S06E03: If you're a fan of the classic Doctor Who I'm sure you enjoyed this week's pirate episode quite a bit. It was most definitely a throwback to the old series complete with cheesy sets and guest stars. However, if you just joined the show in the nu era you might've been a bit disappointed. Unfortunately, I fall in the nu group and while I did somewhat enjoy the episode I realized quite early that this week would be an off week.
It turns out that last week when the Doctor gave us the choice of whether we'd rather continue searching for clues to the things set up in the first two episodes or go on an adventure, they chose adventure. Specifically a pirate adventure. Now I don't have the knowledge to say that this was the first pirate adventure for the doctor but it was definitely the first in the new Who.
"Yo ho ho! Or does no one actually say that?" - The Doctor
But it was no ordinary pirate adventure, because when is anything ordinary with the doctor? The ship they land on is being plagued by a Siren although this Siren behaves in a manner a wee bit different than the Sirens of Greek mythology. Anytime a crew member draws blood a green Anna Kendrick-looking ghost lady (the pretty model Lily Cole, although I still think she’s more Anna Kendrick-looking than anything) flies up and attracts the crew. As soon as they touch her, poof, they're gone.
Then the Doctor steps in. At first the pirates don't take nicely to this silly man who talks fast but the Doctor does as the Doctor always does (he grabs a hat) and takes charge of the situation. He first thinks the Siren finds them through water but that isn't it. Then he discovers she climbs through reflections. But that still doesn't answer everything so he, the captain, and Amy all prick themselves to find out what's on the other side.
And what they discover is what makes Doctor Who a sci-fi show. We’ve got an abandoned space ship, alien skeleton, and as the Doctor so eloquently put it, space boogies. That hasn't answered everything though and when they discover all the missing crew floating in some sort of sick bay the Doctor finally figures it out. She's no Siren. She's a doctor! A simple program, nothing more. Only she doesn't know what a fully-healed human is so she keeps the men until they die. I was kind of surprised it took the Doctor so long to see she was a doctor herself but then again I don't think he thinks of himself as a doctor that often anyway.
"And the gun's back. You're big on the gun thing, aren't you? Freud would say you're compensating. Ever met Freud? No. Comfy sofa." - The Doctor
Also, seriously, Steven Moffat? Another alien that doesn’t know how to fix humans? His first episode was the great The Empty Child which used this trope to a T. He’s been reusing a lot of the things he introduced in the Russell Davies era (The Silence and the Weeping Angels are similar enough to warrant inclusion) and I really don’t want to say the man is limited in his tricks. I’d imagine he just has these ideas that he wants to get out of his head in his own way before moving on to something new and better. And true, this episode wasn’t even written by him (credit goes to Stephen Thompson) but still, my complaint stands. However, if we see something similar to a shadow that kills then we’re in trouble.
One thing about these stand-alone episodes is that they allow Rory and Amy to become the comic relief since we had the emotional ties with the captain and his son (oh yeah, the son stowed away and has typhoid fever. Boo hoo. Really sad stuff). So we get Amy acting like a pirate (police woman, pirate, role-play much my dear?) and Rory saying very incriminating things about the Siren doctor. It was all quite fun though the pretending to be a pirate and swashbuckling around went on a bit too long for me. But it couldn’t be all fun and games, these are ACTORS and they need something serious! Amy has to save Rory by means of CPR. Look, I like Rory. Do we have to try and kill him each episode?
"I know you can do this. Of course if you muck it up I am going to be really cross. And dead." - Rory
Another thing that bothered me, and this is purely due to being spoiled by bigger budgets and better effects, was the actual pirate ship and pirates. Pirates of the Caribbean has totally become my standard of what a pirate ship and pirates should look like and I know that isn't fair. But what watching this episode I couldn't not see how fake everything looked. I know that was part of the charm for classic Who, the cheesy sets, bad costumes, and hamming it up, but it just bothered me. Limiting our sight off the edge of the ship by making the time of day night gave it away quite quickly and then they took everyone down below deck to a controlled set. The shortcomings of a small budget on TV were just painfully obvious this episode. Although, I will give them credit for the storm scene. That was actually done quite well.
After the pirate ship was saved and the pirates were sent off into space in their new space ship (despite not knowing what a sensor is) Amy and the Doctor recap the two big things: she is and isn’t pregnant and he was shot dead. This we already knew. The only new thing to come about from this episode was we got another glimpse at Eye Patch Lady. She said something about how she was only dreaming and then, poof, she’s gone again. Honestly, we’re no closer to knowing who she is but that doesn’t stop random speculation! So here it goes: she’s a midwife in charge of looking after the baby. I think the kid is a Time Lord (or has Time Lord-like qualities) which means that was Amy’s child in the space suit and The Silence needed her to pilot their ship (remember in The Lodger that ship originally wanted the Doctor to pilot it). She pops in and out because they’re Time Lords like that and she’s just checking in on the baby.
But that’s just me. I could be completely wrong like that.
Anyway, on to next week! And what do we have? Only the nerd-god himself Neil Gaiman penning an episode! Hell yeah! And it’s called The Doctor’s Wife with the Doctor saying there is a Time Lord cell somewhere out there? And a Michael Sheen voice over? I shall end this recap by going all fanboy on us all: ohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohman!