“The Satan Pit” – Review: Redux

Toby Zed (possessed) “I am the rage and the vile and the voracity. I am the Prince and the Fallen. I am the Enemy, I am the Sin and the fear and darkness. I shall never die. The thought of me is forever; in the bleeding hearts of men, in their vanity and obsecrate and lust. Nothing shall ever destroy me. Nothing!”

The Satan Pit

While writing these reviews, I have been including the “Original BBC1 Broadcast” date as part of the summary at the bottom of the posts and it is interesting to note, given that the subject matter on hand, that this pair of episodes straddles the date 6th June 2006 (or “6/6/6”) it’s further evidence of the planning that goes into the production and scheduling of the programme. (Or may be it was just a lovely coincidence). I’ve been wracking my brains to try and think of other examples where the content of the episode relates to the date when it was scheduled for broadcast. However, beyond the obvious Christmas episodes and the Easter Egg mention in the “Planet of the Dead” I’ve drawn a blank… so your contributions would be welcome in the comments below.

One of the much loved features of this episode is the introduction to the world of Doctor Who of the Ood. They are wonderfully striking creatures, albeit not the most original (to which Futurama viewers will attest) with their tentacles where their mouths should be and their glowing orbs acting as translation devices. Numerous future appearances have expanded the mythology of the race but their introduction here is remarkably good. Their low level telepathic connection meant that they were ideal ‘hosts’ for the recently awoken Beast, but it is their status as a slave race which poses some ethical questions. The acknowledgement given to them by Captain Zach at the end of the story as he reels off their designations in the roll-call of the departed, acts a good precursor to their next re-appearance in the “Planet of the Ood” two years later, where their slavish subservience is further explored.

So, not one but two fantastic monsters, a rollicking good adventure yarn, brilliantly realised supporting characters, an engaging storyline, genuine peril, super cliffhanger, and an opportunity for the main characters to question and think about some of the larger issues of faith without ever once patronising the family audience. I could, and no doubt will, watch this over and over again and keep on discovering more facets of this wonderful tale to enjoy each time. However, this re-watch has given me a touch of disappointment with this as the conclusion to what was a fine first part.

Essentially, it was a little light on the ground. The guys on the base ran around escaping from the Ood and Toby Zed, the Doctor jumped into a pit and confronted the monster, the guys on the base escaped on the spaceship only to find Toby was still possessed, the Doctor escaped only to conveniently find the TARDIS, and the Doctor rescued the guys on the spaceship. It could’ve been a sixty minute story rather than a ninety-minute one, although this is where I find myself arguing with myself. One the one hand I am finding the three-quarter of an hour instalments a bit too wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am with no time taken for character development, while, for the two-part stories I find myself complaining that they’re a bit drawn out. There’s no pleasing some people. Especially Doctor Who fans.

Highlight: The Beast being revealed in all its glory and wondering how scared all the kids must’ve been.

Lowlight: Too much procrastination

Talking Point: Too scary?

Demon’s Run Rating: 17 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 10th June 2006

Marathon Status: 23 reviews revisited

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