Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

April 11, 2010

Dr. Who - The Beast Below

Now that we've got the regeneration story out of the way, it's time to see how the Doctor's new companion will bear up to the pressure of having adventures. The second episode in Matt Smith's tenure is called "The Beast Below," and it is also written by Executive Producer Stephen Moffat. While it's nowhere near as strong as "The Eleventh Hour," it does have the same great dialogue, characterization and acting that tells me I am going to enjoy the next eleven weeks.

A huge spaceship floats through the heavens, with the names of various British cities in huge neon lights flickering prominently in the blackness. This is Spaceship UK, where the entire British population came when the Earth was being devastated by solar flares in the 29th century (wonderful nod to the Tom Baker episode, "Ark in Space"). The populace is getting by, but there are dark undertones to the society, with dreadful punishment for those who break the rules. They will be sent below, where a monster supposedly lurks.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is introducing his new companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) to the fact that the TARDIS truly is a spaceship. They land on Spaceship UK, where the Doctor senses that something is terribly wrong. Is it once again up to the Doctor to save the day? Or will Amy have to save him from destroying every value that he holds dear?

I definitely enjoyed the tough decision that the Doctor is forced to make near the end of the episode, but unfortunately the solution to it was made a bit too obvious by Moffat reinforcing the point again and again and again, until my head hurt. It's a wonderfully touching concept, and it does cement the relationship between Amy and the Doctor, but the heavy-handedness ruined a large portion of my enjoyment of those scenes. Thankfully, the coda is wonderful and brings both the Doctor and Amy full circle to where they began, yet both become much more familiar with the other in the process.

The second problem with the episode is that the monsters, the "Smilers" (circus-type dummies with rotating heads that go from smiling to unhappy to angry if you do something wrong) were woefully underused. Again, I loved the concept, and I can see how it might have scared some of the kids, but they weren't really that effective. It might have been better if more had been done with them.

Now on to the good stuff. The dialogue is once again crackling, showing us that any Moffat script is going to be fun to watch even if the story is a bit off. There were so many great lines in this episode, almost as many as there were in "The Eleventh Hour."

"Once every five years, everybody choses to forget. Democracy in action."

Matt Smith shows his angry side quite well near the end of the episode too when he's forced to make the choice that really has no right answer.

"Nobody talk to me, nobody HUMAN has ANYTHING to say to me today!"

Smith and Gillan are wonderful together. Gillan brings the wild-eyed wonder to Amy, her first time away from her home village taking her to this massive spaceship hundreds of years in the future. Yet her first time is extremely difficult, as she has to watch the Doctor agonize over his decision, knowing that whatever choice he makes will result in tragedy. Yet the Doctor is a beacon of hope for her, the "Raggedy Doctor" from her childhood, a man who she trusts implicitly.

She's also great off on her own, interacting with the society, not knowing what to do but determined to do what she feels is best. All while still dressed in the nightie she was wearing when she entered the TARDIS last episode.

The supporting cast doesn't have as much to do, though Sophie Okonedo as Liz X was kind of interesting. Her accent was a bit weird, though that may be normal. I don't know specific English accents that well, so who knows?

All in all, "The Beast Below" was an interesting episode that was way too obvious as a morality play, as well as having the theme of the episode shoved into your head like a square peg into a round hole. While the story faltered, the characters were great and I loved the developing relationship between the Doctor and Amy. That made the episode for me.

Next week, the Daleks! And World War II. Two of my favourite areas of study. Should be fun!


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.