155 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, yet personal
Amongst fans, series four of Doctor Who has probably been more divisive than any of the the preceding three, causing some to lament that it had become little more than a soap opera, while others applauded its desire to push boundaries and experiment.
Personally, I fall into the latter camp. As time has moved on, the bar has been moved ever higher in terms of...
Published on 30 July 2008 by ds
3.0 out of 5 stars Dr Who DVD
Unable to sensibly review this item as it was bought as a gift and they made no comment after receipt.
Published 12 months ago by T. Kett
Most Helpful First | Newest First
155 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, yet personal,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)Amongst fans, series four of Doctor Who has probably been more divisive than any of the the preceding three, causing some to lament that it had become little more than a soap opera, while others applauded its desire to push boundaries and experiment.
Personally, I fall into the latter camp. As time has moved on, the bar has been moved ever higher in terms of performance, scripting and production values, even since series 3. As good as David Tennant is, and he is VERY good, this is most definitely Catherine Tate's series. When she was cast, there was a vocal tranche of opinion that dreaded her appearance, based purely on her role in the 2006 Christmas Special (in the series 3 boxset). Even that was a little harsh; she had merely played the part as written, though there were clear echoes of her sketch show in it. However, as time went on, the audience went on a journey with Donna and gradually warmed to her, as she gained some kind of enlightenment and a sense of wonder at all the things she saw. Not just that, but her relationship with Tennant's Doctor, though platonic, had that wonderful kind of spark that Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn shared in their movies. I think the perfect example of that comes at the very end of the series; it was the major highlight of the series finale for me.
So, what of the episodes themselves:
First episodes of a series are tough to judge at the time and while series 3's 'Smith and Jones' had been the best at that point, 'Partners In Crime' trumps it. The Adipose plot was admittedly barely a cypher to bring CT and DT back together, but Sarah Lancashire held her own and there were obvious signs of the great chemistry to come. And if that wasn't enough, there was THAT scene to finish the episode off. Hands up who saw that one coming? ( Liars! :-) )
I really loved 'Fires of Pompeii', with its (in hindsight) predictions of what was to come later and in-jokes ofr all those Cambridge Latin Course veterans. 'Planet of the Ood' was a relatively low-key and downbeat affair, though it too subtly presaged later events. It did still give us glimpses of the fact that Tate's Donna was not going to be content to be a mere mute (or screaming) ornament in proceedings.
The Sontaran double bill, a Helen Rayner effort, was infinitely better than series 3's misfiring 'Daleks In Manhattan'. And Chris Ryan was wonderful as Staal. While it didn't hit the stellar heights of later stories it was certainly much better than merely adequate.
'The Doctor's Daughter' was, in hindsight, probably the weakest episode of the series, which sounds bad but isn't really meant to be. I rather enjoyed it, Its very simple premise and its sense of time and history being compressed as they were was a very interesting one. And of course we have a new character floating around the universe. Who knows when we'll bump into her again...
'The Unicorn and the Wasp' managed to keep up a tradition of doing nice historical author-ish episodes with some style and elan. Some quibbled about the effects and the climax, but such things border on the churlish in retrospect. The episode is a fun one, and perfect for peak-time Saturday family viewing.
From this point onwards, however, the series seemed to hit another gear entirely. Steve Moffat's Library double was, quite simply a stunning tour de force on so many levels. By now though, this is what we have come to expect of the man who manages to put the fear of God into the nation's ten-year-olds every series. Job done this time round - "stay out of the shadows"
For me, the two most surprising episodes were 'Midnight' and 'Turn Left'. The former's simple one-set staging reminding me very much of 'Twelve Angry Men'. It left RTD able to concentrate on what he does best, more than ably assisted by Lesley Sharp's performance. The mysterious and unresolved menace was beautifully realised. 'Turn Left' though, was the biggest shock of all. The usual Doctor-lite episode threw us into a world without the Doctor and shows us the consequences. It shows also how important Donna is in this context. And of course we get the return of Rose...
