Mon
May 9 2011 10:24am

Doctor Who S6, Ep 3: “The Curse of the Black Spot”

Doctor Who episode The Curse of the Black Spot

It seemed like it was going to be a nice respite from the high-stakes Moffstraganza that were the last five episodes of Doctor Who. I thought a standalone, rollicking pirate tale would be just what the, erm, doctor ordered. And then I saw “The Curse of the Black Spot,” and started comparing it with “The Web Planet.” And “The Web Planet” was winning, if only because I was so bored I fell asleep while watching it, whereas I had the misfortune of watching “The Curse of the Black Spot” in its entirety.

Dear Doctor Who,

Thanks for hurting my soul and ruining what was otherwise a lovely Sunday morning.

Love, Me.

Doctor Who episode The Curse of the Black Spot

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory wind up on a pirate ship captained by the famed pirate, Henry Avery (who is also referenced in the First Doctor story, “The Smugglers,” in which Avery is dead and his treasure is being pursued. I wonder if he lost that treasure whilst flying a spaceship?!), and suffering what seems like a disturbing curse. The ship can’t sail, and if any of the crew suffers the slightest injury—a cut, a cold—a mysterious creature they call a siren comes for them, draws them with her song, and makes them go poof and disappear. Apparently, she also makes injured TARDISes disappear. It’s up to The Doctor and Amy (Rory, of course, gets injured and almost dies, thus making him the Kenny of Doctor Who—“They killed Rory! YOU BASTARDS!”) to help Captain Avery (Hugh Bonneville) and his crew stop this siren from killing any more men, and to get the ship moving again.

The concept of the story—a stopped pirate ship and a siren—is a good one, and one that could have led to any number of storytelling possibilities, but Stephen Thompson’s script executed them poorly, as if he’s never watched an episode of Doctor Who, and as if he didn’t care about fleshing out the new characters he introduced into this world.

First, his plot requires everyone to be a moron for it to work, and so we’re subjected to The Doctor at his most ineffectual, the blandest Amy ever, and a useless Rory. For example, the siren comes for the injured, but when Rory gets hurt, Amy can just hold him back until the siren leaves. So, um, why didn’t The Doctor or the rest of the crew see that and hold back the other injured pirates? They allow three men to die without even trying. Then there’s Amy, who yells at Rory for not coming to her rescue, then inexplicably decides that she can wield a sword to save herself (and of course, she has to put on the outfit, too, because why not?), then is completely blasé about being informed that nicking one of the sailors cost him his life.

Meanwhile, The Doctor spends most of the episode making bad jokes, then making a huge leap based on no evidence, and risking his own life, as well as Amy’s and Captain Avery’s in the process. Also, it’s ridiculous that The Doctor would assume that an “intelligent” medical program would care at all about Amy and Rory’s marriage or her wedding ring, and I have to wonder if he would have come to that conclusion if the siren weren’t a cute girl. Because as we all know, girls love wedding rings. Oh, and The Doctor lets a group of 17th century pirates fly a spaceship. He’s totally okay with that. And apparently he knows nothing about things like CPR. Too busy flying the TARDIS to have ever learned how to get one of his human companions breathing again, I suppose.

And let’s talk about that excruciating CPR scene, shall we? The implausibility of them being able to get Rory out of the hospital and to the TARDIS in time for CPR to even work; the incorrect CPR that Amy performs; The Doctor just... standing there; the prolonged “suspense” of whether Rory is dead before he gasped back to life in a really awkward moment, which was followed by an unnecessary reminder that Amy and Rory know when The Doctor is going to die. Thanks for hitting us over the head, everyone.

Thompson writes Captain Avery’s son, Toby (Oscar Lloyd), in a way that seemed antithetical to Doctor Who. He has this child knowingly kill someone when he cuts the sailor who plans to take the ship, and it was an uncomfortable moment. That harsh choice could have been made interesting if it were used to later give Captain Avery something to shake him up and help him realize that his son needs a father to teach him right from wrong, but that never happened. Toby just inexplicably is willing to kill, then just as inexplicably helpless—like when the jeweled crown falls out of the captain’s coat, and he makes no move to, I don’t know, throw it overboard (neither does The Doctor or Captain Avery).

Doctor Who episode The Curse of the Black Spot

Lastly, let’s talk about the siren (Lily Cole). While I understand that sci-fi stories often seek to show that the things people see as “magic” are actually based in something concrete, a rollicking pirate story would rollick a whole lot more if there were something a bit more sentient and a bit less tech-based behind the danger being faced. The siren as a medical program sucks any remaining mystery and magic out of the story, and telling us nothing about the aliens who owned the spaceship except that they are now dead just highlights how lacking in emotion this story is.

