Doctor Who 60th Anniversary: The Star Beast – Recap & Review

The Star Beast

Doctor Who returns with The Star Beast, the first of 3 Specials due to drop this year. We begin with Donna Noble, who knows that there’s something happening. She keeps having dreams about the past, like something is coming back. “It’s like a storm in the air, about to break.”

We’re in London and our new Doctor (David Tennant part 2) takes a stroll around the capital. He notices someone struggling with a whole stack of boxes and it just so happens to be Donna, helping out his daughter Rose with her stuff.

Before the Doctor can introduce himself, a spaceship crashes down over London. The Doctor nonchalantly mentions how it’s a ship but Donna is too busy stacking boxes to pay much attention to it.

The Doctor gets a lift from Shaun Temple of all people to the crash site. This is Donna’s husband, and he explains that they did win the lottery… but Donna gave it all away to charity beyond buying their current house. 166 million completely gone, just like that. Seems a very selfless act but… is that really Donna? We’ll soon find out.

The Doctor sneaks into the crash site while soldiers flitter about trying to make sense of what’s going on. They arrive first to the rocket, and the Doctor overhears a woman called Shirley down below saying that the ship didn’t crash… it parked.

Meanwhile, we learn more about Donna’s daughter, who’s bullied by kids outside for who she is after having a sex change. While Rose heads off into the shed, Donna reflects with her mum over the gap in her knowledge. She thinks she had something great but now it’s gone.

Rose heads out and discovers a strange alien called the Meep. Apparently there are others in the sky that are hunting her down and Meep has been escaping.

These strange creatures happen to be on the hunt in the alleyways, sporting guns and monstrous claws. Rose takes Meep into the shed where she shows off her business, which happens to be making toys which she sells in Dubai. Meep admits she just wants to go home, and Rose replies she too thinks she’s from a different planet because, if you hadn’t guessed already, she had a sex change. This is interrupted though by Donna, who shows up and realizes Meep is real.

Meanwhile, The Doctor runs into Shirley Bingam again, who seems to know what’s going on with the rocket. She questions what the Doctor is doing, but he admits that he’s lost and isn’t sure why he’s back. He suspects that Donna could be drawing everyone in and although he doesn’t believe in destiny, it seems destiny is closing in around Donna Noble.

While the Doctor ponders over this, they’ve discovered some sort of signal from inside the rocket. As it opens, Shirley watches from the ground as a swirling mass of energy seems to infect all the soldiers.

The Doctor soon shows up at Donna’s house. Sylvia is not happy to see the Time Lord and in the end, he gets a smack in the face for his troubles. However, Meep’s admission is known to the whole family, leaving Donna with plenty of questions. The first comes from her thinking about selling Meep to make some money.

Wilf is still alive thankfully, and he’s being kept in sheltered accommodation. However, we haven’t heard about Rose’s predicament for a while and she calls out the Doctor for incorrectly using pronouns with Meep. It’s quite a long conversation, and it ends with the Doctor apologizing.

Thankfully, we’re saved from this by chaos breaking out in the middle of the room. But somehow the Doctor conjures a forcefield with his Sonic screwdriver, which is apparently something he can do, and encourages the Meep to follow and head upstairs out of danger.

These strange aliens can fly but they don’t bother to follow the Meep. Instead, they decide to square off against the aliens outside. While they do, the Doctor and the others hop over to the adjacent houses and manage to slowly scarper out the front and into the taxi.

Despite getting hit by some laser fire, they do manage to get out in one piece. It seems easy. Perhaps too easy?

The Doctor dons a judge’s wig and decides to bring the aliens in to find out exactly what is going on. The guns the aliens hold are stun guns and Sergeant Zogroth and Constable Zreeg are the names of the attackers. The Wrath warriors don’t want to kill, it’s the soldiers with the “swirling mists” that are the bad guys. It turns out this is solar psychedelia, rendering those infected as evil and callous. And it’s controlled by the Meep.

Donna is shocked and calls Meep out for being an evil creature. “You stupid woman with your weird child!” it shouts, as Donna comes over to attack. Thankfully, the Doctor speaks up and manages to convince them not to kill. However, he does get knocked out and taken hostage along with the others.

Apparently Donna gave up her money because she felt like others needed it more than her and it felt like “something he (The Doctor) would do”. Either way, the conversation ends as Meep takes them to the steelworks, and prepares to take off.

Thankfully, Shirley is on hand to help and her wheelchair is laced with plenty of weapons to fight back. Donna watches this play out and she gets a strange sense of deja vu. She decides to leave her family behind and help The Doctor.

Donna finds herself caught in an impossible decision, forced to sacrifice herself for the sake of 9 million people. The Doctor – in a scene reminiscent of his final moment in End of Time – speaks to Donna on the other side of the glass.

He laments his decision that it has to end like this and begins reciting a whole bunch of different words. This eventually leads to Donna getting all of her memories back. And when she does, the Meep begins burning up the city.

As for Donna, she’s okay and is back as the Donna Doctor and seemingly absolutely fine too… at least for 55 seconds. She uses this to do what’s right and save the world, while the Doctor watches on helplessly.

The ignition that destroyed London starts to reverse, while Donna clutches her stomach and drops to the ground. The soldiers outside are ordered to attack, just as Donna passes out.

Three soldiers arrive with guns but Rose shows up to save the day. She manages to stop the swirling mists and save everyone. It turns out that the metacrisis has passed down so she has a shared inheritance.

So while Donna was saying “binary”, Rose was saying “nonbinary”. The shed was her memory of the TARDIS. The toys were all the monsters that they met. And can we just say that the adipose toy is super cute!

Meep leaves as a war criminal, but warns that her “boss” will want to hear about this, while Donna and Rose decide to let go of their power together. Just like that.

Donna and Doctor decide to travel together again, and there’s a brand new Tardis to boot too. As they chat, Donna accidentally knocks coffee over the console and the TARDIS blinks out and disappears, taking them off to parts unknown.

The Episode Review

Doctor Who is back and if this is a sign of things to come, its fair to say that the show has remained dead ever since Peter Capaldi’s transformation. The problem with this episode comes from something that’s seen the ratings bleed over the last couple of seasons – the writing.

Doctor Who has always been diverse and excellent for representation but the way this episode presents it, and, specifically Rose, makes it feel so forced and awkward.

The first introduction of the boys bullying Rose is such a good way of showing xenophobia and bigotry… but then we get constant callbacks and throwbacks to this precise point all the way through the episode, leading up to some incredibly forced speeches that feel reminiscent of Whittaker’s tenure where she lectured about global warming.

The 5 minute monologue about how awful the Doctor is for not giving Meep the right pronouns, followed by the speech at the end about how the “girl timelords” are better than the boy ones are two of the most egregious and could have been done so much more effectively. Show don’t tell after all!

However, it is great to see Tennant and Noble back together again and they effortlessly slip back into their roles. The music is similarly pretty good and the opening credits aren’t bad either. The little twist with the Meep is similarly a nice touch but beyond that, there’s little else to really cling to.

As someone who has watched every single episode of Who, from Classic through to New, The Star Beast is a bad episode. It’s a pretty poor way of reintroducing the show and reeling people back in who were turned off from the writing. This is another case of crowbarring a message (no matter how important) into a plot rather than organically adding it in with good storytelling. Hopefully the next specials will improve.

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