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15 May 2011 @ 10:39 am
Curse of the Black Spot  
I felt this episode had two large flaws which combined fairly fatally.

1. Firstly we had some very lacklustre direction. This was a swash buckler with, outside the first five minutes, very little swash or buckle. That's not entirely the director's fault since there wasn't actually a great deal of swash and buckle in the script, but what there was wasn't really capitalised on. It also looked like there were some fairly tight budgetry constraints making the story look very studio-bound (while failing to captilise on this for a claustrophic ghost story) and these may also have contributed to the lack of exciting action. However there were places where there was little excuse, for instance, the way miscellaneous pirates tended to amble slowly in the direction of the mermaid (while Amy was quite easily restraining Rory) had us shouting "someone stop him!" at the screen. Which observation leads into...

2. Plot hole city. I get laughed at when I say "but why?" too often when watching a show. For all I often pick at Who's plots it's actually normally good enough to keep me out of "but why?" mode, but almost every revelation in this story had me going "but why?" - "but why didn't she come out of glass sooner?", "but why can't the TARDIS move?", "but why must she keep people with cut fingers on life support?", "is it really a good idea to set a bunch of blood-thirsty pirates loose with a space ship?"

Sigh. Pacier direction would, I think, have covered up a lot of the plot holes and a tighter script would have made more of the claustrophic studio-bound setting. Combined, I'm afraid I thought this episode was both dull and stupid.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/42762.html.
lukadreaminglukadreaming on May 15th, 2011 09:56 am (UTC)
I was bored spitless. It should have been the sort of ep where the viewer had loads of fun just because of lots of swashbuckling action being presented to them. Instead, it fell very flat. And Amy taking on a load of pirates single-handed . . . Oh pur-leese. It all felt very thin and that one yank at a loose thread would bring the whole thing tumbling down.

It nearly put me off watching last night's. And I shall be interested to read your views on the Gaiman ep.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 15th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
I've not actually seen the Gaiman ep yet. iPlayer wasn't making it available last night. I'm all anticipating because both Facebook and LJ seem to be full of excited people.
reggietatereggietate on May 15th, 2011 10:27 am (UTC)
I think the point about Amy fighting off the pirates single-handed is that they were afraid of the slightest nick from her sword, so they didn't dare to get near enough to her to return the attack.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 15th, 2011 10:32 am (UTC)
That's certainly how I read it. I felt it was a good start, action-wise but that was pretty much the last time anyone swashed or buckled throughout.

A friend of mine actually looked up Avery after the episode and said he was a really nasty piece of work. It was also odd, in some ways, to draw on a historical figure and then vaguely white-wash him without actually making him dashing. In a better story I'd have thought they were doing something clever there, but here I'd guess it was just picking the name of a pirate who disappeared in mysterious circumstances and not thinking about it further.
lukadreaminglukadreaming on May 15th, 2011 10:32 am (UTC)
That would make sense. The problem for me, though, is that I don't care in the least for Matt Smith as the Doctor, and after some early promise, I've not warmed to Amy either. So the whole show's on borrowed time for me at the moment -- I'm more or less just watching for River Song and Rory, and to see how they resolve what they set up in the first 15 minutes of ep 1.
reggietatereggietate on May 15th, 2011 10:52 am (UTC)
I'm not mad keen on Amy (not really sure why exactly; she's okay) but I'm liking Matt Smith's Doctor more and more. I don't think I'll ever feel quite the way I did about 11 as I did 10, mainly because he's just that bit too young, but I do think he's excellent.
telperion_15: Gallifreyantelperion_15 on May 15th, 2011 10:26 am (UTC)
It felt very constrained by its locations to me, like it was just sort of stuck somehow. Like they wanted/needed to be running around a lot more (although I know some people dislike all the running!), but they couldn't because the ship was so small. And a small location shouldn't necessarily limit a story - after all, I thought 'Midnight' was very good, and that was practically all set in a tiny shuttle!

"but why must she keep people with cut fingers on life support?"

To be fair, I don't think the people with cut fingers *were* on life support, I think they were just anaesthetised - the Doctor did say the siren didn't know how to cure the humans, so presumably she didn't realise that a cut finger wasn't actually life-threatening in the same way drowning or typhoid was. I think only Toby and Rory had the breathing tubes - although, granted, it wasn't massively obvious...
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 15th, 2011 10:29 am (UTC)
I wasn't sure if they were aiming for Swashbuckler or Ghost Story here. The swashbuckler route doesn't really make sense given they obviously had very few studio resources while ghost stories often benefit from keeping it minimal, but it wasn't atmospheric enough for a ghost story.

I think it had lost most of my goodwill by the time we got to the hospital section, so I was looking to pick holes by that point.
Susanlil_shepherd on May 15th, 2011 10:43 am (UTC)
In Confidential they kept talking about 'having fun' but there was no sign of it in the episode.

The writer was responsible for the middle (second) episode of Sherlock which was also riddled with plot holes.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 15th, 2011 10:46 am (UTC)
It did feel rather joyless, which is fine if you're going down the Ghost story route, but not if you're aiming for swash buckling adventure.

I have a sneaky suspicion that Sherlock was largely carried by the strength of its first episode. I'll be interested to see what happens with the second series.
reggietatereggietate on May 15th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
It makes me wonder - if we can spot plot holes, why can't the writers? Surely the whole point of pre-production is to sort the faults out before they get to the screen. I know there are certain constraints of time and money, and that not all plots can be made watertight, but reasonably sound plotting is surely what writers are supposed to be aiming for. Particularly if it's for a show about a brilliant detective.
Susanlil_shepherd on May 15th, 2011 11:51 am (UTC)
All of Sherlock is full of plot holes, but no-one except a few pedants like me seems to care. It seems the script editors are right when they mutter, "No-one except a few nerds will notice." It's very disheartening, but they seem to be right.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 15th, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC)
I've always assumed it's because putting a show like this on is such a juggling act - budget, commitments to actors, timing, need for pace as well as plot tightness, etc., etc., - that sometimes it's the plot that gives, especially if the show-runner doesn't think tight plotting is all that necessary (not the case with Moffat, but obviously sometimes the case with RTD).