Yohoho!—Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot.

Previously on Doctor WhoDay of the Moon.

Make no mistake, this is going to be a relatively short one.

Ok. This is awkward. There was nothing much happening, really, until—BAM, Rory almost died. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good romp, seeing Amy with a cutlass. But then the problems started, and although it was fun, it was… mediocre. Yes, sorry, I think it was. Take the Different Dimension Parked in the Same Space thing (reminding me a bit of The Girl in the Fireplace), for instance. It was interesting, but underappreciated. It was just… there. And then it was gone. Everything felt slightly stilted and understated, as if the story was too shy to come out and shine. There were loads of good ideas, but they didn’t spark off, to be honest. The dialogue was good, the acting was proper, but something was missing.

The excitement, probably. The only time when I was properly freaked out was when that weird Eye Patch Lady appeared again, looking through a wall panel that wasn’t really there. There is more than one dimension parked in the wrong space, me thinks. Anyway—the plot was more of a calm, flowing thing, rather than a torrent. Yes, there was a stroppy, homicidal mermaid who wasn’t actually a homicidal mermaid—still a little stroppy, though—taking one after another away; and though the twist was very good, the action leading up to it was so awkward, it just didn’t come out with the bang it was, I guess, supposed to. It was a bit like… well, alien bogies. Curl them ’round your fingers, they’re elastic like that.

Or, as I put it to my friend Laura:

See, there just isn’t any drama or big plot theme to blog about. Let me compare this to last series’ The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood: there was, at least, the thing about the boy’s mother going crazy and murdering the Silurian girl, there was something to complain about, if you will. Here, there’s not even that. It’s boring to point out how boring some characters are. For example: the Captain who couldn’t leave the gold alone and therefore lets his son fall into the hands of the siren, blah blah, basic cock-and-bull story. Thing is: the siren will actually be his salvation. Yoho! Does that in anyway exonerate the Captain from the mistakes he’s made? Not really, but he gets to steer the ship away, somewhere safe where the siren can’t do any well-meaning harm, destined to roam for all eternity, along with the rest of his crew of miscreants. Lovely way of eternal punishment, very Davy Jones. Now, there was a decent tentacle face.

I suppose most know that it was Thompson who also wrote the Sherlock episode The Blind Banker. That was considered to be the weakest of all three, but it was more suspenseful than this.

I’m being rude, aren’t I? Look, I’m not saying it was bad, it wasn’t a rubbish stand-alone at all, but it’s a bit like Fear Her. Funny to watch once, but if you’re buying the boxset, it might be the one you always skip because you just remember it anyway.

What’s, indeed, interesting about the relationship dynamics, though: the Doctor gets that final bit of inspiration when Rory’s been taken. He’s got to save his outer-space sometimes-brother/sometimes-son in law, for Amy, so his brain finally switches over. He’s constantly wrong, though, which was well done, but, again, sort of underappreciated, there was always too much going on at once, somehow, which is weird when it all feels like there isn’t much going on at all.

Speaking of Rory: was that really necessary? Was it really necessary to put that drama into it again? There could have been an emergency on the ship, or they could’ve talked to the siren!Doctor a little, there could have been something behind the crash that might have contributed to the series arc. But no, Rory had to die, again, and then come back to life, and, frankly, that was rubbish. If the only bit of suspense and tragedy in an episode is the almost-death of a character who you know is going to be in the next episode, then there’s something wrong. Um. Besides, it makes Rory look like plot fodder, which he really, absolutely isn’t and shouldn’t be. So there, Steve Thompson, I expect your letter of apology on my desk forthwith.

Next episode: The Doctor’s Wife.


33 thoughts on “Yohoho!—Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot.

  1. Yup, you pretty much put into words everything I thought was wrong with this episode. (Though a bit harsher than I personally would have ;P)

    I thought it was pretty good, if a little anti-climactic compared to the previous two and rather predictable. The captain was a dull character especially, as you said. I have to say I was also a bit disappointed with the Siren; she could have been an awesome DW villan, but instead she had to be a doctor. Oh well.

