Doctor Who 6.3 The Curse of the Black Spot - Arthur Darvill, Hugh Bonneville, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan
Doctor Who 6.3 The Curse of the Black Spot - Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), Avery (Hugh Bonneville), The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and the sea Siren (Lily Cole) © BBC 2011

Responding to a distress call, the Doctor lands the TARDIS aboard a 17th Century pirate ship. There he discovers that the crew are vanishing one by one, taken by a sea siren…

Doctor Who 6.3 The Curse of the Black Spot
Over-lit recording of a ship in the middle of the ocean © BBC 2011

I wonder what was behind this story. Was it that a new Pirates of the Caribbean film was due out, or did it just seem like a good idea. Well, whatever, it really wasn’t worth the bother. If it was to cash in on the film, then “bad idea” – this looked small-scale and, sadly, rather cheap. And that’s really ironic, as it was shot on a real boat, and probably was quite expensive, in BBC terms.

The lighting didn’t help one bit; the ship’s exterior was horribly over-lit. This was supposed to be in the middle of the ocean, and yet it looked like a film set. There was the same problem with Matt Smith’s very first episode as the Doctor, when Amy’s night-time garden was floodlit. I still wonder if this is a result of HD recording requirements, but it fails the drama totally.

Doctor Who 6.3 The Curse of the Black Spot
Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) to the rescue © BBC 2011

Of the plot itself, I’m not sure what I can say, as I couldn’t hear large chunks of it. Not only were the sound effects, quite reasonably, rather loud, but the music competed to be heard as well. The result was that I hadn’t a clue what was being said in all the din. The production team really need to have a big rethink on the quality of their sound mixing, for this is not the first time I have felt that the only way to understand the dialogue is to resort to subtitles.

What I did gather from the plot was not much to write home about. The idea of a holo-doctor on auto has been done many times before, not least in Star Trek, and I am surprised that that the more knowledgeable leadership of Steven Moffat wouldn’t have knocked this story idea on its head when he first heard it.

Doctor Who 6.3 The Curse of the Black Spot
The Doctor (Matt Smith) and the sea Siren (Lily Cole) © BBC 2011

The there’s Amy. Does anything faze this girl? Apart from widening her eyes now and then, she just does her “jolly hocky sticks” act and blasts into a situation. I just cannot believe that anyone from our time would start battling pirates, not knowing that they were more frightened of being scratched by her! No, either Amy is not at all what she seems to be, or she has no imagination.

As for pirates piloting a spaceship through the heavens… Well, how daft can you get? I doubt I’ll be watching this again. Oh yes, and Rory died again (more or less). Yawn…

[Rating: 1]


Jan Vincent-Rudzki

UK editor of Film Review Online