Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 3 – The Curse of the Black Spot

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What’s It About?
The TARDIS materialises on a 17th Century ship having answered a distress call. Captured by the remnants of the ship’s Pirate crew, the travellers must unravel the mystery of a Siren and her Black Spotted Curse …

Review It

A strong opener this week, with pirate crewmen returning to their becalmed vessel in the middle of the night. A minor injury and a crew-man is declared “doomed – like the rest.” A black spot appears and the poor soul is taken by the Siren’s call. Cue the arrival of the TARDIS and it’s adventure seeking crew, the Time Lord bursting onto the scene with a “yo-ho-ho! Or don’t people actually say that?”. The stage is set for a high-seas yarn.

Unfortunately, the rest of the episode fails to live up to the expectations for me. While there is a bit of buckle being swashed – in the unlikely form of Pond, the episode does feel something of a “pirates are cool and when this happens … it’s cool!”. For example, the Doctor is being forced to walk the plank … Amy is taken below (well, shoved down a hatch) where she is given access to a selection of cutlasses. Instead of grabbing one and rushing upstairs to save her boys, she takes the time to don a hat and coat first … because “It’ll look cool.”. There are quite a few moments like this, or forced gags throughout the episode.

An air of tension is missing as the pirate crew are taken one by one by the Siren and the Doctor’s taking of the captain into the TARDIS seemed inappropriate other than to have an obligitary “Bigger on the inside” gag. And the subsequent abandonment of the time-ship also seemed out of place, though it served to remove a potential escape route for the survivors. Also, the Doctor is more scatterbrained than usual – failing to realise that a pirate ship couldn’t really send out a distress call. His constant revisal of what he thinks is going on is a positive aspect to this story – I’ve said before how I like an imperfect Doctor and while there does seem to be a muddle-along element to this story as a whole, these element I really liked.

Another appearance of “eye-patch midwife / doctor / psychiatrist lady” was slotted in as Amy was roused from slumber which I really liked. This is like watching for glimpses of Rose back in Series 4, but with added “what the Rassilon is going on here!”.

And the niggles?

You’ve probably noticed a few already: to summarise. A lot of filler, not enough tension and a rather limp Rory and Amy moment towards the end. Which could have been easily better realised – just look at last season’s similar events to see what I mean…

While we’re on the subject of the ending (Spoiler follows, highlight to reveal) … really? A bunch of 17th century sailors are going to be fine about suddenly being in charge of a space ship. And they can fly it? and keep it fuelled? and find food they can eat? I’m not convinced.

In summary:

A pirate tale without much pirating, a sailing ship with no sailing, an alien monster that is no alien monster. Overall, this is a story of missed opportunity and too much “funny” and “cool pirate” and not enough plot to go around.

Saying that, I did love the reveal of the Siren’s true purpose as I’m a fan of monsters not being what they seem and the episode was far from unwatchable. In fact it was an entertaining 45 minutes, I just wanted and expected more from Doctor Who now.

Rate It: 2.5 / 5. Not terrible, but I’ve come to expect more.
Dry Slaps: 0
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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  1. Sol Cartman /

    Did anyone else notice the pirate the boy cuts who then stays in the magazine with Amy/Rory/boy disappears without explanation?
    I agree with WedgeDoc – lots of filler. Very weak episode.

  2. Aerliss /

    This is the problem with Moffat setting the bar as high as he did with the first two episodes of Season 6; everyone expects every episode to be phenomenal.

    I actually enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t once open up my laptop out of boredom (whereas I could spend whole RTD episodes with my eyes on the laptop), so it certainly kept me entertained. Though I barely tweeted anything good about the episode either. It was silly, and full of holes, whopping great big holes, but so were a lot of Classic Who eps, so I can forgive Steve Thompson this one.

    Gotta say; better than “The Lodger” >_>

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