26 May 2011

The Watcher: Doctor Who Series 6, Episode 3

Transmission date: 07 May 2011 (BBC One/BBC America)

Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill. Guest starring Hugh Bonneville, Lily Cole. Written by Steve Thompson. Directed by Jeremy Webb.

Plot: Team TARDIS is stranded on a pirate ship where a Siren marks and takes those battered or bruised, and The Doctor doesn't quite know how to fight her.

With "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon", I watched both episodes a good two or three times over. Out of pure love, or to gain perhaps full understanding of a scene, and not to mention rewatching specific sequences that just make me giddy (see: River killing a dozen or so Silents), I rewatched generally because I loved the episodes. In regards to "The Curse of the Black Spot", I watched it once with little interest all the way through, and then skimmed through the episode in preparation for this review. Basically, "Curse of the Black Spot" was just okay, a fine forty-three minutes spent on lightweight fun. Nothing was great, nothing was bad, the episode just was.

And that's a real shame, y'know? The Doctor - especially this Doctor - and pirates together, should be a match made in Heaven. Sure, there are moments of pirate jocularity, such as The Doctor's new (temporary) pirate hat (I would have loved to see him sport it the whole episode) and his introductory "Yo-ho-ho!", but not enough is made out of the story. Indeed, there are all the elements of a pirate story present and accounted for - treasure, stowaways, curses, walking the plank and storms - but it all just seems rather hollow. As if someone pitched 'The Doctor and pirates' and that was it. A quick reasoning for the going-ons onboard the pirate ship was devised and the script was seemingly written in no time.

Basically, it looks like the cast and crew had more fun filming than the audience did watching, which is a real shame.


Well, the good news is that Karen Gillan looks absolutely fabulous this time out as Amy Pond, and she has a really splendid ass-kicking character moment when she dons a pirate outfit and sword and fights some pirates intent on doing the Doctor some harm. So we get Karen looking hot, which is a plus, and Amy Pond sword fightin', which qualifies as double plus. That said, the special guest star of this episode, Lily Cole, doesn't fare as well, although a substantial portion of her blahness can be attributed to the script. Physically, the blue/greenish tones of the Siren and the cartoony firey red expression of Angry Siren just doesn't cut it. Looks too...fakey and, yeah, cartoony. Her sparkly glowyness is also not all that well done. And as for her overall presence in the episode, well, it's alright. Apparently her whole dealio is that she's a program that nurses injured beings, and in this case, dealing with humans, she takes the form of a human female who sweetly comforts her charges. Personally, I would have liked something a bit more...scary and epic, I guess, with this whole pirate thing, especially coming off a stellar two-parter that is both action-y and dark.

Basically, what we got is a story undeserving of The Doctor on a pirate ship. If it ain't gonna be a dark story, then damnit, it should be fun! But "The Curse of the Black Spot" is more ugh than fun.

Visually, Jeremy Webb doesn't achieve the gorgeous cinematography of Toby Haynes' two-part premiere. And I don't just mean all the material in Utah; even the talkie and warehouse scenes have a certain filmic quality to them. Considering "Black Spot" is a response of sorts to Disney's successful PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise, I would have expected the cinematography to reflect that same cinematic flare. Or perhaps the execution of "Black Spot" was given the same gusto of filler the episode feels like. Anywhoozles, one major aspect that I would have liked see improvement would be the blatant obviousness that the pirate ship is safely docked and nowhere abouts in sea. Noticing the stillness of the ship and sea does snap the viewer out of the 'magic' of a episode.

Also, just to maybe please my curiosity, but when did Rory become a Real Boy? For all intents and purposes, Rory Williams is a Auton made by the Pandorica Alliance, and remains so to this day. So all this business about having to come back to life (again) just seems a bit...silly. If there is a spot in "The Big Bang" where it's explicitly understood Rory is a flesh and blood being, than by all means, I'll forgive this bit that's driving me crazy.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh on "Curse of the Black Spot." For what it is, this episode is serviceable. It's much better than other filler-esque fare like Series 2's "Fear Her" or "The Idiot Lantern", but coming hot off the heals of two very spectacular and movie-like episodes, "Curse of the Black Spot" just feels like a disappointment. At the very least, Amy's vision of the Eye Patch woman continues (thankfully), showing that this is a subplot that is a major player in the series arc. So, that makes me happy. In the end, I can be glad that we got The Doctor wearing a pirate hat, and Amy Pond looking a bit sexier than usual (maybe it's the pink leggings).

Next episode promises mythology heavy funness as acclaimed fantasy writer Neil Gaiman tackles DOCTOR WHO with "The Doctor's Wife." And I really hope that title isn't literal...

Grade: C

1 comment:

Distilled said...

Not sure if you've seen "The Doctor's Wife" yet. But I can almost guarantee that you'll enjoy it. :)

I agree whole heartedly with this review btw, it was a very bland episode.