Monday, May 9, 2011

Doctor Who Review: That Was No Pirate

In case you're new here, let me reiterate. I love Doctor Who. (Have loved it since the reboot began in '05.) I love Matt Smith's new Doctor, and Amy Pond, Rory, and River Song. I loved last season.

I enjoyed the two-part premiere, but there was something missing. It was not nearly as good as The Eleventh Hour. And then, as their first follow up, they give us The Curse of the Black Spot. Another thing I love is naval history, and thus it seemed they made this episode with me in mind. However, this was not a lovable episode.

In fact, it was wretched. It was written by a Stephen Thompson, with whom I was unfamiliar until google informed me he wrote an episode of Moffat's modern retelling Sherlock, which I recall enjoying (except for their bizarre Moriarty and obsession with making both him and Holmes gay.) So, probably a young writer, one of Moffat's 'gang', being given a shot in the big leagues with an unimportant episode.

I support giving writers a chance, and wouldn't mind a crack at a Doc Who ep myself, but in a 13 episode season that's being broken in half for several months just to increase the suspense, there is no excuse for fillers.

The dialogue was flat and cliche and unfunny (drunk Rory, confused Doctor, 'Alien bogeys!') every joke and dynamic having been done before. The Doctor does nothing clever at all this episode and in fact none of them are essential to the plot whatsoever. The pirates are laughable. I understand this is sci/fi, where they time travel and go to alien worlds, but piracy existed as did disgraced naval officers--but they became sailors in the merchant service, not thieves. And if they did become privateers, they didn't actually fly the "black flag. The jolly roger!" as one of the men declare. To fly a black flag as a private was a grave thing, indicating that your ship would give no quarter and ask for none, killing anyone on board they captured. Also, where in the world is a ship becalmed in total darkness for eight days in a row? And what "experienced" sailor leaves three open flame lanterns hanging in the magazine with the gunpowder?

Anyway, it wasn't just those major inaccuracies (Amy and Rory supposedly able to set the sails of a three-mast ship by pulling on two ropes) it was the unoriginality and the ceaseless melodrama. The dying son, the unworthy father. Why in God's name get Hugh Bonneville as a guest-star, and give him such an abominable role? In the end there was nothing redeeming about his character at all. He might as well have stayed with his son to avoid the authorities in England and because he was poor from losing his stolen treasure (which had been stolen from an Indian King? What?)

The lack of creativity came with the siren lady and her lame 'hypnotizing' song. It was obvious these people weren't being disintegrated, and the twist was one that Doctor Who has done before (The Doctor Dances, and I'm pretty sure there was another.)

Instead, the worst part was what turned out to be the climax. Rory was in the water a bit too long, and was drowning apparently. So it was up to Amy to save him, by doing CPR. Which she kind of does in the TARDIS, neglecting to tilt his head back, and sobbing hysterically when she was supposed to be exhaling into his mouth. The sweeping music, the hopeless looking Doctor, the dishevelled, crying, begging Amy, this all lasted for several minutes until miraculously, when all hope was gone, Rory coughed and jumped up and hugged Amy saying "You did it!"

Honestly? A character drowning and getting CPR to come back is not a CLIMAX. It's a way to fill up 2 minutes in the first act if you're a bit short on action. Obviously he wasn't going to die, so trying to play on our emotions with such cheap, unintelligent, uninspired manipulations loses the show a lot of respect.

Doctor Who requires a large suspension of disbelief, and this is one of the first times I've found it nearly impossible. Next week sees The Doctor's Wife, the episode written by Neil Gaiman. If anyone can restore this season to its potential greatness, it would be Master Gaiman. Here's hoping.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed I wasn't to impressed with the episode either.