As I type this I've just watched Beast Below for the second time and I'm now watching The End Of The World. One is coming of rather well in comparison.
BB is the first Moffat script I've ever found holes in (well, since Joking Apart). It was still good fun, but for the first time it wasn't quite magic. And I'm left with questions:
1) If the Doctor, in the opening seconds, is able to tell us all about the 29th Century, and the UK flying off into space, and he's flying over Starship UK - why can't he see there's a bloody great whale under it? How did this story fail to reach him, when he knows so much about the 51st century on Earth and later?
2) Nobody noticed that the whale doesn't eat the kids? Surely after 200 years someone might have twigged that?
Those niggles aside, what the story lacked in Moffaty brilliance (only one classic line "I'm the bloody Queen, I rule"), it more than made up for in Russell T Davies-isms. With elements of Gridlock and the End Of The World it shows up just how good RTD's writing was. Sure his plots always fell apart at the end, but along the way they'd draw you into a real human personal conflict or drama or - right now on my TV the Dr & Rose are arguing about how the Tardis translates alien languages and it tells us so much, reminds us of everyone's personalities and concerns, while never letting us know what's about to happen next - ooh, now Rose is on the phone to her Mum back home... and I digress.
I was worried Moffat's style might put plot above characters, and that his dialogue is never as real as RTD's, and now the double bill of Beast Below and The End Of The World is making that look all the more likely.
I'm also worried about the new series replicating bits of the old wholesale. We have the Dr and Amy/Rose in front of a big picture window looking at a future earth at the start of the epilogue. We have the Dr apologising for the phone bill (as he did again in 11th Hour). We have a bloody beast below the new earth with tentacles that look a bit like tulips (I'm not the only person who saw Gridlock am I?).
And another question:
3) How are all the other countries' spaceships piloted? If this is the last starwhale, and they all survive in the end, then how did they manage and why didn't the UK just use that method?
4) And why would a glass of water show the vibrations of engines? Why wouldn't it just show the air con vibrating? Or a nearby fridge?
Ok, enough moaning. It was fun, sorry for picking holes. I am still enjoying The End Of The World by the way, and can't wait for Victory Of The Daleks. Hmm, third episode of the series written by Mark Gatiss. No, no more similarities with season 1 to be found here, move on.
PPS: End Of The World is reaching its climax, the Dr has had his dramatic theme played, waled thru some silly turbines and saved everyone. We're about to have the "can you smell chips?" ending and a brilliant theme tune. Along the way we have had the best part of 50 new science fiction ideas and things that had never happened in Dr Who before. There's the challenge facing the new series. RTD just had to be better than Dr Who in the 80s. Moffat has to be better than RTD. Game on.