THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

Doctor Who and the Silurians
Warriors of the Deep
BBC
The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

Story No. 226 and 227 The Doctor and Alaya
Production Code 1.8 and 1.9
Dates May 22 and 29 2010

With Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill
Written by Chris Chibnall Directed by Ashley Way
Executive Producers: Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger, Beth Willis.

Synopsis: The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in a tiny mining village and find themselves plunged into a battle against a deadly danger from a bygone age.


Reviews

A Review By Harry O'Driscoll 7/7/10

When I heard that this story would feature the return of some old monsters, I knew this would be tough to get right. After their last appearance, I thought that they would be again depicted as a one-dimensional group of baddies, who were totally evil and it was the Doctor's mission to destroy them. Thankfully after watching it I blew a sigh of relief that they had pulled it of excellently.

The first episode is a bit of a waste admittedly, with everybody doing nothing and the whole thing didn't look like it blew the budget exactly. However, the second episode changes that with some great shots of the underground city which has all the atmosphere of a different world. The whole re-design wasn't great with them looking too human for my liking. However, the added advantage is that they are more individual and much more relatable and credible as characters. The story succeeds wonderfully in showing the two sides , with Eldane coming across as my favourite of the whole story. Of all the characters, he comes across as the most reasonable and the most eager for peace. The conference with him, Amy and Chaudhry is one of the episode's highlights.

The humans in this story are portrayed in an interesting light while actually not coming across definitely as the good guys. Although the aliens had kidnapped several people and Alaya was hardly pleasant, nobody had been killed at first. And then when Ambrose proclaimed "This is our planet" I can hardly blame Restac for wanting to kill her. It works to prove a point that humans are hardly all peaceful and that it was people like Ambrose and Restac who ruined the chance for peace. It's a very good morality story.

At this late stage in the season, we begin to get closer and closer to that finale. In order to avoid spoilers I won't divulge what happens but it makes a very poignant moment that feels like it'll be revisite. The final scene is a very chilling and intriguing moment that leaves you eager to find out what happens in the finale.


Rio doesn't have a big mining thing! by Evan Weston 9/10/17

I have to be honest here. This is the first Moffat-era episode that genuinely disappointed me upon rewatch. Not that it's bad, not at all - we're just in the middle of a mostly strong run, and I remembered The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood solidly continuing the trend. This is a good story, but significant flaws and, continuing a very different trend for Doctor Who, a senseless and non-applicable political statement holds this one from greatness.

It's got a lot going for it. The elephant in the room going in was the redesign of the Silurians, and that has been pulled off marvelously by the production team. The Silurians look better than almost any old Who enemy done previously (with the possible exception of the RTD Daleks), appearing perfectly natural in both their stunningly realized environment and against their human counterparts. Overall, this is one of Doctor Who's best-looking episodes, with the industrial, dull near-future Welsh countryside balanced perfectly by the wondrous Silurian underworld. The drill's presence is felt through the entire first half, and yet we never lay eyes on it. This is tremendous work once again by Moffat's behind the scenes crew, who deserve to be commended at every opportunity.

For the most part, Chibnall's script keeps up with the set design. He waits about 35 minutes before Matt Smith declares "I know who you are," and the first time I watched this, I had no clue the Silurians were returning. The build-up of The Hungry Earth is very nicely done, with Amy getting sucked down fairly early and the stakes ramping up considerably throughout. We're also introduced to the strong ensemble at a good pace, and the script allows us to become invested in each of them individually before we see them put through their paces. Quickly, though, Cold Blood loses this momentum somewhat. We know what the reaction will be when the dead Alaya is brought down, so the whole "negotiation" scene feels rather pointless. This leads the episode into wasting 20 minutes of the viewer's time, which is perhaps its biggest sin. The climax regains a good deal of the strength though, and the ending (which we'll broach in a minute) is genuinely shocking.

What is mostly a good story though is bogged down not just by its fruitless second-half padding but also by a few significant plot holes that I can't overlook. The Silurian backstory - and mind you, this isn't necessarily The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood's fault - is completely convoluted. I can accept that a race lived on Earth before humanity; that's fine. But a species this advanced surely wouldn't believe so deeply in a prophecy as to send itself underground for millennia, right? It seems boldly out of character, and nothing makes much sense down there, either. Why was Malohkeh, characterized as a pretty good dude, experimenting on humans? And why is the military obsessed with rank at one moment and totally insane the next? In addition, we have the instigating device of Elliot's capture, which is also very contrived. The Doctor just lets him wander off into the field with three minutes to go? And where's his mother?

Speaking of lovely Ambrose, she's almost written as too nasty. I included her on the list of villains for the episode, and she's very nearly the main antagonist. Nia Roberts plays her as despicable, or perhaps she's attempting to make her motivated by saving her child and failing. Regardless, she never really redeems herself, and seems more pressured by some blind jingoist ideology than love for her son. This gets into the political statement the episode is trying to make, "people probably shouldn't needlessly fight each other," which is almost as stupid as Planet of the Ood's "slavery is bad." Okay, it's not nearly that silly, but Ambrose and her Silurian counterpart - Restac, who happens to be a far more successful villain in her own way - are way too one dimensional for the message to mean anything.

Still, I can't deny Restac's appeal, and it's no small wonder that Neve McIntosh returned as Vastra the next season. She looks great in the makeup, and her Silurian (unlike Dan Starkey's Sontaran in The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky) achieves the desired effect. Good on Moffat for inviting her back. The supporting performances of Robert Pugh and Neera Syal are genuinely moving, and they're two of the better guest spots in Series 5. Syal, in particular, brings a warmth and curiosity to Nasreen, and the romance between the two feels genuine. Samuel Davies is adorable as Elliot, and Stephen Moore brings the appropriate gravitas to the Silurian leader Eldane.

Our principals also turn in a generally strong effort. Karen Gillan doesn't do much except get sucked down in the first half, but she's solid in Cold Blood, and her attempts to remember Rory are heartbreaking. Matt Smith plays off her very nicely as usual, and his more serious moments here are used to great effect. He does embrace the Doctor's role as worldbuilder in the second half though, and that doesn't feel right with the character. Arthur Darvill turns in perhaps his least memorable performance so far, but he's still just fine. Rory's sacrifice near the end of the episode is tragic, and he does very nicely in making us feel his pain. The ending itself is a bit problematic, though - Amy remembers the clerics from The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone because she's a time-traveler, but she forgets Rory nearly instantly. This is explained by a one-liner about Amy's personal connection to Rory, but it feels tacked on and it's clearly done just to set up the next stage of plotting. It's the first real piece of bad arcplot in the Moffat era, and it sets up a trend that gets significantly worse in Series 6.

I suppose we can't hold that against The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood though, which brings the troublesome Silurians back as best it can, with straight-up terrific production values and one of the more solid supporting casts in the show's history. It's still the fourth straight "good" story in a row after the series' shaky start, and it's worth a watch just to see the old monsters and have a good bit of fun. Series 5 takes a weird and interesting turn into the Moffat-ier aspects of this era from here, but this one feels like good old Davies Who two-parter: rifled with problems, but entertaining nonetheless.

GRADE: B