As with the first part of the story, The Satan Pit has been received favourably. DWAS reports that although just 5.5 million viewers watched the episode – a fall of 400,000 viewers – the audience share was still good at 35.6%, a slight drop on the previous week. These figures are of course the overnight tallys, and don’t take into account BBC3 repeats of recordings.
The astonishing weather at the weekend no doubt had an effect on the figures, as would the early kick off for the England World Cup match; Doctor Who remained however the third most-watched show on Saturday.
There are already two reviews of The Satan Pit available on Kasterborous – one by myself and one from a new contributor Mark Watson, one of the forum members.
Blogcritics.org reviewer Matthew Milam wasn’t impressed wth The Satan Pit, and is roundly condemning of the entire adventure. He finishes off with quite a controversial statement:
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.
SFX Magazine’s website, meanwhile, rated the serial 4.5 stars out of 5. As they obsever, this si the first time Doctor Who has since its return attempted to play on “the same pitch as its Stateside rivals”. Evidently reviewer Dave Golder reckons that on the whole Matt Jones’ tale succeeds, and has some interesting thoughts on the Doctor’s developing character:
But this was really a showcase for Billie and David, both of whom were excellent. The Doctorâ€™s hug in part one may have been slightly overplayed, but in part two Tennant was like a force of nature in his best and most subtle performance yet. For those worried about the hubris of this latest Doctor, check out the moments when he realises that this devil creature doesnâ€™t conform to his view of the universe â€“ though heâ€™s blustering at the end of the episode, you can see heâ€™s rattled. Great stuff. Itâ€™s almost as if the tenth Doctor has been overcompensating for his “haunted” ninth self; Rose gave him back his confidence, but perhaps itâ€™s now being seen as overconfidence. The decent into the pit may force him to re-evaluate his attitude.
On the whole then, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit has been a success. If Doctor Who surpasses the quality of this story in 2006, then the misgivings about some earlier episodes may be forgiven.
However the audience figues continue to be a concern. While the later series of the shwo’s original run were shown on lighter nights, the dark tone of serials such as this, or last years The Unquiet Dead and The Empty Child, would benefit hugely from a winter broadcast. As things stand, Doctor Who 2007 is in pre-production right now – hopefully the BBC will do the show a favour by delaying its return until October next year…