She’s Rather Better When She’s Not Bionic: DOCTOR WHO Special “Planet of the Dead” on BBC America Tonight

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On the one hand, if you were with us in enjoying “The Next Doctor” but kind of wishing that the countdown to the Tenth Doctor’s demise was exhibiting a bit more…gravitas, buckle in for more of the same. Special #2, “Planet of the Dead,” belies its name a bit, being relatively light, fluffy, and chipper. On the other hand, if you need a Russell T Davies palate cleanser after an extremely dark week of Torchwood (who would have thunk it? All Torchwood needed to be good was consequences), “Planet of the Dead” might lighten your spirits.

“Planet of the Dead” finds the Doctor with a double-decker’s worth of passengers on a sandy, dangerous planet after the anomaly he’s tracking turns out to be a wormhole to another world. Way to leave the TARDIS behind, supergenius. It’s gaffes like that that serve to remind us that the Doctor works better with a companion by his side, and “POTD”‘s is a fun one: aristocratic cat thief Lady Christina de Souza. Having suffered through the Bionic Woman reboot, we were a little concerned to see Michelle Ryan cast in this key role, but she’s a delight here, prickly and smooth all at once. The landscapes, shot on location in Dubai, are glorious, and if the story is slight, well, it’s also fun. Davies promises that this is the last trifle on the menu, so enjoy it before the heavy entree arrives. Premiering (a word David Tennant apparently finds hilarious) tonight on BBC America at 8pm Eastern.

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