Pirates! How come Doctor Who hasn’t done pirates before? (Forgive me if William Hartnell buckled a swash, but despite watching Tom Baker and Peter Davison, I really am more of a modern Who girl than a Classic Canon one).
Steve Thompson has given us Pirates of the Caribbean meets House via Greek mythology (with allusions to Coma and Star Trek Voyager to boot). It must be horrible to be given the episode between a Moffat two-parter and a Neil Gaiman story (especially one called The Doctor’s Wife), but I think Mr T can give himself a pat on the back.
From the atmospheric opening on a becalmed pirate ship (complete with introduction to the idea of a deadly Siren and a black spot that marks you as a wanted man) onwards Thompson repeatedly pulls the rug from under you – though more gently than his evil overlord Steven “Doctor Who fans are my playthings mwahahahah” Moffat. As the Doctor is forced to keep saying: “I was wrong. Please ignore all my theories up to this point..”
The reason he’s theorising is because pirate captain Hugh Bonneville’s ship is not just becalmed, but ‘cursed’. The slightest injury to a crew member will see them marked by the black spot and then lured by a glowing green singing ‘mermaid’ (Lily Cole – already quite alien looking in a pretty way) who atomises them.
I’m not sure anyone takes any notice of those signs hospitals and GP surgeries put up telling us not to use mobile phones because they ‘interfere with sensitive medical equipment’. It’s a huge fib to cover up the fact that the noise is irksome for staff. And the freeing up of this convention has impacted on medical dramas. In Holby, for example, a patient was recently seen to be blogging about the lack of bedside manners (and nurse fondling activities) of the new heart surgeon. And now, in the second of the new series of Nurse Jackie, one of the doctors regularly tweets what’s going on around him. Or more specifically, since it’s Dr Cooper, what a total ‘biatch’ Jackie is. Cooper is gunning for her, and has also put in a complaint to Gloria Akilitus about Jackie undermining his ‘authority’. This, of course, is entirely accurate. But then he is, in her words, ‘a twitter tweetering dickhead’ who can’t be trusted to concentrate on his work when he’s got his iPhone to play with.
But things are never black and white in Nurse Jackie. In this episode, she wrongly sends a family home without Cooper’s say so, whose son, it transpires, has cystic fibrosis. In most series when you have a maverick (House, for example) the flawed central character is usually brilliant at their job despite personal failings. Jackie is also brilliant at her job in the main, but she makes mistakes. Which is not entirely surprising given how many painkillers she’s snorting (yes, I know House does that too). Continue reading
I enjoyed this modern update on the character that proved as resistant to being killed off as Rasputin, dogging creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the point of believing in *fairies just to get away from him. I’m not familiar with the actor playing Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, (not Holmes, please note) in this new Steven Moffat series. But, by George, he’s rather splendid in it, as well as sporting a fine moniker.
Martin Freeman does an excellent job in the sidekick role of Dr Watson, AKA John, here an Afghan army war vet (with a stick, a la Hugh Laurie in House). Despite the modernisation of the story, there are nonetheless quite a few insider gags for Doyle fans to enjoy, including:
- Holmes’ use of multiple nicotine patches instead of pipes during tricky cases
- Rupert Graves as Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade making reference to Holmes’ cocaine habit
- a running gag about whether or not ‘Sherlock’ and ‘John’ are actually a couple
Rather surreally, we have Una Stubbs playing housekeeper, Mrs Hudson. Also, one of my all time favourite actors, Phil Davis, makes a welcome appearance as a bitter cabbie offering a ‘Russian roulette’ choice of bitter pills to people at gunpoint, resulting in the serial ‘suicides’ which make up the case.
Is it all a bit too knowing and clever-clever for its own good? I don’t think so. I liked the way London was used as a location, in a slightly Monopoly-esque way. I thought it was well acted and wittily scripted. I think this may be a winner, and I’ll be tuning in again.
* I confess I may be taking biographical liberties here
Posted by Inkface
I’ve got a secret thing for Martin Clunes, but only when he’s playing the grumpy medic in Doc Martin (back for series 3 on ITV1). It’s like that nice Hugh Laurie in House all over.
Can’t quite understand what makes a grumpy, misanthropic yet genius doctor so appealing. Must be the genius part. I actually also used to quite fancy Connie in Holby, and she was arrogant too.
It’s a bit Mills and Boon too. Getting the attention of someone committed to their job takes some doing, so you get a huge sense of achievement. But it won’t last. In Mills and Boon, you never see the nightmare aftermath of trying to share the chores with a self-absorbed, brooding type. Do they ever notice the loo roll needs changing? Do they hell. And Martin Clunes isn’t even particularly good looking, well not in a Mills and Boon sense anyway. Not with those ears. But he’s smart, dry, funny and always right, in a medical sense.
At the end of the first episode, Louisa, his ultra-nice primary school teacher ex-fiancee returned very much up-the-duff. Good luck with that love. I wouldn’t bank on him changing any nappies soon.
Posted by Inkface