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wshaffer
Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth and Dark Shadows 
23rd-May-2010 10:07 am
fan

I think I rather liked this episode, though I'm largely reserving judgement until we see how it all concludes. This story has a touch of the "plotting by sudden spasms of idiocy" that Chibnall sometimes brought to Torchwood: Why does the Doctor allow Elliot to go out alone to retrieve his headphones in the middle of the Silurian attack? Why do our heroes pretty much ignore the fact that Tony has been stung by a Silurian - even Rory, the nurse, who has previously shown an admirable tendency to run straight toward anyone injured to see if he can help? Why does Tony conceal the fact that the sting is affecting him? Because it makes the plot go 'round, I guess.

Still, we've got our heroes trapped in a church in a remote mining village while evil things lurk outside. This is prototypical Doctor Who.

I am curious about whether Chibnall will be able to resolve this story in any other way than a huge explosion, followed by the Doctor sadly shaking his head and delivering a bitter/reflective line about how there should have been another way. I mean, it'll be fine if this story just turns out to be "Doctor Who and the Silurians" for the new generation of viewers, but Chibnall could decide to follow the future continuity established by some of the Doctor Who novels, and actually have the Silurians and the humans make peace.

I do have to be a grumpy fan and be disappointed about the new Silurian designs. They look gorgeous - except for their obviously very human eyes, noses, and mouths. I can completely understand the reasons why they went for this - visible facial features allow much more scope for an actor to get across a performance, and extensive facial prosthetics are cumbersome, expensive, and often don't work properly. Still, I wish they'd gone for something a bit more alien looking - I can't quite get my head around Silurians with human-looking teeth.

The idea that the Silurian warriors wear a much more lizardy-looking mask is actually kind of nice - and a nice joke on the fact that the old Silurians were rather obviously guys in rubber masks - but I wish they'd made the mask look more like the old Silurians - it would have made the joke work better.


After that, I discovered that Netflix has a whole bunch of Dark Shadows available on instant streaming, so Daniel and I watched a few episodes. It's surprisingly effective gothic soap opera, and with the serial format and such short episodes (21 minutes each), it's got a very "bet ya can't watch just one" quality. Not sure if I'm hooked, but I'm definitely intrigued.
Comments 
24th-May-2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Which Dark Shadows is that? I tried to watch an ep of what I think was the remake, from the 1990s?, and was underwhelmed. But the original might be more engaging.
24th-May-2010 01:40 am (UTC)
This was the original. (If you want to look for it on Netflix, it's Dark Shadows: Collection 1, which, oddly, starts about 200 episodes into the show's run, which is where the character of Barnabas Collins was introduced, and the show's ratings really took off.) It's very much an artifact of its time and conditions of production: quickly written, hastily shot, with acting of variable quality and a miniscule budget. But it's also spinning this huge free-wheeling story, where every character's got a dark secret or a lurking fear that haunts them. Worth a look.
24th-May-2010 07:11 am (UTC)
I'll check that out, then.
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