Then, the finale: if this really is to be RTD's swansong then I think the intention was to comprehensively clear the decks and prepare the way for Moffat to do his stuff. As a result, there was an awful lot to pack in and, towards the very end, a suitably RTD-ish tendency to ladle on the cheese, but he largely gets away with it. Once again though, Tate steals the show, with her half-timelord, half-human meta-crisis showing just how fabulous she was all along. The best bits for me were the crackles of dialogue, like when the half-human Doctor regenerates:
and then taking control of things once the threefold man is reunited with all the parts of himself.
There were lots of nice touches, such as the Sarah-Jane references concerning Genesis of the Daleks, especially the moment where Davros recognises her: chilling.
That all this was so wonderful makes Donna's fate all the more heart-rending and pathetic. We'll miss her. And Bernard Cribbins too: a national treasure. I'm not sure about Rose's resolution either, though it does tie up all those floaty, "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey" bits, to steal a quote.
In the end, what is series 4? Well, in my eyes it is certasinly a progression from the series 3. This season had no clunkers at all and was of a generally high standard. Tennant's Doctor is now utterly fully formed, having recovered from some of the overwrought gurning of series 2. Now he's alone again, next year's specials and 2010 series give the writers and team a blank slate to work from. It alsd helps to have such a talent of cast and crew talent and a wealth of goodwill to go wit hit. You really do get the sense that eveyone concerned loves this show.
RTD has done a great job in reviving what many thought was a dead show and making it consistently the most popular, best produced, mote inventive and simply best drama on British TV.
When release time finally comes it will be an essential purchase for me. I hope it will be for you too.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In my opinion...the BEST series of Doctor Who. EVER.,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)Normally, when a series reaches its fourth season, signs of faltering start to show. Or you find that a programme is way past its best, recycling old material/plot ideas and is no longer as fresh and quality as you fondly remember.
Mercifully, though...that is not something that applies with the fourth series of Doctor Who. Far from being tired and overdone, the fourth season of the new series was just as inventive and deep as ever, with Russell T Davies taking the show in further directions. In fact, I'd call it the best series of new Who. Aside from being my personal favourite, I found Series 4 more consistent and epic than anything that has gone before or since. And most importantly, it turned me from an admirer of the show, into a die-hard fan.
Here, David Tennant was now entering his third series as the Tenth Doctor, and had established himself as both an icon of television and arguably the greatest incarnation ever of the Time Lord, supported by great companions whose chemistry drove previous series to such classic heights. After choosing Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman to share the spotlight with David, Russell T Davies shocked the world by unveiling high-profile comedienne Catherine Tate to reprise her role as loudmouthed temp Donna Noble to return to the series; as the Doctor's FULL-TIME companion.
The reaction was understandable, given that the Donna Noble character (from the ill-received episode `The Runaway Bride'.) was absolutely unbearable and that Tate herself was a comedienne whose style some people find (myself included) hit-and-miss. But Davies clearly knew what he was doing by bringing Tate back. Here, Catherine once again showed absolutely tremendous chemistry with David, and won millions of viewers over (myself included) with her brilliantly funny and heartbreaking portrayal of Donna.
The character itself was reinvented drastically for Series 4, maturing from a real gobby idiot to a much more well-rounded and deeper companion, truly worthy of the Doctor. What's so refreshing about this series was the relationship between the time traveller and his companion. Here, Donna is truly the Doctor's best mate, the big sister he never had. No romance whatsoever. With Rose in series 2, the soulmate premise and implied love felt natural. With Martha and her unreciprocated love, it made for an interesting sub-plot in Series 3. But the relationship here is just two true friends going around and having a good time, and that's what gave Series 4 its heart.
Right from the first episode, "Partners in Crime', you can expect nothing but laughs and quality. It's such a solid start to the series and is terrifically paced, with Donna having long realised to open her eyes and show everyone just how brilliant she is as she seeks out the Doctor, both (independently) investigating an insidious scheme to seed aliens as...weight loss pills (!). In terms of plot, the episode is laughable, with the whole Adipose premise being overly silly. But why the episode is such a winner, is the character depth/interaction, the look at Donna's life and the Doctor and Donna finally reuniting after constantly missing each other. You find yourselves cheering the reunion when it happens, and when the Doctor and Donna team saves the day and sets off, you know you're in for a brilliant ride across the series.
