The Eleventh Doctor and new companion Amy Pond go up against two-faced civil servants and the ultimate Brexit
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The Doctor and his new companion Amy Pond have left Britain for the depths of space, where they happen upon Britain in the depths of space!
Following solar flares (or something), the inhabitants of Britain picked up all the bunting they could carry and built themselves a Starship UK.
Something’s wrong aboard our flighty Blighty, however, where children go amiss, Zoltars litter every street corner and the grown-ups seem to live in a state of perpetual fear.
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My top five favourite 11th Doctor episodes! The creepy dystopia, decaying society, and technology gone bad (plus studio-bound cheapness) evokes the brilliant and massively underrated stories of the 7th Doctor’s opening season ‘Paradise Towers’ and ‘The Happiness Patrol’, both of which also had dark nasties lurking ‘below’. The “crying free zone” and gestapo ‘Winders’ are akin to the murderous ‘Happiness Patrol’ and the psycho-robotic ‘Cleaners’ of Paradise Towers – roaming death squads’ ‘disappearing’ unhappy opponents of the regimes (and in the case of Paradise Towers, also feeding people to a creature in the basement!). In hindsight of recent events, is Spaceship UK Brexit in its purest and grimiest form?
Building a floating city on a whale feels wonderfully Douglas Adams / Terry Pratchett. I see Northern Ireland is part of Spaceship UK. How does that affect the Good Friday Agreement? (maybe spaceship Republic of Ireland is nearby). And why has my beloved home of Lancashire been totally ingested? (Typical anti-northern bias!) In the final shot, the Whale is completely visible – if only the Tardis was a little lower at the start they would have seen it and saved 30 minutes of the episode.
Not without niggles. Timmy not being ingested is a total cop-out. I also thought the Doctor overly mean to Amy: “When I’m done here your going home”- what a dick. And racist (“You’re only human”!). And he was totally looking up her nightdress in the zero-gravity opening. Amy is already the most psychologically scared companion only two episodes in – give her a break Doc.
4.2 / 5 ingested children.
The Doctor and Amy Pond travel way, way forward to see what happened with the whole Brexit thing, swim in some sick while playing tongues with Space Moby Dick, break up a Government/Child abuse scandal and do that thing where they charm their silly old selves into our hearts.
The somewhat hectic pace hopes that you don’t notice that there is no logic to the notion that the Star Whale only spares children (as if it had special taste buds to tell the difference), or that on Starship UK, no one speaks with either a Welsh or Northern Irish accent.
The dialogue provided by Steven Moffat insists that you ignore the lack of explanation for the tentacles that permeate the ship but aren’t present on either the diagrams or physical image of the Star Whale at the end.
The slightly forced “I’m taking you home” outburst banks on your dismissal of the fact that The Doctor had already chosen to “Abdicate” when he hit “Protest” and HE should have been the one to lead Liz 10 by the hand, not Amy.
But it was a lovely moment for Amy to have with her imaginary childhood friend – recognizing his value – even though it belonged somewhere down the road when they had some actual history behind them.
The Beast Below is a decent episode. It has some wonderful moments, some well-crafted dialogue, and it just barely covers up the fact that the future United Kingdom is filled with terrible, terrible people.
Because without the intervention of The Doctor and Amy Pond, they’d still be out there somewhere, firing a frickin’ lazer beam into a Star Whales brain.
3.8/5 For that douchebag Hawthorne and his gang of Semi-Smilers who knew all along.
HELLO PONKEN AND FRIENDS! Ha-ha see what I did there. I was very glad to see with my earballs that you enjoyed me previous review, lets try and replicate those results. In regard to the negatives that irk me about this episode at the top of that list is the design of the Smilers themselves, are we really supposed to take the seriously with them looking like that, and as we are on the topic of the smilers, the half human half smiler hybrids, as soon as they are brought up they are just as quickly forgotten about, they don’t even give any sort of reason of why these hybrids were specifically needed/created. Another thing that bugs me (but not as much) is the abundance of analog technology like phone booths, locks that require a physical key, and most peculiarly a wind up flashlight. But other than these two things I don’t really object to much else. Matt Smith again has some great lines such as “there’s an escaped fish” “and, yes, you are covered in sick ” In regards to the mystery, I found myself rather engaged with the idea of a ship shouldn’t be able to fly but does. Jumping forward a bit, when they stop torturing the Star Whale, while I’m not entirely sold on the idea that that the creature would stay after being tortured for who knows how long, I do like the sentiment of comparing it to the Doctor.
Overall I give this episode 3.8 escaped fish out of 5
YES! I like this one a lot…just don’t think about it too hard.
Grown-up Amy’s first real adventure with the Doc sees the U.K. as a starship of secrets. Visually, I’m reminded slightly of Babylon 5; it looks lived in. Thematically, the heavily controlled and society makes for good storytelling. I imagine the “Horse and a Man” as a nursery rhyme in their society. It’s only once a citizen learns the truth that it becomes gruesome.
I think the story gets lost a little regarding to Liz 10’s sleuthing. As ultimate authority, can’t she just order everyone to help her? If not, why then does she bother to go out disguised, but reveal herself to Mandy who recognizes her right away? Why is it ok for Hawthorne to know about the star whale? What kind of cruel SOB is he that he doesn’t also have a “forget” button? How many other cruel SOBs are ‘taking care’ of that thing?
Retro-rewrite: each reboot maybe the queen should forget who she is- that she IS the queen. The mask could be her broadcast appearance to the ship and she could be watching prerecorded clips of herself for ten years.
TFA’s daughter comments: How can the smilers have more than two faces?
A nursery rhyme that makes no sense
A hole in the road with a padlocked fence
For her rewrite I’m wondering when Amy found time
Wait- Did Amy even hear the original rhyme?
Greetings fellow Whonatics,
A few observations about the Beast Below:
Smilers, Winders, gun-toting aristocracy and enough bonkers ideas to fill Starship Brexit, is the Beast Below the first damp squib from the Moff? This one was not to be a fan favourite and, I hafta admit, I didn’t receive it well the first time around. But, on reflection, there’s a lot about this episode to like. Right out of the gate Matt Smith gives us a Doctor to be reckoned with; clumsy, shrewd, pompous, ‘hair of an idiot’ and all the things we have come to love about the errant Time Lord. I don’t think I have ever accepted a fresh regeneration so easily, before or since. It has, for me, one of the most precious moments of the show’s history when Eleven blackballs Pond for keeping the truth from him–how many Doctors have threatened to evict a companion from the TARDIS?- followed by some touching character development when Amy nails it by saving the star whale(I may have shed a tear at this point but concealed it from my girlfriend). Eleven had some brooding layers to him back then, before Smith just seemed to go full-clown in his later seasons. Maybe this ‘sode didn’t hang-together enough to be a classic in the final analysis but it is a reliable offering from Moffat with clever twists, zinging dialogue and a hurl-escape. A refreshing 2.8 mysterious glasses of water.