Saturday, April 24, 2010

Doctor Who, "The Beast Below": Thar she blows!

A quick review of the second "Doctor Who" episode of the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat era coming up just as soon as I abdicate...

Even more than last week's "The Eleventh Hour," "The Beast Below" was a clear sign Moffat isn't throwing out most of what Russell T. Davies did. As Davies so often did around this point in the season, we travel to a far future version of Earth (or, here, a temporarily nomadic Earth civilization traveling the galaxy while waiting for their planet to stop burning).

But "The Beast Below" was also reminiscent of many Moffat-scripted episodes from the Davies era, not just with the "Everybody lives!"-style ending in which both the star whale and the ship were saved, but in the way it was overflowing with creative ideas: Starship UK itself, the Smilers and the weird martial law they practiced, Liz 10 and her hooded guards, the memory-erasing vote, etc. Some became strong parts of the climax, while others (mainly the martial law and the depressed, frightened populace) were largely forgotten. (Though an argument could be made that the horrible practice of torturing the whale led to all of society's problems, and that people would be happier now that the whale was free and a volunteer.)

This was a good Amy episode, establishing some limits in her relationship with The Doctor and also letting her save the day instead of him. And it moved along the season's continuing threads (Amy as runaway bride, the cracks in the universe appearing on the side of Starship UK).

Very solid second effort. "The Eleventh Hour" was no fluke.

Keeping in mind that we will not discuss anything that happens in episodes that have yet to air in the US, what did everybody else think?

47 comments:

Larry C said...

I liked the episode a lot.

One nitpick: Shouldn't the Doctor have recognized the Star Whale early on?

Tom Dickinson said...

This episode had a lot of strengths, but didn't it also have a LOT of logical flaws to it?

Why would the Doctor not have seen the whale at the beginning of the episode (if not visually, then through the scanner)? Why were the Doc and Amy not spewn into space when the whale vomited them, as the end of the episode clearly shows that the whale's mouth hangs out into space? What exactly WERE the Smilers and the Winders, and what purpose were they meant to serve? If they knew that the whale wouldn't eat kids, then why did they keep feeding kids to the whale? If the whale was benevolent, why didn't it spare EVERYONE who was fed to it?

The list just goes on and on.

Overall, I thought it was a bit of a disappointment, and it lacked the visual flair of The Eleventh Hour. But strong performances manage to carry it.

David J. Loehr said...

Fluke.

Wow.

I did very much like this one. I assume the depressed public was a result of their subconscious not being able to forget; now, that's not a problem. Moffat could have cut something for time, but he's also a smart enough writer to let the audience make its own connections sometimes. (Is one reason I'm so happy he's running the Doctor now.)

crone51 said...

Is it my imagination or is BBCA running many more commercials during Dr. Who than they used to? And therefore, are they cutting vast chunks of what was broadcast in the UK?

Ingrid said...

My DVR settings were messed up fpr some reason; it only recorded the second half of the episode, so I missed quite a bit. But I liked what I saw, and I think I may revise my negative opinion of Amy. I liked how she saved the day.

Sean L said...

Why would the Doctor not have seen the whale at the beginning of the episode (if not visually, then through the scanner)?

Um, they were above the ship? Admittedly not a wonderful explanation, but they can't give The Doctor/TARDIS too much omniscience or the stories would just be dull.

Why were the Doc and Amy not spewn into space when the whale vomited them, as the end of the episode clearly shows that the whale's mouth hangs out into space?

This one was explained better: the mouth was sealed up and they ended up in an overflow pipe.

Your other questions are good, and I have no answers for them. I don't think anyone could argue that the plot of this one was watertight (though apparently the whale's closed mouth was!)

munchkin275 said...

I totally didn't notice the crack in the ship until you mentioned it! *hits forehead* And to answer your question, crone51, I thought the same thing but according to BBC America they are showing it uncut. Guess the episodes are just shorter than they used to be maybe? Or I didn't time the commercials so maybe even though there are lots they are shorter than they seem. Anyway, another great episode of Doctor Who. Lots of gold stars for the writers!

Artemis said...

I loved the episode. It reminded me of the Torchwood episode in which a giant alien was being cut up while alive for its meat. That poor creature did not end up as happily as this one, I'm afraid. Anyway, one of the things I love about both shows is the compassion that they feel for the alien races. More thoughts on my blog, if anyone's interested.

