I’m worried that I’m getting the seven-year itch, but I don’t honestly know if I can say to Doctor Who “It’s not you, it’s me…” I was totally cream-crackered when I watched The Power of Three on Saturday night and it didn’t do anything for me at all. Having finally rewatched it tonight I’m relieved to find that I actually quite like it – but that’s it. I don’t love it. The basic plot’s not bad, though the whole tally of the Shakri thing was a little weak (no weaker than the Tardis towing Earth halfway across the universe I guess). Jemma Redgrave used the phrase “Ravens of Death”. Matt Smith is fabulous – I can not take my eyes off him when he’s on screen. Mark Williams is great and should have been introduced ages ago. So why am I left slightly dissatisfied? There’s lots to like, and I want to like it. Answers on a postcard (or feel free to recommend a counsellor).
Spoilers below the line…
I’ll be honest with you, I was a little worried that Dinosaurs on a Spaceship would be a letdown. There was so much that could go wrong – the dinosaurs being giving only enough screen time or plot weight to justify the child-baiting episode title for a start. I should have known better of course. The second episode of the new series has made me very happy indeed.
It had its dud moments, (Queen Nefertiti like a cat on heat with the Doctor for one) but they were fleeting. Instead we got an explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs, the chance to meet Rory’s Dad (the brilliant Mark ‘we wanna be together’ Williams (or, yes Arthur Weasley if you’re too young to remember that building society ad)), the first stirrings of sadness as our time with the Ponds shortens (a quarter of that time elapsed while you were watching this episode – assuming Steven Moffat hasn’t lied about the timing of their leaving), a chance to slam those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing and remind them not to judge everyone by their own greedy, shallow standards (here ends the Save-the-NHS-from-privatisation speech) and Rupert Graves looking damnably hot.
Here be spoilers…
So – we’re back. We have human hostages and a Silurian hostage held below and above ground respectively, Amy was about to be sliced open by a nasty-looking laser-scalpel, and the Doctor and Nasreen (I do love Meera Syal – there is probably no programme on TV that couldn’t be improved by adding her) are wandering through the beautifully lit, subterranean Silurian city.
I rather like that the writers deal with the inevitable dip in tension that comes with a two-parter by setting Amy and Mo free as quickly as possible and treating us to an introduction that channels Babylon 5 and Doomsday (the finale to DW (2.13)).
Chris Chibnall then works rather hard to get everybody in one – rather claustrophobic – place. I have to say the Silurians gassing the Doctor reminded me of Mr Hat rendering the upstairs of our house uninhabitable every morning with his deodorant. It was a bit distracting as a result.
Actually, this episode really wasn’t about the Doctor – he was there interfering and facilitating at the crucial moments – but it was about the humans and Silurians – the best and worst of both. And who would have predicted a few weeks ago that Rory would so clearly be among the best? If the episode belonged to anyone it was to Rory – really stepping up to the responsibilities of time travel with the Doctor and ultimately sacrificing himself to save our favourite Time Lord.
Sacrifice was, of course, another massive theme running through Cold Blood. Alaya’s sacrifice of her own life (for the worst reasons), Tony’s decision to remain underground, Nasreen opting to stay with him, Eldane choosing to put his people back into hibernation… I wonder what exactly the Doctor will have to sacrifice before the series ends?
Anyway, back at plot central, the Doctor’s plans to get humans and Silurians negotiating to share the planet are undone by Ambrose – being so much less than the best of humanity – and killing Alaya. Luckily, the Silurian elder (Eldane) is not as bloodthirsty as Restac the military commander (The Doctor: “Oh dear, really, there’s always a military isn’t there?”) and hatches a plan to get (almost) all the humans back to the surface without loss of Silurian life. I’m curious to know if the Doctor will be back in a millennium to oversee the planetary sharing agreement that’s going to be needed. It’ll make Stormont look a weekly shopping list I bet.