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Mad Paddington interrupts a tuna madras and Doc is rubbish at keeping a secret

The freshly re-generated 14th Doctor travels to London’s Camden Market and instantly bumps into Donna Noble, the one former companion who under no circumstances may be bumped-into. She introduces her daughter, Rose, handily volunteers information about Rose’s career to the stranger before her, and then fails to observe a spaceship crashing into a nearby disused power station. The timings frankly are so perfect, one wonders if this could really all be coincidence.

Leaving Donna once more to her fate, Doc commandeers her husband’s taxi cab and heads to the crash site. It transpires that two alien races have just arrived on Earth. One is The Meep, this year’s Disney-branded stuffed-toy of choice for Whovian minors, and the other are the insectoid Wrarth Warriors hunting it. Coincidink alert! While Doc catches up with UNIT at the crash site, it transpires The Meep deployed an escape pod and is now hiding in Rose’s shed. 

Are all cuddly aliens good, though, or ought one occasionally side with the bugs? Suddenly thrust together into an adventure once again, but not in a way Shaun Temple finds at all threatening, Doc, Donna and now also Rose must save London from being swallowed by the Earth, implement all fifteen of the sonic screwdriver’s snazzy new features, and not implode the former lottery winner’s head in the process.

Here's what we think of N176 The Star Beast

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.4

Drew | @drewbackwhen

2.8

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.4

Here's what we think of N176 The Star Beast

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.4

Drew | @drewbackwhen

2.8

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.4

Here's what you think 6 Responses to “N176 The Star Beast”
  1. Aidan in America

    Well here it is. Doctor Who is back, finally! I discovered this show when I was nine and it was showing on US Netflix. Then when I was 16 I got into that annoying teenage phase where everything you liked as a kid is lame, and I stopped watching. But during the pandemic I got back into the show and came to love it even more than I had as a kid. But I decided against watching the show live because I wanted to rewatch the whole thing again, a process that is still ongoing due to my ridiculous procrastination skills. So not only have I missed the entire 13th Doctor era, this is the first Doctor Who episode I’ve watched live in about six and a half years. It would be hilarious if after all the hype and anticipation, I ended up thinking it was shit. Fortunately it was good!

    My first takeaway is that it is hilarious RTD decided to make the sonic screwdriver even stronger. It’s even more of a magic wand than ever! Still, it looks unbelievably good in the hands of David Tennant, who hasn’t missed a beat in his performance after all these years. Nor has Catherine Tate, who is as good at being Donna as she ever was. I’m looking forward to two more full episodes of her back in companion mode now that the Doctor has Winter Soldier’d her memories back. I don’t have too much to say, it was just fun like a good old RTD episode of the past. The future of Doctor Who is looking bright, and I can’t wait!

  2. Mikey Jay

    Not sure if you’re doing minis for this one, but thought I’d try sending one anyway (for the first time)! I’ll try the likes/dislikes format!

    Best Parts:
    – Donna Noble! My favorite companion is back and as great as ever. She was less shouty and over-the-top in this, so maybe even Donna-haters would be okay with her here? She seems like such a great mom too, I loved all the interactions with her daughter.
    – The scene with the Doctor and the new UNIT scientific advisor. Such great chemistry between the actors, and shows how the 14th doctor is a bit calmer and more mature than the 10th
    – The TARDIS! What an amazing set. With how big it is and how it can change colors, it seems to have a lot of possibilities for how it can be filmed in interesting ways
    – The opening credits! So beautiful, and great new arrangement of the theme.
    – Some great nostalgic music cues throughout
    – Callback to The Stones of Blood with the Doctor pulling out that wig!

    Worst Parts:
    – The conclusion to the metacrisis / DoctorDonna stuff was a little rushed and cheesy. If it was just explained that Donna passed some of it to her daughter that would be enough, but all the binary/non-binary/”only women get this” stuff was kinda weird. I love that the show’s exploring gender identity but it felt messy here.

    Overall a really solid start to the new RTD era! 3.8/5
    -Mikey Jay

  3. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    What Ho Gang!

    Well that was great fun wasn’t it?

    This episode took me back to 2005 and the giddy excitement of Rose. It’s funny, heartwarming and plenty of nods to the past.
    Yasmin Finney is great and its great that we get to see more of Shaun Temple.

