Doctor Who: Season 6, Episode 3

The Curse of the Black Spot (7 May 2011)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
6.8
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Reviews: 8 user | 6 critic

On board a 17th century pirate ship sailing the ocean waves, a crew under the command of one Captain Avery are being picked off one by one by a ghostly apparition. They believe it to be a ... See full summary »

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Cast

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Oscar Lloyd ...
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Michael Begley ...
Mulligan
Tony Lucken ...
De Florres
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Dancer
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McGrath
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The Siren
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Storyline

On board a 17th century pirate ship sailing the ocean waves, a crew under the command of one Captain Avery are being picked off one by one by a ghostly apparition. They believe it to be a legendary Siren, a beautiful and mesmerizing demon who lures men to their death with its haunting Siren song. She marks her prey before retrieving them with a black spot on their hand, a mark that means certain death. As they are becalmed and stuck in the ocean, all seems lost for the dwindling pirate crew... until three stowaways are discovered with a mysterious blue crate. Written by Anonymous

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7 May 2011 (UK)  »

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Trivia

The exterior of the pirate ship was filmed at a dock in Cornwall, while the lower decks were built from a set at the studio. The principal challenge to film at the dock was to ensure the audience would not see it. The crew set up smoke machines to simulate fog. To create the storm the crew used wind and rain machines, the latter of which went through 15,000 litres of water. See more »

Goofs

Sailors and ship builders in this period went to great lengths to prevent fires in the powder magazines. The magazine room themselves were often built with a separate lamp room that shone light into the magazine via internal windows so that no flames of any kind would be required in the magazine itself. To have an open flame inside the magazine would be unlikely and extremely dangerous. See more »

Quotes

Avery: To the rigging, you dogs! Let go the sails. Avast ye! Put the bunt into the slack of the clews!
Amy Pond: [pulling on the sheets with Rory] I swear he's making half this stuff up.
Rory: Well, we're going to need some kind of phrase book.
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Spoofs Coma (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Doctor Who Theme
(uncredited)
Written by Ron Grainer
Arranged by Murray Gold
Performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales
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User Reviews

 
Off to Neverland
7 May 2011 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

At the end of the previous episode, the Doctor suggested an adventure for a break. So naturally, we find ourselves dealing with pirates.

Doctor Who was originally conceived and for many years was produced as a show for children. As a result it has picked up a lot of storytelling techniques that are not considered adult: its basic serial form; its reliance on plot driving character as often as character drives plot; an attitude that the creators can occasionally slide one past the audience and be accepted if the jokes are funny enough; and, most importantly, a work crew that does this show because they grew up loving it and do it as much for themselves as the audience.

Doctor Who, in short, has become fan fiction, full of glosses and details that arise because some child or adolescent has focused on it to the exclusion of things that most people consider important; and when parents or teachers ask "Don't you have something better to do?" loudly reply "No." They're the sort of people who write sequels to loved books or focus on obscure characters or impose their own manias on the series; and like that other hotbed of fan fiction, Star Trek, if Bill Shatner tells them to get a life, they will blink and answer "This is my life." Leading this band of madmen currently is producer Steven Moffat. He loves children literature and the remnants of 19th Century literature that has evolved into modern children's fiction. He translates Victorian literature into the 21st century in JEKYLL and SHERLOCK. He has written the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's TINTIN, due out next year, and which I am eagerly await. He fills the episodes he writes personally with jokes and gags and silliness and terror and that's what he demands of his fellow writers and directors, and if occasionally logic seems to go out the window, the audience is too dizzy to notice.

That, in large part, is what this episode is about: pirates and children stowing away, straight out of TREASURE ISLAND and mermaids and the Doctor and his companions turning up for a lark, straight out of James Barrie's Peter Pan. That's the symbolic thrust of yet another Steven's script: Steven Thompson, who has already written a script for Moffat's other TV series, SHERLOCK. His thrust, though, is not the pure adventure and childish wish-fulfillment of Barrie. Instead, he focuses on the adults, on the father who has grown up to be a pirate, seeking gold and adventure, and giving up the treasure that is his wife, now dead, and his son. It's a melancholy subtext, and it can zip right past the viewer. Quite right, for the purpose of symbolic fiction is to suggest those issues which we cannot bear to speak aloud.

Look in the mirror of symbolism and you see another world that looks disturbingly like ours. Accept it and you can shave in it, but it's not really you. And if you're not paying attention, you can cut yourself badly.

Thompson's script is a bit too complicated to fit into a single episode of Doctor Who and as a result it lacks the time for the jokes and pratfalls that amuse me. It also does not significantly -- or, perhaps the word I want is 'obviously' -- advance the complicated plot arc that that Steven Moffat the writer used the first two episodes to set up. However, Moffat the producer knows that a break is a good idea, both to give us a rest and to make us, childlike, anxious to get on with it. What better break than an adventure with pirates that winds up with them sailing towards the first star on the right?


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