Doctor: 'Ignore all my previous theories.'
episode was a serviceable, if lightweight, yarn which saw the Doctor,
Amy and Rory take to the high seas, swash some buckles, and wade
through just about every pirate cliché in the book. There was a mutiny, a
stowaway, a storm, mad pirate laughter, some booty (of the non-arse
variety), and more pirate lingo than you could shake a stick at. The
only thing missing was a parrot. Add to the mix a spaceship, a sick bay,
and a virtual doctor, and you've pretty much got your plot. It's just a
shame tonight's episode followed on from last week's mind-bending
WTF-a-rama. Comparatively, it felt a little ordinary.
many respects this felt like a lost episode from the Russell T. Davies
era. The concept was big, there was lots of frenetic action and loud
music, all nicely capped off with a pseudo-emotional crisis which,
unfortunately, never quite hit the mark. The opening two episodes of the
season have faced stiff criticism this past week. Some have deemed
them too complicated, others have been dissatisfied with the general
lack of answers, and some have gone as far as calling for a return to
the show's classic roots: lauding accessible story-lines,
universal appeal, and high-action content over the show's, currently,
more abstruse adventures. Of course, they use the term classic in
reference to Russell T. Davies' tenure, rather than the Barry Letts or
Philip Hinchcliffe era (which makes me feel old), but you get my
drift, for some people, Doctor Who will always be about aimless
running around, the Doctor saying 'brilliant', and amusing farting
aliens. Not that there's any shame in that (apart from it being utterly fucking shameful.)
So tonight's story should have gone some way towards appeasing
the naysayers. Apart from the occasional burst of techno-babble, this
was pretty much a standard Who-by-numbers. The plot itself I quite enjoyed.
Granted, it wasn't the most original story out there—having much in
common with the 'The Doctor Dances', with its alien technology designed
to aid humanity somehow running amok theme, and Michael Crichton's Coma, with its suspended sick beds—but it did
have its moments. I dare say, had I been ten, I'd have loved it.
(Whilst simultaneously crapping my pants at the spooky Avatar Lady.)
course, with the Doctor about to walk the plank, and Rory in mortal
danger, one had to wonder at the timing and practicality of Amy's sudden
costume change. Not that I'm complaining with the result—anything
which ends in Amy kicking arse in a pirate hat, pirate coat and red
tights, is fine by me—but it did take some suspending
my disbelief to swallow her sudden proficiency with a cutlass. How she
managed to best a ship full of professional pirates (albeit the most
affable pirates ever to sail the seas), with no training whatsoever, I'll never know. But, I digress... it made for an entertaining, if somewhat contrived, spectacle.
any of us really believe that Rory would stay dead? Despite the swelling
music, swelling seas and swelling bosoms (I made that last part up),
there was never any real sense of him being in danger. I'm not
sure Rory's cut out for a life aboard the TARDIS—he can't seem to stop
getting killed. How many times is that now? Twice? Three times? No
wonder he's getting a reputation as the Kenny of the show. Him putting
his trust in Amy was a wonderful character moment—what a pity she threw in the towel after just five breaths.
If Doctor Corday had been there, I'm pretty sure she'd have given him
at least 20 minutes of hefty lip-locking action. So much for never
giving up. I confess, I was mildly touched by Amy's grief at Rory's
non-passing—it's just a shame it felt so manufactured. I didn't believe
for one second that he'd die. Of course, I didn't believe he'd die the
first time, either. Or the second.
As much as I love
Hugh Bonneville, I'm not sure he was the best choice to play Captain
Avery. Despite the claims of his crew, he never really convinced as a
ruthless pirate captain. Maybe I love Bonneville's portrayal of Robert
Crawley (Downton Abbey) too much to believe that he could ever be evil. He's just too
cuddly. I was also a little puzzled by the morality tale. Why would a
life of murder and piracy be rewarded with a new ship (which he could
miraculously pilot, because, you know, if you can steer a ship you
can steer anything, including a TARDIS!) and a resuscitated crew?
Wasn't it his deceit which got them into trouble in the first place?
the story feeling a little familiar, I thought the cast did a fine job
with the script. Lily Cole (despite not talking) looked seriously
other-worldy (and at times freakishly sinister), as the ship's slightly
unpredictable virtual Doctor. The CGI looked a bit shaky at times, but
not detrimentally so. Similarly, the Doctor was at his wise-cracking,
semi-high on Smarties best. I dare say Matt Smith could recite names
from a telephone book and make it entertaining. He adds so much through
his body language and facial expressions, it's impossible not to be entranced by his performance.
wonder how much of this episode was throw away. Frances Barber made
another brief, and frankly, bizarre cameo as freaky eye-patch lady, but
what of the multiple dimensions story-line—will it have any future
significance with regards the Doctor's death? Could it have been an
alt-universe version of the Doctor who died? I doubt it, but if there's
anything to be learned from 'Flesh and Stone' (where I rather foolishly
dismissed the Doctor's missing jacket as a continuity error), it's
that, sometimes, things are there (or aren't there) for a reason. 'Nuff
not sure the water in the barrel would have been still enough,
particularly with the rocking of the boat and rain, to reflect anything.
—Looks like the Ood are back next week.
—Some of you (and by that I mean 'hardly any of you') might remember
Lee Ross (who played Boatswain) from Steven Moffat's earlier show Press Gang. He also played Paul in The Catherine Tate Show. So Doctor Who connections all over the place.
—Does broken glass lose its ability to reflect? No? Sheer nonsense then, really.
—The episode title is pretty close to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl? The fourth film of the franchise—On Stranger Tides—opens in ten days. Coincidence? Probably.
—Stephen Thompson also wrote Sherlock episode 'The Blind Baker'.
—Loved the alien snot moment—as, I'm sure, did every ten year old boy in the country.
—Who guessed the Doctor and Co. would be behind the door? Everyone in the whole world? Alrighty then.
—Pirates in space? They're just going to loot everything, aren't they?
—Amy's still pregnant. Except she's not. Except she is.
Doctor: 'Ever met Freud? No? Comfy sofa!'
Doctor: 'We've all got to go sometime. There are worse ways than having your face snogged off by a dodgy mermaid.'
Doctor: 'Let me stop you there... bigger on the inside.'
Avery: 'I'm confused.'
Doctor: 'Yeah, well it's a big club. We should get T Shirts.'
Doctor: 'Oh, look"!'
Amy: 'What is it?'
Doctor: 'Sneeze! Alien bogies.'
Pirate: 'This is more magic, Captain. I believe they're spirits. How else would they find their way below decks.'
Doctor: 'Well, I would say 'multi-dimensional engineering' -- but seeing as
you had a problem with 'sensors', I won't go there.'
Pirate: 'We are all cursed if we stay aboard, Sir.'
Doctor: 'It's not a 'curse'. Curse means 'game over'. Curse means we are helpless. We are not helpless.'