Doctor Who Series Five, Episode 8: ‘The Hungry Earth’

If this series of Doctor Who gets any more rural, the Beeb’ll soon be able to screen an old episode of All Creatures Great and Small in the same time slot without anyone noticing.

In The Hungry Earth, the Doctor, Amy and her perpetually-second-fiddle-playing man bitch Rory materialise in a damp looking little village that looks like it should have been called Llangewyhwlmlyntfyhwmcwmll-gogogoch, but which actually has the even more ridiculously ‘Welsh’ sounding name of Cwmtaff. Taff. Like ‘taffy’, geddit?

There’s a big drill in Cwmtaff. A very big drill, operated by Meera Syal and an old chap who seems to be her love interest and who looks a bit like Roy Evans from Eastenders. They’ve just drilled to a whopping 21,000 metres. Everyone goes ‘whoop de doo!’ and ‘huzzah!’ including the loving father of an adorable dyslexic lad who is just starting night shift. On his own. That’ll go well.

It doesn’t go well. The night-shift drill operator is sucked into a big hole full of mud. It’s as if the earth is somehow….hungry. Or something.

Amy soon falls victim to the same fate, although the Doc grabs hold of her and says he won’t let go. He does though, because he’s a bit rubbish. Tennant-Doctor would have found a way to hang on, or else he’d have jumped right in after her and kicked some monster-ass armed with nothing but his wits, a pencil and some 3D glasses…

Ahem, sorry about that. Anyway, it turns out that whatever’s been grabbing random cast members is using the drill-tunnel to rise to the surface. Cue an impressive but unlikely A-team style montage in which the Doctor, Meera Syal, Roy from Eastenders, Dyslexic Kid, Rory and Woman-Inexplicably-Named-Ambrose manage to rig up a complex network of motion sensors all around the abandoned village in less than 9 minutes.

I have some news for you, Stephen Moffat – semi-abandoned villages don’t tend to have a ready supply of motion sensors. The last one I was in didn’t even sell bread- all their shop had in stock was a can of peas and some safety pins.

The Doctor captures one of the baddies and removes its mask to reveal Alaya, a Silurian. They’re the previous owners of the planet and they want rid of us damn dirty apes. Think ‘velociraptor with incongruous boobs’ and you’ll have a fairly accurate mental picture of her.

Unfortunately, this episode falls victim to ‘first-parter’ syndrome- spending 45 minutes setting up for a more explosive finale next week- so although it was occasionally exciting and tense it still felt like nothing much actually happened. If I wanted to spend almost an hour looking at damp, rural British scenery I could have just gone for a walk. Or watched Countryfile.

Also, while the disappearance of Amy added a touch of drama to an otherwise rather pedestrian instalment, it did mean that Karen Gillan’s airtime was unfortunately very limited as a result- bad news for Kleenex who saw a corresponding sharp drop in their product sales amongst UK males aged 15- 65.

However, the recycling of old-Who baddies the Silurians was a good idea. It’s also great that they’re impressive looking scaly lady-sauruses and not weird fish-gargoyles crafted out of latex, jelly and old socks like the original version. For all that new Who has a lower budget than the Tennant years, at least the effects team haven’t yet had to invent a new race of aliens that (coincidentally) look exactly like BBC Canteen chairs wrapped in foil.

In conclusion, I’m hoping next week’s episode will be a bit more “whizzy bang bang CGI woo! Argh! Eeek! Run! Boom! Whoosh! Oh look, Karen Gillan’s got her bum out!!” rather than ‘That patch of earth looks a bit peckish. Look- some grass! Is something going to kill us soon?”

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

4 Responses to Doctor Who Series Five, Episode 8: ‘The Hungry Earth’

  1. Cats says:

    I LIKE the original version, even though I’ve never seen them before. Someone said that the Moffat/Smith era is like an American remake of Doctor Who. So far, no evidence to the contrary.

  2. Moviejam says:

    Now, ahem, now let’s not go dissing the old Doctors Who. Sure nowadays it looks frankly bloody ridiculous but for me the writing and most of the acting made the tension palpable. I recommend Horror of Fang Rock and City of Death by the wonderful Douglas Adams. Also The Caves of Androzani and The Deadly Assassin, fab both. Yes, yes I really am quite the geek.

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