    Although the dialogue, for me, wasn’t anything to complain about; certainly it’s been better but it wasn’t bad at all and it had its moments.

    OH, and on the relationship side of things, seeing Amy get jealous over Rory calling the Siren beautiful was pretty damn cute too.

    Not much else to say, for once ;3 You already said anything I would have pointed out. Oh, and YES, same opinion exactly on Rory’s “death”–really, it just seemed stupid at this point; we know he isn’t going to die. They’ve pulled the “Rory’s death” card too many times for it to even be effective anymore; if anything, it’s a great reason for him NOT to die this season. The only reaction it would get from the majority of viewers is “What, again?”


    1. I can be your meaner alter ego then 😉

      Yep, the Siren was a bit like the entire situation: there–and then, whoops, gone. She just disappeared. I mean, how did she manage to cure the other crew members then? The boy sat there with the lung ventilator still plugged in because of his typhoid, but the others walked free. The Doctor said the Siren didn’t know how to heal them, but then..? Since she couldn’t communicate with them–weird, too!–I don’t suppose he quickly taught her to before they left.

      Teehee, yes, Rory’s, “I didn’t really say that, did I?” with the unspoken OH GOD I’M IN TROUBLE NOW was adorable 🙂

      Yep, having Rory die all the time is getting boring. Or, as some people on tumblr have rightly pointed out: that awkward moment when Rory dies and no-one believes it. When it really happens, it could be all the more awful; if the Doctor or Amy can always save him up ’til then, and then we think, OK, where’s the next medical deus ex machina, and then–nothing happens. If it’s played right, it might actually become more tragic. But the way it’s been used in this episode, I don’t know if that’s going to work, they’ll have to make it more believable. It might just not work, anyway.


  2. Agreed that the episode was a bit underwhelming, but amid the mediocrity shines that little gem of characterisation between Rory and the Doctor (“Do you remember it?”).
    It’s moments like this that fuel my sporadic optimism over Rory’s role as something more than Moffat’s version of Kenny from South Park.


    1. Nope, scrap that – I’ve just worked out I was wrong and this wonderful moment was in the second half of the Silence episode. How embarassing! All the time-jumping is clearly messing with my memory.


  3. A little tangential, but you seem quite the Benedict Cumberbatch fan – did you ever see The Last Enemy? Not quite in the same class as Sherlock, but a clever conspiracy drama that’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t….plus Robert Carlyle’s in it, which is always a bonus.


  4. So you’re German then? I didn’t realise the Doctor had landed in continental Europe! Do they subtitle him, or is the programme dubbed? Dubbing would be a bit strange, though I suppose in keeping with the TARDIS’ automatic translation function.
    Have you tried the UK amazon site? Postage to Germany shouldn’t be too much extra….not like the outlandish rates they charge for us Australians 😦


    1. Well, no, it’s not on telly here. They did dub a Seventh Doctor serial once, but I’ve never seen that; and they tried with the revived series, 2005 and 2006, but the sync was awful. It’s running on SyFy at the moment, our, well, SciFi channel, but I don’t have that. We do have Torchwood and RTL 2, though, and that’s been nicely done. A bit less weird translating that than Doctor Who.
      So, anyway, I always watch the Doctor online when it’s uploaded the next morning 😀
      I did, but I’d have to use my card details, and I don’t like doing that on the internet, so I’ll be patient.


      1. Ah, very wise. My card details are well and truly out of the bag, but funds so low it hardly matters if someone nicks them….interesting that the spin-off worked better than the original show – perhaps it’s a little too quirky for a mainstream audience?


      2. Well, my funds are basically non-existent, too, but I just don’t want the trouble–my dad’s a lawyer, I’ve heard too many stories 😀
        Yeah, I think it might be… At least all the protagonists are human, you know? xD There are not quite as many unearthly concepts involved. But I think if they gave the dubbing job to the same people who do Torchwood, it might work. But I don’t know how well the Seventh Doctor did, so maybe it’s just lost in translation.