Director Jeremy Webb seeks to fill in the emotional blanks left by the script, but ends up just making everything overwrought. All the actors seemed to be phoning in their performances this episode, the obvious dialogue making it impossible to bring any nuance or subtlety to their characters. The one good moment in the episode is the reappearance of Silver Eye, who made her first appearance in “Day of the Moon.” We still don’t know what she has to do with Amy, and it’s intriguing as hell, but here it was drowned out by so much bad.

“The Curse of the Black Spot” is television writing at its most lazy, and I’m surprised that Steven Moffat let this episode go, leading me to believe he lost some kind of bet. As it is, I feel like this episode is destined to be the “Spock’s Brain” of New Doctor Who, the bad episode you make people watch if only to appreciate how good the rest of the show is.

Next week, NEIL GAIMAN’S EPISODE, which I’m sure will cleanse our palates and remind us what good writing is. Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9PM ET on BBC America.

Also, why would a medical program lure people with song...? DAMMIT!


Teresa Jusino thinks she should be allowed to write a Doctor Who episode if this Stephen Thompson guy gets to. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

61 comments
a-j
1. a-j
Not as down on this episode as yourself (and I would nominate the episode where Donna gets brainwiped as new Dr Who's Spock's Brain moment) but an insipid re-working of The Empty Child. The Rory dying is getting ridiculous and I also winced at the bad CPR. Otherwise, I liked it.
a-j
2. JoeNotCharles
Please stop putting spoilers before the cut. Now I know that this is part of the season arc, and all I saw before quickly scrolling away was the first sentence!
a-j
3. UrsulaMinor
I am with you on the Rory getting constantly killed thing. For serious, what is that? I was also confused as to why they implied rest of the pirates would die if taken off life support - most of them got a cut finger or something similarly lame, which is not very life threatening.

My favourite headdesk moment was when Rory was all like "I'm a Nurse!" as if it had suddenly occured to him what his occupation was.

... It wasn't completely awful, just really sloppy. I sort of expect better than that.
Elias Rangel
4. erangel
This is definetly a bad episode. And what about the missing sailor? After Toby cuts him, and forces him to barricade the magazine door, he disappears! He then shows up in the alien ship. Bad editing or one of the characters is having a bad dream?
Joseph Kingsmill
5. JFKingsmill16
Here is a really important question and to me a real plot fail. Why wasn't the Doctor, Amy and the Captain but into stasis like Rory and everyone else? I can usually over look those type of mistakes but when Rory dies AGAIN it starts to add up and get real weak.

On the whole I enjoyed because I love the characters sooo much but I don't think I will ever watch this particular episode again.
Teresa Jusino
6. TeresaJusino
JoeNotCharles @2 - Um, to what spoilers are you referring? I always put spoilers after the cut, as is the case in this review, where you don't even get a synopsis of what happens in the episode, let alone important spoilers, until after the cut. If you're referring to the fact that I mention that this episode has pirates in it, well...every preview article about the current season has mentioned that the third episode of the season is a pirate episode, so I thought that was safe to mention. As for it being part of the season arc...um, of course it is. I'm reviewing every episode of the show after it happens. Were you trying to be funny? I genuinely don't know. However, please know that I always make an effort to have spoilers happen after the cut (and after a photo!). :)

erangel @4 - I hadn't even thought about that missing sailor! (mostly because I stopped caring) But you're absolutely right! Chalk that up to another bit of sloppiness.

I know I was very harsh on this episode, but I was so very disappointed.
Teresa Jusino
7. TeresaJusino
JFKingsmill16 @5 - YES! I was going to write about that, too, but couldn't fit it in amongst my many criticisms of the episode. But yeah, apparently the siren was taking a break when they were transported onto the ship?

Or something? :)
Simon Southey-Davis
8. Glyph
I'd love to believe that the missing sailor is going to turn into a 'deliberate error' like the Doctor's jacket reappearing in Flesh and Stone last year, and is meant to be a hint that something's not right with the world, that Amy's dreaming the whole thing or whatever (Hello Silver Eye!).

I'd love to believe it, but...
a-j
9. Raflowers
I wasn't very down on this episode until I read this and was forced to turn a true critical eye to it. About the only thing I was disappointed with initially was Amy going all Elizabeth Swan with the cutlass out of nowhere. In much the same way the real Elizabeth Swan did incidentally. Now that someone has pointed it out this episode is strikingly similar to The Empty Child except that the siren is singing rather than asking for its mummy.

