Title: Doctor Who – The Star Beast
Written By: Russell T. Davies
Rating (out of 5): ⭐⭐⭐
Today, I am reviewing Doctor Who: The Star Beast. Yes, know it is not a book! I thought I would branch out into some science fiction/fantasy television shows. I am sure a lot of you are probably Doctor Who fans. In the months ahead, I will review the other three Doctor Who 2023 specials. will review the other Doctor Who 2023 Specials in the months ahead.
Unfortunately, it will be almost impossible to avoid spoilers. This review contains spoilers for those new to Doctor Who (2005). Then again, so does Star Beast. You should see the first four seasons of Doctor Who (2005) first.
Star Beast provides some context from the show and tells you what you need to know. You may watch that first and then read the review. I would advise that you watch Star Beast first, at the very least. However, I will mark spoilers where reasonably possible.
With no further ado, here we go.
I found the introduction glaring, as far as it broke the fourth wall. Who is the Doctor talking to? He says, “I think the story has not ended yet,” or something to that effect. That serves as a distracting fourth-wall narrative break. There is a similar issue with Donna. Who is she talking to? She seems to address us. It was distracting.
I understand those unfamiliar with earlier seasons of Doctor Who need to know what happened with the Doctor and Donna. As they say, “Every episode of Doctor Who is someone’s first episode.” That applies to Star Beast more than many others. I suspect the return of an allegedly legendary showrunner likely brought in many first-time viewers.
However, was there not a better way to impart this information than to have the Doctor seem to impart it directly to the viewer? I think so. A “previously on” style segment would likely have sufficed. That is what they did. Including unnecessary elements that break the fourth wall! I find such things distracting, especially in the first few minutes.
The Donnaphant (SPOILERS)
Before we go any further, we should address the Donna-related elephant in the metaphorical room. What do I think of the showrunner, Russell Davies, choosing to bring Donna back?
(For those unaware, she was a companion of the Doctor in earlier seasons of the show.)
I am not against bringing her back. There are good reasons to do this. Donna’s ending was rather tragic. I did not expect a happier ending to it. I did not expect to see Donna again. Perhaps that was because I did not expect Russell Davies to return to the show after writing Donna out of it.
When I heard she would be back, I hoped for her to have a different ending. Maybe a conclusion that leaves a positive impact. Maybe something moderately captivating. Who knows what they might come up with? Granted, it would be hard to come up with something as interesting, albeit as tragic, as her previous ending.
But you might say bringing her back invalidates the significance of her previous story. Does it? There was no way around the fact that if she saw the Doctor again, she would die. It has been some time, and the threat remains. She can still die. But can that be changed in some way? Could Russell Davies find some clever way around that? We will get to that.
The Ending (SPOILERS)
The main problem I and many others have with Star Beast is the ending. Donna and Rose now share the Metacrisis energy between them. As the Doctor argues, it is still too much for them. What are they to do?
Donna presents a solution that seems completely idiotic, but it works. She says that as a woman, she and Rose can do something no man ever could. That was to let the power go. That was a completely nonsensical and sexist solution, and it made me roll my eyes almost out of my skull.
It was a humorous solution to this plot point. However, are we meant to believe there is more to this? Are we seriously supposed to believe that women possess some magical ability to let things go that men do not have?
Davies, that makes no sense. You want us to believe that the genders are equal. And then you pretend women have magical powers that men do not. What is the reason for that? Does it relate to having an extra X chromosome?
That is where I have a problem with them bringing Donna back. They had an opportunity to resolve the Metacrisis problem compellingly. However, they chose possibly the least compelling and most stupid option available to them.
Part of me thinks it was best not to bring Donna back than to have the Metacrisis resolved in that fashion. That makes her story much more compelling. Yes, now we get to see her have more adventures with the Doctor, but will her story have a satisfying end? We will see how this works out when we review the other specials. As tragic as it was, her season four ending was memorable.
I would have enjoyed this story more if they had given the Metacrisis a more compelling ending. Unfortunately, they did not. They had a chance to, but they blew it. That was what they presented us with? Sad. A creative solution to this problem would have gone a long way to helping make Star Beast more compelling than it is.
Once we get past the resolution to the Metacrisis, I have no problems with the ending. It is the ending you would expect from the episode. It is delightfully goofy. But it gets the job done. It moves you forward into the next Doctor Who special.