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New Who 5.8: The Hungry Earth

Well, so far this seems to be set up to play out along very similar lines to Three's The Silurians. It's foregrounding all the same issues around who is an 'alien' and who is indigenous; who has the greater claim over the Earth; and whether the behaviour of the humans is actually going to drive the Silurians into hostility. Fantastic, because the ethical dilemmas at the heart of the original story really are its strength. And it's great to see how well aware of its heritage the script is, even addressing the classic question of whether these beings should really be called Silurians or, as the Doctor says, Eocenes or simply Homo Reptilia. The costume department clearly know their heritage, too, and have carefully worked a Sea Devil-style string vest into the Silurian warrior's costume.

Meanwhile, Amy and Rory's relationship issues are still being worked through. We get a guarantee that they will still be together in 2020, and though the Blinovitch Limitation Effect isn't mentioned directly (any more than in Father's Day), there's enough there for a Classic fan to know darned well that that's why the Doctor won't let them go and meet their future selves. Interesting, though, that Rory doesn't actually want Amy to wear their engagement ring - so maybe he is now also complicit in her desire to temporarily postpone their wedding day while they run around with the Doctor? That's kind of cool for him if so - it means he doesn't need to worry any more, as he knows he will be able to have a settled life with Amy in the end. And meanwhile, he can share in the fun that she is having before that happens.

The handling of under-privileged social groups seems good so far. Meera Syal as Nasreen Chaudhry is fantastic so far. She's entirely ready to listen to the Doctor when he tells her to stop the drilling in order to save Amy, absolutely fascinated by what the TARDIS can do, and I note from Wikipedia too that her character is a doctor (though I hadn't caught that in the script), making her the second Asian female with a doctorate so far this season. Then we have Elliot, the precocious Welsh kid who listens to Sherlock Holmes audio-books because he has dyslexia. No problem, says the Doctor - he's rubbish at making meringues, if it comes to that. The emphasis is all on the positive things which Elliot can do - working out that monsters are taking people from below, and drawing a really brilliant map of the village. Great work.

Rory spends much of this episode getting to be the main companion, since Amy has been captured, and he handles it pretty well - expressing his anger about what has happened to Amy, but also asking the right questions, helping the Doctor to capture a Silurian and helping to ensure that Tony and Ambrose abide by the Doctor's instructions not to harm the Silurian hostage while he and Nasreen are away. For now, anyway - I don't think there's any doubt that Tony will be driven mad by the injury he's already sustained, and will push the Silurians into hostility by attacking the hostage next week. That said, when Amy discovers that they have already 'dissected' the captive Mo and are about to do the same to her, it means that the Silurians have already started doing to their human hostages the same things that Tony was thinking of doing to the Silurian hostage on the surface. The Eleventh Doctor's attempts to negotiate are clearly going to be just as successful as the Third's. Will Matt Smith carry off the Doctor's disappointment in humanity as well as Jon Pertwee did? I think he will.

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Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
ms_siobhan
May. 22nd, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
I've just commented on your previous entry - now it makes sense why they reminded me of the monsters of the 70's...
my_mundane_life
May. 22nd, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
I'm still thinking it might be Ambrose (bizarre name - is it a usual Welsh name I wonder?) as she had collected tools earlier to attack whatever it was and seemed like she might go back later for them if necessary. Maybe Tony's injury is meant to make us think it's gonna be him but it won't be. Of course I am nowhere near as well up on Who as you are so I'm probably wrong ;)
strange_complex
May. 22nd, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, could be, as she has also had her son taken, so might be trying to exact vengeance for that. (And it is a weird name for a woman, you're right). Maybe Tony will turn into a Silurian instead, and start attacking the others?
maviscruet
May. 22nd, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
All three of them have a reason to attack the prisoner..

