Doctor Who 2023 Special Reviews: Critics Share Strong First Reactions

By Nathan Johnson Updated:
Doctor Who 2023

The first critic reactions to Doctor Who: The Star Beast are finally here so fans will now know what to expect from Disney+'s upcoming sequel special.

For the first time in the franchise's long history, Doctor Who will be airing on Disney+ when The Star Beast, the first of three specials, debuts on Saturday, November 25.

David Tennant, who played the ever-popular 10th Doctor, will be returning for all three installments, and it was recently teased that he will be "slightly more human" than he was when he previously played the role.

As fans wait for the first special to finally arrive in concert with Doctor Who's 60th anniversary, most are wondering whether it will live up to the hype or be worth the wait.

Doctor Who 2023 Special First Reviews

David Tennant in Doctor Who 60th anniversary special

The first of three specials to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who is getting ready to publicly air on November 25, but critics have just shared their overly positive thoughts on the sequel after early screenings.

Many of these critics are specifically praising the special for the performances of its two lead actors, personal story and character arcs, and how it is welcoming to any viewer regardless of how familiar they are with the franchise.

Total Film was impressed by The Star Beast for being able to offer "a warm embrace for the already dedicated Whovians," while also living up to the hype, which is "at an all-time high:"

"The question is then, does it deliver on such a promise, despite the hype being at an all-time high? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes! 'The Star Beast' kickstarts a whole new era of 'Doctor Who' with style, providing a warm embrace for the already dedicated Whovians and welcoming with open arms those who are new to the widely adored show."

The outlet also discussed how The Star Beast features "complex themes," and also described it as "a very human show:"

"Sure, we do see The Doctor and co. fighting off aliens, but the story dives much deeper than that, exploring more complex themes relating to identity, all of which are beautifully handled with a sensitive touch. Many of the characters may be otherworldly, but Davies understands that, ultimately, 'Doctor Who' is a very human show."

The Streamr also weighed in on The Star Beast, calling it "classic Doctor Who," while also corroborating that it can be enjoyed by new fans of the franchise:

"The special works really well as a new starting point for first-time viewers, or as mentioned, people who haven’t necessarily watched it for some time."

At Darren's World of Entertainment simply stated that "there's a lot to love about this first of three Doctor Who specials."

The blog also highlighted the performances of David Tennant and Catherine Tate as "one of the main reasons to watch" The Star Beast:

"Equally, the Tennant and Tate double act is one of the main reasons to watch."

Decider's Alex Zalben admitted via X (formerly known as Twitter) that "Doctor Who: The Star Beast is the most fun [they've] had watching" the franchise in "years," while also praising Tennant and Tate for their performances as the lead characters:

"'Doctor Who: The Star Beast' is the most fun I've had watching 'Doctor Who' in... Years? David Tennant and Catherine Tate prove, once again, they are the perfect pairing for the show, able to flip from heartbreaking emotion to laugh-out-loud comedy on a dime. 'Who' is back, baby!

Zalben also stated that the special is "definitely a bit goofy at times," but that The Star Beast's "increased budget" is on full display:

"It's definitely goofy at times, but that's part and parcel with 'Doctor Who.' The increased budget of the specials is on-screen, too... Rachel Talalay directs some excellent sequences, big explosions, and a character who is destined to become an iconic DW creation."

Doctor Who: The Star Beast will be released on Disney+ on Saturday, November 25.

- In This Article: Doctor Who (Series 14)
Release Date
May 10, 2024
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- About The Author: Nathan Johnson
Nathan is a writer at The Direct where he covers Star Wars, the MCU, and DC news. He joined The Direct in April 2021 and currently writes news and feature articles about all three brands mentioned above, but his main specialty is his knowledge about anything and everything Star Wars.