Okay. Okay. Bear with me here. This is an episode that is commonly considered to be a bit crap – an opinion shared, notably, by the man who wrote it. Let me now explain why it is actually pretty great and all of you, including Steven Moffat, are wrong.
"The Beast Below" is grand social satire in the classic tradition of anti-establishment British sci-fi. Starship UK is a happy place, but the cracks are showing – and through them, you can just about make out that it runs on arms-length cruelty and willful self-deception. The choice that the population are faced with in their once-a-decade vote – when they are fully confronted with the horror of the exploitation and violence that enables their society to function – is possibly the best satire of the façade of democracy in capitalist society ever broadcast at 6.15 on a Saturday evening. Protest, or forget. Those are your options. Forget, and carry on in placid, complicit ignorance. Or protest, and face the violence of the state. And of course, they always choose to forget. Unlike Davies-era satire, which sought to blame faddish trends, distant institutions or malign external forces for our woes, this has the courage to turn its gaze back on the audience. Yes, yes, fine, it has plot holes you could drive a Star Whale through. But shut up. This is Doctor Who with ambitions to say something complex and meaningful, and that elevates it beyond any run-of-the-mill Monster Of The Week episode.
Basically, if you understand why "The Happiness Patrol" was a high-water mark of 80s Who (or, say, if you understand why Antz is better than A Bug's Life) then you will understand why "The Beast Below" is unfairly maligned, and fully deserves its place as the, uh, 35th best episode of the modern series.
Also, Liz 10 is cool.