The Beast Below

Meanwhile in the TARDIS: The Series 5 DVD/Bluray contains a couple of additional scenes that slot in between episodes. The first is a prequel to The Beast Below, featuring more of Amy’s first experience of the TARDIS. She asks The Doctor all the obvious questions about how it works and why it’s like it is, which is exactly what Bill does in the first few episodes of Series 10. It ends with The Doctor chucking her out the front door, which is a lot more alarming that the serene spacewalk depicted in the episode proper.

* I wonder if everyone on Starship UK lives in the sector that corresponds to where they lived in the actual UK. Scotland managed to successfully secede to their own ship, so that’s good news for IndyRef206 in the 29th Century. I like the aesthetic of Starship UK, with familiar design elements in new and unsettling contexts, particularly the old style BBC graphics in the voting booth videos. Incidentally, from the picture above, it’s nice to see that Jeremy Corbyn still has a role to play in British politics in eight hundred years’ time.

* Bloody hell, it’s The Demon Headmaster! I’d forgotten he’d been in Doctor Who, which emphasises how minor his role is. The show is attracting some incredible guest stars these days, but it feels like a wasted opportunity when they’re given so little to do. It’s not like the 60s any more, when you could have someone back a couple of months later playing a different character, so it’s a shame to squander the good ones.

* Amy is not by any means a conventional companion. Not only is she out in her nightie and dressing gown, she takes to travelling like a duck to perfectly still water. The Doctor sends her out on her own on her very first trip, and instead of being scared by the Smilers or the intimidating keep out signs, she steams ahead and starts to explore. After the first episode was largely dedicated to establishing the new Doctor’s character, this is Amy’s turn.

* This is one of those stories that relies heavily on the element of surprise, and so it does suffer a bit on repeated viewing. To be fair, Starship UK’s big secret is largely given away by the title of the episode, but I remember the reveal of Liz 10’s identity being a big moment. I very much like this predicted development for the Royal Family and it does make sense – they have changed over the generations, just not as quickly as the rest of us, so naturally, eight hundred years in the future, they’re only just catching up with us.

* When the big secret is officially unveiled, we’re told that most of the other countries had escaped Earth, and the UK was left behind, stranded. But why couldn’t the UK do whatever it was that all the other countries did to escape? It’s bloody Brexit, isn’t it? Eight hundred years later, we’ve completely isolated ourselves from the entire world, in the reckless pursuit of self-determination, even when the only choice on offer is between ignorance and death.

* Nevertheless, it’s great that Amy gets to saves the day, even if the constant repetition of information we’d just been told was a little excessive. The point is that on her very first trip, she has the balls to take control of the situation, make a decision on the best course of action, and make it happen completely independently of The Doctor. She can do this because she already knows him so well, which makes sense considering she’s hero-worshipped him for virtually her entire life. She genuinely is like no companion that’s come before, and it’s a really exciting new dynamic.

* Of course Winston Churchill turns up at the end. I like it when the adventures are linked in some way, a practice which harks back to the very earliest of the show’s early days.

RATING: 8

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