Monday, May 24, 2010

Doctor Who 5.08 The Hungry Earth Review

Written by Chris Chibnall, who last wrote the underrated series 3 episode 42, The Hungry Earth is the first part of a two-part story that features the return of a classic Doctor Who monster, the Silurians. I believe that the time was ripe for their return, and I wouldn't mind Steven Moffat revisiting a few other classic monsters in the next series if possible, like the Zygons, for example.

Guys, I don't think we're in Rio.

Taking place merely 10 years into the future, The Hungry Earth is a dark tale, where there are monsters under the earth and the dead is disappearing from their graves. And a man named Mo (and later Amy) is swallowed by the earth itself.

Oooh! A big mining thingie!

The episode opens with an idyllic view of a tranquil Welsh countryside in the year 2020 but things get dire quickly when a mine worker is eaten by the earth. Then, by accident, the Doctor takes his companions into the same Welsh countryside instead of Rio (happens a lot doesn't it?). While Amy complains she's under-dressed for the Welsh weather (she's still over dressed for Rio weather if you ask me – except perhaps for those short shorts - and so is Rory by the way), the Doctor's curiosity is piked when he feels that's somethings not quite right with the earth and he sees patches of blue grass that, we learn, are a signal that means keep away.

The Doctor likes to point his shiny screwdriver at things.

Of course, it doesn't take long for the Doctor to get involved in the local mystery – there's a “village” made up of, frankly, not a lot of people: a small family originally made of Mo, the father who was eaten by the earth early in the episode, Ambrose, the mother, and Elliot, her dyslexic son. There's also the grandfather Tony, one of the two people running the mine in the area. What is it this season with scarcely populated villages? First Leadworth (and Upper Leadworth) and now Cwmtaff (don't even ask me to pronounce that), South Wales.

There's something mysterious under the Earth.

The mine is run by Dr. Nasreen Chaudhry (played by Meera Seyal – who also had a role in Steven Moffat's Jekyll) and, as I said, Tony Mac (played by Robert Pugh) - the grandfather. The rest of the staff, we are told, ''travel in.'' They have successfully drilled down to 21 kilometres under the ground which in a nutshell is the cause of the troubles that follow suite.

Rory is investigating the disappearance of dead bodies. They are eaten up by the Earth.

See, the previous occupants of planet Earth, the Silurians, have been woken from their slumber by the drill and they feel - rightfully so - threaten by the humans (which are continuously called vermin and apes by the captive Silurian). And so, the Silurians have undertaken invasive actions that will in all likelihood become a full on war if the Doctor doesn't stop them.

I think something is coming up.

Interestingly, the Doctor's faithful companion, Amy, is taken out of most of the episode early on which enables us to get to see a bit more of Rory and it's definitely not a bad thing. I find myself to be quite fond of Rory Williams and I'm quite happy that we get to see more of him without Amy around. He's quite a resourceful companion and he doesn't make gooey eyes at the Doctor. In fact, he doesn't have a problem calling in the Doctor on what he does, as seen in previous episodes, and that makes it interesting. A later scene shows how efficient the two of them are when they work together.

Amy is deep in trouble.

Being the first part of another two-parter, The Hungry Earth is a slower episode than what we have been used to since the series began. There's not a lot of running (though there is an appropriately spooky chase scene in the cemetery) and the action is slow to develop. Still, there were some nice elements set up for the conclusion of the story, so it can be forgiven for taking it slow.

Our ragtag group of defenders is taking shelter in a church. Always the perfect place to rally as opposed to a pub. Right Shaun?

The Doctor telling Elliot about his culinary shortcomings.

Now, about the return of the Silurians. They don't appear until about 25 minutes into the episode but when they do, the story shifts to an all new level. From slow suspense, we then truly embark on the adventure and the ante is upped. I have to say the makeup work is absolutely gorgeous and I really liked the look of them. They have more human features, as opposed to the look they had during the older series, where they looked more like fishes than lizards. The Doctor confirms the notable difference when he says: ''I think I've met these creatures before but different branch of the species mind.''

Uh Oh! Elliot is being scanned.

The episode isn't without it's shortcomings. There are a few things that had me stop and ponder at the sheer improbability (and I'm not talking aliens, Doctor Who science or anything). I'm talking about the part where they set up a whole perimeter with cameras, videos and all kinds of electronic equipment that they had to gather in the fist place and install in less then eight minutes total. EIGHT MINUTES. Really?!?!?!

Does the Doctor have cool shades or what? But wait! They also act as infrared scanners or something like that.

But I absolutely loved the fact that Amy was in dire danger of being dissected while alive and awake. How cool and creepy was that? It literally sent chills down my spine. True incredible spooky stuff! Things were not looking good for her near the end of the episode as a masked Silurian was purposefully advancing towards her with a scary (and dissecting, I presume) instrument. But fear not, I'm almost certain that the Doctor will save her in time, though it would certainly be interesting if he did not. After all, she wont die, look at Mo!

The Doctor and Rory doing some male bonding during a successful kidnapping.

In the episode, the Doctor also acquires a new temporary companion in the Tardis in the person of Dr. Nasreen Chaudhury, who's taken for a short trip on board the Time machine. However, the Doctor doesn't have the time to activate the Tardis which finds itself being pulled literally underground. They land deeper than the 21 kilometers that was drilled, and have been brought close to the Silurian underground city. Our good Doctor discovers that there seems to be a full-fledged empire of Silurians down there.

Come and check what we caught.