Ditto on Rory dying. I originally pegged him as the comic relief character who would said something stupid in a tense moment but honestly they have the Doctor for that already. Kill him off for good or traumatize him so much that he willingly leaves the TARDIS. That or, you know, put some work into writing him in as a contributing character to the show. If it's not too much work.
a-j
10. Pendard
Dear Steven Moffat,

I have just one question for you: Where's the REAL third episode of Doctor Who season 6? I admit you had me going for a little while, but I see through you. I recognize this for what it really is -- some kind of strange, brilliant joke. I can take a joke as well as the next guy, but you've had your fun and we've all had a good laugh, so you can release the real episode now.

Mind you, I'm not exactly sure why you decided to play this trick on us this week. Maybe it was some kind of April Fools Day gag, and the production schedule delayed it or something. And I've got to admit, I was a little slow catching on that it was all a gag, kind of a spoof of Doctor Who with a painfully stupid Doctor, plot twists that made no sense, a plot that revealed at the end that no one was in any real danger, and a conclusion that was utterly ridiculous. Yes, I was a little slow on the uptake, but that's 'cause I'm just an American and British humor is a little bit beyond me. I don't always get it, but I know that it's totally brilliant. (Seriously, dude, those accents?! Priceless!) It was a really dry kind of humor, but in the end I got that you were just winding us up with this hour of logical quicksand! It was a bold move to spend an entire episode intentionally trying to piss people off. The reason it was so brilliant is that you did the whole thing with a straight face, which made people who didn't get the joke (including this silly reviewer, Teresa) extremely uncomfortable. The whole joke reminds me of Andy Kaufman wrestling women -- it's THAT brilliant! Once your genius is recognized, I bet that every amazing show will start making purposefully bad episodes, the way every show started making musical episodes after Buffy did "Once More, With Feeling." Kudos, sir -- you just created the newest genre craze!

Anyway, I just wanted to write and say thanks. Trying to pass "The Curse of the Black Spot" off as a real episode in your mind-blowingly awesome run as Doctor Who's head writer was an inspired stroke of comedy genius! You had us all going for a minute.

Now, seriously, where's the real episode?

Sincerely,
Pendard
a-j
11. Taylor_S
What made this episode even more disappointing to me is that it didn't continue the intense story lines and questions raised by the previous episodes. The first two episodes for this season laid a lot of groundwork and questions, the episodes tied together tightly and progressed the story.

A viewer would never need to see this episode to appreciate the overall story. The only reason it holds a particular slot in the episode sequence was Amy/Rory's flashback at the end of the episode - and really, it was quite unnecessary and didn't serve any actual purpose.

Going from Moffat's excellent work to this was a bit of a shock. With next week's writer, though, perhaps it will all be redeemed...
a-j
12. Priscellie
One of the biggest plot holes for me is the fact RORY ISN'T HUMAN. Can living plastic drown? Also, he is two THOUSAND years old--twice as old as the Doctor estimates he is. Can he be allowed to be the slightest bit competent every once in a while? And why were the Doctor, Amy, and the Captain transported to a different room than everyone else who disappeared? ARG.
a-j
13. yenny
@3--I don't think that it's implying all of the sailors will die if they're taken off life support, just Rory (who was drowning before the Siren saved him) and Toby (who is dying from typhoid fever).

@12--I don't think Rory's plastic anymore--he became human again after the universe was rebooted in "The Big Bang."

But everything else you all said--I agree. This episode had some serious problems. Another one that MrTARDISreviews on youtube pointed out is that the Siren/Doctor didn't try to help the crew on her own ship--she put the humans on the pirate ship in her sickbay, but the aliens that died were still at their posts. What's that about?
a-j
14. Pendard
@Priscellie (#12): Rory isn't made of plastic anymore. After all, when he gets his memory of the Doctor back at the end of "The Big Bang," the first thing he says is, "I was plastic." I think the moment the universe was reset he was back to being human.
Daniel Goss
15. Beren
I'm going to give a heartfelt "Thank You." I was actually feeling really bad for falling asleep (twice) during this episode, but I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me. After reading your review, however, I have to say you hit it right on the head. Everyone in this episode got hit with the Moron Bat. Especially telling, to me, were the times that they'd all be standing right next to a pirate who started walking towards the siren and the people nearby just halfheartedly plucked at his sleeve while he shuffled toward certain (as far as they knew) death. I mean, I know there's no honor among pirates (really, Amy? You said that with a straight face?) but you'd think they would do their best to at least preserve what few members of the crew are left to share the work.
So anyway, thanks for helping me figure out what was bugging me about this one.
-Beren
a-j
16. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
“They killed Rory! YOU BASTARDS!”

