Doctor Who 5.8 – The Hungry Earth

They had done such a good job. Since 2005, the producers and designers of Doctor Who had revisited several classic monsters and made them true to the originals, even improving on the makeup and props in a couple of instances. Well, the Cybermen’s stompy march still seems a bit unnecessary, but they even kept the original sound effects for the Autons and the Daleks. And then the Silurians show up.

It’s not that the makeup job is in any way bad. No, it’s quite brilliant, really. It’s the design that’s the problem. The whole thing is just so hideously ill-conceived that it somehow – impossibly – is even worse than the boneheaded redesigns that John Nathan-Turner oversaw in 1984’s “Warriors of the Deep”. Those Silurians may have looked pathetic, but at least they appeared like somebody wanted them to be alien. The effect was certainly spoiled by the people in the costumes moving precisely like bored actors imitating planks of wood, but those designers wanted the Silurians to be inhuman. These designers want these Silurians to star in a wacky family sitcom. (Oh, what’s that? What’s that, you say? You say Madame Vastra and Jenny are only one year away?)

Almost everything up until the Doctor takes the mask off the Silurian, who is called Alaya, is really quite good, and it doesn’t get obnoxious until the next part of the story. Well, almost everything. I don’t like it when the Doctor makes his “I will save him, nobody will die” promises. The kid enjoyed it much more than the previous two adventures, and rushed over to the shelf and pulled out a previous adventure. “They should have stuck to the plan in ‘and the Silurians,’ and they should have stayed underground!” I beamed inside, because he called it, correctly, “and the Silurians”.

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