I have to talk about one of the best scenes of the episode here. It was undoubtedly the Doctor's interrogation of the captive female Silurian named Alaya. The Doctor is no fool when Alaya claims to be the last of her species ''no, you're really not. Because I'm the last of my species and I know how it sits in the heart so don't insult me'' he warns her. As well, now he's antagonized. With Alaya claiming that the Silurians will wage war against his precious humans, the Doctor will do everything to fight back against them. Bad move Silurian. Very bad move.

The Doctor takes off the Silurian's mask. You're beautiful he exclaims.

Having a heart to heart.

Another scene in the episode which I found a bit strange was at the beginning, when the Doctor, Amy and Rory are being greeted from far away by a couple which the Doctor identifies through his binoculars as Rory and Amy, ten years into their personal future. I wonder if there will be any real significance in the rest of the series to that scene or if it's just there for no particular reason at all.

Nasreen Chaudhury is looking forward to a trip in the Tardis. The Doctor, not so much.

Another spine chilling moment I want to touch upon before concluding is the scene where we are being told by Alaya that one of the people left behind to watch her will kill her. We are talking Rory, Ambrose and Tony. Though some of you may think it will be Tony, who's been poisoned by Alaya (he has a dark green poison running through his veins) I believe Ambrose will do the deed. She had been suspiciously eying some sort of gun thingie earlier in the episode which I believe she's hidden on her person somewhere after the Doctor told her to get rid of all the weapons she had amassed.

Hi, my name is Mo, and I've been dissected alive. Sorry I can't help you. Stings a bit.

A nice episode, maybe not one of the best but it does set up the rest of the story nicely. The acting was good (great as always on Matt Smith's part), the effects just fine. Granted there were less funny quips but this episode was not meant to be funny. Next week looks pretty damn cool in my opinion and I can't wait to see how it will be resolved.

Nasreen and the Doctor are 20 leagues under the sea, errrr, Earth, and they don't like what they see. Can I add another Uh Oh here?

The Doctor and Nasreen enjoying a vista view of the Silurian city.

Next Week: Cold Blood brings us the Silurian Empire, the Doctor is reunited with Amy, Mo and Elliot. And our favourite Time Lord will be in dire peril!

My grade for this episode: 7.6/10

Some Favourite Quotes:

The Doctor: Ten years into your future, come to relive past glories I'd imagine. Humans. You're so nostalgic.

The Doctor: Oh look, big mining thing. Oh I love a big mining thins. See, way better than Rio. Rio doesn't have a big mining thing.

Amy: That is breaking and entering!
The Doctor: What did I break? Sonicking and entering. Totally different.

Amy: Oh please, have you always been this disgusting?
The Doctor: No. That's recent.

Amy: What's pulling me? What is under the Earth, I don't wanna suffocate under there.

Tony: You're not making any sense man!
The Doctor: Excuse me I'm making perfect sense! You're not keeping up.

The Doctor: Shhh Shhh Shhh have I gone mad? I've gone mad.
Nasreen: Doctor...
The Doctor: Shhh shhh silence, absolute silence.

Elliot: I can't do the words, I'm dyslexic.
The Doctor: Well that's all right, I can't do a decent meringue.

Elliot: Have you met monsters before?
The Doctor: Yeah.
Elliot: You scared of them?
The Doctor: No, they're scared of me.

The Doctor: Anytime you wanna help.
Rory: Can't you sonic it?
The Doctor: It doesn't do wood.
Rory: That is rubbish.
The Doctor: Hey! Don't diss the sonic!

Rory: We got it!
The Doctor: Saving the planet with meals on wheels.

Amy: My name is Amy Pond and you better get me the hell outta here or so help me I'm gonna kick your backside . . . please?

The Doctor: You are beautiful! Remnant of a bygone age of planet Earth.

The Doctor: Oh I do hate a monologue. Give us a bit back.

Ayala: I'm the last of my species.
The Doctor: No. You're really not. Because I'm the last of my species and I know how it sits in the heart so don't insult me.

The Doctor: Do we have to say vermin? They're really very nice.

The Doctor: You decent, brilliant people. Nobody dies today, understand?


  1. a) Amy is indeed over-dressed for Rio (DW people love Brazil, BTW);
    b) The Doctor motto should be: "I think there's smtg funny going on; let's poke it with a stick.";
    3) I really like Rory, even better than Amy;
    4) The Doctor seems to haven't got the grasp of the TARDIS so far since he's always late or in the wrong place;
    5) The way the Doctor asks "nicely" Ambrose to put away the guns was sinister;
    6) Future Amy and Roy waving at the entourage felt a little far fetched, I mean, that came out of the blue just like the Doctor's slingshot;
    7) BTW, there's a lot of "mining thingies" in Rio, but not for tourists to see.

  2. I love what you just added here! Nice :) But remember, as for the slingshot, the Doctor's pockets are bigger on the inside, just like the Tardis.

  3. The part with the future!Rory and future!Amy bothered me a bit. Because, before, back in series 1 I believe, it was a big deal if you ran into yourself in any way. He didn't even mention the word "paradox". I mean, isn't that kind of a flux? Their futures can't be SO solid and decided that they can just run into themselves at any wrong turn like whatever, right?
    And that was a spoiler: NO ONE DIES. At least, not in ten years.
    I don't think I liked this episode much. IT was nice to see more of Rory, though.

  4. I hope hte Doctor's undies are bigger on the inside too... 0.o

  5. I do like Rory a lot @A.Lee. I like him even more than Amy. I hope he'll be back next series.