Doctor Who Instants: The Curse of the Black Spot

It is probably not that easy to make something involving both Doctor Who and pirates a bit dull, but Steve Thompson’s brisk if uninvolving episode pulls it off. Or perhaps after the diversity of the season’s opening story, `Curse of the Black Spot` is simply what we expect from Doctor Who with few surprises? The narrative delivers a story where pirates believe they are cursed by a siren that takes them if they are injured. And they are marooned on a becalmed sea (actually quite a neat way of maximising the visuals). Yet these pirates are unlike any I’ve seen in fiction- they are actually boring. How can a pirate –especially ones in this situation- be boring?!
Series 2 of Downton Abbey sees some major changes.
The first half is lively in appearance but the pirates themselves never really have enough screen time to come alive. Avery, meanwhile, seems rather brooding and sympathetic not quite as you’d expect unless of course he’s being played by Hugh Bonneville. A more menacing actor might have served the whole father / son story rather better. The regulars are having the most fun- the Doctor’s reactions to events are particularly enjoyable while Amy’s sword fight is probably the highlight of the episode.

Promisingly driven below decks into a gun powder arsenal, the opportunity for character interaction is sidestepped by a lot of coming and going and a damp squib of a scene where Avery finds his young son is a stowaway. Somehow, despite the best efforts of the director, no peril is really conveyed though it doesn’t help that the Siren herself looks like she’s on her way to a trendy bar rather than some sort of evil entity. In retrospect, this is a clue to the denouement because she isn’t an evil entity at all.

Inevitably the more answers we get, the less interesting it becomes. Once you get to the explanation of why things are happening, matters peter out with – guess what- Rory’s life in danger again. Karen Gillen will be running out of ways of reacting to it soon. You could be picky and wonder why the Doctor, Amy and Avery ended up lying on the floor instead of trussed up in the infirmary like everyone else but I do quite like them exploring the alien ship in a really old fashioned manner. Try as they might though, neither the cast nor the script can really involve us in the climactic dilemmas. You really know Rory’ll be OK and Avery has simply not been interestingly enough written for us to be that bothered about him.

The result is an ending that fails to be as triumphant as the incidental music thinks it is, and as they all zoom off and there’s the console room scenes, you’ve forgotten the boring pirates already.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed it, but then I was in a pizza-fuelled post-convention fugue... Best enjoyed, I think, as a children's playground game, which at least excuses the mistakes in the depiction of CPR about which many have complained; except that Rory would then be dead. Again.