The Star Beast
The Star Beast
This Story: 60th Anniversary Special 1. Production code 60a.1
Overall: Story 301, Episode 878
Airdate: 25 Nov 2023
Written by Russell T Davies
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Before I get started, I wanted to say something about “my thoughts”. To this point in the marathon, I’ve written about the episodes I watched on Twitter (with a couple of exceptions). However, going forward, I’m writing about them on my blog first. The reason is mostly spoiler based. Until now, every episode I wrote about was in the past. However, from here forward, I’ll be writing about them as they are new. That’s something that can easily be spoiled on social media, so I’ll just be linking back here from social media.
It was 13 months since the last new Doctor Who, so it was something that was a big surprise to me that I was able to sit down in front of my TV, and watch the new episode at the exact same time it went out on the BBC. It was just there – in 4k no less – on Disney Plus. I’ve never been able to watch new episodes that easily before, so yay for Disney getting involved there, despite how weird that sounds.
There was an intro scene before the titles explaining The Doctor and Donna’s past. That was probably necessary, as one has to assume a large percentage of those watching this special on Disney+ do not know the background story. This led into the titles. Which looked like they had more budget in them than the entire first series of Christopher Eccleston’s year. They looked amazing. The only complaint I had is that they felt shorter than the usual titles. Could have gone with longer titles.
David Tennant’s 14th Doctor is said to be similar to the 10th, but not the same. For the most part it felt the same, I’m not sure where the differences are. Perhaps more viewings (or the other specials) would expose that. Still, it was fun to see him there, and break out the favorites right away. He met Donna, we got an Allonsy right away, we got a What WHAT?… We just dived in.
We got some comedy right away, we got the Doctor being uncomfortable when he first meets Donna, and then her daughter Rose. Rose is transgender (both as a character and in real life). I am not, so those issues aren’t as ingrained in my thought patterns as they probably should be. A friend of mine who is non binary I work with was someone whose thoughts I was curious about. I said this about the episode.. “In this, Donna Noble has a daughter who is non binary, and there’s a lot of stuff in here that to me played real. Concepts like verbal abuse, dead name usage, pronouns, difficulty of family members knowing what terms to use, etc.. Was curious how that all played out to someone who is more immersed in these subjects than I.” I personally thought it was well handled and written into the story – even factored into the plot with the resolution of the meta crisis from 15 years ago. While I can’t speak to transgender issues from a first person reason, to me it seemed rather well handled.
UNIT was all over this, although not with Kate Stewart (not yet anyway). This one had a new UNIT scientific advisor Shirley Anne Bingham. She identifies herself as “UNIT Scientific Advisor #56”. The Doctor then calls himself #1, which was played for a laugh in the show, although technically Liz Shaw was #1, but never mind. :) She was a great character. They wrote her being in a wheelchair into the plot similar to the transgender issues, and it worked. It all worked! This is RTD – big time. Was so fun when they worked weapons into her wheelchair – it was both funny and drove the plot forward (“I don’t just fire darts, mate!”). Loved Ruth Madeley here, and I was pleased to read we’ll be seeing her again in the future, although in what capacity (and how much) I don’t know. Ruth herself posted on social media about enjoying doing the role, which was really nice to see.
The Meep stuff was both cute, and very ET at the same time. Given this was based off a comic book of the same name that was released originally in 1980, this predates ET, so there’s no “ripping off ET” going on here. Was funny because in the making of stuff that was released, there was a segment of David Tennant with his original Star Beast comic book with the authors, the kid that lives in him was having a major geek out. Anyway, the Meep was what you expected him to be. Cute, cuddly, until about 3/4 of the way through when it turned out to be evil, and was trying to kill everyone on the planet – and the people you thought were bad guys were not. Meep wasn’t the deepest character, basically was just biding his time before he went berserk and tried to kill everyone.
This was directed by Rachel Talalay, who did some of my favorite Peter Capaldi stories, so it was a joy to see her back – hopefully there’s more coming later on with her and Ncuti Gatwa. There was a ton of action here, and all done with (mostly) practical effects and stunts. I think it made things look more real. Not that I don’t like good CGI, but a good practical effect will always look more real. We blew up part of Donna’s house, we had UNIT soldiers, both real and possessed. We had spaceships, we had the streets of London being torn apart – you know, pretty basic Doctor Who stuff.
One thing I didn’t care for about the end was the way that Donna & Rose “let it go”. Donna was saved by the meta crisis being partially passed down to a child, and therefore making it not as powerful, so she/they can keep it. However, in the end, they opted to just “let it go”, and throwing away the meta crisis plot line. I get moving past it, but the way they did I didn’t care for. There was a legit plot reason why the meta crisis was there in the first place, and they just “let it go” because they’re not a binary stated male? The implication that if the Doctor was still Jodie Whittaker that the Doctor would have “got it”. I’m not offended by that in any way, just struck me as THAT was the stated reason for getting rid of a life threatening thing merely because they’re the gender they identify as was a bit of a “Yeah, that doesn’t feel right” from a plot standpoint. It’s not enough to make me hate the story. In fact, I loved the binary/non binary stuff being used in plot. But to just say “We let it go” because they’re what – female? I don’t know if I agree with that. Am I missing something?
We did get a new Tardis interior, and it is by far the largest interior we’ve ever had. The only one closer I can think of was the one for the Paul McGann 1996 TV movie. But this is way larger. The console itself looks amazing. I quite love this. Given how much it seems was spent on it, I have to imagine this will be for Gatwa as well, can’t imagine they’d build all this just for three episodes. The only thing I didn’t care for is that it’s SUPER white – and honestly kind of bland. As I said, the console itself is great, but the room has nothing in it except ramps – everywhere. White ramps. No seats, no coat rack, no nothing. It needs some personality. Given what we know about Ncuti Gatwa, he’s anything but plain and bland, so I’m hoping he redecorates a bit. The one thing that bugs me a bit about the Tardis interior scene is the Doctor’s reaction to it. He acts like he’s never seen it before. However at the start of the story he lands and comes out – so did it change during this adventure? They don’t state that. Of course right after we get this new console, it gets blown up by Donna pouring coffee on it. That was funny.
We do get a reference to Wilf here, although he’s not seen. He was spotted filming on this a year ago, so my guess is he turns up at the end of the third special. That was Bernard Cribbins’ last acting role before he died, so it will be bittersweet to see him again. It was stated that Kate Stewart was “taking care” of Wilf for being an old soldier. That line had all the feels. In fact, there were feels all over this episode.
This was a good old fashioned straightforward family adventure. The kind we probably needed as the first of the specials, and a somewhat soft reboot of the series. Very much enjoyed this, and looking forward to the other two specials.
Links[ Wikipedia | Tardis Data Core | SPS Historium | UK DVD | UK Blu-Ray | UK Steelbook ]
#DoctorWhoMarathon Ep 878 - The Star Beast (Story 301, Serial 60a.1) - 25 Nov 2023— jᎾᎬ sᎥᎬᎶᏞᎬᏒ (@JoeSiegler) November 29, 2023
New #DoctorWho for the first time in ages gets added to the marathon. In order to keep spoilers off social media, I'm writing about new eps on my blog where you can go read my spoiler-y comments:… pic.twitter.com/hPM1MU6yro