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Review: Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot (Season 6 Episode 3)

Posted By: Matt McGloin
Thu, 05/12/2011 - 11:39

picAvast, ye Drivelswigger! Have ye put down yer blasted compass and gotten to the galley to prepare my Salmagundi? I'm getting hungry! Have ye sent the Cabin Boy to bring me a drop of Bumboo to wash it down? And where's my favorite cushion, to put on top of the Hogshead so I can settle down and tell ye the tale of the not-so-good ship Fancy. whose scurvy Captain Avery and his crew came acropper of that most deadly of creatures from Davy Jones' Locker. And no, it isn’t Cheryl Cole!

You see, 'tis a strange tale, this, one that will shiver yer timbers and make yer parrot fall off its perch! So where do I start?
Picture this: A thick fog wafting across a calm ocean, waters reflecting the moon and stars above. 'Tis not a normal night for smuggling off the distant shores of Merry England. You can tell from the crew of the small boat paddling across the still waters like demons possessed, thankful for climbing aboard their vessel. The not-so-good ship Fancy used to be a fine ship, not as good as mine, I may add -- terrible wood rot and not a decent drop of Grog when I was aboard -- but that was months ago. Now it be a ship of the damned! A cursed ship for the crew are sick, a madness that makes them weak at the knees ... for they've been marked by the black spot! 
As the night drew on, something unexpected came up. And no, it wasn't my parrot Barney. Blasted bird was drunk as a Picaroon! For in the bowels of the ship, a terrible noise shattered the ethereal calm ... and no, before you ask, it wasn't my flatulence; it was a noise like a cat being scrapped across a blackboard.
Avery and his crew investigated and lo! Three freebooters wearing strange apparel: two men, one called Doctor and another called Rory and a bonny lass who from what hallowed whispers I heard had red hair and looks so beautiful and dandy made this salty seadog weak at the knees (and other regions) just by listening to her description! What's more, it turned out she had a fine hand with the cutlass! I would’ve loved to see her swash and buckle! 
Avery was suspicious of the new arrivals, figuring they were after his treasure he’d stolen from some Maharaja in deepest India. He could never fully trust any other man, even me when I hornswaggled by him at a game of Gin Rummy and got myself a bag of French Doubloons from his chest. It wasn't my fault I spiked the cards. But that was a lesson I never forget, for like the Doctor, I soon found myself walking the plank. It was a sorry occasion. Avery’s crew were a worthless lot to be sure, not even capable of a laugh unless prompted! 
However, the curse itself saved the Doctor from his watery fate. A green light erupted from the depths of the ocean, or should I say the harbor of  St Austell that bravely tried to conceal itself behind a tarpaulin of plastic sheeting? 'Twas the Siren! Green-skinned and green-eyed, her voice assailing the ears with a chorus so sweet it would tie knots up in any man’s futtock shrouds!  Billy Bones got too near and he went poof in a cone of blackest smoke!  Even one of the strangers - the thick-looking one - soon ran afoul of the dreaded curse, the black spot upon his palm, his silly features asking for his fair maiden to grow a beard! 'Tis madness, it was ... that, or he’d drank too many swigs of Rum while swinging the lead.
Those that remained retired below decks, but things got worse for Avery. His son had stowed aboard thinking he was a gentleman in the Navy, no less! And the scurvy dogs who felt he was a Captain without a cause tried to mutiny, falling to the Siren’s call! And even when a strange blue box that offered escape from this hellish night went tits up like a mermaid without a paddle and the Doctor realizes that the Siren was a mistress from an even more distant shore, things I can tell you, got grim, so grim that ...
Barney, ye blasted parrot! Ye have eaten the next three pages of my parchments! I will put your scrawny feathered form in a Hempen Halter and hang ye from the mizzen! Yet what be this? 'Tis a note, written on a paper most fine, stuffed in my monkey jacket! 'Tis words I cannot understand fully. Perhaps you can comprehend them:
At this point the story switches from historical to hysterical as plotlines begin to contradict themselves. For example The Doctor explains to Avery and his companions that the Siren emerges from reflective surfaces, the sea acting like a mirror and suggests they don’t go on deck. Yet in the next scene he and Avery are topside, stargazing! And as for the Siren, well truthfully I was hoping she was a Saturnyne Vampire fish than USS Voyager's EMH with a skirt! Although I must say I was very impressed with the medical room set straight out of Coma.
Speaking of comas: Why oh why do we have to get another Rory? Could end up in a dying scene! Wasn’t the one in Cold Blood bad enough? Some Nurse! He couldn’t even tell Amy how to do CPR correctly!  And methinks writer Steven Thompson pandered too much to Moffat’s own Girl in the Fireplace. I was expecting a flock of plastic parrots to come bursting out of the ship’s temporal portals. Instead we got a wench! 
Overall, this was a filler of a story. Not saying it was truly bad, but compared to the opening two parter I expected a drop in quality and we got exactly that. Pirate folklore was shoehorned in so much that the ship was on the verge of sinking  under the weight of so many stereotypes! It was a coup a parrot didn’t poop on someone’s shoulder or Johnny Depp dropped by.  Even so the sets were well done, it was very atmospheric. The secondary story of Avery’s son wanting to know his Father after his Mother passed away was touching. Kudos to actor Hugh Bonnerville who played a decent pirate, even if Karen Gillen outdid him when she pulled out her sword!  And also a mention to the actress/model who played the Siren who never uttered a single line and yet looked lovely under all that green makeup! 
Arc-wise, we got another glimpse of Eye Patch Woman and again we get another helping that something’s really not right with Amy. Is she pregnant?  Is she not?  Sooner Episode 7 gets here the better. But not that fast because next week we have a real treat in store as Neil Gaiman of Eternals fame takes the Tardis reigns and ...
Scrunch! 'Tis enough! It be after nine bells and I haven’t had me supper! I can’t abide some landlubber spoiling me story! So I will bid ye good night! Cabin Boy! Where’s me Bumboo? If you’ve opened the wrong barrel I’ll stick my hook up ye Jolly Roger!
Review by Captain Pugwash and some other bloke.