Doctor Who specials: The Star Beast review!

Advertisement

The recent years saw a decline in the appeal of Doctor Who, leading many to either lose interest or merely continue out of habit. The show appeared stagnant, clinging to its past glory without much relevance to the present. Hence, Russell T. Davies, David Tennant, and Catherine Tate, through their inaugural special marking the show’s 60th anniversary, aimed to rekindle the show’s essence and rekindle audience enthusiasm.

It seems Tennant’s return to Doctor Who serves a particular purpose: to entice viewers back with a plea for another chance. The decision to bring back one of the most beloved iterations of The Doctor feels like an earnest effort to assert, “Wait! There’s more to explore!” and to reestablish the series as a top-tier sci-fi contender in the 2020s, worthy of standing beside giants like Star Trek and Star Wars. ‘The Star Beast’, this special episode, accomplishes precisely that. It retains Doctor Who’s quintessential tone and vibe while upgrading itself to align with its bigger-budget contemporaries.

On a more self-aware level, that’s the episode’s major triumph. It undoubtedly lures audiences back for another ride by evoking the spirit of those classic Tennant-era adventures. Simultaneously, it feels fresh and invigorating, reminding us that Doctor Who was, and can be again, one of the premier TV series of its era.

Advertisement

But what about the story? The new characters and the promise they hold? The episode begins with the 14th Doctor grappling with the realization that his post-regeneration face is an old one. Confounded, he finds himself in London, encountering his former companion Donna, who remembers none of their shared adventures but now leads a content life with a family.

Admittedly, this setup might feel a tad forced or clumsy, and it’s evident that RTD aimed to reunite Tennant and Tate and then worked backward to weave the ‘how’ into the narrative, somewhat disregarding gracefulness. This tendency is noticeable in the hurried conclusion, designed to gloss over potential inconsistencies.

These rough edges in the beginning and end might irk longtime fans, inviting scrutiny. However, they don’t overshadow the overall excellence of what unfolds in between.

‘The Star Beast’ shines as a standalone adventure and a reunion. The villain is genuinely captivating, and the increased budget, courtesy of Disney, significantly elevates the production, blending practical effects seamlessly with convincing CGI when needed. Donna’s daughter Rose emerges as a memorable addition, contributing to the narrative’s emotional grounding and offering vital representation.

Rose is a trans character, and her portrayal throughout ‘The Star Beast’ is handled deftly. Her identity isn’t the sole focus, yet it’s not ignored either. The discussions surrounding her and her inclusion are sensitive, relatable, and positive—a commendable inclusion in the narrative.

This is Doctor Who as you fondly recall it: thoughtful, thrilling, suitable for all ages, brimming with enthusiasm and sincerity, and yes, a bit cheesy. Its distinctive style places it alongside major sci-fi franchises, yet it feels reinvigorated and ready to reclaim its standing among them. While ‘The Star Beast’ may not become one of David Tennant’s most memorable Doctor Who episodes, it effectively fulfills its purpose. If the forthcoming specials maintain this level, there’ll be little room for complaints.