Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Hungry Earth"

Why must every episode of the Steven Moffat era be reminiscent of one from the Russell T. Davies era? I imagine I would have liked “The Hungry Earth” must better had it not reminded me of the far superior “The Impossible Planet” from 2006. I understand the good doctor has been around for 47 years now, so there is not a whole lot of room for originality, but could they go back a little further than four years to mine for story ideas.

No pun intended with that mining line, because the plot revolves around two married scientists and their family drilling deep into the Earth because they have discovered an area with unusual blue grass. (Blue grass? I will bet it is all Rand Paul’s fault.) Their drilling winds up disturbing the Silurians, an underground race of lizards who once ruled the Earth. The Silurians kidnap Amy and the youngest kid in the family along with the fellow they took in the teaser. The Doctor travels down below to rescue them, but discovers an army ready to invade the surface world.

The plot is…adequate. It is rather predictable because we have seen it so recently in “The Impossible Planet.” A group of scientists feel an area calling to them to drill. They do and discover an ancient menace ready to conquer everything in it path. The big difference is the cast off one off players in ’The Impossible Planet’ were multidimensional and interesting in their own right. In ’The Hungry Earth,” the cast exists to give the Doctor something to bounce exposition off. This is a talky episode, too. There are only a couple action scenes which are quick and soon lost in a torrent of techno babble dialoguer.

I am not familiar enough with British celebrity personalities to know who Meera Syal is, but there appeared to be some excitement as to her guest role. Color me under whelmed, but I was also disappointed with Catherine Tate’s first appearance, yet wound up thinking she made a fine companion once she abandoned her screeching sketch comedy personality and started acting instead. Perhaps Syal has the same problem. If a Googling Wholigan reading this cars to weigh in, it would be much appreciated. For my money, she does not strike make an interesting temporary companion.

Lord bless Karen Gillan and her wonderful legs. That miniskirt she was wearing makes up for a whole lot of shortcomings. Too bad she was kidnapped so early on. Her absence was sorely felt none of the actors really stepped forward to fill the void. The Doctor had to carry the load himself. Fortunately, Matt Smith is shaping up to be a fantastic doctor. Maybe even my favorite.

Why does he not appear terribly familiar with the Silurians? He has met them twice before. Fine make up job on them, though. I have to note that since I have complained about the cheap CGI aliens we have had to suffer through up until now. You just cannot beat a latex mask, even in these days of fancy computer imaging.

“The Hungry Earth” was not bad, just under whelming. I cannot say it was even a lot of set up for a more exciting second part, although the preview does look promising. The episode was all about meandering to get to the cliffhanger and Amy’s legs. It could have been so much more. The episode was penned by frequent Torchwood writer Chris Chibnall. Considering how many episodes of that show were subdued for budgetary reasons in its early run, that may explain, his presence may explain “The Hungry Earth”’s anorexia.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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