Doctor Who episode 780: The Hungry Earth (22/5/2010)
‘Onwards and downwards.’ Linking to the unfolding story of Series Five, this begins with Amy and Rory spotting their future selves – a slightly odd scene that initially seems there to reinforce the outcome of Amy’s Choice, but whose true purpose becomes clearer at the end of the next episode. For the rest, it’s Frontios done as an episode of Torchwood, with the hungry earth swallowing up its victims and transporting them for dissection in an underground colony.
It’s steeped in a Season 21 horror vibe, with everyone taking shelter in the church like in The Awakening, and the Doctor ineffectually protesting against guns and violence. Oh, and the Silurians are in it. There are a lot of good moments: the Doctor’s reaction to Ambrose’s fury – helpless and speechless – is particularly good. The downside is, it lacks the sense of urgency of Moffat’s two-parters. There is a lot of fairly leisurely wandering about, and rather than anyone discovering the truth of the Silurians the Doctor delivers it as an info dump – which isn’t unusual, but for such a distinctive monster returning for the first time since 1984 it seems like a missed opportunity particularly when Chibnall has two episodes to play with.
The new Silurian design annoyed me at the time, but I can see the logic: these are meant to be our closest “alien” relatives, giving them expressive prosthetics rather than immobile masks helps the audience to see them as Homo Reptilia. But I wish they’d found a way to keep the third eye, rather than adding the long CGI tongue. That’s it, really: it’s slow burn stuff.
Next Time: Cold Blood