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30 May 2011 @ 22:34
Toby! Rory! TARDIS!  
6x03 The Curse of the Black Spot

Hullo and welcome to my very, very, very late review of The Pirate Episode, the first in the series of Stuff That’s Happened Ages Ago on Doctoroo But Then I Was Busy. So I might as well advise passers-by to skip this. Unless you are, for some mysterious reason, very interested in my opinion.
Right ho, where shall I start? Doctor Who is a splendid little television series that’s been on the air since 1963.

The episode opens with a nice and spooky premise: we’re looking at a pirate ship floating on the middle of the ocean, but it’s not an ordinary pirate ship. Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert on pirates, neither real ones, nor pop culture Yo Ho Ho ones, but when people talk about pirate symbols it’s generally Jolly Rogers and stuff, not pentagrams. Add to that a dark and silent night, the suspense, aaaaand, Duh Duh Duum, the Siren.

The Siren! She is brilliant. She looked like a doll or a cartoon character, rather than an actual person, it was so weird to see her talking in DWC. Even though she’s supposed to look human or something. Though now that I think about it her angry face does remind me of my mother.

But then, as usual, our so-called heroes appear to make this mess even messier, if possible. And are immediately made to walk the plank, because no pirate story would be a pirate story without walking the plank. And this is where I take a deep breath and don’t start being nasty. Because, thanks to the fact that I’m writing this review late, I’ve had the opportunity to check out some of the fan reactions and oh dear. People seem to think Pirates of the Caribbean invented pirates. While in fact Pirates of the Caribbean does exactly the same thing Doctor Who does here, it takes centuries’ worth of pirate clichés and spoofs them.

Another thing that they fail to understand is that Pirates of the Caribbean, whether they like it or not, has become an important milestone in the history of pirate fiction. Imagine it like this: there’s a Big Book of Pirate Tropes, which the PotC people read before writing the film, but as they did so they became part of the book and now there’s a Big Book of Pirate Tropes 2010 Edition with an additional chapter on PotC, which the Doctor Who people used. It's like the Neverending Story, yay!

And the third thing they seem to ignore is that Doctor Who is in fact built on clichés. Clichés, stereotypes, spoofs, tropes, archetypes, nasty jokes, all that. They’re the core of Doctor Who, and have been right from the start. They’ve been doing this since nineteen-sixty-bloody-three, and after all those years, someone still pops up after every episode and accuses Doctor Who of ripping of X-files or Indiana Jones or PotC or exhibiting American stereotypes or whatever. Yes, thank you, spot on, that’s what Doctor Who does. You’re accusing them with something they openly admit, the actual element that keeps the series going. Didn't the title give them a hint as to what to expect?

So’s, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s get back to walking the plank. I know, I know, walking the plank is like theatre, you’ve got to do it slowly to let everyone properly enjoy it. You don’t wanna hurry it at all, ‘cos then the lass you’ve just left alone in a room full of weapons don't have the time not only to grab a cutlass but to dress up for the occasion, too. Nevertheless, Amy the Pirate Queen rocks so hard I wouldn’t care if they’d needed a plothole big enough to swallow the ship in order to fit her into the episode.

Did you know it’s a real life ship, by the way? When I first watched the episode I thought it was just a studio set and the exterior shots were made with a tiny model ship and a cart-load of CGI. BBC folks never fail to surprise me.

Wandered off the track again, I’m afraid, but back to the plot. Rory’s marked for death... again. You know, I never know. On the one hand there are the theories how Rory dying all the time is supposed to be some giant clue and he’ll turn out to be a dream / a Time Lord / a cat. But then it’s also sort of a running gag now. If I were a bookmaker, I’d take bets on Rory dying in every episode. Which minute will mark Rory’s inevitable demise? And on the third hand, and this is the bad hand, it’s like the boy who cried wolf. If I were a Very Very Evil Moff, I’d lull viewers into a false sense of security and then SWISH kill off Rory for good. Just sayin’.

Anyway. Things are happening here, Captain Obvious (This is a mutiny!) is getting reunited with his son. Though I’m not sure how he's able to recognise him, to be honest, he hasn’t seen him for three years. What was he then, five? And he thinks they’re navy officers even after he’s met the crew. I mean, if navy officers were like that, God save the King (they were pretty much like that.) And a mutiny! Every man for himself! Sweet. You know this is the charm of this episode, the glimpse of reality, the kid thinking they’re navy and there being no honour amongst pirates. If you scrape off all those sparkly pirate clichés they’re not entirely those romantic pirates who appear to be rebellious and wicked but are loyal and true men who have standards, and occasionally clash with dashing navy officers in fancy uniforms.

And now the Doctor’s taking the wheel. And he breaks all the windows and mirrors because it’s a well-known fact that tiny bits of broken glass aren’t reflective. Cor, you’ve got to admit it was funny when he kept competing with Captain Obvious and was at pains to prove his superiority. And that effortless, ‘Oh, this be a ship like any other.’

Although this eventually led to the crazy ending. Explain me this: How did the two universes collide? Was that other universe Space Narnia?
It’s a nice and shiny spaceship, and thank gods it’s so easy to control even a 17th century man can do it. Too bad its digital doctor is RUBBISH. Star Trek Voyager would’ve had a very short run if the hologram doctor had put the crew members in stasis one by one instead of healing them. Heaven’s sake, she can’t even treat a paper cut, literally. But she burns your face off if you catch a cold. Is this where the health care industry’s heading to?

Apparently. Apparently NHS nurses are rubbish even now. Rory doesn’t seem to know resuscitation is a two-man job. I’m not a nurse but I've had a first-aid training and one of the things I was taught there was that one person does the kissing and another breaks your ribcage. Sure, I’m gonna shred a tear for all the heart-breaking drama going on, but Mr Concerned Cheerleader in the background could’ve stood up to his name and given a hand. And wasting precious seconds by picking him up and dragging him in the TARDIS seemed a tad unnecessary, but heck. Anyway, all’s well that ends well. We’re getting one step closer to the climax and the Space Pirates (zomg, etc.) sail away towards the Sirius, probably straight to the Complaints Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to get a refund for that rubbish Siren-Doctor. They won't get one.
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