Tag Archives: wales

The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood

When I first watched this two-parter in 2010, I was aware that the Silurians had previously featured in Doctor Who, but that was about it. They are not your typical overused villains; in fact, this is only their third appearance, or their fourth if you count their aquatic cousins, the Sea Devils. Mind you, given the physiological differences, these Silurians are pretty much distant cousins too… unless we’re to believe that those old rubber suits were supposed to be masks also.

The Doctor removes Alaya's mask.

The Doctor removes Alaya’s mask.

As the intent here is to sympathetically paint the Silurians as people rather than monsters, they have humanoid faces under those masks, but the de-monsterfying goes further than that. There is discord between the civilian government and the military, who are considered old-fashioned warmongers who need to change their ways. Cold Blood focuses on the attempt to build a peaceful relationship between the Silurians and the human race, amid tension surrounding the death of one of their soldiers, with the Doctor struggling to prove that humans aren’t a threat to them. It’s not dissimilar to his attempts at peaceful negotiation in the first Silurian story, which had a rather unfortunate end for the ‘monsters’. The resolution here is more optimistic, and perhaps another story will revisit the Earth in the year 3010.

The humans and Silurians attempt to arrange peaceful coexistence.

The humans and Silurians attempt to arrange peaceful coexistence.

The Doctor has come a long way since then. His grumpy third persona was dragged into these facilities by UNIT, but Eleven is positively giddy with excitement upon laying eyes on the big drilling thing and wants to get himself involved right away. While Three thought badly of humanity and was proved right, Eleven loves humans and what they can be, but is let down. Additionally, you probably wouldn’t see the third Doctor making jokes in the face of danger or running around using a sonic screwdriver like it’s a gun, which unfortunately happens here, but frankly, I’ll take that over agonisingly drawn-out seven-part serials.

Look, it lights up. Bang, bang!!

Look, it lights up. Bang, bang!!

That said, however, The Hungry Earth is a little drawn out itself, teasing the reveal of the creatures below the Earth. It’s the schlocky monster movie to Cold Blood’s political drama, and does less to set up the human characters than the second part manages under a tighter time limit. I didn’t really care about any of them in part 1, but by the end of part 2, I found them quite likable and believable. As an ensemble piece, it’s well-balanced and everyone has something to do. Rory is particularly good again.

Amy is pulled into the ground by forces unseen.

Amy is pulled into the ground by forces unseen.

Unfortunately, poor Rory gets a raw deal. It’s not good enough that he gets killed shortly before the story is over, he has to be erased from history and forgotten too. The last few stories have shown that the two companion dynamic works brilliantly, so to see him written out like this is disappointing. He will come back later but, appropriately enough, I’ve forgotten how (sorry, Rory)! The sudden appearance of the crack and the piece of Tardis shrapnel is forcibly squeezed into the closing minutes, killing the pace with a pointless mystery. It’s not the subtlest of season arcs, this crack thing, is it?

Riddle me this. Why couldn't the Doctor throw Restac's gun into the crack, thereby erasing it, and Rory's death, from history?

Riddle me this: Why couldn’t the Doctor throw Restac’s gun into the crack, thereby erasing it, and Rory’s death, from history?

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Boom Town

I didn’t remember much about this episode and, after watching it again, I realise why: not much actually happens. It must have been a cost-cutting episode, keeping the budget low to save money for the finale. It conveniently coincides with the Tardis needing to recharge its energy cells by parking over the now closed dimensional rift in Cardiff, where a Slitheen survivor is, also conveniently, planning a devastating explosion to get herself away from Earth. So, yes, it’s another story set on Earth. This might not be so bad if Rose didn’t start bragging about all the exotic planets they’ve been to on their untelevised travels.

The rift is "accidentally" re-opened.

The rift is “accidentally” re-opened.

Down-time isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These episodes are often so fast-paced that you can miss out on the little things like characters having fairly long conversations about their lives. This episode is all about that, with the Doctor and Blon’s dinner scene taking up the bulk of it. Rose and Mickey also have a frank discussion about her disappearing all the time and him not waiting around for her anymore, which further develops his character and is a good performance by Noel Clarke. This show needs more Mickey.

Mickey drops in on the Tardis crew (now including Capt. Jack).