Indeed. And actually, if The Master were to regenerate as a spoiled, foul-mouthed, hippie-hating, cruel little fat kid, I think I could get behind this direction.
a-j
17. Nightsky
What I'd like to know is how the two-world thing even WORKS. So... mirrors let the siren enter our world (Why mirrors? I dunno.), and the siren can *poof* you to the spaceship world (Again: wha?). And then they get back to our world... um, somehow... where Rory is dead* because the siren can keep you alive indefinitely but can't fix your underlying ailment. And Captain Avery can fly an alien spaceship because... all ships are the same? 17th-century pirate ships can also move in three dimensions and must avoid navigational hazards like black holes? I realize Space Is An Ocean is a popular narrative metaphor, but this...

I've had dreams that were better plotted than this.

* To heck with Amy's Schroedinger pregnancy; the Doctor's scanner should be cycling between "Rory is alive" and "Rory is dead".
Stephanie Padilla
18. DN10
Okay, while I was appalled at the fact that the Doctor unleashed a crew of pirates on an unsuspecting universe, what really got to me was the fact that pirates from the 17th century were ABLE to pilot a spaceship. They didn't even know what sensors were, but they could fly a spaceship? And what happens if it breaks down, given that none of them know how to fix any part of a spaceship? Very uncharacteristically irresponsible of the Doctor in a number of ways.
Beth Meacham
19. bam
I have a theory. It is this:

Amy is still being held by the Silence, and what we're seeing are her hallucinations. Or maybe an uncollapsed probability of a universe, which explains why she's both pregnant and not pregnant.

It's the only way to make sense of any of this. Sorta.
Jason Henninger
20. jasonhenninger
@18 that reminded me of how in the last season the WW2 pilots suddenly understood how to maneuver in space. But this is even more absurd than that was, since at least the pilots knew their own craft.

So many problems with this episode, chief among them being it just wasn't all that interesting. But even the best shows fall off from time to time. Episodes like this, I kinda shrug it off and wait for the awesome to resume at a later date.
Jeremy Goff
21. JeremyM
So I just watched my very first episode of Dr. Who this weekend and I don't know why it took me this long to watch it. I was curious though. Does the storyline start over every season or do I need to go back a couple years and re-watch to make sure I'm caught up?
a-j
22. Forrest Leeson
My theory was "Steven Moffatt Is Up To Something Big". It took a nasty knock with PANDORICA/BANG but I now believe they were fakeout episodes.

And I'll bet a cookie Amy is the real Prisoner Zero.
Michael Poteet
23. MikePoteet
@JeremyM -- Sorry this was your first episode, it's not their best. I was viritually totally new to Who last year, as you are now, so my suggestion is to back to 2010, series 5, starting with Matt Smith's first episode, "The Eleventh Hour." Then you'll be largely up to speed with what is currently airing. After that, go back to 2005 and watch Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant's runs as the Doctor. Catch up with Smith first, though -- there's less of it, and you should be up to speed in no time.
Brent Longstaff
24. Brentus
In my opinion, the episode wasn't that bad. I'm not a professional critic, so what do I know, but I thought was pretty standard fare for mid-season. Doctor Who seasons always have a few that feel like filler, have leaps of logic, and aren't related to the overall plot. I think the reason this feels like such a letdown to everyone is that we have just been spoiled by 5 consecutive episodes by Steven Moffat. You can't hold this one up to that standard; it isn't fair. Moffat almost always writes the best episodes (with some exceptions like the Van Gogh one last season). They can't put all the best episodes at the beginning. We have two premieres and two finales this season, and Neil Gaiman is next week, so I always figured episode 3 would be one of the weaker ones. That's how I'd schedule the season.
a-j
25. Nightsky
Jeremy@21: In general, the New Series provides a friendly jumping-on point at the start of each series. IMHO, the start of last season ("The Eleventh Hour") provides an unusually good jumping-on point, as it introduces a new Doctor *and* a new companion.

