Series five of Doctor Who is all about how one views the stories they’re told. This can be seen through the idea of space fairy tale imagery and most notably the heavy use of perception filters throughout the series.
So, I thought the most adequate way to appreciate year five was by reviewing it, plain and simple. Basically, I’m going to tell you how I perceived this series.
5×02 “The Beast Below”
The Doctor takes Amy to the future inside Starship UK, which contains in addition to British explorers, an intimidating race known as the Smilers.
When I first watched this episode, I was worried. After a great first episode, this one kind of sucked in comparison. It was a shame really, because it had a good opening scene, some awesome imagery, and some decent terror laced into it that just never fully developed into anything interesting.
Let’s start with the Smilers. These things were pretty creepy. However, once you learn the truth about what is going down on the Starship UK (I mean, a giant space whale? Come on), you realize just how much everything in this episode was wasted potential.
The Smilers are creepy villains, but outside of the first few minutes of the episode, they don’t really do anything. They are literally creepy figureheads that don’t amount to much.
The same goes for Liz 10 and her conspiracy theory. That in itself could have made for an interesting episode, but it’s tied to this plot about a space whale that goes absolutely nowhere.
Another bit of great imagery is Liz 10’s room full of water glasses. Great shot, but does it serve a purpose? Nope. This episode is full of pointless great shots like that. The Smilers also count as a great shot that doesn’t have much of a justification.
I think I’ve mentioned the giant space whale several times now, and there’s a reason for that. I feel like it completely surpasses the level of ridiculous that is acceptable in an episode of Doctor Who.
I mean, come on – how does it breathe in space? Does anybody agree with me? No? Oh, and you want me to shut up, and you’re lecturing me about how I need to restrain my need to justify everything in this barely-sci-fi-mostly-space-fantasy world being presented. Well, fine. But still, giant space whale.
Now that I’ve spent a fair amount of time shitting on this episode, I guess I should talk a little bit about what I liked in it. What I liked basically amounts to anything that informs the characters of Amy and The Doctor.
The subplot involving Amy’s vote is pretty great. It’s unfortunately tied into the overall crappiness of the episode, but the fact she keeps to the truth about what she did is pretty important character development for her.
This development will come back to help and simultaneously haunt her later on.