After struggling to keep my gushing enthusiasm for last week’s episode under control, I find myself with the opposite problem this time. Not that this week’s was bad, it just wasn’t really much of anything.
I don’t think anybody was expecting it to be anything more than a filler episode (although with the series now being split into two shorter blocks of episodes, the presence of filler seems harder to forgive) or, after the over-complicated fun of the last two weeks, ‘one for the kids’. Or for that matter, a rather cynically scheduled Pirates of the Caribbean knock off (of course it’s still fairly likely that the episode will be a lot better than the next bloated offering in that franchise), but you’d think that a story that combined pirates and spaceships would be a lot more fun that it was.
Actually, I think the biggest problem with the episode was that they didn’t go far enough with the piratey trappings – there weren’t any parrots, or peg-legs and eye-patches for that matter. They may have gotten the piratey laugh in there, and some rather straggly beards, but otherwise they were a relatively well-scrubbed and polite bunch of buccaneers, and what’s the point of that?
Despite it being an episode aimed at younger viewers, I think the dads might have gotten the most out of it, what with eye candy coming in the form of Lily Cole (who I think is meant to be stunningly attractive, although I find her a bit creepy – like Matt Smith, I can’t help but think that there’s something uncanny in the slight off-ness of the proportions of her face – which I suppose at least means she was a fitting choice to play this episode’s sort of, but not really, monster) and Amy getting to do a bit of kick-ass action. The kids, on the other hand, just got a bit with ‘alien bogeys’ and a bad child actor who I expect was meant to be a figure for them to identify with. If I watching this as a child, I would have just felt patronised, although I was a bit of a weird child, which may explain why I’m now spending a significant proportion of my adult years picking apart TV programmes on the internet.
Not only did I find the presence of the boy to be unnecessary and irritating, but it also raised a bit of a distracting plot hole – if he’d been hiding on the boat for sometime, and had been sick and therefore a target for Lily Cole’s siren/mermaid/virtual doctor thing, how had he managed to survive? Surely at some point he would have had to drink something, at which point she could have grabbed him. (I also got a bit annoyed at the bit, before fighting back against the pirates, where Amy donned the coat and hat – admittedly she did look good in it, and it was no doubt just meant to be a bit of silly fun that would look good in the trailer, but if your husband and best friend were about to be thrown overboard would you stop to change your outfit?). But then I probably shouldn’t have expected much from the script, as the writer’s previous credits are a few episodes of Doctors and the middle, not that good actually, episode of Sherlock (not wanting to sound malicious, but how did a writer with so little experience, at least according to his imdb page, manage to land work on two of the biggest BBC dramas of recent years?)
Towards the end of the episode, and certainly by the point where Rory was whisked away by the siren, I did start of think of Moffat’s season one two-parter The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, as it seemed unlikely that they’d let Rory die, or at least die in such an unspectacular manner in a throw-away episode. So if he was still alive somewhere, by extension everybody else who we’d seen ‘die’ in the episode would be also. And then, when it was revealed that the monster was really just a bit of alien healthcare technology that seemed dangerous as it didn’t understand the human body, the link was made even more explicit (although it should be noted that that story was interesting, frightening and moving, none of which could be said about this one).
In terms of links to future episodes, Frances Barber made a brief reappearance, this time wearing a rather sci-fi (in a David Bowie sort of way) eye patch, as did the whole parallel universe theory about Amy’s mystery pregnancy, but there wasn’t much that was worthy of discussion. Well, there was an excellent promo at the end for next week’s Neil Gaiman-penned episode, which I was already ridiculously excited about anyway. Shall we just discuss that instead?