Once you're on-board with the basic framework and concepts (Doctor, companion, TARDIS, sonic screwdriver, running away from monsters), you can watch pretty much anything, including the old series. Steven Moffatt (series producer and head writer) and RTD (his immediate predecessor), both uberfans, have tossed in references to established mythology, but in all cases it's been a nice extra for fans, not integral to the storyline. On the whole, Doctor Who has always tended towards self-contained stories--Lost, it ain't.
Jeremy Goff
26. JeremyM
Nightsky@25 and MikePoteet@23: Thanks for the tips. I appreciate it. Luckily I didn't start on this episode, in fact, I haven't even watched it yet. I think I'll take your advice though and go back a year or two just to get caught up. Then I'll go back and watch the the other ones when I get the chance. Thanks!
Sean McGuire
27. Exorian
I'm really hoping this is just a filler episode in between the awesome two-part opener, and the episode penned by Neil Gaiman. Presumably, Moffat feared Gaiman's episode would get lost following up "Day of the Moon", and threw this piece of rubbish in between to cleanse the pallet for better "Who" episodes. At least, that is what I hope.
Joseph Kingsmill
28. JFKingsmill16
@ 24 brentus: I have to respectfully disagree with you about the Van Gogh episode. I loved that story and I will admit that if you take the monster out of the story it would be a whole lot better.

As for Moffat and RTD, both have been wonderful with how they have rebooted the series with just two exceptions "IMO".

1 - I just wish they would be a little more respectful of the continuity of the old series.

2 - I am not a fan of the Doctor being involved in any type of romantic relationship. A little sexual tension here and there is fine but to me that isn't what the character is about. This is what I feel the companions are for.
a-j
29. Edward Brennan
Is anyone else bothered that after they end up on the ship with the sick bay, Dr. Who, Amy, and the Captain are all up and chipper while everyone else is out cold in stasis? Yes, everyone can't be out cold for the episode to work, oh wait... This episode does not work. Maybe, if Steven Moffat was actually more concerned with his epic season long arc to actually care about the episodes themselves...

I love Dr. Who and I actually love Moffat's episodes. I am getting a little leery of him as show runner though. I am so glad that the Gaiman episode is next.
a-j
30. Tatterbots
JFKingsmill16, Moffat didn't write the Van Gogh episode. I think brentus meant it was better than the ones he did write.

I guessed I wasn't going to like The Curse of the Black Spot as soon as I found out who had written it. Steve Thompson wrote an episode of Moffat's Sherlock last year, and it wasn't just the worst in the series (I actually thought Mark Gatiss's was the best), it was actively awful, with a plot just as stupid as this one. I don't know why Steven Moffat appears to like his writing; perhaps they're secretly cousins or something.

For me the stupidest bit of plotting was "Abandon ship!" No, Doctor, no -- if the TARDIS is running off of its own accord, you have to go with it or how do you ever expect to bring it back? But that would have got you onto the alien ship too soon, so of course you had to abandon ship just to keep the plot going.
Brent Longstaff
31. Brentus
@28 JFKingsmill16 - Sorry, I wasn't clear; we actually agree :). The Van Gogh episode wasn't written by Steven Moffat. I said it was the exception to Moffat usually being the best writer because it was awesome and written by Richard Curtis, not Moffat.
a-j
32. abqmichelle
Thank you, Tatterbots @#30! The Doctor leaving the TARDIS was just so bizarre, out of character, and... wrong! One of my biggest peeves with this ep. The other was the leap from "omg, the Siren is killing them all!" to "Oh, well since she took *Rory, there must be another answer". And the terrible CPR and how quickly Amy gives up while The Doctor just watches. And... ok, you get the point.

That said, I did think there were some potentially important points here. The other-universes, for one – could that be a hint for What Is Really Going On? (Maybe something like @bam mentions in #19?)

The Siren was quite Dr. Moon-ish, was she not? A program that seems sinister but is doing its job to fix things. Eye-patch Lady also has seemed a bit of a CAL/Dr. Moon callback to me as well. Dr. MOON. SILENCE in the Library. I’m thinking they are all even more connected than it has seemed so far.

@Nightsky #17 Good one! Re: The Doctor’s scanner cycles between Rory alive/dead. I was thinking maybe he should’ve waited till they’d gone to bed to do the scan… ;-)
Teresa Jusino
33. TeresaJusino
bam @19 - That's an interesting theory, except that Amy first saw Silver Eye before she was taken by the Silence. So, unless the Silence took her long before we were shown she was taken...
Chris Meadows
34. Robotech_Master
This episode is kind of an exception that proves the rule. After all, from the standpoint of an ordinary kid's show, it's a pretty decent outing. It has sword-fighting, scary monsters, and SPACE PIRATES, yaaaay!