  5. Yes, I’m thinking that when my current card expires (soon) I’ll have to be rather more careful with splashing the new one’s details around the internet!
    Torchwood does have a more grounded feel in terms of the show’s texture – the Sci-Fi is almost a backdrop or a medium through which they explore essentially human concerns (the appropriately-titled Being Human used horror tropes to similar effect; did you ever see that?).
    In terms of translation, I can see that Torchwood’s rather cosmpolitan tone would certainly suffer less from loss than Doctor Who, which feels quite British….incidentally, this contrast is to me one of the neatest bits of writing across the Dr. Who universe – I remember the Doctor’s distaste of the original Torchwood Institute and its ultranationalistic tendencies, and Captain Jack promising to fix it.


    1. My dad would strongly advise that 😉
      I did watch a bit of Being Human, so I know what you mean, yeah. Torchwood‘s a bit less spacey-wacey, and Being Human‘s a bit… less Scream 4. It’s more grounded. I mean, ‘Time Lord’ sounds a bit pompous anywhere, but in German, for it not to sound completely ridiculous, you’d have to translate it differently. If you use the literal translation, that would be “Herr der Zeit,” and, well, we do have “Herr der Ringe” (Lord of the Rings, obviously), but it’s… weird. So, my dad once translated it as “Zeitwächter,” which would be ‘Guardian(s) of Time,’ which is actually quite true to what the Time Lords perceive themselves as–unless when *spit* Rassilon goes megalomaniac *spit*. They’re watchers; of course, they also sort of govern and control time, but Ten says it in The Sound of Drums: only to observe, never to interfere. And I think that’s just one example for how Doctor Who is a lot more challenging to be heaved across the Channel, in addition to what you so rightly said, it feels very British, which is probably where the problems really start.


      1. Ah yes, Rassilon. He should probably address that megalomania of his, or something really unfortunate could end up happening….
        Having studied some translation at uni, it seems that the only way something as finely-balanced as Dr. Who could be rendered properly would be by a real fan of the show who understands the intricacies of its universe (like the implications of Herr der Zeit as opposed to Zeitwächter). Maybe that’s where you could come in! 😛 I’ve seen enough soulless translations by uninterested professionals (especially in dubbing!) to believe that fans must be included in the process somewhere.
        And on Torchwood, the reception here has actually been pretty poor, with it relegated to quasi-random timeslots on an obscure channel (if it gets shown at all). In a barren TV landscape populated by mediocre police dramas and crushingly unfunny sitcoms, it’s all the more disappointing.


      2. Yep.. whenever I watch The End of Time, I’m like, ‘Careful, Rassilon, the universe might cough up its spleen any minute now…’

        *chuckle* I should start writing applications, shouldn’t I? ;P
        That’s really sad, yeah! Our programme is mostly shit, too (right now, I’m watching Lie to Me), which is a glimmer of hope in all this desolation…


      3. And the fact that Timothy Dalton is the one causing said upcough of universe spleen can lead to only one conclusion – James Bond is in fact a Time Lord!

        Yeah Tim Roth is pretty great. Sometimes commercial television programming makes me want to cry, though….I’m sure there is actually a limit to the number of 2,5 Men reruns people will watch, only no-one seems to have found it yet.


      4. And looking good after his fifth regeneration 😀

        Ugh, yeah… one of our channels constantly reruns Gilmore Girls, for example. Once they’re through, they start again, every weekday. I find that quite enjoyable, and I just watch an ep when I’ve got the time, even though I know them by heart by now xD
        But, you’re right, it’s bloody sad.

        Uh-oh. I’m watching Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords right now, and Derek Jacobi’s just said, “I am the Master.” CHILLS.


