Doctor Who – “Curse of the Black Spot” – Review by Roger Froilan

 

After the breathtaking two-part opener, we are treated to a hell of a non-arc story that still manages to carry over some of Stephen Moffat’s plot threads. This tale takes place aboard a pirate ship back in the seventeen or 1800’s. There are five crew members and the captain. One man is mysteriously injured and everyone starts to become nervous. A crew member runs to tell the captain: “He slipped in the bilge water and fell onto the riggers. His…hand… I don’t know if he’ll survive”. Turns out, the injured man in question has nothing more than a small cut on his hand. His right hand develops a black spot on the palm. Everyone appears terrified. The Captain pronounces him a “dead man…same as all the others”. Melodious, hypnotic female singing is heard from above deck, and the injured man races topside while the rest stay in the Captain’s quarters. The Captain uses his necklace to tie the doorknobs shut. We hear distant singing, a scream, a crunch, and then nothing… The crew eventually goes topside and finds no trace of the injured man, nor any signs of a struggle. Suddenly, a pounding is heard coming from the trap door leading to the hold. They open it, and out pop The Doctor, Rory, and Amy! The Doctor shouts, “YO HO HO!!! Or…does nobody actually say that…?”

Thus begins another rollicking adventure! The three are assumed to be stowaways, and the Doctor is immediately set to walk the plank while Amy is sent below to prepare what’s left of the food. Instead, she finds a crate full of all the crew’s swords, knives and other sharp implements. She grabs a sword, dons a pirate coat and hat, and rushes topside to save the Doctor, who has been dilly dallying on the plank. Amy’s use of a blade seems to strike fear in the meager pirates, but they try to fend her off with sticks and rope as best they can. Ultimately, Amy manages to cut one of the crew and they all freak out. She berates them for being wimpy pirates, but they explain that anyone who gets a scratch is doomed to die.

Of course, Rory is scratched in a scuffle also, and we finally see where the music is coming from: A Siren. A beautiful green girl whose touch means instant disintegration! Now the Doctor must find a way to save everyone, and get along with the Captain! What’s great is that they actually deepen the character of the Pirate Captain, and we get to understand him a bit more than in an ordinary TV show. We even start to like the scurvy bastard!

Now, the more we get to see the Siren, the more we think that she’s had some trick photography done. Her eyes are way far apart, and you could land planes on her forehead. However, the fashion model Lily Cole, who plays the Siren, actually looks like that!!! (sans green glow, of course). Note the pictures below. I thought she was photoshop enhanced or cgi, or something, but no, she’s a fashion model who’s very freakish looking. Not being an Adonis myself, I hate to disparage someone’s looks, but I really thought here eyes were separated for effect. Make up your own mind on that one!

Freaky!

Anyway what I really liked about this episode, once you get to the heart of what’s going on here, you realize that even on a 1970s budget, this could very easily have been a Tom Baker episode with Sara Jane and Harry in the Amy & Rory roles!! It’s the type of creepy, fourth Doctor style episode that would have played out very nicely around the Hand of Fear or Terror of the Zygons.

(Possible Spoiler Alert) While I won’t give away the ending, there is definitely a plot threat that separates itself from the Doctor which could either show up in a future episode or perhaps even be spun off into its own series… Okay, I’ve said too much already.

My only real criticism is this – there’s a scene where a character is in need of CPR, and another character helps this person. The Doctor, meanwhile, hangs fretfully in the background, biting his nails, seemingly not knowing what to do in such a situation! I’m sorry, but he saves people for a living. I think a Time Lord knows basic CPR or could hook something from the TARDIS to the person to jump start their body. I didn’t like this portrayal of the Doctor and it made him look very weak. I don’t know if this was done on purpose, or if it’s part of a larger plot thread that we just don’t know about, but it was very disturbing to watch and goes against everything we know about the Doctor.

Otherwise, this was another superb episode. The weird eye-patch lady through the slat in the wall shows up again briefly. And we are glad when the episode is over! Can’t wait for next week!

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Feedback is always welcomed at roger@horrorhaven.com!

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