As always, if you haven't seen the episode then don't read on - erotic spoilers are contained within. Well, spoilers anyway. The eroticism depends entirely, as Obi Wan Kenobi might say, on your own point of view. And speaking of Star Wars...
There were numerous nods to the George Lucas space opera but my favourite was surely the "Star Wars wipe" (as I incorrectly refer to it) which blended into a scene not unreminiscent of the denouement in The Empire Strikes Back. (30 years old next month - blimey!) Anyway, whilst the less mature of us were still sniggering at the title for the episode (I mean - come on! Won't someone pur~lease think of the children??), The Moff & Co. were steaming on into actual character development and story~telling.
The opening scene where Pond was floating in "space", held only be The Doctor, was most touching - expanding magnificently on Donna's "space scene" in The Runaway Bride. Touching and funny too as our clumsy Doc leaves her clinging on to the TARDIS. Their relationship is a joy to watch and both Matt Smith and Karen Gillan should be commended with whatever kind of milkshakes they lurve as the pair are producing performances with both light and heavy touches.
Again, the supporting cast are excellent though purty much in the background with The Doctor and Amy taking centre~stage, as it were (and as it should be). Sophie Okonedo was terrifically common as Liz Ten: "I'm the bloody Queen. Basically, I rule". (As a side~note, I wonder if The Moff is going to do a "basically" each week, hope not it's awfully "street".) And, again, we have another cracking performance from a 'child'.
But, there's a similarity here that's already flagging up some issues for me. The Beast Below did echo The Long Game, Gridlock and Planet of the Ood in both style and substance (all future humans with a deep "dark secret"). I'm also wary of The Doctor being a well known figure, coming to a situation where he isn't just an outer~space Bohemian hobo~dandy with a pleasant open face, question marks and hideous hair. Last week the inhabitants of Leadworth knew him, this week The Queen & Co. were aware of him and next week Churchill knows who he is. AND there's River Song the week after!
On first viewing too, I was a little disappointed but I guess that's gonna happen. After so many episodes that ramped excitement and expectation to beyond maximum to then have a story that is exactly just that - a story - feels a little bit odd. But that's how it should be - not every episode can maintain the high levels of hyper~action and The Beast Below makes up for this in heartfelt character scenes (The Doctor's anger and Amy's realisation of how to save the day, for example) and, dare I say, fun. I will state that it makes for delightful further viewings.
The Beast Below continues the high production values (the Starship UK and the Star Whale are both magnificently realised); another spellbinding score from Murray "Muzza" Gold - particularly Amy's space~float and the opening twenty minutes, utterly sublime; along with the mesmerising performances from the two leads and The Moff's inventive and funny scripts. But what is on Moffo's mind?
Two weeks in a row with very specific - and not exactly positive - references to Scotland? According to the little girl in this episode, Scotland wanted their own ship (for the record, I would have jumped ship if that had been the case) but what of it? What happened to the Scottish? Did they stay on Earth and die? Did they get their own ship, and then die? Or did their ship flourish, conquer the universe, and then they all died?
I guess we'll never know (unless the "crack" is a red~herring and the Scottish agenda is actually this series "arc") but it's interesting to note that both Ms Gillan and Mr Moffat are both Scots who upped sticks, moved and prospered in Enger~land. Am I reading too much into this? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Oh! And speaking of cigars...
What a trouser~tighteningly top way to throw to the next episode!