Planet of Giants (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 5 March 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who: Planet Of Giants (Credit: BBC Audio)
Written by Terrance Dicks
Read By Carole Ann Ford

Released by BBC Audio - May 2017
Available from Amazon UK

Planet of Giants is kind of a lesser story in the long Doctor Who canon and it's Target Novelization, as well as this subsequent audiobook, are really no exceptions. While the shrunk TARDIS crew being terrorized by big bugs and giant cats or getting stuck inside matchbooks is at least visually fun, the story itself has always been somewhat forgettable for me. Before I began listening, I tried to think of anything I could actually remember of the story, beyond the visuals of The Doctor and company being the size of ants.  Nothing came to mind. I remembered there was some kind of plot involving the regular sized humans, but what they were up to I couldn't recall. Listening to the book I realized why, it just isn't that compelling a story. 

An accident in the TARDIS causes the doors to fling open before they've materialized, and to compensate for the pressure, the TARDIS shrinks, including it's passengers. The plot they must foil involves some scientists and an evil business man, who have developed an insecticide so powerful it destroys all bugs and creatures it touches, even humans if given enough dosage.  Of course being so tiny, Barbara's brief touch with it overwhelms her immune system, and if they don't get to normal size soon, she may die...and they have to somehow stop the businessman too, all while being no more than an inch tall. 

I think that there is potential in the story, but it just never really works. It probably never worked, as the original television serial was initially four parts, but they cut it down to three in editing. They probably saw a clunker and decided to shrink the effects of that. That pun is intended and I make no apologies. But that is at least an interesting thing about the novelization (and audiobook), as many scenes that were cut from the final televised version (and lost to time like so many 60s episodes) are adapted into the novel by Terrance Dicks.  So at least from a historical standpoint, there is something that was lost recaptured here. 

Not that what is restored makes this any more interesting. As an audiobook, Carole Ann Ford does a decent job reading it, though she doesn't have a wide range of voices to pull from, so it isn't as varied as some of the best audiobooks (in this range or otherwise).  The subtle sound effects and occasional bits of music help here and there, but again, it is a story that relied mostly on the visual gags of our heroes being tiny, that is completely lost in the audio version (or even, I'm sure, the prose version), so losing the most worthwhile gag of the story hurts the enjoyment factor a lot. 

Not a great story, not the most exciting narration by Ford, but at roughly two and a half hours (unabridged!), it at least doesn't waste too much of your time.