Doctor Who: The Beast Below (Series 05, Episode 02) Review

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What’s It About?

Whilst showing Amy that the TARDIS is also a space ship, the Doctor stumbles across The Space Ship United Kingdom. A crying child draws him into uncovering the mystery of the ship, where all is not as it appears …

Review It

Penned by Steven Moffat, The Beast Below serves up large helpings of the elements that made him a favourite writer of the previous years. Though I do have to wonder how many familiar things turned sinister it takes before we are all gibbering wrecks in our own homes!

This episode was the bedding in story for new companion Amy and gave us our first insight into the new Doctor’s personality. Again, I was impressed with the performances of the principal actors and Matt Smith’s truly eccentric Doctor continued to grow on me. Karen Gillan seems a natural at taking whatever the production team throw at her and her delivery of certain lines this episode were truly touching. The supporting cast seemed truly embedded in their world, with Sophie Okonedo seeming to relish every moment of her character.

The plot itself was reminiscent of Moffat’s previous Silence in the Library two parter, in that it had a strong mystery to unravel and enough twists to keep the viewer guessing. Revelations this episode were somewhat heart-rending and Moffat threw a terrible decision at the Doctor early on this series. What I especially liked was the near-miss that the Doctor has here and the way in which his new companion manages to bring him back on track. I wanted to see a fallible Doctor this time round and it seems that is exactly what I’ll be getting.

Without spoiling the episode, I want to point out how well I thought the threat and resolution of this episode was handled. The stakes are quite tight here, with the entire surviving population of the United Kingdom being at the mercy of the Smilers and the shadowy Winders and yet it quickly becomes apparent that everyone on board is somehow complicit in allowing the situation to continue. Even more interesting was how Amy Pond herself joined in this complicit-ness to such a point that The Doctor wondered why he asked her to travel with him in the first place.

And the niggles?

Just one this week and again it’s a continuity issue revolving around the geography of the SS United Kingdom and the way in which The Doctor and Amy manage to escape a sticky end mid way through the story. What’s particularly vexing is that this is the second episode of the series and both have had quite easily avoidable continuity errors. That said there’s nothing to detract from character or story, so should I really be nit-picking like this? Well … seeing as it’s MY review, then I’m going to!

In summary: An excellent Moffatian adventure that truly beds the new Doctor and Companion and begins to provide the foundations of their continued travels.

Rate It: 4 / 5.
Dry Slaps: 0.
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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  1. I loved this episode, and though we only have 4 now to go by, it is the best IMHO. I had no real problem with the error you found, since I thought that the closed mouth and the pressure of the vomit would push them back up through the tubes. My problem was with Amy Pond’s age. In the 29th Century, when this was set, Amy was 1,603. That would put her being born and living in the 17-18th Century. Either this is a continuity error, or a hint…

    • Definitely some funny stuff going on with Amy – especially with Flesh and Stone under the belt too. I think that this story was meant to tie in with the Solar Flares from The Sontaran Experiment which I always felt was set much later than 29c too.

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