Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood
Review by: Neil Perryman
It was very clichéd. It was very routine. Running up and down corridors and silly monsters - Chris Chibnall, Open Air, 1986
A common complaint regarding this lacklustre two-parter is that we've seen it all before. Silurians wake up. Silurians want the planet back. Apes don't like them apples and so chaos ensues before everything inevitably ends in tragedy. Seen it, bought the DVD, designed the website. You literally know the drill. But to be fair to Chris Chibnall, he does manage to introduce some unique twists on what's gone before. It's just a shame they are all terrible.
In the Pertwee era, the planet was under threat from an ultra-secret drilling project that looked like it cost a bomb to operate. In Chibnall's version it's a couple of bumbling fools in what looks suspiciously like a garden shed. In Inferno the base was staffed by a small army and security was as tight as a nut, but here the earth shattering project looks like somebody's strange idea of a hobby. They've somehow managed to drill further into the earth than anyone before them and yet there's no press, no military, and no nosey neighbours anywhere to be seen. Where's their bloody Facebook group? Why isn't Kay Burley haranguing a miner? Why do the Silurians put up a heat shield anyway? Who are they trying to keep out? The postman?
In the Pertwee era peace was averted by the pig-headed, xenophobic military establishment who proceed to bomb the crap out of the poor, misunderstood reptiles. In Chibnall's version war is almost started by a loud woman with a handbag who looks like she's wandered off the set of Jeremy Kyle. However, instead of bombing the crap out of them at the end she vows instead to encourage her traumatised son to start preaching a new and strange religion about giant lizard men taking over the planet in a thousand years time. And David Icke thought he had it bad - all this kid has to go on is some blue grass and a collapsed mine shaft. The Doctor also appears to have forgotten that the planet will be purged by solar flares just as the Silurians are waking up, but he's having a bad day so I'll forgive him.
Why isn't Kay Burley haranguing a miner?
In ye good olde days, the Silurians looked truly alien. Even if they weren't really, which just made seem even more odd to me. In Chibnall's version the Silurians look like they've just walked off the set of Babylon 5. They must sense deep down inside that they look crap or they wouldn't go to all that trouble of making scary, alien-looking face masks. It's little wonder they plunge the earth into darkness - they're a laughing stock! I reckon that the fat bloke and the terrible comedian will mate with this particular strand of Silurian and they'll end up looking even more human the next time we meet them. Perhaps they'll just have green eyes and extremely dexterous tongues. It'll save a fortune on the budget.
In the original Silurian story, the Silurians were depicted as a fully developed race with complex shades of grey. In Chibnall's version there are good Silurians and there are bad Silurians. Even the ones that torture humans and grave-rob for some inexplicable reason are good eggs (try not to squirm with embarrassment as the Doctor does the hand jive with the reptilian Dr. Mengele) but they don't come any nicer than the Silurian King. He's ridiculously reasonable seconds after being woken up. I don't know about you but I'd be a tad more suspicious about that bloody great drill bearing down on my civilization - especially before my first cup of coffee.
In the original Silurian epic, a terrible plague was unleashed on planet earth and the Doctor had to race against time to come up with a cure. In Chibnall's version a bloke gets a nasty rash and has to sit down for a bit.
the Silurians look like they've walked off the set of Babylon 5...
Are we really suposed to believe that Amy, Nashreem and the Lizard King are going to thrash out a lasting peace? It's a bizarre scene: one minute Meera Syal is sledgehammering us with her BNP style-immigration policy, the next she is giving up half of Australia for something that might cure PMT once and for all. I would loved to have seen Amy and Nasreem heading off to the UN to seal that deal. What utter nonsense.
And is this is the first time we've seen the Doctor attempt to kick-start a whole new timeline (I bet Lance Parkin almost shat himself) - and doesn't that remind you of something else in this series?
But that doesn't matter - there's a bad Silurian on the loose! Two bad Silurians! And if you can't keep up they both look the same! And that's about as morally ambiguous as it gets.
But who cares? No one will talk about the first 85 minutes of this tiresome, hackneyed, reheated tripe as they'll all be focusing on the final 5 minutes that could have occurred in practically any other adventure.
And it's such a blatant cheat I can hardly bring myself to bother discussing it. If Rory doesn't come back unscathed I'll eat my Fisher Price Leela Doll with a side helping of Rolykin Daleks. It's bollocks.
And who didn't see it coming a mile off? The pompous voice over at the beginning of the second episode spelt it out in capital letters, and the "future Rory waving blissfully" followed by "no one dies today" speech rammed it home long before that. They might as well have stuck that image of him on the right on the front of The Radio Times.
The crack itself remains an interesting concept, though. There's a chunk of a police telephone box stuck inside it, although how the Doctor can remove his hand with no ill effects but they can't drag Rory into the TARDIS is baffling. And it's quite clever to "kill" someone significant without all that bloody angst that goes with it. I mean, just look at Time-Flight. Er, on second thoughts...