It's because we've gotten used to Doctor Who being so much more than an ordinary kid's show that a just-mediocre episode seems so bad.

I also note that if it turns out Moffat's pulling a Bobby Ewing shower scene with this season being entirely an Amy Pond dream sequence, I will be rather upset. (Though on the other hand, Amy's imagination and memory did have the power to affect the universe in the last season. I don't think the reasoning behind that was ever adequately explained. So could she be dreaming and real at the same time? Hmm.)
Ursula L
35. Ursula
The one thing I liked about this episode was the reversal of the Amy/Rory relationship. Usually, Rory is the one protecting Amy, and having to deal with jealousy. But in this episode, we see Amy protecting and caring for Rory, and having to deal with Rory being attracted to the Siren.

Also, Rory is usually the more restrained of the two of them, and seeing his inhibitions removed and his enthusiastic admiration of Amy was nice. It reminded me of Rory's drunken call to Amy during his stag party.

***

Another thing that made no sense was why the Siren, as a medical program, treated small cuts as if they were deadly, taking the injured pirates and placing them in medical stasis. Surely triage would be included in such a program?

***

The bad CPR didn't bother me too much because CPR is always bad in television programs. I found it worse that the Doctor didn't go running for the TARDIS's medical bay to get appropriate medical equipment to treat Rory. CPR generally doesn't save lives on its own, but it does buy time to get someone to better medical care.
Ashe Armstrong
36. AsheSaoirse
I was surprisingly underwhelmed by this episode. And I kept thinking, especially at the end, "Waste of Lily Cole." And then I kept thinking, "why can't a sentient medical program on a STARSHIP figure out how to fix drowning?"
a-j
37. ronsmith
One grossly illogical element in this dreadful episode was that the presence of the captain's son defies all reason. The captain has been away from England for 3 years. Has the boy been hiding on board for 3 years? No? Then how did he get there? Does he have his own TARDIS? If he has been there all along then how did he know his mother died "in the spring"?
Oh, and the disapearing pirate (from inside the blockaded room) was one of the worst continuity flubs I've ever seen. Not only was this episode poorly written, but what boob directed it?
Teresa Jusino
38. TeresaJusino
Robotech_Master @34 - see, I don't really buy that. The Sarah Jane Adventures. That was a kid's show. Doctor Who is a show for the whole family. Yes, it's child friendly because there's nothing objectionable in it. That doesn't excuse it being poorly written. Also, a child might not be able to articulate why this episode was more boring than the other ones...that doesn't mean that child didn't think it so.
a-j
39. JoeNotCharles
Now that I've had time to watch it, I came back to actually read the review. The "spoilers" I meant was this:

It seemed like it was going to be a nice respite from the high-stakes Moffstraganza that were the last five episodes of Doctor Who.

I assumed that meant it started out looking like a standalone episode and then turned out to be tied into the plot from the last episode. And then flicked away before I could see any context, because I assumed the context would spoil me.
Ashley Fox
40. A Fox
Personally I rather think this ep was created around an info dump. The info being the Drs explanation/existance of parralel universes and travel between.

So Silver Eye inhabits an alternate universe and is watching over Amy, becuase she is pregnant with the next timelord (or at least timelord/human hybrid). Silver Eye seems to have some knowledge of future events in Amy's world as she offers her reasurrance that everything will be alright but doesnt feel the need to interfere.

And yes I do believe the Dr is the baby daddy! All those significant glances, the convo when the Dr is demanding Amy tell him why she told him not Rory of her pregnancy. Amy knows Rory is listening and she calls him out sharing yet another significant glance with the Dr.

Oh of course there is the fact the girl is a timelord! Its not really that feasable that the Tardis would affect a pregnancy like that, is it? Time head indeed.

This bit will be in brakets becuase its rather tenuous. ( Perhaps the Dr morals are plunging, his decisions increasing grey, so future Dr finds out about the girl (or the girl is River) and sees he has to save her from the Silents, so goes back and dies, also handing over power to her. His fear of becoming as the other Timelords did.)
Joseph Kingsmill
41. JFKingsmill16
Thanx Tatterbots!

@brentus: Sorry about misreading your comment. Now that I have reread it I can see what you are saying : )

As to the disappearing pirate I think we all are missing something that might explain that and why some other things in the episode don’t make sense. Apparently they heavily cut some of these episodes down to fit in commercials on BBC America. From what I understand these cuts can sometimes seem to change plot and have characters doing things you don’t understand why they are doing them. When it comes time to see this episode on DVD we may see that the other pirate does in fact get taken. Oh well.
a-j
42. Marian
This wasn't my favorite episode, but it was not that bad.

