11 April 2010

Doctor Who: 05.02: The Beast Below

The Doctor and Amy arrive aboard the Starship UK, a giant spacecraft that's become the post-apocalyptic vehicle for the entire British nation after the planet suffered a catastrophic solar flare. The Doctor immediately sense a police state, becoming suspicious of gargoyle-like "Smilers" that sit inside booths keeping an eye on the population, while Amy discovers a strange tentacle inside a cordoned off area and a peculiar "voting booth" where the horrific secret behind Starship UK is made known to its citizens every five years, before giving you a choice to "protest" - and risk the wrath of the Smilers or "forget" and have the burden of knowledge erased from your memory.

This is an odd-ball episode to be sure, reminding many times of the weakness of Russell T. Davies: grand ideas, with a little bit of moral posturing on the side all wrapped in some rather cheap production values due to the expense of previous episodes.

But, as like the season opener, the story is saved by Matt Smith’s continued growth into the role as the Doctor. Also, in what is perhaps the best part of the story, Amy (the increasingly interesting Karen Gillan) figuring out the solution long before the Doctor.

The Smilers come off more creepy than scary, and what was the purpose of Mandy, the little girl who accompanies Amy and the Doctor?

But at the end of the day, it’s Gillan’s Amy that shines through this rather dull episode, and if Moffat and the rest of the writers continue her growth, she could become the best companion the series ever produced.

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