      5. I have somehow managed to avoid ever watching an episode of Gilmore Girls in my life. It’s a fact I occasionally comfort myself with when I get sucked into FRIENDS yet again.
        And, YES! The Master! Now there is some quality villainy, and all without an armoured toilet plunger in sight. Actually, that was just a quality serial all-round – Jacobi, Simm, Tennant, Davies on writing….I wish I had time to revisit previous series; how do you find the hours to watch and blog so prolifically? I’m in a constant flutter of homework and catch-up!


      6. Aah, yes, Friends! They should air reruns of that!
        Well, it’s just a fixed date for me: get up early on Sundays, watch Doctor Who, have breakfast, try to write a decent review before 1pm. I hardly have time to watch anything else that’s new and which I have to pay attention to, either–I still haven’t caught up on Castle, for example, or HouseDoctor Who and, in autumn, also Sherlock will be the only things I can clear that spot for, in between homework and research. Also, I’ve taken to watching the episodes only once before I review them, not twice or even three times, which I could afford to do last series (it was my post-A-Levels holiday before going to uni).
        And the rest of the time, I just settle down with homework and put in a DVD. I know most of the eps so well by now, I don’t need to watch, it’s like an audiobook after a while. I can work and sometimes I look up and yell something at the screen, like, ARSE TO CHAIR, CHARLES! (I watched ‘The Unquiet Dead’ again last night xD)


  6. Characters are oddly gratifying targets of shouts, more so, I find, than professional sport teams. Not sure why. Actually, it’s probably to do with the fact that the sport I tend to watch is cricket, which doesn’t really lend itself to shouting (more a leisurely discussion of any strategic mistakes, and the potential consequences in 3 days time).
    Gah! Fantastic Eccleston! I’ve regrettably not seen any of the 9th Doctor since the series was first broadcast, and the only non-Who TV date I have these days is the Spanish news (trying desperately to cling onto language competency I recently acquired overseas). Thankfully uni holidays are soon, but first there’s the usual end of term assignment snowdrifts to dig my way out of….what are you researching?


    1. I don’t really understand cricket, to be honest, but I liked the Fifth Doctor serial ‘The Black Orchid,’ which portrayed basically just that–leisurely discussion. 😀
      Oh, I really hope you’ll get a chance to rewatch them soon, because Fantastic Eccleston is damn fantastic! Also, ‘The End of the World’ is a perfectly legitimate excuse to put Tainted Love back on my iPod 😉
      I’m researching something that Karl R. Popper and John Eccles wrote a book about in the late 70s–The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism. Eccles was neurologist, and very interested in philosophy, and Popper a philosopher and anthropologist who was very interested in neurology. Together, they tried to figure out more about the relationship between brain and mind/soul. I’m reading that, combining it with recent research into this field, and preparing a presentation about it for an anthropology seminar.
      So, yeah, massive snowdrifts ’til the next semester break–in two months. Eek.


  7. Ha, I thought I remembered an old series featuring cricket! Not many people do seem to understand it, really, it´s something you probably need to grow up with to appreciate….
    Wow, your research sounds great – I feel like philosophy is a rather distant or even imaginary exploration of humanity´s most interesting questions so tethering it to the physical properties of the brain seems a much more insightful means of investigating….the neurological and cognitive aspects of language are possibly the most fascinating areas of Linguistics. You know, I think I´ll go ask the magical oracle of Google about those two fellows!

    Oh and Tainted Love needs no excuse, ever 😀


    1. It’s also interesting to view that against the background of new research–for example, there are neurophysiologists (one of them working at my university, actually) who say that free will doesn’t exist, based on neuron activity in the brain. So, what would Popper and Eccles have said to that? It’s really quite exciting to research that, simply because it’s not just a scientific question, it’s also very dependent on world view. I mean, I still think I have a free will, thank you very much, Mr. Roth.
      Absolutely! And I do recommend the book. It’s a bit of a tome, even in paperback, but it’s worth it 🙂

      Well, you’re right, Tainted Love is too good to need an apology 😀


  8. So I’ve now read both their wiki pages; as well as learning that Eccles was Australian (AND won a Nobel Prize, yet I’d never heard of him! In general we tend to value education somewhat less over here, which is disappointing), I’m interested to give their tome a go…our uni library apparently has three copies, though it may be a while before finding it because the Council have just opened a new building (with a robot to retrieve books apparently) and most of the contents of the old ones are somewhere in transit.
    Hmm, free will…it seems to me (and I still see from a philosophical perspective) like the extent to which we can genuinely choose is actually bound to what’s understood by “necessity”. Which of course varies from person to person and so leads back to such delicious subjectivity that scientists usually try to avoid!

