Review: How will Doctor Who escape a Planet of the Dead?

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

As we count down to the final Doctor Who specials starring David Tennant, it's clear his Doctor will be missed. While this year's Easter special, Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead, certainly isn't the most memorable tale to star Tennant, it is a lot of fun. That's primarily due to Tennant's chemistry with co-star Michelle Ryan, who plays the mysterious Lady Christina. The two make a delightful pair, and it's a shame they won't get a chance to pair up again in the Doctor Who universe.

In Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead, the Doctor hops on a London bus while tracking a tiny hole in the fabric of reality and ends up sitting next to Lady Christina. The police, on a hunt for a thief, begin to pursue the bus and follow it into a tunnel. However, the bus vanishes as it goes through a wormhole and ends up on a planet far, far away.

The shocked passengers discover they are trapped on a planet covered in sand, while the Doctor attempts to piece together what's happened and how to get everybody back to Earth safely. Lady Christina quickly realizes there's more to the Doctor than meets the eye, while he eventually learns to appreciate her unusual skills. When they discover that some kind of a swarm is headed their way, the two find out they'll have to work together if they're going to save the passengers, themselves and Earth.

While the BBC might have chosen a more substantial adventure to be the first Who tale to be shot entirely in high definition, Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead does manage to embrace much of what viewers have come to love about the series. Forget the silly science, the lacking sets and the alien costumes. Tennant is obviously having fun with the material, and Ryan's Christina manages to charm in a role that is much richer than her part in Bionic Woman. She would have made a great companion.

While there aren't many story surprises from creator Russell T. Davies or co-writer Gareth Roberts, there are some entertaining bits, and there's a wonderful comic turn from Lee Evans as Dr. Malcolm Taylor, a scientist who turns out to be a fan of the Doctor's. This Doctor Who romp may not be the most poignant Doctor Who, but it is entirely entertaining.

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead makes its U.S. premiere on BBC America on Sunday, July 26, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. However, if you miss the special, you can pick up the DVD on July 28, which includes Doctor Who: Confidential, a 60-minute bonus program.