Nicole said...

I liked how Eleven was just plain angry at the humans for doing what they did to the whale. I don't think Nine or Ten ever got that pissed at the human race even when they did do cruel things. It was definitely a Time Lord moment, which caused him to miss the whale's connection with the children. I do hope this is a theme continued in this series because every once in a while humans do bad things and should be called on them. Amy was certainly fearless in exploring the ship, and it was an interesting take for Moffat to have her make the "wrong" choice and to forget the horrible torture of the whale, which I don't think that RTD would have allowed Rose or Martha to do.

There was also definite creepy moments in this episode, especially at the beginning with the smilers, and this is definitely a Moffat touch that I appreciate. It makes the stakes a little higher at least for the temporary problem to be solved, but it doesn't resort to constant explosions. It also reinforces Moffat's comments that he thinks Doctor Who is a fairytale, and the creepiness adds to that feeling.

Kensington said...

I don't think this counts as a spoiler, but so far the running time for the episodes since The Eleventh Hour have all been about 41-42 minutes, and I do suspect this is partially to make it easier on networks like BBC America to air the show without having to make drastic cuts.

Still, BBC America has said that the premiere broadcasts would be uncut regardless, even if it means the show will need a longer timeslot.

The on demand versions are uncut as well.

Jeff W. said...

I really hope they signed Karen Gillan to more than a one-year contract. She's wonderful.

rachelmed said...

I am really liking it so far! There were some questions still left over but I do like that they are continuing themes like the crack in the Universe.

I'm excited to see where the series goes!

J said...

This one was a big honking mess, a sort of uncontrolled slop of ideas wrapped up with a bizarre no-conflict happy ending. If the heavy heavy heavy handed parallels between the helpful Doctor and the OMGshinyunicornsandrainbowsStarWhale! weren't bad enough, what's the real-life cultural parallel? The abused underclasses that would have just been thrilled to carry society's advance on their backs had they been spared the lash? Or is it a livestock happy meal parable? This was basically a regressive version of the Ood stories, and as such, Ptttph.

Sara Ann Stinson said...

I for one hope we can continue to look forward to more Moffat reworkings of classic, flawed Star Trek: TNG episodes. Now we've seen what "Encounter at Farpoint" could have been (with a dash of "Voyage Home" and a nod to the Death Star's trash compactor), I eagerly look forward to his upgrades of that one where Lwaxana Troy shows up with a husband for Deanna, and the mandatory episode where everyone catches Spring Break fever, loses their inhibitions, and runs around fencing and/or making sweet love with the nearest anatomically correct android. Mr. Moffat, if you're reading, your assignment is to find a way to fit in an alien that gestates inside and then erupts out of human chests, an android hunter who may be an android himself, and an episode where the Doctor goes back in time and has to get his mother to go to the prom with his dad, even though she has the hots for the Doctor. Bonus points if you can do it all in one episode. Go.

;)

Anonymous said...

@Nicole, Ten was also critical and dismissive of humans--in Rise of the Cybermen and Planet of the Ood for example (The Ood episode also had similar themes as Beast Below.).

I enjoyed Matt Smith showing us flashes of a dark Doctor, but i'm still not sold on the new series yet, particularly the companion. I found Amy Pond quite annoying in this episode. I do like Smith, was a bit worried I'd have trouble since Tennant is far and away my fave, but he's doing a good job. Still, only 2 eps in so I'll keep on, and watch for Moffat's stories at least even if the 2 leads never quite gel for me.

belinda said...

I didn't like this episode as much if only because I was much more interested in the big brother state - and if people always chose to forget why it was so important to be THAT vigilant with the little boy (who only failed a test, then had to 'take the stairs' and didn't) at the beginning - and the smileys that I was a bit let down by the Star Whale explanation. I still enjoy Moffat's tendency to make use of things we're afraid of as children (and his tendency to not have a lot of fatalities), but I think this episode suffered from too many ideas - good ideas - but it felt a little bit like a cheat.

The comparison between the Star Whale and the Doctor was too much on the nose as well, and I think while it was a really nice showcase for Amy, I think that it might be too early in the companion-doctor relationship for her to get the doctor so quickly. It seems also too big of a leap, no matter how bright Amy is.

I am interested to see the theme of this season (or so it seems) - the cracks. What else other than Prisoner X is trying to get through?

rose said...

