“Doctor Who” is sometimes a tad British. So when we find out this episode David Tennant didn’t realize the Ood were a slave race the last time he encountered them (season two) even though Billie Piper had a whole subplot about it… and saying they’re just too British assuming positive intent. There’s the much darker one where people noticed Tennant didn’t give a shit about the slave race and felt the need to mansplain he was busy.
That bit aside, it’s a fairly great episode. For seasons three and (so far) four anyway. The show’s been tumbling with bumps for ages now.
Tennant and new companion Catherine Tate—the first one who seems to have been tested opposite Tennant for amusement chemistry versus weird longing—end up in the future on the Planet of the Ood where they find out all about how the humans enslave the Ood. The Ood are still gross looking so even though they’re infinitely sympathetic—even more so when we find out the secret of the Ood (okay, the first secret of the Ood, the second secret of the Ood is where things go wrong)—it’s always disquieting. Also some of the Ood are going rabid and presumably a danger to those around them, in this case Tate.
Really good special effects on some of the episode—albeit on par with a theatrical B sci-fi movie from the late nineties (basically Screamers)—specifically the exteriors. It’s an ice planet.
The supporting cast—Tim McInnerny as the foolish and greedy boss, Ayesha Dharker as his sales person, Paul Kasey as McInnerny’s personal Ood—is solid. Never too showy, always in service of the episode. Even when they’re dealing with what’s going to be the second secret of the Ood, when the special effects—but maybe more the production design—fail. It’s just too much.
And then the ending is way too naive.
But most of the episode’s excellent. Though Tate’s subplot about realizing life in the TARDIS is dangerous for guest stars seems a little pat. A companion trope.