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5.02 The Beast Below

Very good.

I still really, really enjoyed this but I'm slightly more subdued because I really feel like a saw the edited highlights of a longer (better) story. Maybe it doesn't help that the last several episodes have been around an hour long and suddenly losing a quarter of the running time makes it feel rushed?

Matt and Karen were, again, brilliant. I like how the Doctor's past hasn't been brushed under the carpet; there are mentions of the Bad Day ™ and him being a parent where he conveyed the "I don't want to talk, it's painful" but without dwelling on it and making it a Thing.

The Smilers looked amazing even if I think they were a little underused. They ought to have been proper nightmare fuel given their appearance but were oddly unthreatening in reality. In fact the whole matter of the police state, of people being watched and no one helping little Mandy (children, given the trailers, do seem to be making more of an impact in the new series), was swiftly put to the back of the story as we focus instead on Liz X. Not that Sophie Okonedo wasn't fabulous, "Basically, I rule!", but focusing on the Queen wasn't what I expected from the 1984 set-up. Poor use of Terrence "Demon Headmaster" Hardiman, he terrified me as a kid, but barely got two scenes here. Now, guess how old my non-sock self is!

Still, there was a lot to like. The Doctor making out he doesn't interfere, Amy getting into trouble and picking a padlock with a hair pin, although why she had a hair pin on her I don't know. The set design was amazing with the little touches like the Tube station "Vators", the test card girl, train station benches, wooden school desks and a proper dial phone. It all looked great. And although I didn't twig at the time, Moffat says that keeping Amy in her nightie was a reference to Wendy in Peter Pan and I feel daft for not noticing that. Despite being extremely yukky, the vomit business made me laugh out loud: "This might be lacking in dignity" *straightens bow-tie*

Not sure what to make of the politics of UK independance from the world or Scottish independance from the UK, or for that matter the fact we still have a monarchy (even if it's a kick ass one)but the importance of voting and protesting injustices is so core to Doctor Who and a good philosophy to life in general that it felt like a strong theme and a good use of an pre-election story.

The big denouement was very effective. When the Doctor shouted that humans didn't have anything to say to him today it was a physical flinch moment for me. I have heard people say that they don't like that the Doctor came to the wrong conclusion and the companion saves the day because it undermines him, but personally I like that the Doctor is fallible. He might not be a human but he does have a few human failings and believing his own hype is one of them. He's not God, he doesn't have the ultimate answer to everything. It's a shame that Moffat and Co didn't trust the audience to realise that Amy was drawing parallels between the Space Whale and the Doctor and have to reiterate it in the next scene but the concept was brilliant. I like that the Doctor is kind and interferes because he's trying to help more than the idea the Doctor is arrogant and interefers because he can. I don't mean that as a dig at Ten/RTD *exactly* because I think Ten was deliberatley trying to be The Lonely God and showing that it made him miserable. /badly worded thoughts.

The crack appears again, as does Magpie Electricals. The Doctor and Amy are on hugging terms - aww! - but still haven't 'fessed up their respective secrets. And next week there are Daleks. Awesome. Roll on week three.


Don't call me SJ

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