23 May 2014

AFT: Ood in Space

Ood in Space is the first in the AFT's 2007-8 series of Tenth Doctor adventures. What differentiated these stories from previous or successive series was that they were presented as flash-animated chapters. This does mean that each tale is slightly shorter than normal, but it's worth it for the brilliant animation and accompanying music arrangement. 

In this first story of six, which look to form a continuous arc, the Doctor and Martha land on a spaceship on a collision course with some kind of energy plasma. It's soon hit by the thing, leading to the death of 198 Ood as the spaceship is broken up. Our heroes invite the two surviving Ood they've encountered aboard the TARDIS and leave. Looking six and a half years in the archive really does make me feel nostalgic, particularly at the sight of the TARDIS moneybox. At the time, this was the best substitute for a 5"-scale prop, in the days before your fancy Flight Control TARDISes. 

In the Doctor's ship, they approach the whatever-it-is, and he dons his SB6 spacesuit ready to go and investigate. A really nice idea introduced here is that he can pilot the TARDIS through the telepathic Ood. It's an original solution and avoids the usual traps of setting the controls or showing Martha what to do. While they're serviceable, it's always nice to have an alternative presented and Lawrence uses the available resources to his advantage, as always. The Doctor reaches the sphere but his meddling hasn't gone undetected and it contacts the Ood, possessing them. They cut the line to the Doctor and pilot the TARDIS away from him, despite Martha's best efforts. He's left hanging in space with the malevolent entity, presumably to be resolved in The Hive Mind, the following story.

Although the story may sound slight, the main strength of Ood in Space is in the delivery. It really does feel like you're watching an (admittedly very short) episode, with appropriate music cues and independently-animated characters and objects. It gives it a real special quality, and it's highly enjoyable. The idea for the episode came from the release of the Ood and Spacesuited-Doctor, with the title soon after, but as a fun short and the first instalment in what looks to be a great series, this is very good.

The sets are great too. Whilst the 'standard' spaceship set has been reincarnated in several forms over the last few years of the AFT, this (I think) is its earliest appearance. It does the job well, immediately betraying exactly what kind of location we're in, and conveys a sense of urgency instantly (whereas the white sheen of the high-class lounge would imply relaxation and a slower pace). The TARDIS interior set is also brilliant, and I only realised when making the header for this that most of the walls were custom made. You really can't tell at all. 

Despite this being one of Phil's first forays into flash animation (the earliest I'm aware of is Plastinate - thanks "Anon"!) he seems to be a master of this medium. The text is never too lengthy (it doesn't feel a chore to read while watching, completely natural in fact), doesn't linger too long and is often animated itself. This only adds to the impressive nature of the story and a lot of work clearly went into these three chapters. It's a joy to revisit them, and I can't wait to move on to the next instalment.

You can watch Ood in Space here.


  1. His first flash animation was plastinate

  2. Thanks, Anon. Missed that one! Please do feel free to comment normally, rather than solely to help point out my mistakes (that's meant nicely, by the way :) )