Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot

“Things can suddenly change, when you’re least expecting it.”

Doctor Who

No prizes for guessing the reference in the title.

All right, so this episode was first shown quite a while ago, but I haven’t seen any Who for ages (since the disastrous Christmas episode, actually), and this one was on iPlayer, and, well, it has pirates in…

The TARDIS responds to a distress call from a ship stranded in the middle of the ocean which is haunted/cursed by a mysterious Siren lured by the smallest drop of blood, “a green shark in an evening dress,” as the Doctor describes her.

This is the Eleventh Doctor, by the way, which means that supremely boring title music grounded by that bass beat…I don’t know why I’m so obsessed by titles at the moment. I think probably because it’s often the first thing you see of a programme, and it’s so important for the whole image of the programme. Anyway, having watched some of Ecclestone’s episodes quite recently, I am reminded just how annoying Eleven’s titles are. (Obviously, there were new ones for the Christmas episode, but I can’t remember them.)

Curse of the Black Spot is actually a relatively good episode. Relative to Eleven’s recent episodes, anyway. In other words, it actually makes some timey-wimey sort of sense and has vaguely interesting clever plans and doesn’t just rely on love, although there is a nice dose of it. The Doctor is funny – “Freud would say you were compensating,” he says to a pirate waving a gun, which is the sort of thing you don’t notice when you watch it the first time around – but he’s not much else in this episode. I certainly didn’t believe he was that angry about the fact that the captain hadn’t got rid of all the treasure, or, really, that worried about Rory.

I suppose that this is actually a fairly good piece of television, given the usual standards of what’s on at the moment. But it’s not a terribly good piece of Doctor Who, although I did enjoy all the piratical references and the good old Who tradition of taking an old bit of folklore – the Black Spot –  and making it new. And there was, of course, the Demon’s Run story arc making its way in. Ah, the good old days when Steven Moffatt trusted us with story arcs. I suppose Curse of the Black Spot will always be worth watching for that alone.

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