Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TV Review: Doctor Who - The Curse of the Black Spot

Well, I guess they can’t all be gems. Series 6 of DOCTOR WHO has already had its first “Ice Cream” Episode. What the heck is that? You may ask.

A long time ago when my friend and I used to watch anime like it was a religion, there were episodes within nearly every shows’ seasons that had to do with an Ice Cream vendor being possessed by a demon and attacking people, to which the good guys had to save the day. So basically, a standalone/filler episode I guess is the best way to describe it. For me though, "Ice Cream" episode (term coined by my friend Dayle) has always stuck as a phrase to describe filler episodes, or if you prefer “Monster Of The Week”.

The 3rd episode of Series 6 DW, called THE CURSE OF THE BLACK SPOT was decent enough as an adventure, though the quality of the overall season drops when they fall back on something so decidedly ordinary. At no point did I feel like I was watching a proper DOCTOR WHO episode. It all felt very by-the-numbers. A pirate ship becalmed at night, a stroppy mermaid appears to be marking and killing wounded crew, and when the Doctor and Co. show up Rory gets marked (of course) and they have to save the day. All sounds fairly status-quo actually, and I think even the result that solves the problem in the end of the episode is so generic that it actually once again…features Rory in mortal peril. As Chris said last week, I will echo, they need to stop killing (not-killing) main characters. After surviving ACTUAL death twice in Series 5, was anyone REALLY scared that Rory wasn’t going to be revived? That scene had ZERO emotional resonance and I can't fathom what the writer was thinking. Lily Cole suited her role as the above stroppy mermaid simply because she has a very unique look that lent itself well to such a role. That said, the special effects on her were so-so at best. That brings me to another point. Was it just me or was the editing AND sound editing totally off in this episode? It all felt chopped together and there were moments where I actually sat up and thought, who the hell did the post-production on this episode? It’s awful.

There were a few smaller cool moments, like Frances Barber showing up once again in the window to nowhere commenting on Amy and then disappearing as if she never were. Ladies and gents, I think we have our “Crack in the wall” for this season. The other moment was a blink and you’ll miss it moment, and is kind of only for DW nerds like me. When the Captain says that he commands the ship after the Doctor suggests everyone going to the gunpowder room, the Doctor asks if he’s feeling threatened by the Doctor wearing a hat now…Murray Gold’s music has the intro bit to “All The Strange, Strange Creatures” (the main hook music from Series 3 and 4 with David Tennant) and I think that marks the first time Tennant and Smith’s music has overlapped. That was a nice little thing to notice, and may be even more telling considering that trailer we saw for the forthcoming episode with Rory aboard Tennant’s TARDIS interior.

What truly and ONLY saves this episode from the complete doldrums of ho-hummed-ness is Smith himself. The Doctor is spot on in every scene. Every line of dialogue he delivers is perfect, his goofy comments are hilarious and his admitting to being wrong…twice = Priceless.

The whole Amy’s Schrödinger pregnancy thing is touched on again, but all we do is stare at the spinning image of the TARDIS display screen not knowing what to make of it…AGAIN.

Really? REALLY?

Sigh. Writer of this episode, Stephen Thompson, doesn’t have anything under his belt yet in this universe, and it really shows. The only other thing he did was an episode of Moffat’s other winning series SHERLOCK…but he wrote my least fave episode of that as well. Pattern? It almost as if he wrote a self-contained episode that starred the proper Doctor, but everything else was from some other show and didn’t sit right. It appears as if we have the Moffat-Era Helen Raynor (who wrote all my least fave DW’s of the revived series, Human/Dalek hybrid and pig men anybody?). Like I said above though, the Doctor is written spot on and he totally saves the episode.

Well, it happens. There’s always bound to be a bad episode amongst the lot. Let’s just hope this is the last of them.

Now next week is something like nerdvana for us though…we have an episode of DOCTOR WHO written by one of its biggest fans, and one of my favourite writers ever, Neil Gaiman. Seriously, how on earth does it get any better than a Moffat-Era DW episode penned by none other than Neil Gaiman? So stay tuned this Saturday when his episode THE DOCTOR’S WIFE airs, and it looks to be a cracker. Cracker enough for him and Moffat to tweet about it together. After this weeks lackluster episode I am REALLY looking forward to THE DOCTOR’S WIFE.


  1. completely agree on everything. This was a total ho-hum filler episode for me. ongoing comments in my household included "Wow, Pirates of the Caribbean much?" "Rory is the Kenny of Doctor Who. You bastards! you killed Rory!" "that's supposed to be a little boy?" "didn't they pull this same doctor stunt on Star Trek Voyager?" so yeah, not an episode I cared for.

    maybe they figured the best place to put a filler ep was right before the nergasm Gaiman ep?

  2. Indeed. Perhaps that's is the reason for its placement.

    Well, here's hoping that next weeks ep blows this one out of the water!



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