Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Only if there are children crying

With the second episode of the new season, Doctor Who is still on the right side of entertaining. It's still choosing to be scary and intelligent over its usual loud action epics. Maybe because Steven Moffat is still writing all the words. In 'The Beast Below' the new Doctor and assistant turn up on Starship UK, a spaceship version of Britain. Obviously everything turns out to be a bit sinister. There's some lovely smiling fairground booth figures that continue the Doctor Who tradition of turning familiar objects into monsters. Not as interesting as the Weeping Angels, but these things do have revolving heads, so that counts for something. The episode is largely based on some really clever ideas. Citizens can choose to forget or protest against the reality of the starship, and if they protest they predictably get sent down a hole. It's not some forced political allegory, it's just another interesting sci-fi setpiece that Doctor Who can throw up every week.

Also, we see a new side to the eleventh Doctor. He was all smiles in the first episode but here there's some stern moments. At one point he's so angry that he threatens to send his new assistant home and almost makes one of the 'worst decisions' of his life. And this is just the second episode. These two are the most interesting pair the show has had in a while. If they keep them both for the next season it'll be the first time two years of the show have gone by without something changing. Hopefully they can stand up outside of Steven Moffat's writing.


  1. I wonder if Stephen Moffat will be encouragning Moffat-esque writing? All of the episodes with Earth about to be taken over seem a little stale - dystopias are much more fun. And it sounds actually as if the revolving heads are the third in the Moffat line...there were the talking statues in the library with the faces of the "saved".

  2. I thought this episode was a bit sloppy. Full of solid ideas that didn't really have time to develop. It was the characterisation and the performances that kept it afloat, though. Like you said, Smith and Gillan have a lot more going on than we are used to in Who, and the point where he shouted at her near the end was the first time the Doctor has been genuinely intimidating since Eccleston left.