Home / TV Review: BBC’s Doctor Who – “The Satan Pit”

TV Review: BBC’s Doctor Who – “The Satan Pit”

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Okay. I just finished watching “The Satan Pit,” the conclusion of the Matt Jones two-parter that began with “The Impossible Planet.” I reviewed it last week, stating that hopefully the quality in part two would be better. Instead of pulling a bad part one into a good part two (“Bad Wolf”/”Parting Of The Ways”), this was a case of a bad part one leading into a really bad part two. The saddest part is that while Christopher Eccelston struggled with his part as the Doctor last season, I believe this episode (along with a few episodes this season) would have been a great showcase for his ability given its dark tone. Of course the script had a bit too much cheese for his taste and was probably one of the reasons he left in the first place.

The plot continues with Rose (Billie Piper) and the remaining members of the base crew retaining control of the base from the Ood. Meanwhile, The Doctor (David Tennant) and Ida (Clarie Rushbrook) are deep inside the planet of where the base sits – with a rather huge pit which had just opened its doors last week. Of course Rose and company got to play Scooby Doo and run around corridors until they found a solution; The Doctor, on the other hand, wants to know what’s in the pit. After using the now-cut elevator cable that would lead them to the surface to go down the pit via Ida, The Doctor disables the cable so that he can fall the rest of the way down. The rest of it is pretty simple – he meets the devil, Rose and company escape, Toby inhabits the soul of Satan again and gets killed, and The Doctor retrieves the TARDIS, which he happened to discover in the hole just in time to save the crew and Rose from being pulled into the black hole.

In addition to feeling cheesy, the episode felt too “alright,” as if things were going to be fine already. That’s how I especially felt when The Doctor encountered Satan, who was chained up and merely grunting. Considering this was going to be a one-sided argument, the Doc began to think out loud determining the mystery of the two vases and why the devil was chained up. Of course he smashes the vases and kills the body of the devil while finding the TARDIS – in other words, things went “alright.”

It didn’t help that besides Toby (Will Throp), none of the supporting characters had any real chemistry with each other or the Doctor and Rose. This made me all the more willing to have them all knocked off aside from Toby, which would have made a more depressing ending for Rose if she found that he was going to have to die still being possessed by the devil himself.

The Ood also served no purpose but to chase everyone on the base and say as few words as possible. The producers would have been better sticking the Daleks or Cybermen in this adventure as they can do just a bit more than shoot strobe lights at people. Perhaps in the next series, we can work on monsters that have no legs and that aren’t human, and maybe force the Doctor to learn a different language.

This two-parter felt like the 1996 TV movie in quality, which Fox would have been fine with. Having said that, I would much prefer that the series try to stay away from the plots of Matt Jones and steer towards the brilliance of writers like Steven Moffat, who wrote “The Girl In The Fireplace.” I would hate to see the reaction of the Sci-Fi Channel viewers when they end up with Series Two and almost every single episode gives them a reason to turn it off.

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About Matthew Milam

  • Mighty Oracle

    I actually thought The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit were two of the best episodes of the new series.
    Remember that this is aimed at families so cannot be too scary.
    A couple of points in the review, the chained up devil only grunted because his mind was elsewhere (in Toby). And the reason Toby didn’t kill everyone was so he could get off the planet. To do that he needed to scare them off, hence the murders and possession of the Ood.
    As for The Doctor learning languages, it’s been well established that the TARDIS translates things telepathically (and presumably that’s how it knew to get itself down the pit in time to rescue the doctor).
    The episodes also had fun wee nods to James Cameron and, possibly, if you really want to push it, McCoy story The Curse of Fenric: vases used to restrain some kind of ultimate and timeless evil (and you thought they were just for flower!) and rather than the Doctor breaking his companion’s faith in him to save the day, he relied on his own faith in his companion.

  • Matthew, you’re really losing the plot with these reviews.

    It wasn’t Satan in the pit it was some creature far older than the universe. It said so twice and that completely freaked out the Doctor.

    As for feelinjg fine, what TV series ever ended with the principals getting killed? Don’t be so naive!

    Further inaccuracy: the evil one inhabited Toby’s body not the other way round. That was part of it’s plan to escape. It’s BODY couldn’t get out but its mind could and did.

    If you can’t even follow the plot accurately, your reviews, like this one, are simply inaccurate drivel. BAH!

  • I hate to tell you this, but that was something I discussed in the group awhile back.

    I said that if I wasn’t feeling a particular episode, that I should be given the write to not review it. This two-parter and practically every review for this whole series this year has been a challenge because the plots are hard to follow.

    To top it off, if the script is shitty, then how could you remember the plot?

  • It’s time that I stop fooling myself as a Who reviewer and just call it a day. Daniel’s reviews are much better than mine anyhow.

  • Steve

    Well, Matthew, if it’s any comfort, I find the Dr. Who series an acquired taste, and sometimes the plots are so silly you don’t want to follow them!! Although I will say this newer season was better than the drivel put out in the late 80’s before it was discontinued, some of the plots do still need some improving.