Thursday, June 10, 2010

Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth

Like the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, the Sontarans, and maybe to a much subtler extent, the Ice Warriors, it’s now time for the Silurians to get their makeover in the 21st century version of "Doctor Who." Also known as Homo Reptilia or the Eocenes, and cousin to the amphibian Sea Devils, these creatures were here on Earth long before mankind and went into hibernation, and have encountered the Doctor in the past.

This new incarnation of the Silurians is more humanoid, and they have had their previous monstrous visages written off as masks. Nice touch, that, even though the new masks are still very scary. The new make-up gives the actors more opportunity to emote. They are very Sleestakian in appearance (in a good way) with long whiplash tongues. As I’ve mentioned before, Steven Moffet wants to keep us behind the sofa.

On to "The Hungry Earth," in this Chris Chibnall written episode, the year is 2020 and a drilling operation is going deeper than ever before, and people are disappearing. This is where the TARDIS lands, and almost immediately Rory splits off from the Doctor and Amy. He can handle himself, not always well, but he can. This is one of the things I like about Rory. He’s starting to remind me a bit of Harry Sullivan or Jamie McCrimmon.

The Doctor makes a frightening discovery – “While you’ve been drilling down, they’ve been drilling up.” When Amy disappears, yanked into the ground by whatever lurks below, the tension of the anti-relationship between Rory and the Doctor intensifies. The Doctor thinks he’s lost her, and it’s an anguishing moment for actor Matt Smith. He just keeps getting better and better.

This also begins to establish a pattern we’ve been seeing since the start of the Matt’s turn at the character – if the Doctor says you’ll be safe, if he says everything will be all right... you should run. Unlike David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston, Matt doesn’t seem to be able to keep his word. He fails a lot, so if he promises you something, run. Or to quote the Doctor himself, "Under the circumstances, I’d suggest... run!"

Obviously it’s the Silurians who are down under causing trouble, and planning to make war on the 'apes' above. And with Amy a prisoner down there, the good guys take a prisoner of their own – a Silurian woman with a thick Scottish accent, which tends to stretch the suspension of disbelief for me a bit. Meera Syal plays Nasreen Chaudry, a doctor at the drill site helping the Doctor. She’s a fun character, more fun than Amy in my opinion, who I wouldn’t mind see joining the TARDIS crew.

And for all those snobs who had problems with the early season five previews that showed the Matt Smith Doctor with a gun (which was not at all what it seemed to be, as shown at the end of "Time of the Angels"), the Doctor has a great line in this episode where he says, "No weapons. It’s not the way I do things."

A sidenote, there was also some terrific incidental music by Murray Gold in this episode. I can’t wait until the next soundtrack comes out. The composer has been outdoing himself this season.

Until next time... "Hey, don’t dis the sonic!"

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