Sunday, May 08, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x03: "The Curse Of The Black Spot"

Written by Steve Thompson
Directed by Jeremy Webb

The Doctor: “You had to gloat, didn’t you?”
Avery: “I wasn’t gloating.”
The Doctor: “I saw that look right now – ha ha, his ship is rubbish.”
Avery: “True.”

Let’s face it, when it comes to ship, the TARDIS might have her occasional setback but it’s a better ship than most and it’s always going to be more impressive than a pirate ship. Not that pirate ships aren’t impressive but a TARDIS will always trump it mind.

The idea of a pirate themed episode for this show isn’t exactly new territory. “The Smugglers” is probably the most famous pirate themed story from the Classic Series and whether “The Curse Of The Black Spot” will be seen as a classic in later years remains to be seen. For now, it’s more of a fluffier episode compared to the opening two parter we had.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory playing stowaways on Avery’s ship, only to be caught within the first three minutes of the episode set up a light hearted tone. We even got a moment where Avery forced the Doctor to walk the plank before Amy got a little over enthusiastic with a cutlass and damned one of his crew.

I’m usually fond of Amy’s sassiness but even I found it rather jarring when she wasn’t exactly on page with the pirate’s alarm at being cut. Okay, so she didn’t know about the Siren and until then, the pirate had been giving them hell but it was just a little bit of a jarring moment with Amy for me.

As for the men being marked for death by the Siren, I totally knew that Rory was going to wind up being one of them. You have to give Arthur Darvill his due. As an enchanted Rory, he got to play the fool very well and put a lot of playful humour into some fairly ridiculous dialogue but as a Rory fan, this episode committed the cardinal sin of killing him off again.

It’s moments like this where it’s understandable as to why Rory is seen as the Kenny of this show. The poor fella does seem to have bad luck with dying and while it never sticks, it is becoming a recurring joke that’s in danger of losing its effect. Oddly enough though, it wasn’t the Siren who offed him though. Drowning managed to accomplish that one.

And then there was the Siren. I had no real opinion of Lily Cole being cast in the role because there have been enough incidents in the new series where an odd piece of casting has worked in the show’s favour but here it was something of a mixed bag if I’m being totally honest.

Lily Cole looked the part of a Siren – beautiful and enchanting one minute, sinister the next but in terms of performances, honestly, you could’ve gotten any extra to have done basically the same thing she did throughout the entire episode, which wasn’t much to be brutally honest.

Not giving the Siren any dialogue was a massive misstep for this episode. Not only did it relegate the Doctor as a mouthpiece for voicing the Siren’s intent but it also denied Lily Cole a chance to actually show viewers what she’s capable of as an actress, which was a damn shame as far as I was concerned.

I didn’t mind the reveal of the Siren being more of an automated doctor trying to heal the sick. It was a nice enough twist and after the nastiness of the Silence in the last two weeks, it’s always good to have an alien on the show whose intentions aren’t nefarious but again, no dialogue sort of hampered the character’s impact for me.

However it did lead to an interesting character moment for Amy. I’m not gonna lament on the bad CPR skills but for all the continuous doubters out there, does this episode finally prove that she loves Rory? Probably not but I don’t doubt her love for him and while you can lament about Rory’s faith in Amy being misplaced, I actually think it’s endearing of him. Unlike “Cold Blood”, Rory made it out of this one alive.

Now that we’ve had the ritual ‘let’s kill Rory’ moment of the episode, the more interesting aspect of the episode was the fact that the TARDIS lot are lying to each other. I love this team so much and while I understand Amy and Rory concealing the Doctor’s future death from him, I’m not sure I understand why the Doctor is scanning Amy behind her back.

Three episodes in and I’m still convinced that Amy’s Schrödinger pregnancy is a good plot point but at the same time, it seems jarring that the Doctor doesn’t confront her and Rory on this. He had no problem doing that last year with the cracks, so why not this and who the hell is that Eye Patch lady already?

Elsewhere and back to the pirate stuff, apart from Avery’s greed, his issues with his son Toby and the disloyalty and cowardice of some of his crew, I have to hand it to Steve Thompson for being somewhat restrained with the pirate clichés, though I’m not sure the idea of a pirate crew in deep space with a Siren is a good idea though.

Also in “The Curse Of The Black Spot”

The timing of this episode couldn’t be any more perfect, what with a new Pirates Of The Caribbean movie coming out soon.

The Doctor (to Avery): “Yo, ho, ho, ho or does anyone actually say that?”

This is the third historical episode we’ve had in a row so far this series. Nice to see the format shift a little.

The Doctor: “Amy, what are you doing?”
Amy: “Saving your life. Okay with that, are you?”

Rory: “Hey, cuddle me, shipmate.”
Amy: “Rory stop.”

This episode was meant to be one later in the season but it was pushed forward because there weren’t enough lighter episodes in the first half of the season, according to Steven Moffat.

The Doctor (re Toby): “He’s not one of the crew?”
Avery: “No, he’s my son.”

The Doctor: “I was wrong. Please ignore all my previous theories up until this point.”
Avery: “What, again?”

First Canton, now Avery got a look around the TARDIS and the Doctor mentioned about multiple bathrooms too.

Toby: “What made you do it, what made you turn pirate?”
Avery: “Get some sleep now.”

Madame Kovarian (to Amy): “It’s fine; you’re doing fine, just stay calm.”

I lied about Eye Patch Lady – I think she’s an intergalactic midwife from hell, which makes sense, considering the contexts in which Amy has seen her in the last two episodes.

The Doctor (to Amy/Avery): “Ever look at a mirror and think you’re seeing a whole other world? Well, this time it’s not an illusion.”

Amy: “Why do I have to be the one, why do I have to save you?”
Rory: “Because I know you’ll never give up.”

Steve Thompson, who scribed this episode, also wrote for Sherlock last year as well.

Amy: “You only call me Amelia when you’re worrying about me.”
The Doctor: “I always worry about you.”
Amy: “Mutual.”
The Doctor: “Go to bed, Pond.”

Chronology: If we’re going by the real Henry Avery, then it’s late 17th Century.

While this episode is unlikely to go down as a classic, I think “The Curse Of The Black Spot” for me at least falls into the ‘better than I expected it’ category and after the darkness of the last two episodes, it was needed to have something a little lighter. However next week’s episode looks to be a big one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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