The Satan Pit.



TV When I was in my first year of school I used to attend bible study meetings. I wasn't a Christian. It was that moment we all go through when we trying work out what we believe in. I also talked to friends from other religions and thought about all of those hymns I'd sung in hundreds of school assemblies and the words of The Lords Prayer. I thought about war and the reasons for war, and eventually I realised or decided that actually no matter how philosophical you want to be about words being handed down from the supernatural as far as I could tell they were the words of men. That's when I parted company with the mono-theists.

Rather than just following the teachings of one religion, in fact, I was best going with my conscience and instinct, that there are bad and good things in the world and that whatever happens, happens and that if you're going to have faith in something, to have faith that it will all turn out ok in the end. If anyone asks what my religion is -- on those rare occasions that people ask now -- that I'll tell them that I'm a non-denominational spiritualist -- and once I've finished saying pretty much what's in these two paragraphs they don't ask any more (and probably remind themselves never to ask me about religion again).

The best writing leads someone to reflect back on these fundamental questions and that's what happened tonight. For the first time in some weeks, as well as being a romp, this was a script that allowed its characters to talk and ask those fundamental questions which bug everybody. The Doctor's rather complex belief systems are forever getting a hammering but I'm not sure that we've actually seen him stop and actually find himself stumped.

Quite rightly, the timelord couldn't conceive of a 'time' before 'time' that the entity, the big brutish Beaslian monster in the pit, couldn't possibly be from there. I mean surely there would need to be some time there for an existence (the Big Finish Divergant Universe Series for endless boring discourse on that subject). But it's pleasing to know that when it came to the crunch, his fundamental belief was yet again in humanity, and in this case Rose (who bless her judging by the beast's prouncement here doesn't seem long for this multiverse).

Just as a contrast, here's what Beyonce Knowles believes in, as discoursed during an interlude from one of her albums...

"I believe that harmonies are colors / Every time I paint it sharpens my harmony / Yesterday I tried to paint you / But they colors weren't beautiful enough / Your love goes beyond what I can say / Love, Beyonce."

Is that a great rhyme or what? Well, no. Anyway ...

What was so pleasing about the episode is that it could be this literate and yet still very exciting. Granted some of the beats will have been quite familiar to fans of the films of Jim Cameron and television of Joss Whedon and the writing of J R R Tolkien but does that matter if its something new to Who and still puts the viewer on the edge of their seat in a cocktail that looks like nothing else being made for and being shown on British television? I mean I know I've been ENTHUSIASTIC in the face of the stiff backlash but really this was great stuff. Even the big beast boss thing looked amazing, brilliantly thought through and ten times more charactersome that Cassandra or the Wolf. Who would have thought that this sort of thing was possible on such a relatively small budget. I think the The Mill are going to get even busier over the next few years. And the music of Mr. Gold didn't intrude nearly as much -- the sound seems to have been worked on. Even the intrusion of the Bad Wolf theme which seems to have mutated into the Doctor & Rose In Lurve theme seemed right in context.

Pretty much everything I said about the performances from last week is carried over to here (as you'd assume it would given they were shot together). Rose's behaviour continues to be a bit oddball though. There has obviously been an upwards confidence curve over the past two years which would indicate that she's being prepared to actually make some ultimate sacrifice. Nice return to the mad editing of Tooth & Claw to visualise the Doctor's through processes and the big heroic talk of The Christmas Invasion. Yet again I say -- it's great to see him saving the day again, even if for a change the division of labour spread to Rose as well. Seriously, I cheered in those final moments.

I'm sure that others will find something to complain about (are those mean spirited posters at Outpost Gallifrey watching the same programme?) but really for me this was as close to a perfect story overall as I think we can get. It had humour, excitment, danger, really wild things, horror, body horror, madness and thought. But look, as it should be, next week's is another change of pace with something that seem like a cross between the novel Who Killed Kennedy? Buffy's The Zeppo and the DC graphic novel, Finest. Amazing.

I still believe in Doctor Who.

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