seawasp (seawasp) wrote,
seawasp
seawasp

Doctor Who: Curse of the Black Spot and The Doctor's Wife

If you don't want spoilers, don't click!


Saw these two episodes back to back.

The Curse of the Black Spot was a nice nod/homage to pirate movies, and then moved into a typically Doctor Who Sort Of Scientific Timey-Wimey Wibbly-Wobbly explanation for what appeared to be a completely mystical event: a becalmed ship finds itself beset by some sort of mysterious and terrifying force which takes anyone who becomes injured or sick, howsoever minimally (a single scratch is enough to manifest the Black Spot). The force manifests as a beautiful singing woman who effectively hypnotizes those she has chosen, and when they come to her, a single touch of hers is enough to make them apparently disintegrate.

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory show up in the midst of this, and after the predictable initial panicked encounter the Doctor's usual charismatic force of personality starts driving the action. One nice touch in this is that the Doctor makes a number of very reasonable, and insightful deductions about what's going on... and they turn out to be wrong, but his original deductions still made perfect sense until he got better information. There's also a nicely-designed subplot with the Captain's son having stowed away on board, thinking his father was a Naval officer (which he HAD been). Eventually it turns out that there is a parallel-universe intersection -- a spaceship from one universe that hit a rift that happened to intersect with the vessel in ours. Earthly bacteria killed the crew of the spaceship, but it had an extremely intelligent, if limited, AI medical officer which, as its purpose was to find and care for sick people, figured out how to start getting sick people from OUR side and rescuing them. Her idea of "rescue" of course was to pop them into stasis life support and keep them alive -- and unconscious -- indefinitely.

And here is where the episode suddenly dropped the ball. It was an amusing tale, and there was obviously some work to be done to really contact the Medical Siren, to explain to her what was going on, to get the pirate crew restored and have them take over as crew of the starship -- a fresh start in a new universe, etc., etc. Instead, we literally jump from giving Rory CPR (he was rescued while drowning, and as the Medical AI didn't really know what needed to be done to reverse the condition he was basically in stasis) to everyone going their separate ways, happy, and no real sign of what happened to Medical Siren.

The Doctor's Wife starts with a prologue in which two odd looking people, and one Ood, are preparing a young woman for some sort of ritual which is supposed to make her "a Timelord'. Next, the Doctor gets a message from a Timelord -- the Timelord equivalent of E-mail, and hope that there may actually be living Timelords out there -- in a rift between the universes, roughly at the point between N-space and E-space. The TARDIS arrives, but suddenly shuts down; The Doctor figures it's just exhausted its energy and will recharge from the rift energy in between spaces.

But of course it's not nearly that simple; the matrix of the TARDIS, the part that interfaces between the Vortex and the TARDIS controls, has been yanked out by a interdimensional being which, because the other people we meet live in/on it, calls itself "House". House EATS TARDISes, as they're concentrated controlled timespace energy. But he can't consume them with the Matrix in place -- it'll fight back, basically, and TARDISes are very, very good at that. House traps Rory and Amy inside the now non-controllable TARDIS shell, and literally plays with them, toying with their minds and perceptions for its own amusement, while consuming the energy of the TARDIS in preparation for transfer to our home universe -- since it has now learned that there are no more TARDISes coming, it has to move somewhere that there's more energy to consume. Meanwhile, the Doctor and the girl Idris -- who has been implanted with the TARDIS matrix -- desperately search for a way to rejoin Amy and Rory and put the TARDIS matrix, now personified, back where it belongs before House consumes all that's left.

The Doctor's Wife, of course, is the TARDIS itself, and the dialogue between them works well; it's clear that her personality is much like that of her owner... or of her pet, or her lover, depending on exactly how you interpret things. It's possible that River Song is in fact the TARDIS Matrix some distant number of years on, having created/found a body again -- some of the interaction is very similar.

However, just as we reach the climax of tension -- BANG ! resolution and no more time for interaction, thanks very much, bye bye "Sexy" TARDIS, all back to normal.

Both of these episodes had good potential. Both of them are severely flawed by the curtailed timeslot, and OBVIOUSLY so. It's as though they were filming along and someone reminded them "Hey, you only have six minutes left in the ep", and they just cut everything short there to have a quick resolution.

I really cannot imagine WHY they're doing this. The old Who would have five, six, even up to TWELVE part serials. Even taking into account the fact that the Old Who eps were shorter, that's still at least two to three of the current ones. If you have a story that needs more time, TAKE THE TIME. What earthly (or unearthly) reason is there to chop it off and lessen the story just to fit it in one? If you need four episodes to tell the story, fine, then it's The Doctor's Wife, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four. I see no reason NOT to do this, and every reason they SHOULD. These two episodes I judge as "okay" Who eps, even "pretty good" but they could have been very good to great stories if they'd just been given another hour each.
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