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29 May 2015 @ 07:45 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood  
I have already reviewed this pair of episodes twice, at some length which doesn't leave me a great deal more to say. I picked up on the "genderfail" first time around, but not the second. It was more noticeable again, this time, but only because I spent a lot of the story feeling restless by how stupid the characters, in particular Ambrose and Restac, were being.

So, to recap, in this story a (largely unexplained) drill in a remote Welsh valley reawakens a Silurian city. Interpreting this as an attack, the Silurians kidnap two residents of the valley and Amy. In response, the Doctor takes the Silurian, Alaya, as a hostage. The rest of the story focuses on the unravelling of the stand-off so created.

The only really new thing that struck me was that the characterisation of the Silurian doctor/scientist, Malhohkeh, is very slaved to the plot. In the first hour, or so where he is needed to create suspense, he is presented a scientist who will dissect you while conscious - while in the last third, where he is needed to represent the more peaceful side of the Silurians, he becomes a cuddly elder type anxious about the well-being of human children.

But the more I've viewed this the more I'm convinced that it is trying to reproduce the highlights of 1970s Dr Who and, in particular, the presentation of the Silurian/Human conflict as a tragedy of two races unable to reach an understanding of each other without having the finesse to give both (or even either) side a reasonable point of view. In an, I suspect misguided, attempt to introduce a theme of family into the story it has both Restac and Ambrose behave in frankly nonsensical ways in order to generate an artificial conflict. Interestingly, while I was struck once again by the fact that Ambrose never intended to kill Alaya, NLSS Child was loudly and vociferously critical of her behaviour.

If this story had succeeded in its aims, a nuanced portrayal of a stand-off between two cultures with a variety of believable characters on both sides, it would probably have been a classic of NuWho. As it stands, its failure to give its characters, particularly its chosen "hot heads" believable motivation leaves it really as being yet another of NuWho's big dumb two parters which is a shame.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/158785.html.
a_cubeda_cubed on May 30th, 2015 12:41 am (UTC)
This is among my least favourite episodes of NuWho. I find the "stupid characters doing stupid things for the sake of the plot" to be just about intolerable.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 30th, 2015 04:47 pm (UTC)
It's very strange to watch in some ways. You can see what the story beats are supposed to mean, it's just that in context they don't mean anything of the sort.