If you were one of the many, like ourselves, who felt that last week’s Doctor Who had a distinctly old-style tinge to it, then for much of the duration of Cold Blood, you’re going to feel exactly the same way. For, to some degree, this was Doctor Who how it used to be. Expecting last minute interruptions to dastardly plans? Running around corridors? The Doctor negotiating and being reasonable with alien races? You get it in abundance here, and that feel of the old Pertwee adventures of old is present and correct.
And you get the Silurians too, albeit in greater number than we saw with the story opener, The Hungry Earth. Not too great a number, to be fair – the Excel spreadsheet is still a little bit of a dampener on ambitions. But not for the first time this run, Doctor Who manages to get a lot out of not too much.
The new makeup and mask effects of the Silurians are put to good use here (allowing the actors underneath to emote more), as it’s quite a talky episode by standards (which, as we noted last year, is something we really enjoy).
It’s not as straightforward an episode as you might initially give it credit for, either. Writer Chris Chibnall layers his script with some hardly radical, but still welcome subtexts, as the Silurians and humans come face to face, with the usual intention of doing each other harm. They both have fears and hopes, both have divisions. And that means that the Doctor has to stand in the middle and sort everything out, although this time, not everything is quite under his control.
That’s as much as we’ll say with regards the narrative, as once more we’re in spoiler-free territory here. But we can safely say that Chibnall does explore some of the characters in a bit more detail than others, and he certainly gets more out of the Silurians than was managed on their last appearance under Peter Davison.
And you have to conclude too that this is one of the more successful resurrections of monsters of Who old, putting the likes of the Sontaran revival very firmly to shame. Chibnall even bothers to explain why they look different to the last time we saw them. Small details like that are always appreciated.
The acting honours once more go to Matt Smith here, whose Doctor has a bit more vulnerability to him this time, to go with the slightly erratic anger that’s becoming a bit of trademark. At times in the episode, Smith puts across the perception of a man with the world very much on his shoulders, and inside nine episodes, it’s amazing how quickly he’s made the role very much his own. The rest of the cast are playing catch up with him to varying degrees, and we suspect that’s the way it’ll be until the credits roll on episode 13 too.
One last piece of advice, and you might thank us come Saturday evening for telling you this. Even if you’re not finding yourself warming to Cold Blood at times throughout the episode, do not at all costs give up on it. We’re genuinely giving absolutely nothing away, but there’s a sporting chance that it may just turn out to be one of the most talked about episodes of the series to date.
We’ll be back on Saturday night with the full, spoiler-filled review…!