In the future, the Earth has been made uninhabitable by excessive solar activity, so the UK’s population is now housed in a giant starship. There is, naturally, something terribly wrong with it.

Cast and Crew

Matt Smith as the Doctor
Karen Gillan as Amy Pond
Sophie Okonedo as Liz 10
Terrence Hardiman as Hawthorne
Hannah Sharp as Mandy
Alfie Field as Timmy
Christopher Good as Morgan
David Ajala as Peter
Jonathan Battersby as Winder
Catrin Richards as Poem Girl

Written by Steven Moffat

Produced by Peter Bennett

Directed by Andrew Gunn

Originally aired on the 10th of April 2010 on BBC One/BBC HD in the United Kingdom.

Premise

The Doctor takes Amy to a future when Earth is uninhabitable and the entire population of the UK lives on a giant spaceship. Except the Scottish, who built their own. There is, of course, something horribly, horribly wrong with Starship UK.

High Points

  • “A long time ago tomorrow morning. I wonder what I did?” As Douglas Adams observed, the tense formations involved in talking about time travel are complicated.
  • “It was a bad day. Bad stuff happened.”
  • The Doctor’s actually trying to teach Amy to spot things and figure things out, rather than letting her bumble along in ignorance.

Low Points

  • “Geronimo!” I suppose that counts as his catchphrase. Please no.

The Scores

Originality: I’m sure I’ve seen or read a story rather like this before. Three out of six.

Effects: Some very pretty space shots, if perhaps a tad overdense on stars. I wasn’t much convinced by the whale though. Four out of six.

Story: It’s a decent story with a few twists, and some of them I didn’t even see coming. Four out of six.

Acting: Karen Gillen and Matt Smith are both shaping up very well. I thought Hannah Sharp was superb, but Sophie Okonedo’s performance as Liz 10 seemed a little simplistic. Five out of six.

Emotional response: I felt sympathetic, but there’s nothing particularly gripping here. Most of the keep-watching factor comes from ordinary wanting to know what happens. Three out of six.

Production: Why is it that spaceships in the future always have their name taking up a ridiculous amount of space on every computer screen? Also, I didn’t feel the supposedly dirty starship interior was really dirty enough, and all the faux-1950s aesthetic was a little implausible given when this thing was supposed to be built. It’s just beating us over the head with the standard idealised vision of the UK. London Underground-style lift doors and signage, logos lifted more or less directly from the BBC in the 1970s… Three out of six.

Overall: Overall, actually I’m going to give it quite a high score because I did enjoy it despite its mediocrity in various areas. Five out of six.

The Beast Below receives a grand total of twenty-seven out of forty-two.