First off, I really think this could have been dispatched quite neatly in a one-shot episode; why was it two?
|Rule Three: When confronted by a mysterious |
hole in the ground...
It was an unfortunate story to watch back when it was Doctor Who and the Silurians and it wasn't much more fun as The Sea Devils or any of its other incarnations. Although here we also must acknowledge nods to Inferno (an episode I hate and was terrified by as a child but which I find strangely compelling and largely underrated) and The Green Death. (Oh, and did anyone else catch what I thought was a subtle nod to Blink? "Look, a big mine'y thing!"? No? Was it just me?)
I'm not going to bother with any kind of plot summary here; if you haven't seen the episodes yet -- well, what the hell are you doing reading this? Go watch them! Then come back and read this. If you didn't like them. Er. Yes. Apologies, I guess, if they were really the light of the season for you.
Don't get me wrong: there were bits of both shows that I really, really liked: Elliot (the little boy), Nasreen, Tony, the Silurian doctor and head-of-state figures -- all very interesting, nifty characters. The basic idea was a reworking of the set-up of The Silurians that could have been -- fun? but it never seemed to find pace. If there was a tempo, I missed it.
And did anyone else want to take Ambrose, Elliot's mother, and just...find some nasty alien and hand her the fuck over? Like "Here, man, no strings, have fun"? Maybe we could have talked the 456 into taking her? Maybe it's just me but the overprotective, angry mother figures -- not just here, but as a trope in genre fiction generally -- drive me straight up a wall. I realise the whole point was to set up a parallel between her and Restac in the Silurian world and I wanted her to die anyway. I love the Doctor's take-down of Ambrose at the end of Cold Blood; she says, "I fucked up;" and he has an opportunity here to soothe or reassure or ameliorate...and normally I'd vote for him to do any of those things and this time I think his dressing-down is not only deserved, it is both timely and appropriate: "Yup, you did. Try to help your son to do better. 'Cause you blew it." And exit. Thank you, 11.
|Rory in command? Not quite.|
And, of course, the ultimate kiss of death in the second episode: the voiceover. There are so few voiceovers that are done well and not simply because the screenwriter couldn't think of a better way to get information across that you can probably number them on one hand. Riddick's v/os in Pitch Black and Chronicles aren't bad, although they are a bit awkward -- perhaps less so in Black than the sequel since the first one is something of an exercise in awkward. There's Sarah Connor's fadeout v/o in T2 -- epically awful. Selene's in Underworld and Underworld 2 -- okay, more successful in the former than the latter. The varying v/os in Stranger than Fiction -- successful to a large degree because of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty-like bizarrity of the whole thing. Kevin Spacey's closing v/o in American Beauty -- a spectacular success. Anyway, you get the idea. I think -- perhaps v/os work best if you don't need them? They work all right for dramatic effect on their own -- see my proviso for the Underworld movies above -- but mostly if you need them, you're sunk. I think.
Okay, so enough of the bashing. What were the good bits? Well, to my mind, the Silurian doctor was wonderful -- interested, intellectually curious, open-minded, helpful, explanatory.
I love the way Amy steps up to the negotiations at the end of Cold Blood -- and, I must say, the last ten minutes of Cold Blood were great stuff. We were out of the woods -- well on our way to the happy ending and the TARDIS spinning off again -- and the rules change.
|And the bad news is...|
And all of that, of course, just makes it doubly painful when, inevitably, Amy's memory isn't as strong as the time energy spilling from the crack and engulfing Rory. The parallels between this and Journey's End just seem stronger the more I think about it.
Then, of course, there's the true humdinger of an ending -- not that we couldn't all have figured it out on our own, but the confirmation was nice to have.
Still. If you really wanted to dropkick me, Moffat, you should have had it be part of the Doctor's coat or Amy's necklace. Like so much else in this two-parter, it didn't quite step up.