Doctor Who Reviews: The Web Planet
This is actually a really difficult story to review. Because it’s so unique even for Doctor Who.
I mentioned in an earlier review just how tiny Doctor Who’s budget was in the early days. So the scale of this story is quite extraordinary.
Storywise what we’ve got is a multi-race war with the TARDIS and it’s occupants dragged into the middle of it. Along the way we get elements of different cultures and of religion. And with the exception of the regular cast there are no humanoids featured here either. Instead everyone is insectoid (broadly speaking).
There’s even a full scale battle between the Zarbi (giant ants) and the Menoptra (bees I assume) with the Menoptra flying. You certainly can’t fault anyone for aiming too low here.
There’s also a lot to be impressed about in the sets and costumes. The visual look of the Zarbi is great and the masks the Menoptra wear are great too.
But this is where that tiny budget really starts to hurt. Because the Zarbi’s mobility is very obviously limited (some of the other creatures are even more limited) and the Menoptra’s bodies look… well… look at the photo. It’s not good.
All the costumes are obviously so cumbersome that movement becomes slow and awkward. So the battle I mentioned previously feels like it’s happening in slow motion.
The biggest failure in the design department is the Animus which is described as a spider by the cast but looks more like a jellyfish than anything else.
The curse of the six part story strikes here too and the already slow pace of 60s Doctor Who reduces to a painful crawl as people stand around talking about things that are happening elsewhere.
How exactly you can take a battle to overthrown a tyrant and save a planet and turn it into something quite this tedious I don’t know. But they managed.
Points for effort with the vaseline on the camera lens trick to make the atmosphere on the planet look genuinely alien. Also I like what they were trying for with the way the various races talk, but in actuality it’s mainly annoying and distracting.
So where does that leave us?
Well The Web Planet is a must see story. It’s not a good story, however. But it’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen.