Review: Allons-y! The Doctor Returns in Triumph in ‘The Star Beast’

Doctor Who has been around for a long time, much longer than most people realize. It originally premiered on BBC in 1963 and celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. I managed to get into Doctor Who before the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor. This time around, we get three specials featuring the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate, leading up to Ncuti Gatwa taking over the role in his first Christmas special. Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast premiered in late November as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations. 

The story of the Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast

The story picks up right after the end of Jodie Whitaker’s time as The 13th Doctor, now regenerated into David Tennant officially as The 14th Doctor. The Doctor arrives in London, wondering why he has the face of the 10th Doctor. Naturally, he runs into Donna, who can’t remember who he is, or else she will die, as well as her daughter named Rose. They also find themselves dealing with a spaceship crash landing, insect-like aliens called the Wrarth, and a small, furry alien called The Meep.

The Pros and Cons

The thing that I appreciated right away was how the special begins. It starts with a recap of what happened with David Tennant’s 10th Doctor and Donna during his original run; this makes it a perfect starting point for any newcomers to Doctor Who. It also showcases the increased budget with the intro, thanks to the BBC partnering with Disney for the new series (season for the U.S. readers). We continue to see that budget utilized throughout the special, from the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and its new features to The Meep.

You can easily argue that David Tennant is the most well-loved Doctor in the show’s history, so bringing him back to play the character again was a brilliant decision. Tennant steps back into the role with such ease it’s like he never left to begin with. He was already a fan of Doctor Whoso he gives it his all whenever he plays the part. It also adds some mystery to the 14th Doctor: why does the Doctor have this face again? What’s the meaning behind it? We aren’t much closer to that answer by the end, but I can’t wait to see how it’s revealed by the end of the three specials.

David Tennant as The Doctor in Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast. Image courtesy of Disney.
David Tennant as The Doctor in Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast. Image courtesy of Disney.

The real-life friendship of Tennant and Tate makes the Doctor and Donna believable

While David Tennant is the headliner, Catherine Tate continues to steal the show every time she’s on screen. Tate and Tennant are true friends in real life, making The Doctor and Donna’s friendship much more believable. From her accent to her line delivery, there’s no other companion like Donna, and I can’t imagine the role as anyone other than Catherine Tate. We also get the return of Donna’s mother Sylvia and husband Shaun, played by Jacqueline King and Karl Collins, respectively.

The big new addition to the family, though, is Donna’s daughter, Rose, played by Yasmin FinneyFinney, best known for her role in the Netflix series Heartstopper, fits right in and gives a great, calm performance that balances the high energy Tennant and Tate provide. She also offers more LGBTQIA+ representation, which the series has needed (Captain Jack could only do so much).

(L-R) Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, Miriam Margolyes as The Meep, and Yasmin Finney as Rose in Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast. Image courtesy of Disney.
(L-R) Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, Miriam Margolyes as The Meep, and Yasmin Finney as Rose in Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast. Image courtesy of Disney.

The biggest surprise of all was the Meep, voiced by Miriam Margolyes. Most people will recognize Margolyes as Professor Sprout from the Harry Potter films. The Meep, much like the Doctor, is an alien that is the “last” of its kind with two hearts (The Doctor isn’t anymore, but that’s another story). Meep’s change from cute and innocent to evil is quite unsettling and will surely scare younger viewers. The Meep also highlights the increased budget and works very well when next to the humanoid characters.

Final Thoughts on The Star Beast

Overall, The Star Beast is a perfect entry point for newcomers to the Whoniverse, which is now the official title of the world of Doctor Who. It’s wonderful to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate back together again, along with newcomers like Yasmin Finney. There’s action, mystery, and, above all else, heart. I can’t wait to see how this arc ends for The Doctor, so in his famous words: Allon-sy!

Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast is now streaming

Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast is now streaming on Disney+. Check it out if you haven’t already.

If you’ve already watched The Star beast, check out Elliott’s review of the Doctor Who Special 2: Wild Blue Yonder.

The third special, Doctor Who Special 3: The Giggle premieres on December 9th.

Are you excited for Disney’s expansion of the Whoniverse? Have you watched the Doctor Who Special 1 yet? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below or by connecting with us on X @MoviesWeTexted.

If you’re still looking for something to watch on Disney+, check out all of our Disney+ reviews.