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‘Doctor Who: The Star Beast’: Review | A Delightful Cosmic Adventure

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This review was made possible by screeners for Doctor Who: The Star BeastDoctor Who: The Star Beast releases on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney Plus in the rest of the world on November 25

Doctor Who has undoubtedly become a pop-culture phenomenon. With over 60 years of iconic history, the show continues to enthral audiences worldwide with its time-travelling adventures, dynamic characters and imaginative storylines. Now celebrating its Diamond anniversary, writer Russell T. Davies returns to spearhead the trio of hour-long specials and the new series with 15th Doctor Ncuti Gatwa starting this Christmas with “The Church on Ruby Road”. This new regeneration of the show looks to be the third new beginning, following the original classic run, from 1963 to 1989, and the modern revival, which began in 2005 as Davies delivers a brilliant start to the new era that ultimately kickstarts the 60th celebrations in style. 

It’s been two years now since the exciting and surprising announcement that Russell T. Davies, the man who revived Doctor Who in 2005 after its 15-year hiatus and helped the show soar to incredible new heights, will be returning as showrunner for the 60th Anniversary and series beyond. Now, it’s time to find out what the future looks like. However, the wait is nearly over as we’re just a few days away till the Doctor returns to our screens with the first of three anniversary specials, celebrating 60 years of sci-fi prestige.

The first special, “The Star Beast,” premieres on Disney+ worldwide and on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK on Saturday, November 25. Check out our spoiler-free review below to see what Whovians can expect later this week.

Credit: BBC (Doctor Who)

The Doctor is caught in a fight to the death as a spaceship crash-lands in London. But as the battle wreaks havoc, destiny converges on the Doctor’s old friend Donna.

“The Star Beast” follows the Doctor as he tries to figure out why he’s regenerated back into this body and ultimately Why this face. Why now? Tennant, who was originally the 10th Doctor, left back in 2010. The episode, which premieres on Saturday, November 25, reunites fans with Tennant’s Doctor and his former companion, Donna Noble.

The first 60th-anniversary special truly is a return to form thanks to Russell’s writing and Rachel Talalay’s direction.”The Star Beast” is based on the eight-part 1980 Doctor Who Magazine/Marvel comic strip from Doctor Who Weekly written by Pat Mills, John Wagner, and drawn by Dave Gibbons and now The Meep makes the jump from the comic pages to TV screens across the globe. Watching “The Star Beast”, felt like something magical had returned to my Tv screen, which it has, I was grinning from ear to ear as this first 60th special is quintessential Doctor Who, It’s a special that encapsulates everything we love about Who especially from RTD’s era, that’s what truly made it great. Davies’ adaptation allows the show to embrace its already dedicated Whovians whilst also welcoming with open arms those who are new to the Whoniverse thanks to the special intro which recaps previous events. It also stays pretty faithful to the source material whilst bringing a unique flair thanks to Davies and weaves all of that into the Nobles’ story.

When Doctor Who’s 60th-anniversary was announced alongside Russell T. Davies’ return and the plans to make the special a trio of episodes – was exciting, the reveal that the Anniversary specials would be helmed by none other than returning cast members David Tennant and Catherine Tate excited me as my favourite duo would be back together again. how, you may ask, as after absorbing some of the Doctor’s regeneration energy during 2008’s “Journey’s End”, she experienced a biological meta-crisis, gaining much of the Doctor’s understanding and memories. The strain of having a Time Lord’s mind in a human body was ultimately just too much for Donna to handle, so the Doctor had to erase all of Donna’s memories of travelling in the TARDIS so that she could survive. However, The Doctor made one thing explicitly clear about Donna’s fate: if she ever remembers the Doctor, her mind will burn and she will die. There’s not much of the plot we can reveal of course as fear of being Exterminated. 

THE DOCTOR & DONNA

David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s infectious and energetic energy throughout “The Star Beast” truly radiates from the screen. Both Tennant and Tate are exceptional once again as the Doctor and Donna. And it feels like no time has passed as they easily slip back into their roles, without missing a beat. Tate delivers her signature sarcasm and snark whilst also being a loving and supportive Mother to her daughter Rose (Yasmin Finney). Tennant as the Doctor is now wearing the face of an old favourite but this is most definitely a new man, however, Fans will notice many of his hallmark traits and mannerisms.