I'm pretty certain that the Doctor stood back and let Amy do CPR because Rory insisted that Amy would not give up. So it was pretty ironic to see that she did give up, leaving Rory to come back on his own. The Doctor allows his companions to fail; he doesn't always save them.
Sky Thibedeau
43. SkylarkThibedeau
Maybe Captain Avery started the Space Pirates who eventually appeared in Weiss and Hickman's "Nightsword".

I fell asleep before the end when it premiered and my son made me watch the whole thing AGAIN! From the Beginning last night. It does not get better on a second viewing.
Katie Pi
44. Darth_Katie
Jesus, it wasn't that bad. I mean, honestly. Getting a little dramatic, aren't we?
Makarra
45. Makarra
It wasn't that bad. It was just a little boring. It isn't worth the freakout in the review, I personally think. But I -was- bored by it which is a real shame.
Joseph Kingsmill
46. JFKingsmill16
@ Darth_Katie & Markarra: I think people have gotten used to paying strict attention to the plot because Moffat's stories can be complicated and we are being trained to analyze little things like with various episodes from the previous season. Because some of us are doing this, it is more jarring when there are continuity errors or outright flubs. Usually I just gloss over these things but after having to watch the first to ep of this season multiple times to try and see all the hidden things that could be there this third ep was like hitting a wall.
Teresa Jusino
47. TeresaJusino
Darth_Katie, Markarra, & JFKingsmill16 -

Obviously it's just television. :) I was being snarky, because I was really disappointed in the episode, and to me, there's no point in writing a review if you're not going to be passionate about what you're writing about. My first two reviews of the season were downright gushy! :) Why would I not be equally adamant feeling the opposite way? No one said "You liked the first two episodes too much! Why were you so complimentary?" :)

Bad writing makes me angry, and this episode was poorly written, plain and simple. You were bored by this episode, because it wasn't constructed well, and wasn't directed well, and I was taking that apart, that's all. There have been plenty of episodes where I've been "meh." But this wasn't one of them!
Leilani Cantu
48. spanishviolet
When I first read this, I thought Oh, it wasn't just me! I thought maybe I had been too hard on the episode because I don't find pirates particularly intriguing, but also it was dull and Rory having to be rescued again was annoying, and all the other things you mentioned.

Being a longtime Who fan, I'm well-used to overlooking the occasional plot hole or twenty, but I do expect entertainment in return for my suspension of disbelief. This episode was just kinda boring. At least it wasn't as bad as the Daleks in Manhattan, I suppose ...
a-j
49. Doctor LeMoyne
I realised very early in the 5th series that Doctor Who was suffering badly from the so-called "Jumped the Shark" syndrome. It has been victimised by terrible writing that relies on the re-hashing of old ideas (the "Silence" and their parallell to the "Weeping Angels" is SO obvious) and a host of other shortcomings, not to mention frequent bad casting and even some terrible acting. I recall Tennant saying that one of the reasons he quit the programme was because most of the key production figures were leaving. I think he understood that the show was already showing some signs of fatigued writing and wanted to leave on a high note rather than continue along with a mediocre product.

The Series 6 two-part episode was also very flat. The gay references were predictable from the start, and it's becoming a tiresome sub-theme that keeps recurring in Doctor Who now, as if they need to prove that they're gay-friendly.

Finally, Matt Smith has just been SO flat as the Doctor. He seems so hollow and contrived. Further, they seem to be writing script lines that were more suited to Tennant's Doctor.

I only watch DW now to point out all the flaws and shortcomings, and this surely is a prelude to no longer watching it at all. They should have just quit the programme for a few years when Tennant retired and then picked it up again when someone had a few good ideas and some good actors.
Chris Meadows
50. Robotech_Master
I'll never understand why it is that some fans seem to have an absolute hate on for particular Doctors. I haven't yet met a Doctor I didn't like. It's fascinating to watch the exploration of all these different variations on a theme. I liked Eccleston. I liked Tennant. And I rather like Smith.

(Not that the show itself has always been great. I really liked McCoy's performance as the Doctor, but by god most of his episodes were atrociously-written.)

