The Beast Below

Posted by: Dr. Geek

Believe it or not, there was actually a new episode of Doctor Who this past week. It almost feels like Christmas no? After the Gap year specials I think it is going to take a while before I get use to having Doctor Who back on a regular schedule.

Join me now to learn what I thought of the latest episode.

Spoiler Alert!

This episode evoked many reactions from me. First I noticed the pattern set by the new series whereby the second episode tends to take place in the far future. Sure this was not always the case but if last week’s episode was similar to Rose than this episode was reminding me of The End of the World. This is not to say that is a bad thing, just that I was reminded that even with all the new changes some things appear to remain the same.

The next reaction came from Matt Smith’s performance. His body language while operating The TARDIS was very 2nd Doctor, in fact, I think I may have a picture of The 2nd Doctor at the console with his hands in a similar gesture to what The 11th Doctor was doing. I have heard that Mr. Smith enjoyed the 2nd Doctor episodes he has seen, and if that is true maybe his hand movements are not a random act. As many of you know, I started watching Doctor Who when KTEH Channel 54 was showing re-runs of the 2nd Doctor Era so in many ways that is “my doctor”. In fact it is that connection to the 2nd Doctor that led me to really like the 7th Doctor, so I would be happy if The 11th Doctor evolves in the same vain. Of course, I can not read too much in a few hand gestures so WHO knows how it will all work out.

The story itself was fast paced and enjoyable, even if I figured out right away what The Doctor was doing with the water glass. Glad to see the Star Whale finally made an appearance on Doctor Who after being first suggested in an unproduced script during the 4th Doctor era. I thought the Smilers were appropriately creepy, but even after watching the episode multiple times, I am not sure what their original purpose was. I take it they are enforcers of the truth everyone has chosen to “forget”, but their presence in the school room suggested to me that perhaps their was more to their story than we got to see. And while I am at it, where the heck did the half human / half smilers come from?

The accompanying Confidential says that this episode was more like a fairy tale than most of the other episodes this season, so perhaps the lack of background was deliberate? If so, that was my least favorite aspect of this episode. That said this episode was better put together than the other “The Doctor comes to the closed society and saves the day episodes” of Paradise Towers and The Happiness Patrol. If this was a fairy tale than perhaps the moral of the story should be – be careful what you vote for? BTW, who else expected Liz 10 to be electrocuted ala Vengence on Varos when she hit the abdication button?

Finally, I guess I should say something about Amy in this episode. I think a lot of positive things could be said about both the character and the actress, my only point of contention rests in the fact that since, as the Confidential indicated, this was the episode Amy was to earn her chops, I felt it was a bit artificial, a bit forced for Amy to pick up on the solution when we just had an episode that shows just how much information The Doctor absorbs. Also, just because she learned The Doctor is the last of his kind, how did she make the leap to him being ancient? I guess it is a small point, but given how well they established Amy in the previous episode I did not think she really needed to save the day in such an obvious fashion, especially if it made The Doctor look a bit close minded, after all he was stuck on the three options available to him. Why could The Doctor not come up with a fourth?

The best answer to that question I have heard so far comes my friends who thought being asked about The Timelords caused The Doctor to be in a bad mood, that he was in such a state, that he could not relax enough to see the answer. I think they are right. My favorite lines from the episode, “None human has anything to say to me today” and “If I do this I will have to get a new name because I will not be The Doctor anymore”, shows The Doctor’s state of mind.

At first I thought The Doctor’s calling the Time War, a bad day, was an indication that perhaps the scar of the Time War is over. Apparently it is not, but unlike The 9th and 10rh Doctor who suffered from survivor guilt, The 11th Doctor appears to take that angst and projecting it outward. After all he was going to send Amy home.

So overall, it was an episode with a lot going on. What did you think?

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About the Author

Dr. Geek holds two doctorate degrees and is an archaeologist and an attorney who has done extensive research on myths and their impact on modern archaeology and modern storytelling. He appreciates the history and mythology woven together in the Doctor Who shows.

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