23 June 2010

Doctor Who - The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

Written by Chris Chibnell
Directed by Ashley Way

Plot: It's the year 2020, a force beneath the Earth's crust isn't too pleased with the humans drilling into their territory and are forced to retaliate.

(S05E08/S05E09) As the fifth season of Doctor Who heads towards its final stretch, we're treated to a two-parter that brings back old villains from The Doctor's past and makes for some pretty decent - if a little underwhelming - entertainment. As a combined story, these two episodes will be looked back with respect for the story they were trying to tell, but I doubt they'll be much rewatch value warranted to 'em.

The Silurians (who made their screen debut back in 1970 with the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee) return to the Whoverse as a consequence of mankind. Granted, not like the humans were intentionally egging them on, but they get the blame anyway. Turns out that this giant drilling thingy Nasreen (guest star Meera Syal) and Tonys (guest star Robert Pugh) has been hitting the oxygen pockets for the Silurians downstairs home, and they aren't taken too kindly to that. So they come up, one abducting a child, Elliot, and bringing it below the earth (where Amy is, havin' been taken hostage relatively early on in the first episode). One Silurian is captured and used as leverage by the humans. From the Silurians point of view, they were the original owners of the earth, and mankind basically kicked them out of the way and took it from them - so, I can get behind their reasoning for not liking humanity. Frankly, I'm surprised we were introduced to some Silurians who were actually intrigued by mankind, and wished to broker some sort of peaceful agreement between the two races.

"The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood" rather show the worst of humanity, in a way, and The Doctor makes quick note of that. In the first segment, the captured Silurian Alaya declares she already knows the identity of the one who will inevitably kill her, and doesn't show the slightest bit of surprise when the driven-to-the-edge Ambrose (guest star Nia Roberst) shows up to do the deed. It's sad and unfortunate to realize the possibilities the peace agreement could bring, but it's even more disheartening to see The Doctor's faith in humanity unmet, which I'm sure pissed him off internally (he chose not to show it visibly). The very fact that it's the humans destroying the possibility for peace and now the aliens this time around makes this two-parter stand out amongst the rest.

But then again, the type of characters The Doctor was left with weren't exactly the ideal candidates for a situation like this. Although, perhaps that's the point...

As for the Silurians, I liked them, although I wish their storyline and culture had more time to develop and/or be explained. For two episodes with such titles that instill fear and promise of something spooky, powerful, and big, I was hoping the Silurians would be a bit more animalistic or, ahem, cold-blooded.

Nine episodes in, Matt Smith seemed to be getting the hang of being The Doctor, especially after his magnificent work in "Amy's Choice." Perhaps it's just me, but his performance seemed a little shaken in these installment,, a bit of out sync with what he has thus far established. It was like a small cold that quickly went bye-bye, seeing as how Smith's back with a vengeance in the upcoming episode. Eh, whatev. I still enjoy Smith's Eleventh Doctor, and I did enjoy his work in "Cold Blood" during the moment when he realized a peace agreement wasn't in the cards for right now. After being the focal point of the last episode, Amy gets sidelined in this two-parter, not really playing a integral part of the narrative. She gets captured early on in "Hungry Earth", and gets re-captured in the middle portion of "Cold Blood." However, those last five minutes or so nearly makes up for her lack of screentime - Karen does some magnificent work inside the TARDIS as The Doctor pleads for her to remember Rory and keep those memories. It's chilling but yet beautiful to watch.

Speaking about Rory, poor bloke. Arthur Davil had plenty to do the last two episodes, and similar to Karen, gets sidelined for the most part in this two-parter. I mean, Rory does have a potential moment of a cool storyline - what with being mistaken for a police officer - but that quickly gets thrown away as the story focuses primarily on The Doctor and the Silurians. It rather seemed like his Companions were more or less a burden on the writer than a complimenting factor.

In the end, "The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood" were pretty decent episodes, but out of the entire series thus far, it definitely ranks as the last in the 'awesome' category. I guess the premise for "Hungry Earth", in which some sinister force is rising up from the ground, just held with it plenty of super terrifying possibilities, which I wish was delved into more. But the performances were solid, and the conclusion to the storyline satisfactory with a nice hint at what's to come, so overall, I can't complain all that much because they were absolutely two entertaining hours of awesomeness.

Little Notes:
  • I know some didn't like it, but I thought it was a cool move to have future Rory & Amy on the opposite hilltop when Current Doctor, Rory & Amy arrived in the first few minutes. Time is perhaps a bigger component of this series of Doctor Who than any other, and I thought that was a neat logical (and of course 'cute') moment. The significance it held later was surprising, and made that moment even more cool.
  • If being touched or in close proximity of the 'cracks in space and time' eliminate a person from existence, why doesn't that happen to The Doctor who puts his entire arm into the crack, crouching right next to it in close proximity? Is it a Time Lord thing, as I'm assuming? Whatever, it leads to some entertaining television.
  • "Cold Blood" could easily do without the voice over narration; it doesn't add anything, really. But from what I can suss out, the voice over takes place near the end of those 1,000 years, and the Head Silurian dude is reminiscing about meeting The Doctor. I think.
  • It was interesting that even Ambrose's son Elliot was displeased with her actions, as was her husband.

1 comment:

Reel Whore said...

A decent set of episodes, but not my favorites from the season. I like that the Doctor was disappointed by humanity. Proves his partners aka Amy are exceptional people who join him.

I think there was a lot of potential with this story. It could have been an arc that stretched the entire length of a season. Maybe they should have had them continue to rise up, and not just send them back into hibernation. Oh well, maybe that's for future installments.