I'm really enjoying Smith, and his current crop of companions, even with the occasional dud episode like this one. Can't wait to see what happens next.
a-j
51. amyinthetardis
To be honest, Rory's constant killing is starting to feel like a plot device for me. Like we're suppose to get used to the fact that he isn't safe (or to the fact that he always comes back). Idk. But I know it's not random (his near death wasn't necessary this time, and neither was that cliffhanger in The Impossible Astronaut with him getting attacked by the Silents).

But I actually wanted to comment here to say that I've loved all of your character analysis so far (I like to show Amy's to whoever still dares to say she lacks characterization), and I was wondering if you have plans of writing a River essay. She's one of my favorite things this series and I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on her. :)
Teresa Jusino
52. TeresaJusino
amyinthetardis @51 - Thank you! I definitely plan on continuing the Moffat's Women series (I've been thinking about one on Liz 10), and while I already talked about River a bit in my post on The Women of the Library, the character as she stands now in Series 6 definitely deserves her own write-up. So, I guess I'm saying keep your eyes peeled! :)
a-j
53. Pendard
@ Teresa (#52): You should write a Moffat's Women column about Rory. :-P

Seriously, in a few weeks, we should know who River is. It might be a good moment to take another swing at a Moffat's Women for River. The first one you did was on the basis of only "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead." I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on her continued characterization.
Joseph Kingsmill
54. JFKingsmill16
@48. spanishviolet - I think the Daleks in Manhattan 2-parter would have been ALOT less boring if they would have made it one episode.
a-j
55. libraryone
Well, I'm late to the party here. But you know an episode is bad when you turn to your coworker and fellow fan several days after viewing it and point out that you still feel assaulted by the horribleness of it all.

Pirates flying a spaceship? The Doctor letting Rory die because Amy can't revive him--and presumably he can't help? The kid can't be saved--why? The Tardis is a time machine that can take him to the future where there are hospitals, or the Doctor can pop out and back for a cure? All just too stupid for words.
a-j
56. ronsmith
What is really sad about this episode is that it is not a bad idea, a becalmed 17th century ship beset by some mysterious creature (who of course turns out to be an alien, this is Doctor Who). Even the parallel universe spaceship is nothing new for Doctor Who.
But the writter and director obviously had not the faintest clue what to do with the basic idea. Worse, they did practically everything possible
wrong it seemed. This episode belongs with the worst of the McCoy episodes. I agree with Robotech_Master that McCoy was a likeable Doctor, though most of the episodes were terrible.
I also agree with Doctor LeMoyne that there does seem to be a tendency toward a 'jump the shark' approach. The emphasis seems to be on making each episode, or at least each season, more extreme than the previous. This does not result in better shows, just more contrived seeming shows.
Ideally one would see each episode carefully crafted to be as interesting as possible. The current tendency to just make each season more radical, instead of clever or interesting, seems like the result of a lack of imagination.
I don't agree with Doctor LeMoyne that things are completely flat and uninteresting, but the trend is worrysome.
a-j
57. icantthinkofone
Yeah, it wasn't very good. But from the review title I was expecting something on the order of "Love and Monsters" bad. Remember that one? Now that was BAD. My husband's convinced it was a practical joke.
Ursula L
58. Ursula
I just caught the “Confidential” episode for this episode online, and I think it rather explains the weaknesses of the episode.

Moffat, and others, talked about how “cool” a pirate episode would be, and how a pirate episode would need to catch all of the big tropes of pirate stories – walking the plank, a storm at sea, a sword fight, someone swinging across the deck of the ship on a rope, a pirate queen, a young boy stowaway, treasure, etc.

The weaknesses of this story seem to come from trying to get all of the “cool” elements in the episode, in almost a checklist fashion.
Ashe Armstrong
59. AsheSaoirse
Never write an episode based on "cool" elements. Just write a good episode.
a-j
60. RanchoUnicorno
Yeah, everybody has moved on to the next episode, while I'm waiting for my next chance to get over to a house with on demand or BBCA/tivo.

Two questions: Is this Amy intro thing something that appeared before on BBCA or is it new and across the board? I don't like it. Why all the major story arc refernces? OldWho and old NewWho were better about being rewatchable. I suppose, I can't believe I'm saying this, while Moffat is the more exciting writer, Davies was a better showrunner.
a-j
61. yuuki
@ nightsky; yay! i'm not the only one who mad the shrodinger's cat connection XD do you watch big bang too? haha

yea, the CPR scene was what really bugged me. that was all sorts of a mess. still, i'm not too critical on the doctor who episodes--its like the episode "Dont blink' with davide tennant: "trust me, just nod when he stops for breath". sometimes it seems its the doctor's job to not make any sense

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