Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Doctor Who - Cold Blood (Series Five, Episode Nine). The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Nasreen (Meera Syal) are in the Silurian city to exchange Alaya (Neve McIntosh) for the human captives, while Amy (Karen Gillan) is the subject of an unsolicited interest in a Silurian lab.


« Perhaps today IS a good day to die. » (Lt. Commander Worf)

The second half of the two-parter written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Ashley Way has an epic feel which compensates some inconsistencies in this subterranean tragedy. The epic is inspired by the Silurian city, with a little help of the creative use of Swansea's Plantasia Botanic Gardens, Cardiff's Temple of Peace and of a few smart light tricks. Should the production pull an Upper Ledworth for the James Corden pre-Grand finale it would not be a surprise after such splendors.

The stunningly beautiful place is a glorious stage taken by the performance of Neve McIntosh who also plays now Alaya's sister, military commander Restac, a true Shakespearean Star Trek villain. McIntosh is given the opportunity to shine twice, when Alaya loses deliberately a Weakest Link round against Ambrose (Nia Roberts), and when Restac appears to Rory (Arthur Darvill), Ambrose and Tony (Robert Pugh) on the computer screen.

The siblings get the best script material compared to scientist Malohkeh (Richard Hope) and Silurian leader Eldane (Stephen Moore). Malohkeh's switch from vivisectionist threat to ally of the Doctor is not fully convincing. Nor is Eldane, who hardly goes past his plot device status after he stops the execution of the Doctor and his Human friends. And the leader's useless voiceover brings nothing more than a nerve racking relapse from The End of Time.

At his best Matt Smith reminds of Peter Davison but the Doctor often acts like a Nobel Peace Price candidate with an annoying pro-Silurian bia. We know from the start that the Loose Women (or The View) sequence passing as a conference will not bring an era of peace and cooperation between the two races: the Silurians have a whole bunch of terracotta warriors hibernating.

We also know from the beginning of The Hungry Earth that Rory wears a D.O.A. tag on his head, which is too bad as he's one of the most interesting companions in years and deserved better than a panto South Park demise. But Darvill nails it with his « I don't understand. We were on the hill », and the idea that there are fates worse than death (see The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone) makes Amy's grief twice more touching.

Overall an enjoyable episode despite the script flaws and the fact that 45 minutes are not enough to fulfill all the ambitions of the story. Perhaps Doctor Who should consider a return to the serial formula and drop the contrived high concept story arcs. Anyway we should be grateful that the Eurovision song contest didn't interrupt the course of the series. Is the shrapnel found by the Doctor in the crack the result of another Graham Norton attempt?

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