    Likes
    The show just looks amazing – every time I think they can’t make it look better they smash it out of the park
    The scenes with Donna and Sylvia – it’s so great to see them again. Sylvia worrying about getting things wrong was so touching.
    The psychic paper saying Grand Mistress – it’s great they’re not erasing the past.
    Shirley’s kick-ass rocket firing wheelchair
    “You pulled his tummy out”

    Beefs
    After reversing Meep’s ships engines the rips in the road suddenly all heal now maybe I missed a line but how? Rishi Sunak will be hiring Rose as his pothole Tsar if she can mend the roads by magic!
    The sonic makes force fields now? Hmmmm it’s becoming a bit magic wandy for me.

    I could add so many more like, but 250 words right?. Ok, so the Meep storyline tails off in the second half and some of the exposition is a bit clunky, but I don’t care. It was a thrill a minute and the episode flew by and I’ve already rewatched it twice. It’s a fabulous start to the 60th year and I can’t wait for the next one!!

    I award this 4.8 how are there 5 empty lofts in Donna’s street out of 5

    P.S. I really hope the wig the 14th Doctor uses is the same one that the 4th Doctor uses in Stones of Blood

    Andy Parkinson
    @caffreys71
    @andyp71.bsky.social

    PS2:

    Hi Guys again!

    OMG I forgot another favourite thing – The new TARDIS interior – the round things are back and it’s as beautiful as ever!!

    Phew

    Andy Parkinson

  4. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    So you can definitely tell that they have spent quite a bit on this one. It looks very good. Actually story and emotional beats…I might have to ruminate on. Catherine Tate certainly was back as Donna, probably my favourite companion of the New Series (and yes I know Leon and Marie prefer Clara and they are wrong).
    Initial thoughts are positive but nothing really more than that. Everything felt right but I think I’ll have to rewatch it to get a proper feel, particularly after the other two Tennant specials.
    So far 3.5/5 Giant Space Rats

    Cheers
    Kieren

  5. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanzsixfingers

    Greetings Who Back When team!

    Just a few of my reactions from watching the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

    1) I was hoping he’d use his natural Scottish accent to differentiate Fourteen from Ten.
    2) As this is a soft reboot for Disney+, the regeneration sequence was skipped, like in 2005. Apparently that was a detractor for the McGann film since they were trying to attract a new audience.
    3) My wife said the UNIT girl in the wheelchair (Ruth Madelay) could’t act; she talked too fast and had bad facial expressions.
    4) Not sure if I like the new ability of the Sonic to create lines and planes of energy out of the air…
    5) but the romp across several atics was fun!
    6) I had been wondering this whole time whether there would be a reason integral to the plot for having a transgender person, or if it was just thrown in because they could. I was not disappointed.
    7) They repeated several times that it had been 15 years, which meant Rose should have been no older than 14, but she looked more like 20 in the show. Yasmin Finney would have been just turning 19 (b. 30 Aug 2003) when it was filmed. I don’t think she looked young enough.
    8) I am ambivalent about the new TARDIS interior. I like the console and the fact it has a lot of interior doors. Other than that I think it looks too sterile; it is supposed to look organic and living. Maybe it will get better after the coffee damage takes effect.
    9) Looking forward to more of Maj. Singh.
    10) Did not like how the earth damage healed when the drive was reversed.

    I’ll give it 3.5 smashed UNIT trucks out of 5

  6. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Not really sure if this will make the instantish recording, but here goes!
    Oh my goodness lots to love here.
    It looks good, it sounds good. Are the effects CGI or practical? No idea but who cares, they are smooth as butter.
    Did not expect the cute lil Meep to be evil but I absolutely expected the Doctor to be a few steps ahead of the rest in detecting something was up.
    “Hail to the Meep!” intercuts are a nice tension builder, without being complicated.
    Damn, Donna is good. We so don’t deserve her. And she echoes a common past companion sentiment- I gave away a fortune because I want to do things like the things you do. Tennant gives an interesting performance that is one part reprising all the cute quirks and one part older, less edgy, a little more open. And of course so very heartfelt when he has to activate DoctorDonna, a move he thinks will kill her. I loved that the solution to Donna’s mental overload references the Doctor is man, woman, nonbinary. The “just let it go” line regarding metacrisis energy is a trifle handwavey, but I certainly buy the DoctorDonna and DoctorRose combined can solve their own problem as far as that goes.
    HfA saw the glass wall between Donna and the Doctor as a reference to Wilf and the Doctor being separated in glass boxes in The End Of Time.
    And speaking of that episode I am reminded that the last words of Doctor Ten last time were “I don’t want to go.” Hopefully this return will be some form of closure for him.

    Rating: a nice crisp bow tied in a TARDIS-blue ribbon

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