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Monday, May 1, 2017

Doctor Who: The (Other) Beast Below

Is it me, or is the third episode always a historical lately? Whether or not you count the Christmas specials or last season's two-parters as individual stories, the third episode of each season since launch has been a historical.

A contemporary human companion's first historical trip is always a special occasion as the ramifications of time travel can easily be overlooked if you're travelling to the future or the past of another planet entirely, but travelling into your own planet's past makes it much more personal. This remind me strongly of the Shakespeare episode with Ten and Martha, in that the companion's initial concerns of being black and in the past were addressed and both brought up the Butterfly Effect. Twelve's response was much funnier than Ten's "Just don't step on any butterflies"; Twelve almost had me believing in poor old Pete.

Your weekly moment of social issues are a mixed bag, however. The cartoonishly racist antagonist and (Twelve's response to him) was a bit much, but was still believable for the time period;  so was Twelve literally using the word "whitewash" when it's been established he has trouble telling individual human beings apart to begin with. But on the other hand, both the antagonist and the comment on the diversity of the crowds were accurate, and the comment about the little white boy being 'transported' was a fair touch as well.
London-based period pieces are a walk in the park for the BBC
The stand-out scene in this episode is where Bill learns who and what the Doctor really is after seeing a very tragic scene and gets properly mad at him. "I am over 2000 years old, and I have never had the time for the luxury of outrage" is a very powerful statement when coming from the mouth of someone who never just talks but always acts to help people.

Pearl Mackie is showing a lot of unexpected versatility in this episode:
Properly mad. 
Nargle Nardole shows up for all of a minute or so, so that makes me happy.

I think my absolute favourite part of this entire episode is that, while we see the monster (and I'm curious as to why it has human eyes), it's never explained what it is or where it came from. The Doctor even goes so far as to say it may even be native to Earth, but speculates no further. The villain doesn't explain it, the Doctor doesn't recognize it, and even the historical records don't mention it when Bill gets back to modern day.

From a technical aspect, I feel that this episode was probably made with very little expense. The set for the Frost Fair must have been tiny, given the fog effects, and the BBC should have very little trouble finding a large vintage house and a brick-walled factory to film in.

Three for three on decent episodes this year. No stinkers or stand-outs yet, and certainly worth a watch.

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