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YMMV / Doctor Who S2 E5 "The Web Planet"

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  • Critical Dissonance/Popularity Polynomial: The serial was immensely popular when it aired, with four of its episodes still in the top twenty most-watched Doctor Who episodes ever, and it was the subject of the third novelisation. These days, it features in the bottom quarter of Doctor Who Magazine's 2009 and 2014 fan polls. Critics tend to be even-handed, criticising the slow plot while loving the mad ambition and absolute strangeness of the whole thing. Peter Capaldi recalled watching it as a child and being captivated by it.
    Peter Capaldi: But those old shows were only made to be watched once, on a flickering monochrome telly that smelled of valves and furniture polish. In that context, they succeeded immeasurably. They were triumphs of imagination. It may surprise you now, but something like The Web Planet lived powerfully and expansively in my head for decades… until the DVDs came along and spoiled the party. But I’m glad to say that the Menoptra eventually flitted back into my dreams, where they belong.”
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  • Fight Scene Failure: The serial was forced to have some seriously awful fighting scenes in it, as the monster costumes used were so delicate.
  • Narm:
    • Oh lord. Mostly in regards to the insect Halloween-costume getups and ridiculous mannerisms of the bee-like Menoptera and grub-like Optera as well as the enemy Zarbi, who look like giant ants with a single pair of human legs and two pairs of useless ant legs and make siren noises at each other. Also, one of the Menoptera constantly calls Ian "Heron" for no apparent reason (they also tend to refer to Barbara as "Arbara", though this sounds way less ridiculous).
    • In his review of the story, Nash Bozard remarked that the substance used to destroy the Great Old One was essentially giving it cancer.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Hilio is played by Martin Jarvis, who later had a larger role as the governor in the Sixth Doctor story "Vengeance on Varos", and later still became noticeable as the later voice for Nergal from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
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  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It was well liked in 1965, but is downright laughable today.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • The Zarbi would look rubbish even if they didn't have two obviously human legs in trousers and shoes sticking out of the bottom and even if they didn't constantly make incredibly synthetic beeping noises. The Larvae Guns are fringed with rags. The Animus and the Menoptera are better-looking, but the Menoptera's wings, which look striking when stationary, rustle in a plasticy way when they move them, and the Animus is obviously just a bunch of hoses glued to a hula-hoop like structure and hung off the ceiling with wire. The tube-like structures the Animus uses to communicate with the Doctor are supposed to look like webs, but instead are just clear plastic drums with some web stuff glued on them - Lampshaded when the Doctor calls one a 'silly hairdryer thing'. Attempts were made to obscure the lousy special effects by greasing the camera within an inch of its life, and it doesn't work. On the plus side, the Wire Fu flight of the Menoptera is extremely convincing thanks to some clever camera angle trickery and the graceful motions of the actors.
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    • The Zarbi also suffer from the fact that the costumes were so delicate that the Doctor and Ian couldn't actually touch most parts of the costume when fighting them, which both actors said made the job unbearably hard. This led to a lot of Fight Scene Failure - for instance, in a scene where Ian fights the Zarbi, he does a weird manoeuvre where he drops to his back and kicks it away with both legs, simply to ensure he could drop a controlled blow on it at the one point he knew wouldn't fall off (the Zarbi's torso). On top of that, many of the actors playing the Zarbi developed back problems as a result of the uncomfortable costumes and the way they forced them to move. The BBC even had to have special stools made for them.
    • There's also the famous Blooper where one of the Zarbi accidentally bumps into the camera...
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The general line in fan analysis is that the story is a Red Scare allegory, because it's about the Zarbi workers rising up against their Menoptera masters. But it's a really big reach - there's no absolutely no indication the Zarbi are any more intelligent than farm animals, and even though the monster in the story has the power to control gold it doesn't work in any way analogous to any kind of economic system, which seems like it'd be a no-brainer for an anti-communism story. Maybe it's just a Planetary Romance Xenofiction runaround with pretty butterfly people fighting the ant people?


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