Netflix recently added all of Top Gear (minus the James May-free first season) so I am now just discovering little gems like this:
With a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie on the horizon it was just a matter of time before we got a new take on the old pirate motif in Doctor Who. The episode begins with the Doctor and his crew landing on board a pirate ship full of terrified seamen. It seems that whenever one of these gentlemen gets even the slightest bruise, cut, or sickness a green skinned mermaid / siren type creature pops up and presumably kills them. This death is of course predicted by a ominous black spot appearing on the victim’s hand just before the attack.
The Curse of the Black Spot reminds me of some of the season openers we used to have during the Russell T. Davies era and more specifically those in which David Tennant was the Doctor. Not to say that’s a bad thing, but this episode seemed more “fluff” than the previous two which is both good and bad. On one hand I was relieved to see a bit of a reprieve of all of the Lost-esque stuff from the first two episodes and the disjointedness was gone. On the other we basically got the same kind of feel good romp that we always get with the whole “base under siege” episode archetype. This time the base being a pirate ship and the monster that of a siren / mermaid.
I think the main reason that this episode was only “average” to me was that one scene was inexplicably cut from the show, and messed up my train of thought while watching it. When all the pirates started to resort to infighting, the first mate was cut by the captain’s son as he tried to screw them all over. We see a scene of him barricading the door, only to have the character not appear in the rest of the episode until the very end. All of the sudden the Doctor runs into the room and he’s just gone with no explanation. I hope that there was a deleted scene that saw his removal from the ship because if not…..yeesh.
The episode did redeem itself a bit when we get the ending and the creation of a troupe of space pirates. I’ve always been a fan of space pirates due to my love of Leiji Matsumoto space operas, and am glad to see some pop up in modern Doctor Who. All in all, good episode could have been better.
We had some friends over tonight for a bit of a movie marathon containing The King’s Speech, which was amazing, and tonight’s episode of Doctor Who, which was once again a mind-screw. I’ve kept away from giving too much of my opinion on the episode as I wanted to watch both halves to make a better decision on the matter, so here we go.
First thing of note in the episode was that BBC America decided to ditch the introductory preamble from last week and brought back the “time tunnel” commercial breaks. I think this looks better especially in the commercial department as last week’s episode would seemingly cut out in the middle of scenes. This was especially jarring considering it was sponsored with “limited commercial breaks” from BMW, a fact made more confusing by the butt-load of commercials. In fact, this week had less commercials as far as I could tell. I actually liked the little preamble thing, reminded me of Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes a bit, but oh well, I guess folks complained too much 😛
My only real quibble with this episode came from the resolution of the cliffhanger and the seemingly rushed opening moments at this point. It was weird seeing the apparent “heel turn” of Canton Delaware only to find out that he has basically been tasked with a secret mission by Richard Nixon. This was cool, but I really don’t think that it was handled as well as it could have been. I generally like the whole “time jump” trope if it is used well in some shows, but it was almost tiresome in this episode. It almost seemed as if the production staff wanted to use all of the great location footage from the desert that they had taken instead of keeping us in the loop with what was going on.
One thing I forgot to really mention last week was my opinion of this shows portrayal of Richard Nixon. As historical figures go, this new series has definitely hit the nail on the head multiple times with the likes of Churchill, Dickens, Van Gough and now Nixon. You can tell the actor had prosthetics and makeup on, but his version of everyone’s favorite fallen president was at least believable unlike versions I’ve seen such as the one in Watchmen. It is funny that Nixon appears to be a companion of sorts as he traveled in the Tardis on two occasions (that we know of). Maybe my dream of seeing the Doctor and a fist fighting Abe Lincoln will come to fruition at some point.
This episode did have two incredibly huge WTF moments found within. The first of which occurred when Amy was traveling around the abandoned orphanage looking for evidence of the little girl, or the silence. We are treated to an eerie scene where a “window” suddenly opens on the surface of a metal door and we see a VERY futuristic metallic eye patch lady say something similar to “I think she’s dreaming” and slide the window shut. This scene was at complete odds with what was going on in the rest of the scene and was made that much more disturbing in this way. Obviously this is some sort of foreshadowing for a future episode, but what could it mean? Was Amy asleep at the time, and maybe this person was helping the silence, or is there some sort of Ashes to Ashes shenanigans afoot? Time will tell?
The ending…..yeah…..HOLY CRAP!