Doctor Who Review: The Curse Of The Black Spot

DOCTOR WHO: Saturday 7th May, BBC1, 6.15pm

Each year Doctor Who has a silly episode. Remember last series with Churchill, World War II and the Daleks dressed up as fruit pastilles, in space? Remember the one with vampires in Venice and The Doctor ended up climbing up St Marks tower to stop a device causing earthquakes for some reason? These are the forgettable episodes, the ones that kinda take a break from the normal continuity of what has come before – apart from the odd mention or clear here-and-there – and then embark on an ‘action’ adventure that ends up being reasonably exciting, shouty, screamy and includes lots of random running. In hindsight, while these episodes are good fun, they usually end up being a bit forgettable and just a little bit humdrum.

In this episode The Doctor, Rory and Amy are transported to a pirate ship that has a mysteriously small crew. Every time a pirate is injured, in any particular way, whether they’ve had their arm cut off in a fight or they’ve accidentally grazed themselves opening a tin of tinned tomatoes with a dodgy knife, their hand immediately gets “the black spotâ€? on the palm of their hand. Then directly afterwards, Lily Cole (looking eerily like one of the singers from the Corrs wearing a bright green dress) immediately appears like a ghost from the sea and starts to tempt them into touching her, which in turn seem to immediately kill said pirate. The first time this happened an old feckless pirate seemed to blow up on screen, all I could say is “What can I do to make you love me?… What can I do to make you care?…â€?

This episode also stars Hugh Bonneville as the captain of the under-staffed pirate ship, who I have to admit has had a rather random selection of roles throughout the last year from Downton Abbey to preparing London 2012. In this episode he’s effectively the Head of Deliverance of the Olympic Deliverance Commission – with a beard. The Doctor tries to work out why this man’s back-story (effectively why a posh noble man normally suited to ITV Dramas is going a little bit mental) and before long to add to it there is an epic emotional twist… his son from home has been hiding in the back of the ship for many weeks beforehand… but he’s ill… and he’s got the black spot on the palm of his hand. HE GONNA DIE? *cough course not cough*

What ensues is effectively a typical modern day Doctor Who that you conventionally see during the period of RTD: lots of shouting and screaming comes around, a few cliché lines and responsibilities, and it only really picks up towards the end of the episode when it there is a bit of a shock that actually relates to some of the real ‘quality’ drama that we’ve seen in episodes 1 & 2 of this new series. If you’re looking for any development within the sense of Amy’s pregnancy (apart from another screen that flashes up the words positive / negative / positive / negative again and again), The Doctor death in the future by the mysterious astronaut, his relationship with River Song or anything that helps to answer why the Universe imploded at the end of the last series, there’s nothing here for you. Although that mysterious woman with the eye-patch from the spooky house did appear again for a few seconds. Not remember? You’ll see. But in the meantime all together now…

“Do do do do do do do do do do do do do WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE YOU LOVE ME…”