I like it.

Artemis said...

I agree with anon. above. I think people mistake Ten's love of humans for a complete state of delusion about them. Ten could and did call out humans on their BS. There were also episodes in which he seemed contemptuous of them (his remarks about being clever in Midnight and about little people in Waters of Mars). Also, there's this mistaken notion that he couldn't be angered, which of course, is also false. In his first episode, Ten faced a similar situation to the Eleventh Hour, except Ten concluded by killing one of the aliens, then turning on the Prime Minister.

Back to this one. As I said earlier, I love Matt smith in this, and I think Amy has gotten off to a promising start. It was interesting to see the companion make the wrong choice, which Martha or Rose wound not have done.

Matthew L said...

I really liked the episode, although I thought it did need an extra five or so minutes just to flesh out the world and the various plot points. But my main disappointment was with the ending - for a moment, it looked like it was going somewhere phenomenally brave (with the Doctor lobotomising the whale as a best-of-the-bad-options choice), and so I was a little disappointed that it had such an easy resolution. Still, an enjoyable and creepy episode.

Paul C said...

Would have liked to see a bit more of the Smilers. I am baffled at how they can have 3 expressions (happy, sad, angry) yet only have 2 half-heads especially if they were machines. Liz 10 guns a-blazing was really sweet. The hooded dude turning from the half-human to the half-Smiler was pretty cool.

So was the opening scene which I imagine would have been scary enough to little children. Though I did chuckle at it a bit, also too when the children were petting the tentacle.

I liked that Matt Smith got to show a bit more emotion & anger. Biggest plus of the episode was that Amy Pond has brains as well as a pretty face.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the second episode a lot. Smith and Gillan are so much more watchable to me than the previous Who and companions.

If they are ever going to make a Dr Who movie franchise, now is probably the time and this is probably the team.

M.A.Peel said...

Very distinctly Moffat. The Smilers and Liz 10's mask reminded me of the Clockmen from Girl in the Fireplace (with an echo of V for Vendetta). And the companion saving the day her first time out is not business as usual.

CTTS said...

@Jeff W: It has been announced that both Smith and Gillan have been signed for a second series in 2011. Yay!

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of surprised by how much I like the series right off the bat. I think part of that is that they're giving Karen Gillan such a strong presence. I always liked the Doctor's other companions, but they tended to be more followers along for the ride trying to figure things out. Amy has her own initiative and confidence leading her to make her own decisions.

Karen said...

I agree with @belinda: the parallels between the star whale and the Doctor was made a little more anvillicious than I thought it needed to be. It was more than clear by the time Amy got around to saying, "Remind you of anyone?" OK, OK, we get it!

That being said, this was a wonderfully Moffat-y episode. The Smilers were as terrifying as the clockmen from Girl in the Fireplace or the weeping angels. He really knows how to scare our inner child, doesn't he?

Amy goes from strength to strength and Eleven is starting to grow on me. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season.

Larry C said...

@ingrid, my DVR also messed up. The Fios schedule had last week's Doctor Who from 8:30-9:30, then this week's new episode from 9:30-10:00.

I realized this at about 9:05 so I only missed the first few minutes.

Did this happen to anyone else?

tique107 said...

Can't decide if Sara Ann Stinsons' comments are more serious or sarcastic. Do you like Moffats' writing or not,Sara?

In any case,I saw more similarity with TNG " TIN MAN " episode. As a fan of Moffat, ( Jekyll, Blink, & Coupling in particular ),this was,to me, below par.

Look forward to efforts of writers hired by SM, much as he was by RTD.

Sara Ann Stinson said...

@tique107, both serious and sarcastic. I do enjoy Moffat's writing and admire his originality, I was just startled by a strong sense of deja vu last night. I suppose, too, I was startled by the American-ness of the sources. Doctor Who is so very British (and under the previous administration, at least, its overt references to America have always been rather awkward and at least a touch defensive). It was weird to see an episode that, apparently absolute monarchy aside, felt so American at its core. Is that a coincidence, a tribute to the pervasiveness of American pop culture (did everyone else notice the commercials for Star Trek: TNG on BBCA during the breaks?), or is Moffat's Who going to take on a more American flavor underneath all the yay-rah UK nationalism?

And yeah, now that you mention it, I can totally see the Tin Man parallel.