And right throughout, that's what you get, with both David and Catherine at the top of their game, bringing drama, comedy and flat-out excellence, both together and by themselves as they provide so many unforgettable Doctor-Donna moments. In terms of general plot of the whole `Medusa Cascade' arc, Series 4 delivered in a way no other series did, with cracking sub-plots, ominous omens, high-stakes, daunting questions about the futures of both Donna and the Doctor and outstanding guest appearances from the likes of Billie Piper (Rose), Freema Agyeman (Martha), Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane) and John Barrowman (Captain Jack). As for monsters, you can expect some great frights from returning creatures like the Ood and the Sontarans, the insidious Vashta Nerada and dangers of planet Midnight, and of course, the ULTIMATE horror in the Doctor's life (give you a clue, begins with `D'!) and the long-awaited return of its CREATOR.
In terms of overall consistency, Series 4 can still be viewed as being an absolute triumph. Very few episodes are below par, with the majority being either great or must-see classics. Ones to watch are definitely "Partners in Crime", "Planet of the Ood", Steve Moffat's phenomenal "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" two-parter, Russell T Davies' staggeringly good "Midnight", and the utterly essential three-part finale, consisting of "Turn Left" (Catherine's greatest ever performance), "The Stolen Earth" (a rollercoaster epic) and "Journey's End" (an exceptional finale with a climax that's initially uplifting, then utterly heartbreaking).
Special-features, there's loads to sink your teeth into. Commentaries, deleted scenes, trailers, a whole disc full of Doctor Who: Confidential pieces, featurettes, David Tennant's video diaries...Oh, and there's also the 2007 `Voyage of the Damned' Christmas special (featuring Kylie Minogue) and the absolutely brilliant "Time Crash" Children in Need special (featuring the Fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison). Quality-wise, the picture and sound are typical 2Entertain crispness, there are subtitles and audio navigation (for those who need them) and the package itself features beautiful panoramas that fold out.
Even though Catherine Tate's Who days are long over and David Tennant has now regenerated into Matt Smith, Doctor Who: Series 4 still remains utterly essential viewing. I still consider it the best series ever and its impact can never ever be forgotten. At such a bargain price, there's all the more reason to purchase this boxset. It just doesn't disappoint. Classic, quality viewing. Relive the days where the Time Lord continued his travels with (truly) his best friend by his side.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)This is the Doctor Who series that most requires rewatching from beginning to end. It is emotional, poignant, political, tragic, heroic, comedic, and, to my mind, the most passionate exposition in Doctor Who's forty-five year journey.
The original Donna Noble character, in the Christmas Special 'the Runaway Bride', seemed at the time to be no more than a celeb-special with Catherine Tate playing a dumpy comic heroine with enough attitude to keep the Doctor on his toes. But, from the first episode of the fourth series (not counting Christmas special Voyage of the Damned), her character builds to be the most passionate and complex of all the Doctor Who companions.
In Episode 1, Partners in Crime, we see Donna taking things into her own hands, and eventually bulldozing the Doctor into allowing her to accompany him -- though, touchy as she is, she almost doesn't go when she thinks he is being too familiar.
In Episode 2, Fires of Pompeii, she persuades the Doctor to interfere with time by saving a family that would have died. But, unnoticed at the time, a soothsayer character tells her 'you've got something on your back'. A throwaway line, it would seem.
Episode 3, Planet of the Ood, lifts Doctor Who to a new level of political awareness, with the enslavement of the Ood brought to an end at the cost of many lives. It also brings in the bizarre apparent misunderstanding 'Doctor-Donna'.
The two-parter, Episodes 4 and 5, are more traditional Doctor Who / UNIT fare, giving us back Martha Jones, and allowing for the high comedy moment when the Doctor thinks Donna is leaving, and gives her his leaving speech, only to discover she is going home to get some things.
