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Published on May 30th, 2010 | by Paul Cavanagh

Cold Blood

Leslie Ash - not in Doctor Who: Cold BloodPhew! What a relief! I was getting myself into a right state there for a while. Not because it looked like the Silurians were about to start a deadly war on us apes. No, my serious case of the jitters came about because, unlike most people I know, I really didn’t like The Hungry Earth, and I was concerned that Cold Blood would leave me, erm, cold. Thankfully though, bar a few reservations (which I’ll save for later) it turned out to be a bit of a corker.

For starters, the Silurians (I know, I know, we can have a big debate about what to call them – but I’m way too lazy to keep on typing Homo Reptilia) are back on form. Despite the absence of a third eye, silly voices, and Leslie Ash style trout pout, these are clearly the same reptiles created by the late, great Malcolm Hulke. This story has the exceedingly beautiful lizards sneering at us humans, boasting of their technological superiority, and almost immediately forming factions comprising of ‘kill the apes!’ and ‘learn to live with the apes!’ supporters.

This is all classic stuff, and a suitably respectful nod to Hulke. Crucially, too, we are forced to ask who the real monsters of the piece are – just as the Doctor raged against the Brigadier and UNIT for bombing the Silurian base back in those halcyon days of capes, Bessie and Liz Shaw, so now we have the Doctor shouting “What did you do?” at the blundering ape that is Ambrose. Just where did she find that Tazer anyway? In a mining village populated by one small family? Maybe it was used to stun the Police and ‘scabs’ during the miners’ strike? The point, of course, is for us to question the Doctor’s faith in us. His exhortation to Nasreen and Amy to “be extraordinary” was well made, as it is the all too ordinary behaviour of a threatened human that prevents any real chance of compromise between the two races.

Leslie Ash - not in Doctor Who: Cold Blood

The Silurians’ makeover has been a total success in my view. While I loved the Target novel Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters, I do remember finding it a bit hard to get into the psyche of some bloke in a big old rubber suit in the televised version. That’s the thing about Silurians – they’re not evil, they’re clever, civilised, and they have a right to be here. All of that is what makes them so fascinating, and now we’ve lost that rubber barrier. The make up and costumes are astonishingly well realised for these modern Silurians, and I wholeheartedly applaud all those involved for creating convincing reptilian humanoids whose emoting we can now actually see. Furthermore, we’ve been blessed in this story with some really top notch acting, with all the key Silurians giving plausible, and at times, moving performances. Just try not to be distracted by Kevin the teenager’s dad trying to negotiate for the future of planet earth.

I’d like to end this review on a positive note, so I’ll get my gripes out of the way. Why is the village so devoid of human life? Can you really conduct a hi-tech, groundbreaking (sorry, couldn’t resist!) drilling operation with one bloke reading The Gruffalo? Where did all the surveillance tech and weapons come from in a deserted village? Chris Chibnall continues to have a flagrant disregard for credibility, matching the daft pub quiz security system, and essential buttons being located on the outside of a spaceship in 42.

Much worse though, he has now committed a cardinal sin. He has given all those people who bang on about the sonic screwdriver being a magic wand a whole pile of ammunition. Time is running out, the poison gas is going to be released, the drill is coming closer, and the ‘kill the apes!” Silurians are closing in. Brilliant! Tension, excitement, danger. This is what Doctor Who is all about. And the Doctor whips out his sonic screwdriver and disarms a whole platoon of angry reptiles. Terrible. For all the world, it appears that Chibnall wrote himself into a corner, and just played it the easy way. I’m still in shock that Steven Moffat didn’t tell him to go away and rewrite it. Sigh.

Still, this episode is not without considerable merits. Yet again, I find myself enchanted by Matt’s portrayal of the Doctor. He deals with every situation with flamboyance, style and gravitas. From the cheeky “squeaky bum time!”, to the heartbreaking scene of the Doctor pulling Amy away from the dying Rory, we know exactly where we are with this Doctor. Oh, poor Rory. I loved Rory, and he really hasn’t been around for long enough. I doubt that he’s going to make a Rose/Donna style comeback, but then, you never can tell. So, Arthur Darvill – you were fantastic, Rory may have been erased from time and memory, but your performance certainly hasn’t.

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6 Responses to Cold Blood

  1. avatar Carn says:

    I don’t see disarmimg the Silurian guns with the screwdriver any different from various other uses (it’s just affecting technology which is what it’s meant for) to be honest and it looked really cool too.

    Now I’m over the fact these aren’t the original Silurian designs updated I’ve come to really like how they look, but mostly with the masks on as I think they look cooler when you can’t see a ‘friendly’ looking human-like face. Certainly I’ll be wanting an action figure in the next wave of CO figs later in the year (and come to think of it, we have the Sea Devil figures so where’s classic Silurians?)

    Anyways won’t go into too much and I don’t think Rory’s gone for sure. It’s too soon and there’s more going on with that crack I reckon and the engagement ring but it was still a well done and dramatic scene (even if it was slightly ruined for me by the internet hinting it to me before). To be honest there isn’t one episode in this current series I’ve not liked and in fact I’ve loved the majority of it so far and Smith is certainly among my 3 favorite Doctors and my 1st in the modern era. Saturdays can never come quick enough for me while this shows on.

  2. avatar Carn says:

    Genius really. Haven’t yet got around to buying the toy one and might pick that one up instead. Used to carry the 10th Doctor one around with me as it was also a pen (but a fun pen) and I might carry this one about if I need to do some Doctor-style DIY :P

  3. avatar Carn says:

    Duh, how the heck did that happen? Does this site go a bit funny with multiple tabs open of different pages? The above comment was posted on the New Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver topic but when it added it, it came back to this page which I had already open in the tab next to it. Sorry about that, though don’t know how that happened. If a site mod can move it and then delete this post to tidy things up that would be cool thanks.

  4. avatar Christian Cawley says:

    Carn – looks like its something to do with cookies. I can only suggest the rather rubbish solution of not viewing across multiple tabs until I can find out how to stop it.

  5. Pingback: Press And Audience Reaction To Doctor Who - Cold Blood | Kasterborous Doctor Who News

  6. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    Carn: it could be that you’re right about Rory’s return… I think I may have been getting carried away with the emotion of it all! Fingers crossed, I like the character very much indeed.

    As for the Sonic – we’ll just have to agree to disagree I think. Personally, I always think that the Sonic Screwdriver is best used for trivial issues, or actually, when it doesn’t work at all. A good example of the latter was in The Doctor Dances when the Doctor unsuccessfully attempted to use it to resonate concrete. A good example of the former was in the same episode when Rose used it to mend the broken barbed wire. Mind you, you’re quite right, it did look cool.

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