Nicole said...

Ten got mad at what humans did, but Eleven was including Amy in his anger, which is not something he did with other companions. Ten ranted about the treatment of the Ood to Donna, but wasn't blaming her as well. What Eleven isn't putting Amy on a pedestal as separate from the other humans.

Hunterwali said...

@Sara Ann Stinson:

Could you explain a bit more what you mean by this American flavour? I have to say, watching it here in the UK, I didn't pick up the connection at all. But then, I've been more preoccupied by the growing Scottish presence in these episodes, including the nice bit about Scotland having their own ship.(Not surprising, of course, what with Moffat being Scottish.)

BigTed said...

As someone who just started watching "Doctor Who" last season, I have to say that I still don't really get it.

The special effects seem incredibly cheap (the "Smilers" looked like something out of the original "Twilight Zone" from half a century ago, and the "new UK" looked tiny and seemed to have about 40 people in it) -- and this can't just be an issue of money, since "Torchwood" got a lot more realism from what I'm assuming was a similar budget.

And what's the deal with the story lines - the Doctor just picks a random time and place to visit each week, hangs out a while, and discovers he has to save the day yet again? (And in this episode, wouldn't it have made sense, once he found out the British government had been torturing that space whale for decades, for him to go back in time a little more and stop it before it started?)

I dunno... I've liked everything else Steven Moffat has done, but here it seems like he's trying harder to carry on the traditions of a show that started in 1963 than to write one that holds up today.

Nathan said...

As far as run times go....I'm two weeks ahead and watching the BBC versions and those run in the 41:00 minute range so I doubt if they are cutting much if anything at all.
Amy Pond is easily the best of the companions of the revived series and is already in my top five of all time companions. Matt Smith simply owns the role. You see more and more Patrick Troughton with each week...and that is a good thing.

Artemis said...

@Nicole: I loved that Eleven included Amy in his rage, but it is wrong to assume that Ten would not have done so. He had no reason to blame Donna for the Ood, or any of his former companions. Amy is the first to allow something to awful to continue and to keep vital info from the Doctor. If Amy had done it to Ten, I think he would have yelled at her just as hard. I also wonder whether Donna would have chosen to forget- I don't think she would.

If I have any disappointment about the episode, it's about how the Doctor was willing to allow the continued torture of a being that was the last of its kind. I would have liked the episode much more if the Doctor, Amy or the Queen had made the decision to let the UK die rather than let them continue at such an expense.

Marquis said...

And what's the deal with the story lines - the Doctor just picks a random time and place to visit each week, hangs out a while, and discovers he has to save the day yet again?


Pretty much yeah. we don't see every trip the tardis makes, just the more memorable ones.

Also the common theory is that the Tardis tends to take him to times and locales where something important is happening, it sense fluctuations or something.

(And in this episode, wouldn't it have made sense, once he found out the British government had been torturing that space whale for decades, for him to go back in time a little more and stop it before it started?)

That's something show at least in new incarnation has explained once he's appeared at a moment in time he becomes part of the events and cannot alter them. Think about it if he went back further to stop it from happening in the first place, there's no ship for him find at this later point. Paradox.

Also it would make for a very boring show.

I dunno... I've liked everything else Steven Moffat has done, but here it seems like he's trying harder to carry on the traditions of a show that started in 1963 than to write one that holds up today.

Doctor Who is one of the top 3 shows in Britain. Currently getting about 1 in 10 of the population watching. It is incredibly popular

Matthew L said...

The special effects seem incredibly cheap (the "Smilers" looked like something out of the original "Twilight Zone" from half a century ago, and the "new UK" looked tiny and seemed to have about 40 people in it) -- and this can't just be an issue of money, since "Torchwood" got a lot more realism from what I'm assuming was a similar budget.

I'm not sure a comparison to Torchwood is exactly fair - Torchwood doesn't need too much work to create modern-day Wales, so can focus its budget on those few moments that require effects. Doctor Who needs to create an entire futuristic city/country flying through space on the back of a giant space whale. And that's for one episode. Every one or two shows, the show goes to an entirely new world that needs to be created from scratch. (Don't forget, the only standing reuseable set on the show is the TARDIS set - a set that gets used for maybe a couple of minutes each episode.) I'm not sure what the comparable budgets of Torchwood and Doctor Who are, but Doctor Who has far and away the higher budgetary demands. Frankly, I'm always amazed at what Who manages to achieve with such budgetary constraints.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

"Doctor Who is one of the top 3 shows in Britain. Currently getting about 1 in 10 of the population watching. It is incredibly popular"

That in itself is amazing. The show began in 1963, with the long hiatus in the '90's into the new century. and at a time when scripted shows on American TV dwindling, some of the best stuff is still coming out of the UK.