Episode 6, the Doctor's Daughter, had me almost in tears each time I watched it. The sharply compressed timeline makes this excellent science-fiction on its own account, but it's the revival of the Doctor's daughter _after_ the Doctor and Donna have gone, so that they don't know, which lifts this episode emotionally to new highs. But notice also, it's Donna who figures out that the numbers of the rooms are dates, and solves the fundamental paradox of the civil war in doing so.
Episode 7 is the only false note in this series, for me. Perhaps others who enjoyed it would be better placed to comment.
However, the double Episode 8-9, Silence in the Library with Forest of the Dead, is to me the undisputed pinnacle of Doctor Who so far -- better than Genesis of the Daleks from the Tom Baker years, better than The Green Death from Jon Pertwee's time, even beating the multi-award winning Blink from series 3. It's no surprise that it was written by Steve Moffat, the same writer as Blink, whose forthcoming tenure as main writer promises a golden age. Alongside the terrifying plot device, which speaks to our most basic instinctive fears of the dark, the story opens up new sides to the Doctor when we meet for the first time his long-term love interest, Professor River Song. All the strangeness of a relationship with a Time Lord is brought out when we realise that this event sandwiches the first time the Doctor ever meets her, with the last time she ever meets him. But River Song's meeting with Donna, when she tells her how sorry she is, but won't say why, really sets our thoughts moving.
Episode 10, which barely features Donna at all, could have come from almost any series of Doctor Who, before or after the revival. Although light on ideas, it makes massive dramatic sense after the emotional pinnacle of 8 and 9.
Episode 11 pushes Donna right to the front, and it's also one of the most gut-wrenching episodes I've seen. Its key moment is when the Italian family are put in a truck to be taken to a concentration camp, and Bernard Cribbins as Donna's grandfather, Wilf, cries "It's happening again". Most science-fiction series on TV have a go at at-least-one alternate history episode. Doctor Who, where the rules of time travel are so much more established, understood and central to the plot, has remarkably few of them. To see another one, you have to go back to Inferno in the Jon Pertwee era. But this is the alternate history episode to beat all others: after a time-beetle-thing climbs onto her back, Donna's history is rewritten so that she never meets the Doctor. her absence from 'the Runaway Bride' results in the Doctor's death, which means that successive catastrophes are not averted, and Britain is left in post-apocalyptic dystopia. The episode is so perfectly judged that it would rival many feature films, and I was absolutely astonished to find it was just one episode -- I could have sworn it was a double.
Powerful as it is, we discover that Episode 11 is just the precursor to the extraordinary finale The Stolen Earth followed by Journey's End. Bringing all of our favourite characters back, including the ever-menacing Davros, first encountered all those years ago in Genesis of the Daleks, it is the most extraordinary roller-coaster of accidents and reversals. For once the culmination is not 'reverse the polarity of the neutron flow', but a personal dilemma which mirrors the conclusion of Genesis...
Even more extraordinary is the way in which Donna is left tragically as the only person who can never know that she saved the universe. And at that point, we understand why Professor River Song was so very, very sorry.
I was highly sceptical that Catherine Tate would make a good Doctor Who companion. How wrong I was. Coupled with the amazing presence of Bernard Cribbins, who is now more than 80, and the steadily maturing performance of David Tennant, this one gets my vote as the best series of all time.
All time yet, that is. With Steven Moffat at the helm, we could be heading for even better days.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Who Series 4,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)WARNING!! Review May contain spoilers...
Then into it's fourth year since it's ressurection, Doctor Who Series 4 is a bit of an over the top affair, jam packed with enough action and adventure to fill a small Steven Speilberg film. And thats fine. It will definately appeal more to children than adults. And again thats fine. The problem is that the intelligent writing team behind it, while still there, is overshadowed by the explosive content that fills each story. The Series sees the return of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, who appeared in 2006's Christmas Special, as The Doctor's comapnion. David Tennant is again on top form as The Tenth Doctor, then into his third and final full series as the famous Time Lord. It is actually refreshing to see a companion who isn't instantantiously falling in love with The Doctor, as Tate's Donna holds her own against Tennant for much of the Series, which isn't an easy task.
