Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Doctor Who, Series 6 - Episodes 3 - The Curse Of The Black Spot



The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves aboard a becalmed pirate vessel. After a misunderstanding involving the proper treatment of guests on a pirate ship and a demonstration as to why real pirates kept their weapons locked up when they weren't at hand (vis a vis Amy being thrown into the hold where the weapons are kept in an unlocked chest) our heroes find that the pirates are deathly afraid of even minor injuries.

Why? Because of a mysterious black spot that appears on the hand of any man who is injured and a green-glowing Siren, whose song draws the cursed men to her, only for them to disappear at the touch of her hand. With the TARDIS becalmed as well and the Captain's sickly son on-deck, it will be up to The Doctor to unravel the mystery of the Siren and save the day.


1. The New Introduction. Specifically, What Is Missing From It.

Go ahead and watch this intro again. See if you notice something important that Pond forgets to mention in her summation of who she is and how she came to be with The Doctor.

By 'we' you are including Rory, right? The man you didn't mention in all of the flowery talk about your imaginary friend who came back for you and took you away to have adventures all around time and space? The man you are, presumably sharing a bed with as husband and wife in one of the spare rooms on the TARDIS?

Just checking.

2. How The Heck Did The Captain's Son Go So Long Without Getting Nabbed By The Siren Or Spotted By The Crew?

He had The Black Spot on his hand because of his illness and he quickly became a target for the Siren once he was discovered. Thing is, he really should have been claimed much earlier. Think about it - even if the Powder Room where he hid was dark and dry with no reflective surfaces at all, he'd still have to come out for water sooner or later. And the minute he got near a reflective surface... WHAM!

3. The Siren Being A Computerized Medic Just Doesn't Make Sense!

Okay - the idea of a holographic doctor that can instantly teleport its' patients to the hospital with a touch is a novel ideal. Very useful that. Could be a wonder in search and rescue missions were it not for one small problem. Namely, that The Siren is totally dependent upon its' patients being able to reach out and touch it.

It never moves to the injured men! It always gets in close, sings a soothing song and then draws them out to touch it. While that's not bad for a man with a cut finger, I can't imagine it doing much to help the men with a broken leg or somebody pinned under a ton of rubble.

For that matter, what if someone gets trapped under something and there's no light to create a reflection nearby?

4. Where Did The First Mate Go?

He just disappears halfway through the episode! Maybe there was a cut scene where the Siren got him that wasn't in the American broadcast?

5. Deja Vu - The Sensation That You Are Doing Something You Have Done Before.

There's a lot of ideas here that may seem repetitive - not just to long-time Doctor Who fans, but to fans of the more recent series as well.

6. Deja Vu - The Sensation That You Are Doing Something You Have Done Before.

There's a lot of ideas here that may seem repetitive - not just to long-time Doctor Who fans, but to fans of the more recent series as well.

(Yes, I know that is a terrible, awful, cliche joke. And yet, I'm still making it because an episode this uninspired and repetitive doesn't deserve original material. XP )

In all seriousness, this episode doesn't have much that hasn't been done in other Doctor Who stories and been done better. The Doctor Dances explored the idea of a mechanical alien doctor that proves unable to treat humans properly much more effectively with a mystery that didn't feel so anti-climactic. And the idea of a computer-based intelligence manipulating more primitive beings due to a programming error is such a Doctor Who cliche I shouldn't even have to mention it having already been used last season in The Lodger. To say nothing of the numerous classic Doctor Who episodes like Stones of Blood and The Face of Evil that are based around the same premise. Even the idea of a story where The Doctor gets menaced by pirates isn't original (i.e. The Smugglers)

7. The Doctor Doesn't Know CPR?

This one is kind of nit-picky. And I know that it would take away from the scene where Rory has to tell Amy how to save his life and the romance as she literally has to breathe the life back into him. But it did bother me that The Doctor didn't take a hand in things.

And yes long-time Wholigans, I'm well aware that The Doctor's medical knowledge as depicted across the whole of the series has been erratic at best and that any medical training he has with humans is probably outdated and incorrect. Even allowing that some knowledge may be lost in the regeneration process, I still can't believe that we can go from Ten reverse engineering a cure for Dalek genetic modifications to being completely unable to do CPR.

If nothing else, you'd think it's something he would have learned "just in case" what with the large number of humans he travels with and the amount of danger he gets into.


1. This Episode Had Pirates. Cause Pirates Are Cool!

Really! It had Pirates! And Karen Gillian dressed as a pirate... sort of!

2. At Least ONE Writer Is Trying To Keep Amy Pond From Being A Total Mary Sue

She does get her awesome moment with the pirate outfit and the sword and the swinging around... but proves to be somewhat rubbish at it. You can tell she's just barely managing to protect herself when she fights with the sword and she winds up injuring people as she's swinging on the rope as much by accident as on purpose. And as much as I hate the continual Rory/Amy "Do They Really Love Me?" Subplot that should have been resolved forever last Series, it was novel to see Amy being the one worrying about a stray comment and her husband's feelings for her.

3. Matt Smith's Great Performance?

Much as I disliked this episode, one of the few things I did like was Matt Smith's turn as The Doctor this time around. It isn't unusual for The Doctor to not have all the answers but it's very rare for him to jump to the wrong conclusions. And while Matt Smith is never going to he my favorite Doctor, I do think he did a great job with The Doctor here and that he perfectly captured the emotions conveyed by a very intelligent man who hates being proven wrong nearly as much as he hates seeing people being vaporized by a monster he can't explain.

The Final Verdict: Not the worst episode of New Who by a long-shot but still possibly the worst episode of the Matt Smith era. The whole affair feels very rushed, cobbled together out of several reliable stock plot concepts that were utilized to better effect in other stories.


  1. Hated this episode. Really. I honestly thought 'excuse for Amelia Pond in pirate kit'. It was worse than Van Gogh! How could anything be worse than that. Just Bad all around. Performances fine etc. But ARGH SO painful bad. Its like they had plans for something else but that got scrapped and then they had to do something else at the last minute.

  2. Apparently they did switch the episodes around so something that was meant to be Episode 3 originally is now Episode 9, becuase they were afraid that Episode 9 was too dark to follow the season opener.

  3. Also that weird opener thing.. with amy.. talking about the doctor...prologuey thing.. doesn't show up on itunes! I'm SPARED!

  4. Yeah. Lucky you.
    Apparently only the BBC America audience get that one. Presumably because they think we wouldn't remember who the show was about every week unless we were reminded. :P