I liked the episode quite a bit, and have been an on again off again Dr. Who viewer since the Tom Baker days.

Amy really should have remembered to take an overnight bag with her...its going to get cold running around in other galaxies in only a nightgown.

Sara Ann Stinson said...

@Hunterwali: I don't mean necessarily that the episode felt American so much as that the references all seemed American, like Moffat was drawing overwhelmingly on American pop culture experiences. It may all have been a confluence of coincidences--I have no idea how popular TNG is in Britain, much less whether Moffat specifically watched any particular episode--but the parallels struck me. Too early to declare it a pattern or anything.

Meanwhile, not only does Scotland apparently have far superior resources in the distant future, but they stone-cold left England to burn. That's what I call holding onto a grudge.

Nathan said...

I'm sure a more hardcore "Who" fan can correct me if I'm wrong but after the events of "The Key To Time" arc during the Tom Baker years the TARDIS was equipped with a randomizer to make it's destinations almost impossible to predict. That function may well be disabled now but the show does have a history of the TARDIS going where ever it wants to.

Master Prudent said...

If the whale was benevolent, why didn't it spare EVERYONE who was fed to it?

It was being tortured by the humans so it had little reason to feel charitable towards them in general - indeed it only saved them in the first place because it liked kids. (It can't have known that some of the ones being fed to it were the ones who voted no.)

What exactly WERE the Smilers and the Winders, and what purpose were they meant to serve?

Mechanical guards to watch society, keep order and dispatch poor performers to the beast. Primarily there to ensure the collective conspiracy ran smoothly. You could give them a long origin story but I'm not sure that it would have been terribly interesting.

If they knew that the whale wouldn't eat kids, then why did they keep feeding kids to the whale?

To keep everyone in line. To make sure that people behaved and studied for their exams.

Admittedly none of these (aside from the winders) were directly stated in the episode and the last one is probably pure fanwank but my policy with Doctor Who is pretty lenient: Just go with the flow so long as it doesn't really stand out. Even before Moffat ran the show it was a fairy tale with copious amounts of magic and sometimes you've just got to tap the red shoes three times to go home. Why? Because those are just the rules.

If it was hard SF or claiming to be set in the real world than I'd be a little stricter - which might explain why I was bothered that the electoral role hadn't been updated to include Amy's death. Either that or I'm just horribly inconsistent.

Sara said...

HATED this episode. Everything about it rang false, from Amy's exploration of the ship (what was her motivation to leave the child -- and her assignment -- and go behind the road block, exactly?) to the easy solution at the end. The child being "taken below" at the beginning didn't connect well to the story, as this episode's backstory seemed to be split between the people of the ship (choosing FORGET) and the torture of the star-whale. This episode was all over the map!

I'm enjoying the Eleventh Doctor, though his behavior seems erratic -- and due to odd timing/editing and not the character itself -- but I am not sold at all on Amy. She annoys the crap out of me.

Damien said...

I thought it was better than the first ep, but still kinda crap. It started off okay, but then proceeded to fall apart. First thing that was irritating, and what RTD was rightly criticised for, was shameless stealing from well known films and pop culture, in this case from Star Wars. We had the princes Lea like plea - you're our only hope, the garbage compactor scene which morphed into the giant asteroid worm scene, teeth and all. But the biggest problem was the use of the ridiculous forget button contrivance. What's the point? In fact, what was the point of the silly dummies?

There's only one thing I can think of and that is Moffat's insistence of picking the mundane and trying to make it scary/sinister. He did it previously with a crack in the wall and seeing things from the corner of your eye. Now we have amusement park dummies making scary faces. And in the RTD era he did it with blinking and shadows and little boys in gas masks. I'm afraid it's getting a little old.

Another mistake was to have the cute sidekick figure out the final solution while the doctor was quite happy to take the least bad of the obvious options. It should have been he to have thought outside the box and reach a novel solution. Of course, having the stupid buttons just sitting there where anyone can push them with potentially disastrous results also beggars belief.

