Review: “Doctor Who” Series 6, Ep 3: “The Curse of the Black Spot”

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Amy Pond, swashbuckler

Rating:  ☆ ☆ ☆

Yo ho ho! Or rather, No oh oh! Sirens aside, I wasn’t too enthralled by this week’s episode, written by Stephen Thompson (whom you might recall as having written “The Blind Banker” from the first series of “Sherlock”). “The Curse of the Black Spot” features pirates, a siren that turns out to be an unlikely doctor in a long-abandoned spaceship sick bay, and a moral about greed for the kiddies. The episode is closer to classic “Doctor Who” I suppose, but after being spoiled by the sophistication of Steven Moffat’s singular writing style for five consecutive DW episodes (“The Pandorica Opens,” “The Big Bang,” “A Christmas Carol,” “The Impossible Astronaut,” and “The Day of the Moon”), Thompson’s competent effort feels like a mere commercial break to wade through until the next Moffat-written script. (I am indeed a shameless Moffateer/Moffatite/Moffatee).

The maudlin near-death scene that acts as the episode’s climax incited me to cringes. There are only so many times you can get away with the main cast dying until it becomes dramatically stale and overwrought. (Rory has died once before, as have Amelia and River; and of course, the Doctor has done so ten times over to this point, not counting his future death in the series opener). I fear the death button being used one too many times that by the point someone actually does die, it will have lost its dramatic impact, with death becoming too commonplace, dramatically speaking.

Kudos though to Karen Gillan, who has been really showing off her dramatic acting chops these past few episodes. I felt her talents were severly underutilized last series, especially after the memorable way she was introduced to us in “The Eleventh Hour.” Gillan seems to have good comic versatility and timing, as exemplified in her hilarious (though somewhat risque) skits from “The Kevin Bishop Show.” Looking back at series five of DW, I would have liked to have seen an expansion on the kiss-o-gram theme, i.e. have Amy pull off more disguises, take on different accents–leverage her comedic talents. But the dramatic route Amy Pond’s character has taken this series has so far pleasantly surprised me, as I didn’t necessarily find a “dramatic” Amy all that favorable last series (in fact, it was middlingly annoying). All that aside, I continue to be intrigued by her “pregnancy,” as well as the eye-patched Madame Kovarian’s bizarre cameo appearance about 25 minutes into the episode (she says, “It’s fine, you’re doing fine. Just stay calm”; I’m guessing she’s some sort of futuristic midwife).

For the second week in a row, Rory’s significance as Amy’s true love is emphasized, as well as his being a nurse. Is Moffat setting up a “Nurse” vs. “Doctor” dynamic? I’m interested to see Rory’s role in the mid-series finale, “A Good Man Goes to War,” which, as Steven Moffat had torturously teased us, will see the lives of the Doctor, Amy, and Rory forever changed. Specifically, here’s what Moffat had to say:  “You’ll see The Doctor’s life change forever. You will gasp at the true nature of his relationship with Amy and cry out in horror as Rory Williams stumbles to the brink of a tragic mistake.” What mistake will that be?

Overall, “The Curse of the Black Spot” is not a DW episode that had me geeking out to quite the level I had been the past two weeks, nor one that will have me rewatching it on BBC iPlayer for hours on end. Here’s looking forward to Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife” next week, which I’m sure will return the current series’s writing quality up a few notches.

Read my other “Doctor Who” blog posts:

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