Mickey drops in on the Tardis crew (now including Capt. Jack).

Beyond that, the episode is fairly lighthearted. Although the farting is toned down, “Margaret” murdering her construction workers and critics is almost played for laughs, as is the chase from her office and the teleport gag. Don’t get me wrong, I like the humour in Doctor Who, but here it’s bordering on the silly. I liked how the Doctor finally realises that the words “Bad Wolf” have been following them around on their travels, but dismisses it as a coincidence, at which point the foreboding musics stops in its tracks and everything carries on as normal. Imagine if that was the actual reveal and it was never mentioned again – it would have been some epic trolling!

Amongst other things, the dinner conversation revolves around the Doctor's right to take Blon to her death at the hands of her own people. If only there was some convenient way for the Doctor to not have to make that decision...

Amongst other things, the dinner conversation revolves around the Doctor’s right to take Blon to her death at the hands of her own people. If only there was some convenient way for the Doctor to not have to make that decision…

Boom Town is a little bit boring, unfortunately. Russell T. Davies gets the characters right and the dialogue is natural and raises some interesting moral dilemmas, but there’s not a lot more to it and these issues aren’t resolved nor do they amount to anything. Still, given his big plots are usually full of holes, perhaps sticking to a story that’s purely focused on the characters having some down time was a good choice. Things are going to get very strange from here on.

The Green Death

A change of scenery now, as a strange infection starts killing miners near an oil/chemical facility in the Welsh valleys. Isn’t it, boyo? UNIT is called in and the Doctor reluctantly joins them, finding a hive of giant maggots are spewing green goo everywhere, causing people to turn a luminous green and die.

The big reveal is the mysterious boss is a computer. In 1970, I would have thought "whoah!". Now I just thought "oh, right."

The big reveal is the mysterious boss is a computer. In 1970, I would have thought “whoah!”. Now I just thought “oh, right.”

The “Evil Corporation” card is pulled out of the Doctor Who Plot Generator hat for this one. A self-aware computer system, not unlike WOTAN (The War Machines) is controlling its workforce in order to… well, I’m not sure what it’s trying to do. Conquer the world using mind control seems to be its goal, but I’m not sure what this has to do with chemicals or why their products were producing massive mutant maggots. It seems to be nothing more than an unfortunate side effect. No alien interference here, just Technology Goes Wrong. It could have been explored better.

A brief interlude on an alien blue planet provides some comical moments early on. Plus a convenient hypnosis-reversing crystal.

A brief interlude on an alien blue planet provides some comical moments early on. Plus a convenient hypnosis-reversing crystal.

On the other side of the fence are the eco-warrior hippie archetypes trying to shut the plant down. Jo goes all goo-goo-eyed over their leader, Professor Jones, and by the end of the story, decides to get married and leave with him on an expedition around the world, which presumably means that is the last we’ll see of her. A clichéd end, for sure, but despite this there were some touching moments and fond farewells. Jo may have been a weak character (and I never really felt her performances were convincing), however I could really feel the connection and friendship with the Doctor in those last scenes.

Toasting the happy couple, Jo is leaving for new adventures.

Toasting the happy couple, Jo is leaving for new adventures.

There are some funny moments too, the odd witty line here and there, and a sense of fun throughout, despite the seriousness of the threat. At one point, the Doctor disguises himself as an old milkman, then as an elderly maid, which made me chuckle. Pertwee can clearly do a lot more than be grumpy and condescending and I wish he would be written humourously more often.

The Doctor, master of disguise.

The Doctor, master of disguise.

Robert Sloman’s previous season finales have both had a slightly bizarre feel to them, dealing with monsters, legends or the occult, which this one doesn’t. It’s more like the earlier stories with corporations playing with science and going too far; but it isn’t really explored a great deal and I didn’t feel the story held together all that well. I would have liked more focus on the computer ‘BOSS’ and less on the maggots. Although, to be fair, the maggots were pretty cool.

Maggots. Presumably animatronic puppets; quite well done and a creepy effect. Those teeth!!

Maggots. Presumably animatronic puppets; quite well done and a creepy effect. Those teeth!!

This ends season 10 on a reasonable if unremarkable note, and leads me into the last few chapters of Jon Pertwee’s era.