Having these two back truly made me feel like I was 13 again time travelling with the Doctor, this is what made me love the series in the first place. as Doctor Who helped shape my life and love for science-fiction and exploration.

Credit: BBC (Doctor Who)

A Family Affair!

Along for the ride in “The Star Beast” is Donna’s family, truly making it a family affair. Wilf (Bernard Cribbins) ended up very much loving the Doctor as much as his granddaughter did and It was a joy to see Jacqueline King as Donna’s mother Sylvia return especially her reunion with the Doctor, much to her delight.

Yasmin Finney, from Heartstopper, portrays Rose, the daughter of Donna and Shaun Noble. From the moment she appears on screen, Finney brings warmth and a new perspective to the episode and is a wonderful new addition to the show fitting right in with the Noble family.

Credit: BBC (Doctor Who)

THE ALIENS & ACTION

The Star Beast” also introduces Ruth Madeley as Shirley Anne Bingham, and while we can’t say much about her character yet, you’re certainly going to want to see more of her. Miriam Margolyes, a British icon, however, is a thrilling stand-out as the adorable voice of The Meep. I also enjoyed seeing the Wrarth Warriors.

Whovians will no doubt know that once upon a time the BBC made the sci-fi series with a lasting lifelong dream, which certainly has come true as this Science-Fiction spectacle has stood the test of time becoming fresh with each new regeneration. Gone are the days of bubble wrap and tin foil. “The Star Beast” now has the opportunity to blow on some fun and creative designs and explosive action setpieces thanks to its Disney-powered budget and partnership. Everything from its scope, scale, and VFX work has had a huge upgrade and the production and cinematography are next level, thanks to Talalay’s direction. We also get a nostagic return from composer Murray Gold whose score still gives me goosebumps. He returns bringing back familiar themes and motifts and provides a new updated dimaond rendition of the iconic opening theme. Doctor Who has never looked better.

Credit: BBC (Doctor Who)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Whilst Doctor Who is the most polished its ever been, “The Star Beast” never never forgets the humble beginnings it came from. The love Davies,Talalay, Tennant and Tate amongst the crew at Bad Wolf Studios have for Doctor Who is present throughout, especially with the numerous Easter eggs and nods that celebrate the show’s 60 years iconic history on television.

“The Star Beast” is a celebration of Doctor Who, filled with satisfying payoffs and the return of fan favourites Tennant and Tate.  Its campy and compelling whilst featuring momemts of sentiment, high stakes, and above all its what Doctor Who does best. This is the type of episode that will have the whole family crowding around the TV espically now that it’s back on Saturdays, it’s also the type that will make the young and young at heart want to run around with sonic screwdrivers fighting monsters and ultimately save the world, and finally it’s the type that makes you believe in the magic of Doctor Who all over again! 

However, “The Star Beast” is only the beginning of this 60th Anniversary adventure as we get Tennant and Tate back for two more hour-long specials. I’m very much looking forward to watching their reunion and adventures continue as we venture into the “Wild Blue Yonder”.

Doctor Who’s ‘The Star Beast’, the first of the 60th anniversary specials, arrives on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney Plus in the rest of the world on November 25

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The Acolyte | Official Trailer | Disney +

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

June 4, 2024

Director:

Leslye Headland

Cast:

Dafne Keen, Amandla Stenberg, Jodie Turner-Smith

Plot Summary:

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Maya’s Story To Echo Through Time

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Vincent D'Onofrio (Wilson Fisk) & Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez) (Disney)

Here is the review of Marvel Studios’ Echo, now streaming on Disney Plus.

Plot

Marvel Studios presents “Echo,” spotlighting Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. Streaming January 9 on Disney+ & Hulu. Set your Disney+ profile to TV-MA to stream. All episodes will be available on Hulu until April 9.

