crawshaw
Smithers : Reginald Barratt
Hilda : Rosemary Johnson
Bert : Fred Ferris
Written By : Louis Marks
Produced By : Verity Lamb
First UK Broadcast : 31 October – 14 November 1964.
Length : 3 x 25 minute parts.
1) “Planet of Giants”
2) “Dangerous Journey”
Plot : The Tardis lands and automatically opens the doors. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan venture out and explore an Earth-like world; where everything is at a huge scale.
Whats good : Bold concept. Strong set design and decent SFX to convey the difference in size. Good early mystery. Everyday objects as cliffhangers; a full sink, a house cat etc.
Whats bad : Plot wraps too neatly. The badguys underused. Disappointingly, no interaction between badguys and Tardis crew.
Review With Spoilers : Planet Of The Giants is the first episode of season 2 and the Tardis’ first return to present day – 1960’s Earth; last featured in An Unearthly Child.
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan explore an Earth-like world, where everything is familiar but at a huge scale. Discovering giant ants, wasps, earthworms and giant people; who threaten the quartet – as they attempt to return to the Tardis.
The quartet soon realise that they are back on Earth and have been accidentally minaturised by a Tardis malfunction. They also witness a murder and a plot to create deadly pesticides, which accidentally poison Barbara.
“I wonder what sort of a world, could produce an insect that size?” Ian
Planet Of The Giants excels in its clever but simple set design. In particularly, the everyday objects but as huge props for the quartet to interact with; i.e. a sink, a leather satchel, a matchbox, etc.
Also, its SFX (although rudimentary by today’s standards) – when conveying the Doctor and his party as minature people in this giant’s world. By using an overlay effect to show the minature group facing off against a huge house-cat and purveying a dead body in the outside yard.
The shrinking situation – also allows the quartet to come up against some unusual and deadly everyday situations. These make for unusual and memorable cliffhangers, to end the episode. Being stalked by a house-cat and attempting to escape down a waste pipe, whilst the water is emptied out of the sink, above them.
What lets Planet Of The Giants down, is clunkly slow pacing; which makes for a lot of deawn-out dialogue and situations. Infact, it could have been alot worse. As a fourth part was actually abandoned and re-edited into the third – to create a faster paced conclusion.
The human “villains” in the story aren’t really given enough screentime to flesh out there characters and this leaves them coming across as kind of stupid and their evil pesticide plan – halfbaked.
Neither – disappointingly, does the minature crew get “discovered” by the villains or get to interact with them. Maybe one of the minature Tardis crew being caught, could have upped the ante and made for a better conclusion. Especially if it had been Barbara, after being poisoned.
Ultimately though, you have to admire Planet Of The Giants. despite its shortcomings, it boldly creates a fantasy world where minature people interact in a giant’s world but on a shoestring budget.