Wednesday, 26 May 2010


[14.27 - French Time] Doctor Who - The Hungry Earth (Series Five, Episode Eight). The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) arrive in Cwmtaff, a small village in South Wales, instead of Rio de Janeiro as intended! They are in 2020 and the Doctor notices a big mining complex near the village.

« Not really getting the sunshine carnival vibe. »

Chris Chibnall, writer and producer on Torchwood and writer of Doctor Who series three episode 42 is back on the franchise with this two-parter directed by Torchwood veteran Ashley Way. Very strange things occur in Cwmtaff in parallel of an ambitious drilling operation led by Doctor Nasreen Chaudry (Meera Syal) and her assistant, Tony Mack (Robert Pugh): the dead are taken from their graves from below, and Tony's son-in-law and co-worker vanishes into the ground during his night shift.

Doctor Who is back in awake mode, after the embarassing Amy's choice, with this announced return of the Silurians - villains first seen in 1970. And The Hungry Earth delivers more than what we bargained for after its pre-credits sequence, half bedtime story (The Gruffalo) half a Chibnall post-industrial claustrophobic nightmare.

« Cold blood. I know who they are. »

The episode itself gives a pleasant classic Who feeling (The Green Death and Doctor Who and The Silurians) to the reinvention of the Silurians as a different branch of the species which reacts to the threat caused by the drilling project. When a Silurian female named Alaya (Neve McIntosh) sees her Predator style hunt party turns to her disadvantage, the Doctor puts George Smiley's shoes to start a Cold War negociation during a memorable interrogation scene.

Rory is a reluctant Sherlock Holmes thanks to a delightfully surreal confusion around the TARDIS's police box shape. Amy Pond lies in another sort of box (« Did you just shoosh me? ») while the Doctor plays Professor Quatermass but his self-confidence takes several blows. Matt Smith showcases his instinctive mastery of the role and its heritage, Arthur Darvill brings more deepness to Rory in each episode. And it's refreshing to have two companions instead of one.

Brilliant job by Meera Syal, Robert Pugh, and Neve McIntosh - with a superb Silurian make-up. Pure fun moments, with the Doctor hopping on the graveyard ground (very Patrick Troughton) or doing his Benton Fraser (« Oh please, have you always been this disgusting? ») (1), etc... And some very behind the sofa moments too (particularly the Silurian scientist).

Favourite lines: « Amy, the Doctor. We're not staying. Are we Doctor? » and « Don't diss the sonic! »

Next time: Indiana Jones and the Lost Silurian City.

(1) Constable Benton Fraser was the hero of Due South (1994-1999).

See also:

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