The Series itself is full of brilliant episodes, such as tragic The Fires Of Pompeii, wierdly entertaining The Doctor's Daughter, the wierd Midnight and Turn Left, a brilliant dystopian story which reminds me of Marvel Comics "What If?" tales, which tells the story if Donna had never met The Doctor. But, these over the top tendencies get pushed too far on the Series opener Partners In Crime, an awful return of the Sontarens in the two part adventure The Sontaren Strategen/The Posion Sky and the Series finale Journey's End, which really lets down the first part of the story, The Stolen Earth. The problem with the finale is, it tries to do too much, and gives us way too many companions (hell, even Harriet Jones from Series 1 makes an appearence). But, it's worth ignoring these lapses for the brilliant two-part story Silence In The Library/The Forrest Of The Dead from Series veteran Steven Moffat (who became head writer in 2010), which introduces us to time travelling heroine River Song, played by the scene stealing Alex Kingston, who claims to be a future companion (and maybe more) to The Doctor. It also includes a truly terrifying monster in the form of the Vashta Nerada, or Shadows that eat people.
On a slightly duller note, also included is the truly awful christmas special Voyage Of The Damned, in which The Doctor lands on a space version of the Titanic, with Pop Star Kylie Minogue playing companion Astrid Perth. Yes, it really is as bad as it sounds...
The Voyage Of The Damned 55/100
Partners In Crime 67/100
The Fires Of Pompeii 79/100
Planet Of The Ood 84/100
The Sontaren Stratagen 51/100 (Part 1 Of 2)
The Poison Sky 52/100 (Part 2 Of 2)
The Doctor's Daughter 93/100
The Unicorn and The Wasp 96/100
Silence In The Library 96/100 (Part 1 Of 2)
Forrest Of The Dead 96/100 (Part 2 Of 2)
Turn Left 93/100
The Stolen Earth 87/100 (Part 1 Of 2)
Journey's End 64/100 (Part 2 Of 2)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Dr Entertainment.,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)David Tennant's final series as Dr Who. If you like the previous 3 series, then this is just more of the same good stuff.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who at the peak,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)Almost perfection.
The superb Xmas episode with a good ending and the two doctors is briliant.
The series starts off like the previous series with an episode almost made for cbbc but then improves with Pompeii and the Ood. The sontorans are good with the Doctor's daughter (now weirdly David Tenant's girlfriend)with a plot twist.
The Agatha Christie episode is differently paced before Steven Moffatt's writing is to the fore in Silence in the Library two parter.
The errily Midnight is followed by the best episode in Turn Left and the return of everybody it seems with amazing ending with the Doctor shot by the lone Darlek (didnt he have any mates).
Journeys End brings everybody's storyline to the end and what feels like the end of the era.
The extras include David Tenant's diary, commentaries by cast and crew, trailers and hopefully please bbc some coverage of the Doctor Who Prom.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best programs on BBC,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)Partners in Crime - 7/10
In this epsidoe we see Donna and the Doctor both investigate a new pill to help lose weight. A nice easy episode to re-introduce the characters and create aliens fit for the cuddly-toy buisness.
Fires of Pompeii - 7.5/10
The Doctor takes Donna to Pompeii only to find it is the day before Mount Vesuvias erupts. I had watch this twice to really enjoy but the characters and the plot were both good.
Planet of the Ood - 7/10
On her first alien planet, Donna meets the Ood and discovers some secrets about humans in the future. This epsidoe supriesed me because the Ood were not really the bad guys. I felt that this episode was not what Doctor Who is normally about. It wasnt fun, it wasnt bouncy. Not the best Doctor Who episode ver.