Starring: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, and Devery Jacobs.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Review

There is in total 5 episodes and it was available immediately and this is really amazing, allowing us to binge watch the season in 1 sitting. A big part of Echo’s storyline focuses on giving the viewer a glimpse into her ancestral history and her past with the Kingpin of crime.

Maya develops as a strong character in this story more than the Maya we met in the Hawkeye series. Alaqua Cox really delivers an exceptional performance. As always Vincent D’Onofrio plays his heart out as Wilson Fisk, the notorious Kingpin who has been dominating our screen since the Daredevil TV Series on Netflix back in the day. We get a few surprises, even though short pieces, but it is still appreciated and I will not spoil those surprises in the hope that you will go and watch the episodes later and experience the same level of joy I experienced.

A lot of effort was done with regards to the language options. Choctaw was added as a language option on Disney Plus. I read that some of the cast learned American Sign Language (ASL) in order to communicate with Alaqua on set and this really warms my heart. A lot of research was done on the Choctaw nation and was incorporated as part of Maya’s storyline.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Some of the less positive notes are the series was rated as meant for mature audiences only. However, the action scenes were little and not as brutal as expected if compared with the likes of the Daredevil series. Maya’s powers was also changed slightly from the comic books but it takes a positive turn closer to the end. Really looking forward to the part Maya / Echo will play later on as I feel she portrays the part of a hero very well.

I highly encourage watching the original Netflix series’ Daredevil and Hawkeye to get the background of some of the key characters in this story. I highly encourage subscribing to Marvel Unlimited to read up about Maya Lopez / Echo, Wilson Fisk / Kingpin or any of your favorite Marvel characters.

There is a mid-credits scene that you don’t want to miss, but no post-credits scene. The mid-credits feel familiar to the comic book direction.

I rate this series a 3.5 out of 5. Maya’s story will echo through the cinematic universe, as a story of bravery and strength. Sometimes all you need is a healing hand, a key theme from Marvel Studios’ Echo. I’m looking forward to more of Maya on the screen.

Watch all 5 episodes on Disney Plus now!

Echo Official Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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Doctor Who: The Giggle, A Wildly Satisfying Finale That Teases A Promising Future

Russel T. Davies’ Whoniverse-reshaping finale is a thrilling, heartwarming, chilling, and satisfying hour of telly, that never eases up.

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SPOILER’S AHEAD!

As brilliantly put by beloved Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, “That was completely nuts!” The final episode of the three 60th anniversary specials, “The Giggle” may just well be the most bonkers, yet impeccable piece of Doctor Who TV… ever. Where last weeks special “Wild Blue Yonder” saw writer Russell T. Davies deliver a masterful episode in restrained storytelling, “The Giggle” is the showrunner unleashed. Throwing epic musical numbers, eerie moments of horror, impactful social commentary, and a divisive yet satisfying final 20 minutes result in an unrelenting hour of telly, and perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever.

Kicking off with John Logie Baird’s invention of the television in 1925 as well as introducing audiences to “Stooky Bill” – a real puppet who could put Annabelle to shame – “The Giggle” quickly picks up where “Wild Blue Yonder” left off. In the midst of world wide carnage, the Doctor (David Tenant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) must search for answers as to why planes are falling out of the sky, and human beings are busy beating each other up on the streets, leading the two to the celestial Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), one of the most powerful beings in the universe.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Russell T. Davies is never one to shy away from delivering a script oozing with his rightful fury at current social climates. Take previous episodes like “Midnight” “The Long Game” and “Turn Left” for example all offering impactful stories with themes of human nature, the power of media, and anti-immigration prejudice respectively. Here, Russell T. Davies satirically imitates anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theories, and government empathy brilliantly. Some of it may be a little on the nose – such as a hilarious and obvious dig at Boris Johnson – but it more or less works in favour of poignant, and well-crafted satire.

“The Giggle’s” mad cap, and unprecedented energy is only more apparent through the episodes many tonal shifts. Under the guise of another property, this constant tonal shift would have felt jarring. But in “The Giggle” the episode pivots in-and-out of horror, comedy, musical, and drama effortlessly, adding to episodes manic and unpredictable nature.

