Here is my reaction post to "The Curse of the Black Spot." SPOILERS AHOY! (and it actually makes sense to say that in this case!)
First - a nice little song (which should always be played and sang to at the highest volume possible)
I thought about this song when the screen opened up with the pirate ship on the still water. My childhood...
For being a one-off adventure story, this episode gave me a lot to think about within the context of the larger series. Not necessarily to say that it's all relevant to the overarching plot, but it was more that my brain was sufficiently fried by the previous two episodes that I just look for links in everything now. I really don't have a thorough literary deconstruction-type of review, just a bunch of lists. I just ended up with a ton of notes for this.
Okay, so "Doctor Who" does pirates. At first, the episode felt rushed with all the pirates and Team TARDIS running around trying to avoid the Siren. But then people started settling down and the Doctor starting thinking about stuff and the story played out to its conclusion. Like I said, it was nice to have a fluffy little adventure after the flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants ride of the previous two weeks.
So... Begin the Lists!
- Amy "Elizabeth Swann" Pond. Don't tell me that didn't cross all your minds.
- Actually, just pretend this is a big old list of "Pirates of the Caribbean" jokes and we're sorted.
- I want a t-shirt that says "I'm Confused." Even more than I want one that says "The Angels Have the Phone Box"
- Oh boy, the Doctor and his hats. You know, I don't think the pirate hat really suits him. Not in the way the fez and the Stetson did. But for once, this hat didn't meet a gruesome fate at the hands of River Song.
- Drunk-on-Siren-Music!Rory is so adorable. I love how I continue to ask for adorable Rory moments and the writers continue to oblige.
- Watching on BBC America and the commercials - this is the first time I've ever seen Doctor Who toys advertised on TV! It was a momentous event for me, as weird as that sounds.
- "This is the treasure of the Mogul of India!" "Oh good, for a minute I thought it was yours!" Wonderful dialogue, as usual.
Things I Liked That Weren't Necessarily Funny, but Still Cool -
- The Doctor's sad, sad look when the TARDIS disappeared. There have been many companions and friends in the Doctor's life, but that TARDIS has always been the one constant. That's his home and his way around the universe, she facilitates his wandering lifestyle and she's is number one best friend. He's allowed to be totally devastated when something happens to her.
- I'm not well-versed in special effects technicalities, but I was really impressed with the ghosty Siren effect. No, really - that was amazing.
- Part of the Siren's song sounded like "Ma Belle Evangeline" from "The Princess and the Frog" (there's a little five-note sequence that the two songs have in common, or at least it's very similar).
- Maybe this is a result of having watched "Carnival of Monsters" with the Traveling the Vortex boys for Friday Night Who, but how many times has the TARDIS landed in the cargo area of a sailing ship? ("Enlightenment" is another one. I should make a list…)
- For being a 17th (18th?) century guy, Captain Avery takes to the idea of space travel and supernatural things rather quickly. The fact that he figured out the parts of the TARDIS console was awesome (between him and River Song, it seems that the only one who doesn't know how to fly the TARDIS correctly is the Doctor. Watch - Rory or somebody will land the TARDIS next week).
- So far, this season has an interesting occupation with sight. The Silents had to be seen to be remembered and the Siren travels through reflections in mirrors.
Things That Made Me Jump:
- I find mirrors creepy anyway, so when the Doctor discovers the Siren is getting on the ship through reflections... NO THANK YOU! Even though it turned out the Siren was a nice nurse-doctor-lady and it was sort of okay. But not really.
- Leeches are disgusting. Everyone should know that already.
And, of course, the topic that I'm certain will be the #1 discussion in all of Whodom this week (possibly even beating out the anticipation for the Neil Gaiman episode):
Much has been said about her already (with only one line in "Day of the Moon"), but I really have no theories on her. But I have some thoughts and here they are:
- Last week when she first appeared, my mind immediately thought of the Rani. Which is kind of stupid because I've only seen her in "Dimensions in Time" (you may all commence throwing rotten fruit). I really don't know anything about her other than she's a Time Lady and not a very nice one (the impression I got was that she makes the Master look like Count Von Count from Sesame Street). Maybe it's a dumb idea because I didn't see her mentioned in anybody's theories over the week. In any case, it's probably time for me to track down some stories with the Rani.
- The white background behind her made me think of the Eighth Doctor audio "Scherzo" where the Doctor and Charley are trapped in this weird alternate dimension and all they can see is brilliant white light and nothing else. That really doesn't mean anything - just something I noticed/thought of.
- This next one may just be me seeing things weird, but I thought her eye-patch looked different from last week. Last week, it looked like it was metal and bolted onto her face where this week it looked more leathery and pirate-like.
- IIRC, this episode was actually meant to have been in the second part of this season, but they moved it up. I think the reason they did that was maybe they thought we needed an earlier look at her. Like in "The Poison Sky" in Series 4 (SPOILER ALERT - highlight to read), they tacked in a background video image of Rose that had been filmed for inclusion in "Midnight," but RTD decided the audience needed to see Rose before then because she was important to the story arc later (END SPOILERS).
- I thought Eye-Patch Lady's line of "You're doing fine. Stay calm" sounded like she was coaching someone through childbirth.
To end this List of Lists to End All Lists, I'll finish up with a list of random things I noticed:
- What is it with this season and stabbing people's palms? If the Doctor's wife (or whoever) turns out to be a palm reader… well… I won't leave, but I won't be very happy.
- The Doctor taking Captain Avery to the TARDIS reminded me of how Kazran Sardick became the sub-in companion in "A Christmas Carol" and Amy and Rory (the official, names-in-the-opening-credits companions) were just hidden away in a cupboard somewhere. However, the way Amy and Rory were with Toby was pretty cute and I couldn't help but think that they would make adorable parents (how many times have I said "adorable"? I need a new word for that…)
- Why weren't the Doctor, Amy and Captain Avery put in the sick bay when the Siren took them to from the pirate ship? Just so we could have Matt Smith stick his hand on a console covered in alien bogies? (As funny as that was...)
- Okay, I'm going to say this calmly and rationally - WILL YOU STOP KILLING RORY???? (Murray Gold had a hilarious tweet on the subject, which I would link if I knew how to link to individual tweets).
- While we're on the subject, enough playing with Amy and Rory's relationship! They love each other, they're married, they're going to have a baby (I think - wait, yes… no... yes - no - yes-no-yes-no… yes. *grrr* Definitely not! Um… I have no idea).
- Re: Trailer for next week's episode - Yup, this is a Neil Gaiman creation all right. Even if it totally tanks (which I doubt), at least they got the look of the story right.
Final Thoughts on "The Curse of the Black Spot" - This may not go down in history as the very best "Doctor Who" episode, but it's a solid one-off adventure. It's like "The Unicorn and the Wasp" from Series 4 - placed between stress and angst to give us all a chance to catch our breath and let our brains de-frazzle. It was entertaining and there was a lot to think about and enjoy.