The Sontaran Strategem - 8/10
This episdoe sees the return of Martha Jones and the Sontarans. A series of deaths are linked to the ATMOS system and UNIT must figure out how. i liked this episode because i thought the Sontarans were played excellently and it was nice seeing UNIT being brought back.
The Poison Sky - 7.5/10
UNIt and the Sontarans are going to war and the Doctor must clear the skies of the poisonus gases. The follow on from The Sontaran Strategem, not quiet as good but still entertaning to watch.
The Doctor's Daughter - 8/10
The Doctor, Donna and Martha arrive on the planet Messaline only to find that the Doctor has a daughter. I liked this episode because it had a suprising twist. Having Marths in this epsidoe was not clever because she was seperated from the Doctor most of the time.
The Unicorn and the Wasp - 10/10
In 1926, Agatha Christie disapeared for ten days. The Doctor and Donna arrive the day before and have to catch the murderer at the estate. I loved this epsidoe for two reasons. I am a big Agatha Christie Fan and also it was so clever. the characters were great and it was such a fun, light episode.
Silence in the Library - 10/10
The Doctor and Donna find themeselves in the biggest libray in the universe, but it is completely desrted. Accept for the shadows. This was another brilliant epsidoe made better with the inrtoduction of Professor River Song (Alex KIngston) who somehow knows the Doctor in the future. It is good how somehow it is all tied in with one little girl and it has a greta cliffhanger.
Forest of the Dead - 9/10
The second in the two parter. Donna is trapped in a fake world whilst the Doctor must escape the shadows and discover the secret of Cal. You see a different side to Donna in this episode as her life is flying by and her world is collapsing. Very scary when Miss Evengilista makes a suprise return.
Midnight - 9/10
Taking a tour across a diamond planet called Midnight, the Doctor must save himself when a tapping on the walls begins. This episode had Donna in for only two scenes at the beginning and end, so you get to see how the Doctor copes by being with himself. And with no real alien, this epsiode keeps you thinking.
Turn Left (Doctorlite episode) - 10/10
What would happen if Donna met the Doctor? In this episode Donna lives a life where she has never met him and all sorts of things start go wrong. But who is the blonde girl helping Donna through out? A very clever and different kind of episode. Definatley one for older viewers as there was not a proper alien.
The Stolen Earth - 9.5/10
When the Doctor and Donna return to find the Earth missing, they must brave the Shadow Proclomation to save them. This episode was very good because it included so many thing that have been mentioned over the past four years. Also, everyone the Doctor has ever known return to help fight the Daleks and a very scary Davros!
Journeys End - 9.5/10
With Davros preparing the Atom Bomb things look quite bad, but only the Doctors Secret Army can save the day. This episode was made twenty minutes longer than normal to fit everything in. I felt the main part of it was over quite quickly. And i wonder who will be joning Torchwood next year?
Overall a brilliant series and my favourite of the New Who so far. So great epsidoe and big guest appearences (Bernard Cribbins, Alex Kingston) with some excellent story lines. Superb!
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best British Television Series of All Time,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)Doctor Who Series 4 has been a rollercoaster ride of action and emotion. David Tennants Doctor is the best ever, portraying both a lonely traveller and powerful Time-lord. Catherine Tate has also lived up to be one of the greatest companions of all time also, adding depth to the Doctors life and questioning the Doctors role.
The stories have also been some of the best we have seen so far - from The Fires of Pompeii, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead through to Turn Left and the Epic Finale.
Series 4 is definately the strongest yet and has managed to capture a huge audience. It i not only a brilliant piece of British Television, but a piece of our Popular culture - a flagship show that is worthy of Worldwide viewing.
Doctor Who has never looked or been so good. The production values are brilliant and are the best on British T.V. down to the cast and the wonderful scripts it never stops amazing the viewer. Whether you are 8 or 80 Doctor Who is must watch Television and this boxset is definately worth the money!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doctor-Donna... Doctor Who Series Four!,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)In my opinion, Series 4 of the revived Doctor Who is probably the best yet. I certainly think it's the most consistent. David Tennant returns for his third year as the Time Lord, and Catherine Tate returns as his companion Donna Noble last seen in the 2006 Christmas Special `The Runaway Bride'. The box set features all 13 episodes and the 2007 Christmas Special.
