28 April 2010

Doctor Who - The Beast Below


Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Andrew Gunn

(S05E02) After such a strong, strong opening to the new series, "The Beast Below" is sort of a disappointment. Although the performances, the writing, the score, the pacing was all top notch as expected, I wasn't all too invested in the story. The Smilers, the sad children, the question of what the 'beast below' exactly was, none of it was all around interesting. Even though the episode itself wasn't all-together exciting, it was a very nice vehicle for Matt Smith to continue to delight and show off his utter awesomeness in the role.

Picking up a short while after the opening, The Doctor whisks Amy away to space, basically showing off the coolness of being a intergalactic time traveler. But lo and behold, he's stationed his TARDIS right ontop of Starship UK, and they decide to fancy a visit. Quickly, The Doctor becomes concerned, noticing something not quite right. A bunch of stuff happens. The Doctor saves the day.

You can tell my enthusiasm with the storyline. I've watched the episode about three times now, and it's definitely not the story that had me during its normal running time (2009's Specials and the previous episode's running times were longer than normal), but the fantastic performances by everyone around.

First, Karen Gillan is simply beautiful. Not only is she really, extremely gorgeous as a person, but Amy's personality is fantastic. She reminds me of a more playful, intelligent Martha Jones. And I'm not saying that as a diss to Martha - she was, by far, my favorite of the new series Companions due to her intelligence and ability to basically be on the same level as The Doctor. Now we have Amy, who has 100% gained her place as favorite Companion. Her awesomeness only doubles and tripples with following episodes. And can I say just how awesome of a moment it was for Amy when she stood up to The Doctor and made her choice near the end? She basically pulled off a Doctor move - not entirely 100% sure on something, but made a educated guess that payed off. And I love her for sticking to her guns and sorta debating him on the issue when he got aggravated. Karen, I love you.

Smith is still owning as The Doctor. I love his little eccentric ticks, such as his randomly taking a glass and examining the water ("escaped fish"), his weird hand movements which seem to be mirroring Jack Sparrow at points, and even his walking style displays a aura of oddness but also power. And, for some reason, I always enjoy when The Doctor gets pissed (which David Tennant was a master of), so it was quite nice to watch The Doctor disgusted with humans and go on a rant about 'em. I enjoy the darker side of characters, and to have this powerful individual have a dark side (perfectly shown in "The Family of Blood") creates even more beautiful complexities that are highly interesting. So what do we got with this Doctor? A bloke with some great one-liners, plenty of little oddities, enthusiasm and constant wonder, and still looks, acts, and feels like the most powerful, brilliant man in the room. Damn good Doctor.

The highlight of Moffat's script are the many, many brilliant lines given to basically every character. The Doctor has more than his fair share of bloody hilarious oners, such as "Alright, this isn't going to be big on dignity" right before he's coughed up by the Starwhale. There's plenty of others I haven't committed to memory, but it's quite nice to have a episode-by-episode basis of brilliant lines that are easily quotable. Writing-wise, Series 5 is definitely very, very good. Not yet sold on the storyline yet. The main over-arching villain seems to be whatever creature that is causing these cracks in time and space, and something about "Silence is coming", as indicated by the Atraxi.

So, all in all, "The Beast Below" is a serviceable episode and excels in regards to being a nice platform for Karen and Matt to show off their utter awesomeness together. Next up, the Daleks!


Little Notes:
  • When Amy asks The Doctor if he ever ran away from something, and he responds "Once." She continues: "What happened?" The Doctor simply says, "Hello." Is Moffat referring to The Doctor's storyline beginning with The Waters of Mars, with him abandoning the rules of a Time Lord and just having bonkers fun? Perhaps he means the Time War? Or is he referring to something from the older mythology? I'm gonna feel dumb if the answer is right-in-my-face-duh.
  • It's really cool to have a end of a episode lead into the following episode ("Victory of the Daleks"). I wish that could happen more often, although I know that would make Doctor Who fiction writers none too happy (so they can't mess with timelines).
  • Is the Starwhale the same creature from the season 2 episode of Torchwood, "Meat"?
  • Liz 10 references The Doctor's many encounters with England royalty - being Knighted and exiled on the same day ("Tooth and Claw"), as well as his problem with Elizabeth I ("The Shakespeare Code"), where she alludes in better detail to what Doctor 10 did to piss her off so royally (as dialogued in "The End of Time, Part One").

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