I won't even mention the silliness of space whales, why they should care about aliens (humans) or their apparent means of propulsion through EMPTY space by swaying their tails!

At this rate, RTD must be having a laugh! And the next ep is even worse!

Hunterwali said...

@Sara Ann Stinson:
Thank you for your answer. I'll admit, I still don't follow. Passing similarity to an episode of Star Trek: The New Generation is only one reference-- if a reference at all. Science Fiction over the years and across borders has shared themes and interests. Preoccupations with empire and responsibility have been those of Britain for some time. Could you maybe explain in more detail?

As for Scotland 'holding a grudge'? Not quite. That is a misreading and an interesting one at that. All of the world was in disarray, and all 'nations' separated. The separation of Scotland from the UK here was a reference to Scotland finally achieving independence. The ongoing desire for home rule was met in part through devolution and an establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1999 but discussions of independence persist. Not leaving to burn any more than one could claim England and Wales (and Northern Ireland?) left Scotland to burn.

I wonder if perhaps the American flavour noted is a matter of projection.

Master Prudent said...

But the biggest problem was the use of the ridiculous forget button contrivance. What's the point?

For me this was far and away the best part of the episode. It's Britain and its populated by Britons and they'll be damned if they give up the precious center of western civilization: Democracy. So everyone must be able to vote on this no matter what the cost. But what a cost! They are made complicit in an extraordinary act of continual torture. The solution for reconciling the two? The forget button; the power to make an unbearable choice and then shed all responsibility.

Amy tried to use this out: she directly asked the Doctor how he could condemn her for doing something that she doesn't even remember doing.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I'm with Rose: I like it. I thought Donna was the best companion of the last Doctor seasons, but I'm really liking this team so far.

Craig Ranapia said...

-I have no idea how popular TNG is in Britain, much less whether Moffat specifically watched any particular episode--but the parallels struck me.

I'm probably going to get spat on for saying this, but Star Trek cheerfully plundered every SF trope and cliche that wasn't nailed down -- and so it goes. Oddly enough, Moffat's said more than once that he didn't like what little TNG he's seen and watches much less television than you might think.

Sara Ann Stinson said...

@Craig Ranapia: No, you're right, in 40 years, 727 episodes and a dozen or so movies I imagine Star Trek has managed to hit every cliche on the circuit and lap around again. Please don't think I'm implying Moffat or Who is cribbing its ideas from American SF or anything terrible like that. In fact, the more I think on it, the more I feel my original comment is a tribute to how much Who has stood apart from Hollywood in its ideas and inspirations. I was struck so forcibly by the (perceived) similarities between "Beast" and these bits of American SF chiefly because Who usually seems so very distinctly not-American. Its stories and its voice are distinctly, defiantly British, and that's part of its beauty. It was the strange sense of familiarity that bumped me.

FWIW, I'm apparently not the only American to notice the similarity: http://bit.ly/bjIDjj (see the third-to-last paragraph).

@Hunterwali: I get the Scottish home-rule wink (to the degree that an outsider only passingly familiar with the issue can get it). I just meant that, whether intended or no, the episode seemed to imply that Britain alone had trouble getting offworld and had to resort to this terrible moral compromise to survive, and then subsequently informed us that Scotland had left on its own ship. The only conclusion I could draw was that, for whatever reason, Scotland had the resources to evacuate, and it did so without assisting the English. I mean, if you want to really start chewing on it, I suppose that means the Americans (such as America exists in the 29th century) left their cross-the-pond cousins to burn as well--but nobody specifically drew attention to that fact in-episode.

And of course you're right, Americans will be quicker to spot America than anyone else.

Tyroc said...

I thought Moffat was making a point of showing how Doctor Who is different than Star Trek in that there's no prime directive. The Doctor goes and gets involved whenever he wants -- drastically changing events.

I thought that was quite clever to show the difference.

And yes, there was a Star Wars riff as well -- with the save us, you're the only one. And the garbage disposal. But while Star Wars stayed the archetypes (the princess is good and needs help, the garbage monster is dangerous and must be stopped) on Doctor Who the princess (well, queen) is evil in her way, and the monster is heroic.

I liked the reversals quite a lot.

(And my DVR also messed up so I had to wait for it to get one of the many re-airings later in the week.)