The Radio Times
preview of the first half of Doctor Who
Series 6 did throw up a couple of concerns. One is yet to come, as Matthew "Fear Her" Graham has been handed a two-parter. The other was last night, as "The Curse of the Black Spot" was written by Steve Thompson, aka writer of The Only Non-Moffat Or -Gatiss Episode Of Sherlock
And Bloody Hell It Showed. Or, the "me ruv you rong time" one. Also, the baddie of the week was some supermodel. On the plus side, the pirate captain was played by Hugh Bonneville but that didn't necessarily bode well either - after all he starred in Bonekickers
, so could have just been cast for his proven turd-polishing abilities. So what did we actually get?
To be honest, I've never been a fan of pirate stories so I wondered if that was why I couldn't warm to this episode but a quick look at lowculture
revealed I was far from the only one to find it a bit dull. The first half-hour on the pirate ship was just a load of running backwards and forwards. And director Jeremy Webb seems to have accomplished the opposite of most people who work on Doctor Who
: Usually they make the show's budget look bigger than it actually is. Here, the above-decks stuff was actually
shot on an actual
ship in actual
water, yet it looked like it was in a studio. It looked like 1980s Who
. *slow handclap*
The little kid was irritating, Lily Cole didn't actually have to do much but the Siren Song didn't for a moment look like it was coming from her, and even after two viewings I couldn't figure out exactly when all the crew got zapped by the Siren, especially the Boatswain (played by Lee Ross' eyebrows.) Things did get better once we moved over to the parallel dimension at least, and not just because someone heard my request last week, and got Arthur Darvill to take his top off.
The resolution was good, with the Siren turning out to be a medical hologram, although it was obvious to the viewer long before the Doctor cottoned on - the repated gag of him coming up with wrong theories basically just a way to drag out the thin plot until they could justifiably reveal the twist.
After being significantly more bearable in the opener, Amy also went back to Series 5 levels of irritatingness this week. First there's the Mary Sue of it all as she inexplicably becomes good at swashbuckling (I know the idea is that the pirates are afraid of the tiniest injury, but that's not how it's shot.) And then of course there's her guilt-tripping Rory over something he said when he was, essentially, drugged, which is right back to their relationship as it used to be. And even by TV standards, her CPR was half-hearted (so much for Rory knowing she'd never give up - she gave up after she'd barely got started.) Plus it's all very well her being "the wife" but I'm pretty sure CPR is more likely to work if one person does the kiss-of-life and another does the heart-presses so the Doctor should have at least helped. As for Rory's apparerent death, we're basically in "Oh my god, they killed Rory! You bastards!" territory now, aren't we?
As sometimes happens I seem to be spouting nothing but bile which makes it sound like I hated
the episode - I mean at least it wasn't "The Doctor's Daughter," right? But one last thing that really bugged me was the ending, with the "nice" pirate captain being set free in a different universe with his own spaceship and crew. This is a man who, even after apparently learning his lesson, was so treasure-hungry he ended up losing his son to the Siren rather than part with all of it, what exactly do we think he's going to do with a whole new universe at his disposal, start a charity? Let's not even go into the fact that this is a world where a War of the Worlds
just went down and the aliens were killed by the common cold, and the Doctor's just unleashed TYPHUS on them. Good Doctoring that, Doctor.
Ah well. Good bits? The Doctor's continuing hat fixation and love for the TARDIS (it's a great scene when they enter the sickbay and each run to kiss their loved ones - "Toby!" "Rory!" "TARDIS!") Plus a continued gag from "A Christmas Carol" that Amy and Rory enjoy costume-based role-play in bed. And another quick glimpse of one-eyed Frances Barber. Also, the whole "two universes overlapping but not quite" thing - a possible explanation for Amy's occasional pregnancy on the scanner?
Anyway let's hope for better next week, as after rumours that have been rife ever since the show returned six years ago Neil Gaiman's episode finally arrives; and we get TARDIS corridors! Let's hope the latter's more satisfying than the last time we were promised "more parts of the TARDIS" and got a split-second shot of the wardrobe in "The Christmas Invasion."