    These holidays actually look like they’ll be a time for tomes – I’ve already lined up T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, after seeing the brilliant Lawrence of Arabia for the first time. But first I’ve a play to finish writing! Yay/agh! Oh, and the latest Dr. Who episode has at last got to our TV screens. Just yay!


    1. Robot in the library, that’s interesting! _D
      I know, I know, poor old subjectivity… objectivism just takes the romance out of everything 😉

      I’m currently struck down on my bed with a nasty cold, and my mum’s insisting I stay home for the week ’cause of all the people I’m around every day at uni and ’cause I use public transport a lot–I guess she’s afraid I’ll contract worse on the way when I’m already a bit knackered (I suppose you’ve heard about the coliform bacteria on the loose in Germany?). Since I’ve got lots of reading to do anyway, and I do feel rather like a walking corpse, I’m tempted to let her chain me down for a few days. So I’ll content myself with crime novels and catch up on work in between–early holiday *makes a face*.
      Now I’m curious! What kind of play are you writing?


      1. Bleurgh, colds! I’ve been living mostly on throat lozenges and tea with honey of late, so totally empathise with the corpse-like state 😦
        No, the only recent news I’ve heard from Germany was a little about nuclear power plants closing; I assume that’s not related to the rampaging coliform. Though of course if the bacteria were radioactive there’d at least be a chance of developing superpowers. Silver linings and all that.
        Ooh, crime novels are great fun, especially the pulpy ones about detectives that Humphrey Bogart would end up playing 😀

        I’m writing about the idea of characters, and their existence on the border between fiction and reality. So it’s basically personifying the creative process – the stage is an author’s imagination, a waiting room populated with half-formed characters sort of flickering in and out of existence and mutating to varying degrees as they are “developed” by the writer…I’m a big fan of the Absurdist playwrights (Stoppard and Ionesco in particular).


      2. Thanks… I’ve just fallen asleep on top of the novel I’m reading out of sheer exhaustion, too, so Mum’s probably right–I should just stay home and get it over with.
        *chuckle* yeah, right now, the only chance there is is getting at least most of the people infected (over 1,000 within a week) out of it alive, and for them to have electricity at home when they get back /sarcasm. No, seriously, I have no idea whether I should worry about the plants closing–the lobbyists are screaming bloody murder, of course–but rampaging coliform without a chance of superpowers is definitely depressing.
        I’m currently reading one where the author has just blatantly borrowed Sherlock Holmes before the copyright ran out, which is why he called him ‘Mr Mycroft’ and drops very vague hints about the man’s past life, which are still easy enough to decipher, though. In the novel, Sherlock has retired to the country to breed bees, and is, at the moment, en route to solve a wicked case of murder by very nasty bees. It’s a bit whacky, but fun 😀

        I like Stoppard, too! And that’s a very interesting play you have there–I like the aspect of a ‘mutating’ character as they are being written into existence–it’s a bit like the Ganger!Doctor going through a few regenerations on Saturday. Changing even as they say their lines.


  9. Well, it could be a lot worse than rest and reading. Being one of those 1000 in a week, for one thing. Which is huge! I’ve had a look but I still can’t find much on the outbreak (though my German is barely past nonexistant so I haven’t any access to local sources) – does they know what caused it yet?
    And yeah, screaming bloody murder is a lobbyist’s job, isn’t it? I find it’s generally best for one’s hearing and temper to ignore them. Now I guess the real question is whether the nuclear energy is actually replaced with something better or just bought from France. Still, it all looks a bit better than our energy policy – obfuscate with endless reports and just keep digging up, burning and subsidising coal like always.

