The Beast Below: SPOILERS!!!!
The tone of the Moffat series begins to really be set with this story. The dark fairy tale indeed: part Peter Pan (I was interested in Moffat’s explanation of why Amy stays in her nightie and liked the analogy of her as Weny darling to the Doctor’s Peter Pan); part Jonah and the Whale; part Terry Pratchet; and a bit of little Red Riding Hood thrown in for good measure. It’s a tone which is something new for Doctor Who and something which I think I’m going to like a lot. Having said that, this story was never going to live up to the promise set by the first episode – my expectations were far to high and although there were definite pluses to the story, there were quite a few minuses for me as well.
· The opening scene narrated by Amy with her floating out in space.
· The tone and the feel of Starship UK; also the face of the Smilers like vampiric ventriloquists’ dummies (Steven Moffat does look suspiciously like a Smiler)
· Matt Smith growing every week – here a touch of Tom Baker’s hypocrisy, there a flash of Jon Pertwee’s righteous anger. Definitely the Doctor.
· The Doctor’s grooming of Amy – explaining, teaching her to observe – he really comes across as a Sherlock Holmes type figure with impeccable logic behind all of his observations
· The telephone in the TARDIS – although this is something new and we have never really seen anything like it before (except for Martha’s calling of the Doctor in the Sontaran Stratagem), it has been hinted on various occasions before that the Doctor has been called back to Earth to help out.
· More little references to the past of the series: Magpie Electronics, the Doctor’s relationship with Good Queen Bess.
· A cliffhanger! Yippee!
Things I wasn’t too keen on:
· Too many unexplained plot points – where did the half-Smilers-half-humans come from? Why did the Smilers exist in the first place? Would a police state like this really change its rule if 1% of the population disagreed?
· Amy’s reactions – I didn’t really believe that she would select the forget button. Her later actions speak of a keen intellect and a fierce bravery and this clashed with the act of...well, if not cowardice than at least an abdication of responsibility earlier in the episode.
· By the same token Liz 10, who spent half her life trying to discover the truth behind Starship UK, only to chose to forget again and again. Once more this didn’t really ring true for me.
Overall, I felt the story was a bit rushed and could have done with the extra 15 minutes that the Eleventh Hour benefited from. Still, it was nice to see the first real sci-fi story for quite a long time and I have a feeling that this story (without the immense pressure of expectation created by last week) will improve with age. 6.5 out of 10 for me. Maybe I’ll upgrade that with time.