10 May 2011

Doctor Who - Curse of the Black Spot

Pirates ahoy!
Thar be spoilers ahead.

After the complex shenanigans of previous weeks, we had a rip-roaring adventure on the high seas. A becalmed pirate ship with a creepy siren, picking the men off one by one. It seems that beeswax in the ears won't do the job this time.
It's OK though, because the TARDIS has appeared in the hold. The Doctor will soon get to the bottom of the mysterious glowing, green lady who enchants and disintegrates anyone with a cut or graze. Is she hungry for human blood? And how does she manage to appear inside sealed rooms?

Hugh Bonneville plays Captain Avery, gold-hungry pirate. A less lordly leader than his Downton role, but it all looked like good fun. We are told that Avery has committed atrocities, but don't see them as he is to be a sympathetic character

The episode is a monster mystery where the behaviour of the seemingly dangerous creature is deciphered in order to save the day. The Siren marks not just those who've lost blood, but those who are ill. She appears not just from the water, but from any reflective surface. The clues keep coming.
As soon as the captain's stowaway son is dematerialised you're pretty certain the Siren isn't actually killing people dead, because I doubt Who is going to become dark enough that an innocent child is all out murdered in front of us. Could it possibly be like series 1 episode 'Bad Wolf' where the apparent murders are actually relocations?
When the Siren is used to save Rory from drowning (how many times are they going to kill the poor guy? Seriously it's getting beyond a joke now) it becomes pretty certain that she is not the murderous creature she appears.

Why does the Siren transport people to an alien ship, what is her purpose?
Once they arrive in the sickbay there are definite echoes of 'The Doctor Dances'. The supposed malevolent force is in fact helpful, alien health tech that simply doesn't understand humans. What appeared to be hunger for blood was in fact a screening process, and apparent protectiveness of food was only protection of patients.
Luckily we get a new Who medical mystery where hugging is not the solution - it worked in 'The Doctor Dances' but was just awful in 'New Earth'.

It's nice to see Amy stepping up and taking action again, saving the menfolk from pirates. Her protectiveness of Rory is excellent, especially after his statement of commitment last week - I don't feel like I need to be concerned about their relationship anymore.
I also like that having a married couple on the TARDIS doesn't make things all soppy, because that's no how marriage tends to work. Amy's reaction when the Siren won't let her touch her husband felt wonderfully real.

Generally this was a fun adventure episode that worked well. The structure and solution felt familiar, but that's not really a weakness. However there were still links to the ongoing continuity.

Things to Watch Out For:
  • Scary eyepatch lady is back! 
So far only Amy sees her, and tends not to remember. I cannot figure out what this is about. I can only assume -or perhaps hope- that she is tied into something that links up with the unresolved threads of last series.

  • Amy's questionable uterus.
Pregnant or not pregnant, there's a question. Eventually there will have to be a resolution, so I'm not sure I need reminders every episode. Also I'm not sure it's really on for the Doctor to scan his friends without their knowledge, it's not as though he's an MD (as far as I know).

  • Once and future death
Rory and Amy keep a pretty important secret from the Doctor, so I suppose that kinda balances out the covert pregnancy scans. Of course the whole spoilery death is likely to be as questionable as the pregnancy, unless Matt Smith's employment contract includes indentured servitude.

Pet Peeve*
I can understand not showing how to properly slit wrists or hotwire cars in TV and film. They aren't skills you want people to pick up easily.
I can also understand using a visual shorthand for long, boring processes. We don't want to see how many tests the CSIs run before they get the result. A quick lab work montage will do -although I can understand forensics professionals disliking this.

But why is useful and vital First Aid info constantly covered up like it's a terrible secret?
The fact that Rory suggests Amy could perform CPR because she's seen it on TV makes me suspicious of his nursing skills. Amy then performs a very TV version of CPR, and Rory is apparently revived by magical luck. It's not as though portraying a more accurate version of CPR would have marred the drama or ruined the timing. It just required slightly different positioning of the actors' head and hands

Amy was probably pumping air into Rory's stomach, because his head wasn't elevated so there's no reason his airway would be open. Put your chin on your chest and take a deep breath, then do it with your head tilted right back. That difference is very important when you can't breathe for yourself.
Alternatively the air was rushing straight out of Rory's fully open nostrils. If doing mouth-to-mouth you have to pinch the nostrils closed, or the air will take the path of least resistance and never get to the lungs.

* I don't know if people still use that term, but it fits here.

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