Poisoned
Desperate to recover son
Desperate to recover Amy

I suspect Roy is safe because he's an acutal companion
huskyteer
May. 23rd, 2010 08:06 am (UTC)
When did Tony sustain the injury that turned his veins green (very Green Death)? I must have missed that bit, so it was something of a 'huh?' when it was revealed.
mister_jack
May. 23rd, 2010 08:40 am (UTC)
Why he pushed the Silurian off Ambrose it lashed him with what appeared to be a long, Resident Evil-esque, tongue.
huskyteer
May. 24th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
Ah! Thanks!
strange_complex
May. 23rd, 2010 09:04 am (UTC)
Yup, there were definitely quite hefty touches of The Green Death in there, weren't there? And The Daemons with nasty things running around in a churchyard, too.
huskyteer
May. 24th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
And Inferno with drilling below the earth's crust!
strange_complex
May. 24th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Oh - doh! Yes, of course! Can't believe I forgot about that one.
mister_jack
May. 23rd, 2010 08:42 am (UTC)
I'm really loving the new series, it's so much better than the last couple. I never really liked Tenant as doctor, although he was a brilliant actor, whereas I think Matt Smith is portraying him brilliantly. One thing I particularly liked was when he casually let the boy run off to get headphones while he was caught up in his own brilliance.
strange_complex
May. 23rd, 2010 09:02 am (UTC)
I still really like Tennant's Doctor too, but I do agree that Matt Smith's is fantastic in a different way. It feels like a very subtle performance, with a lot of layers to it - some of which we've seen, others of which we've yet to explore properly.
weepingcross
May. 24th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Is Matt Smith modelling his Doctor on a young Patrick Moore, do you think? Just my fancy.
strange_complex
May. 24th, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
Hmm - I can't see it myself. But then again, I find it next to impossible to imagine a young Patrick Moore, so that (rather than the validity of the theory) may be the problem...
hollyione
May. 24th, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC)
Ace!
Ah Pen... you were right in thinking I'd enjoy this one much more than Amy's choice. I might have been slightly swayed by the fact that I watched it in the company of a most excellent Cat (which periodically adopts me for the night by coming in through the back door. A massive tabby, like a scottish wildcat).

Firstly, it's a two parter! Hooray, we get characterisation and a plot that can be explored which was my main beef with Amy's Choice. Secondly, such lovely stuff for nostalgia lovers. Obviously the Silurians (and a similar dilemma to Jon Pertwees) but it mixes in Inferno (the drill), the green death (they are, um, Welsh) and the Vervoids (man turning into something else) along with some nice dialogue and some true maternal feelings (Ambrose).

I'm really looking forward to next week's version - and FWIW I think Meera Syal would make a brilliant companion. I always like her stuff.
hollyione
May. 24th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Ace!
Forgot to add the slight current affairs aspect, Jon Pertwee's era was characterised by the recession and budget cuts (which is why most of his stories were set on Earth). Now we're in another recession. Nice touch (if depressing).
strange_complex
May. 25th, 2010 08:04 am (UTC)
Re: Ace!
Yes - interesting that you should mention this, as one difference so far is that the Doctor Who stories of the past couple of years have made very little reference to the current economic situation, whereas the Pertwee ones were addressing it directly all the time. It may be that part of the reason is how long it takes to develop and shoot scripts these days - they are currently writing the ones for the next season, which won't be broadcast until spring 2011. So I guess that limits how much use you can make of current affairs, really.
hollyione
May. 25th, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Ace!
Yes, good point. I think maybe the makers of Pertwee episodes were a bit cheesed off their budget got cut, too and gave out some (not so) hidden messages!
strange_complex
May. 25th, 2010 08:01 am (UTC)
Re: Ace!
Hehe - I thought you'd like it! And damn straight about Meera Syal. Actually, I am starting to worry that she might make Amy look distinctly lacking by comparison, which would end up being a bit depressing, as I'm pretty sure she isn't set to become a regular character. Still, will be fun to see what she gets up to next week.

Edited at 2010-05-25 08:01 am (UTC)
swisstone
May. 31st, 2010 10:29 am (UTC)
making her the second Asian female with a doctorate so far this season

Yes, but do they all have to be ex-cast members of Goodness Gracious Me?
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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