Keeping on theme with last weeks unnerving episode, “The Giggle” is surprisingly steeped in horror. Especially for those who suffer from pupaphobia, the fear of puppets. Whether its the imagery of that “gosh darn” creepy doll, Stooky Bill, or the Toymakers endless gothic labryinth, “The Giggle” is another terrifying episode of Doctor Who, proving once again that this sci-fi show isn’t for children. No scene is scarier perhaps than the haunting scene with Stooky Bill’s wife, Stooky Sue, who’s found crying in the corner of a dark room, before creeping towards Donna chanting a horrifying rhyme. But its all played for laughs when Donna nonchalantly beats the puppet senseless.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Elsewhere, Neil Patrick Harris’ Toymaker who stole the show. His multi-faceted, and multi-accented villain proves to be the deadliest enemy the Doctor has ever faced, as well as perhaps the most entertaining. Harris’ intoxicating performance enthuses the Toymaker with fear, intelligence, and a playfulness unlike any villain we have seen before. His celestial abilities are terrifying and unparalleled, making the Master – the Doctors nemesis/best friend – look like an amateur. Through the subtle yet deeply fascinating line, “I made a jigsaw out of your history” – explaining, teasing and disregarding the recent messy Whoniverse canon with ease – the Toymaker becomes much more of a threat. Lets not forget the unexpectedly brilliant “Spice Up Your Life” musical number where the Toymaker effortlessly turns soldiers into balloons, once again proving his celestial power.

Bringing back David Tennant – the most popular actor to ever take on the role – was perhaps Davies’ wisest decision upon returning, and reviving the show. Tennant’s return doesn’t just provide a great headline for the show that would drive its viewers back after an incredibly messy past few years, but also offers a heartwarming vulnerability to a character who hasn’t stopped running, fighting, and caring for nearly two decades. The Doctor has never taken a second to grieve, or stop running. He’s lost innumerable companions, and was responsible for destroying half the universe with the Flux. A messy piece of Doctor Who canon which has now been beautifully woven into the Doctor’s character thanks to Russel T. Davies.

Davies delves into the characters vulnerability, and insecurities forcing the Doctor to question his being, and ability to save others. The line “I’m all sonic, and TARDIS, and Time lord, take that away, what am I?” is an incredibly powerful piece of character development, made all the more impactful through Tennant’s performance. The Doctor has always put himself above others, but “The Giggle”, more specifically Donna, encourages the Doctor to stop trying to sacrifice himself for others, and to instead take a second to care for himself.

With Tennant returning to the role, audiences will instantly have that connection to this version of the Doctor, making his vulnerability much more heart-wrenching, and his ending much more satisfying.

Tate was equally fantastic as she has been through all three specials. Her confident, and hilarious performance continues to prove why Donna Noble is one of the best ever Doctor Who companions, and her chemistry with Tennant is deeply infectious.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

The episode carried a lot of emotional stakes way before the title music kicked in, what with the episode forcing viewers to sit through another David Tennant regeneration. However, what was supposed to be an emotional finale, resulted in an unprecedented and incredibly exciting final 20 minutes. Davies introduced possibly the most divisive aspect of the show… well ever. We are of course talking about, Bi-generation. The idea that instead of changing faces, the Doctor instead becomes two Doctor’s. A current Doctor, and a new Doctor. This not only served as a great way to introduce Ncuti Gatwa, who instantly proved himself as an extraordinary Doctor, but also gives the 14th Doctor a satisfying arc that finally lets him rest.

Bi-generation is a fantastic concept for now, but in the future, this idea could lose all the emotional weight a regeneration used to harbour. Saying goodbye to a current incarnation of the Doctor was never easy. But, if Bi-generation is a continued element then no regeneration will be as impactful or emotional as it once was. For now, it was perfect.

All in all, “The Giggle” – and collectively all three specials – are some of the best work Doctor Who has ever put out. The final special of the 60th celebrations served as a satisfying and emotional goodbye to the modern era of Doctor Who and an exciting tease at the franchises future. It’s an undoubtedly bonkers satire, that blends horror, musical, comedy, and drama elements together to create the best and most heart-warming Doctor Who episode ever. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us Whovians.

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