Doctor Who: Planet of Fire
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(Sep 07, 2010)
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A strange signal from Earth draws the TARDIS to the island of Lanzarote, where Turlough rescues a young American girl, Peri, from drowning. Among her possessions is an artifact bearing an alien symbol – the same triangular mark that Turlough has branded into his arm. The mystery deepens when Kamelion falls under the control of a powerful mind, and the TARDIS travels to the volcanic world of Sarn. As Turlough is forced to face his past, the Doctor must stop his oldest enemy from harnessing the revitalizing powers of Numismaton gas.
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Top Customer Reviews
A distress call from Earth is picked up by the TARDIS. Turlough recognizes it as a Trion signal and cuts it off. He really has a lot to play in this story because his origins are finally revealed. While in the TARDIS, he spots Peri, a young American girl drowning in the sea around Lanzarote, and rescues her. He lays her down in a spare bedroom, only to find among her belongings a metal artifact with two overlapping triangles, a design that matches a brand on his left arm.
That brand is also found on the Chosen One on the volcanic desert planet Sarn, currently torn between those who believe in Logar, Lord of the Fire Mountain, and unbelievers who think Logar is a myth. Things are more tolerant than before, when Unbelievers were cast into the fires. Malkon, a young man who's the current Chosen One, thinks that it's right to doubt, whereas the Chief Elder and his mentor Timanov thinks it's "still a wise precaution to send the occasional free-thinker to the flame." When the young man says he lacks the faith to condemn anyone, his mentor tells him "accept what you see and hear and feel all around you. The faith will come."
But it's also a time of testing, as an eruption of the Fire Mountain is imminent. Legends say that if Sarns submitted to Logar, an Outsider will come and bring them gifts. That being is impersonated by Kamelion, the shape-shifting android in the company of the Doctor, or rather, Kamelion in the guise of the Doctor's old enemy, the Master. And the real Master is using the droid in continuing his feud with the Doctor, but for some other reason as well.
Certain Sarn men have an interesting mix of costume, khaki shorts and Arab style kaffiyehs, whereas the elders have a total Arab-influenced costume, white robes and kaffiyeh headdresses, and the belief of submitting to Logar is a take on Islam, based on submission to Allah.
Nicola Bryant doesn't do too badly in her debut as Peri, the most underdressed companion since Leela (her bikini scenes). And despite being somewhat of a wimp, she's also got the courage to talk back to the Master. In response to the Master's "I am the Master!" she says "So what? I'm Perpugilliam Brown and I can shout just as loud as you can!" And veteran actor Peter Wyngarde plays Timanov as a leader dedicated to his god to the end. Another solid performance comes from James Bate as Amyand, leader of the Unbelievers, who bears a slight resemblance to Muammar Qaddafi, especially with his beige headdress.
The reason why Kamelion wasn't used continuously was that his designer Mike Power was killed in a boating accident and left little documentation on how to run the robot, so he was killed off in this story. A pity, as he did have potential re his abilities. Here, he's portrayed as a "silver puppet jumping on a string," forced to change his form on someone's mental bidding.
One of Turlough's best stories, and a good one to go out on. The scenery around Lanzarote is a welcome change from the usual studio sets or quarries doubling as alien worlds. Not much goes on in the story, but it's still well done.
The story centers around The Master's attemp to regain controll of the shape shifting robot Kamillion for the greater purpose of "stealing" a rare and precious gas from the planet Sarn. This gas will help The Master reverse a "little" trouble he got himself into (you'll see what I mean first timers). Stealing this gas is not as easy as one would think as Sarn is a prison planet for fugitives from Turlough's home world of Trion. The prisoners have divided into two factions: One devout, relgious sect dedicated to the worship and protection of "The Fire" (or numismiton gas that The Master seeks) and a second more scientific minded(yet supressed by the first group) group of free thinkers bent on revelation of the fire's true nature as it relates to the planet Sarn's inpending doom. While the story attemps to be fair to both points of view it ultimatly lends itself to the liberal, secular point of view held by the non-religious group.
Where I believe Planet of Fire realy shines is in the performance of the lead cast. Peter Davison gives one of his best perfomances in his tenure as the Doctor. I am not sure if he is more relaxed knowing his time on the program is near an end, or if he has altered his performance to compensate for the lack of Janet Feilding or mayby he just is more comfortale not hiding behind the Cricket suit ( No Cricket jacket, sweater, or celary for most of this episode); But the viewer gets Davison at his best hear. In addition Mark Strickson give his best performance since Terminus which is no suprise as he is finaly given something to do and say. For fans of Anthony Ainley's Master take heart as he is allowed to elevate his performance slightly above the mustache twisting, tie a youg lady to the train tracks badie stereo-type that he was forced to play in previous episodes. And last new companion Nicola Bryant gives her first and best performance during her stay with the program; Of couse this is helped by given a lot to do in the story but still she makes the most of the spot light.
While on the subject of Peri I would be amiss if I did not mention the lovely young Ms Bryant tastfully parading around in the "Skimpiest" outfit a companion has ever worn on the show. I am of course referring to the famous peri in the bikini scene at the end of episode one and start of episode two. Male viewers and perhaps some female viewers to (not that there is anything wrong with that) will admit that this scene alone is worth the price of admission. Meow!!!
A final note worth mentioning is the scenery as this episode's external shots were filmed in The Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa....One word...Beautiful! To sum it all up If you are looking for daleks, cyberman and fast paced paced adventure than this is not for you. But if you want to tie up all the lose ends from the Peter Davison era than Planet of Fire is a must for your collection....and a pretty good story to bust...ah, no butt,ah,uhm no no I mean to boot. Gosh, All this reminiscing about Peri of Fire, no I mean Planet of Fire, has left me in need of a COLD shower. Meow!!