    Ha! Copyright-baiting bees! That does sound fun, and a career change I’d never have expected of Sh…er, Mr. Mycroft. I’ve always thought that if he were to have a profession outside crime it would be as a classical music composer – though perhaps the constant frustration of musicians not playing to his standards would become unbearable.
    Have you come across the book World War Z? I bought it for a friend’s birthday but I’m sneakily reading it first – it’s written as a UN report on a zombie apocalypse (!) and uses the undead for some really interesting points about world politics and human nature….
    Ahk! I’ve still not seen the Almost People – turns out the ABC here is a week behind on the broadcast – so for now I’ll remain wilfully ignorant on the Gangers point. It is an intriguing concept though.


    1. The infections – it was Spanish cucumbers, no? The story seems to have broken at last. though funnily enough the report on the Spanish news was buried about 20 minutes into the bulletin and they hardly mentioned the word “bacteria”.


    2. You’re right, in that respect, I’m lucky. But the paranoia that’s spreading around gets unnerving because they’re saying that the source of infections must still be active. Responding to your other comment: apparently, Spain has filed a lawsuit against Germany for compensation, and just tonight the laboratories have launched a bulletin stating that it wasn’t the Spanish cucumbers, but that they’re now moving on to suspecting animals and people who’ve been dealing with them as the source. How that’s supposed to warrant the number and speed of infections, I don’t know.
      Yep, that’s the question–what’s it substituted with? I’m not sure the renewable energies can handle it just yet, but we’ll see how they do it.

      The funny thing is: he’s got a companion of sorts in that novel, a neighbour, a spectacularly ignorant and egocentric man, from the village who stumbled into the case rather by accident. In the end, he reveals his true identity to the man (without naming the name, of course), and the guy says, “Well, I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of you.” Upon that, Sherlock stands at the garden gate for a bit, then turns around, and leaves without a word. 😀 Good thinking there–I don’t think Sherlock would do well as a teacher or boss of any kind. People are idiots, after all.
      No, I haven’t read that yet–putting it on my list right now; a UN report on a good zombie apocalypse should never be ignored. Thanks for the recommendation!
      Oh dear, I’ll have to remember not to bombard you with spoilers next weekend, then! 😀


      1. Paranoia is nasty, yes, and with so much uncertaintly around it’s probably unavoidable…and only a matter of time until people start bunkering down with a month’s worth of tinned food and bottled water.

        Heh, Sherlock teaching? He’d surely dismiss any attempts at reducing the general public’s idiocy as doomed to failure. Though it’s a wonderful image, to picture him as a carmudgeonly university professor, driving many a bright young student to despair at his lectures!
        Sound policy that – I sure hope nobody ever ignores any UN reports on zombies. Speaking of which (vaguely) is your walking corpse cold any better yet? I do hope so, it’s rubbish feeling miserable!
        Thanks 🙂 It’s why I haven’t commented yet on the Gangers – I prefer to reserve judgement on double-episodes until I’ve seen both. Though it was pretty great to see Chris Skelton in a team led by superbitch boss Nancy from Moving Wallpaper (brilliant show by the way, one of my favourites) 😀


  10. It just occurred to me, is it preferable to reply other than in this comments section? I finally found the big “contact” button today and now feel a bit silly…


    1. Yes, I noticed, I got an email 😀
      I’ll just reply to your other comment there, shall I? Just one thing that might interest the general public: I don’t know Moving Wallpaper, but superbitch boss was also Matt Smith’s boss once, in the slightly underappreciated series Party Animals (it’s on youtube, have a look), do you know it? It’s about young political researchers and their troubles. It was cancelled prematurely as far as I know, but what’s there is quite enjoyable. Oh, yes, Chris Skelton! And he died again exactly one year after he entered the Railway Arms, if I’m not mistaken–talk about happy anniversaries.


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