`Voyage of the Damned', first shown on Christmas Day 2007 and seen by a staggering 13.3 million viewers is a pretty enjoyable, if unspectacular festive offering. It's my least favourite Christmas Special, but it's still got enough going for it, including some lovely performances from comedy veterans Geoffrey Palmer and Clive Swift. I suppose the most notable thing about this feature-length episode is that it features Kylie Minogue in a guest role as Astrid Peth, a waitress abroad the Titanic (spaceship) who befriends the Doctor. It's a decent romp, with the occasional lovely moment. There's a little too much running about for my taste, and the main villain is disappointing but Astrid's journey is well-handled and the whole thing is pretty good fun. 7/10
Partners in Crime is the first official Series 4 episode and sees the Doctor reunited with Donna Noble when they team up to investigate the mysterious Adipose industries who have been connected to several sinister events involving weight-loss. Some fans hated the cute, cuddly Adipose, but I genuinely liked them. Very cheeky and funny. Sarah Lancashire makes a formidable foe as Mrs Foster, and there is a great miming scene, some wonderful scenes with Donna and Grandad Wilf stargazing and a surprise appearance from an old face! It's a typically light, action-packed, fast, funny adventure to kick-off the series. Yes, it may be light-hearted but the vitality of the script ensures that it's great fun. 9/10
The Fires of Pompeii is the season's annual historical, taking the Doctor and Donna back to 79AD, to the day that Mount Vesvius erupts. It's a great episode, full of great moments. I think the script needs tightening up in a few places, but the performances and special effects make up for it. The last 10 minutes, when the volcano erupts and the Doctor has to make a terrible choice gives me goosebumps. It's a well-paced, well-directed episode that feels, in some ways, a bit like an episode of the `classic series'. 8.5/10
Planet of the Ood is a traditional episode of Doctor Who. It doesn't break new ground or anything, but I love it. It's genuinely beautiful in places, and in one scene genuinely haunting, and features some gorgeous music from Murray Gold. It's also good to see The Ood make another appearance, last seen possessed by The Beast in `The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit' in 2006. The Ood are beneign slaves, and we see a new side to them than we did in the Series 2 episodes. We learn more about where they came from, etc. it's also nice to have an Ice Planet... don't ask me why, but it is. 9/10
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky is an excellent, action-packed 2-parter, which sees the return of the Sontarans to the show after a 20 year absence, as they were last seen in `The Two Doctors' in 1985. It also sees the return of Martha Jones, who has now joined UNIT. There is plenty to enjoy here - loads of good set-pieces, some lovely moments featuring Grandad Wilf, played by Berbard Cribbins, and I really like the new re-design of the Sontarans. Admittedly, they're not the most menacing aliens to date, but they're funny and obsessed with war. Christopher Ryan is awesome as General Staal. 8.5/10
The Doctor's Daughter comes next, and well, I'll be honest, this episode really wasn't my cup of tea, despite some really good performances from David and Catherine. But, sadly, the story feels underdeveloped and rushed and feels some downright awful/cheesey moments. Georgia Moffet, real-life daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison is decent as Jenny, but ultimately the character and premise do not manage to live up to the premise, because with a better script the idea could have worked brilliantly. Ah well, at least we get some lovely descriptions of Time Lords and Gallifrey. 5/10
The Unicorn and the Wasp is probably a bit of a love/hate episode. Personally, I absolutely loved it. It has a wonderful ensemble cast who all play to their roles brilliantly, and a brilliant, witty script from Gareth Roberts that delivers probably some of the funniest scenes in Doctor Who's 45-year history. Fenella Woolgar is the perfect Agatha Christie, and the whole 1920's murder-mystery setting is a real treat and suits the feel of Doctor Who superbly. One of my very favourites. 10/10.
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead combine to form an excellent two-parter by Steven Moffat, the much heralded writer behind the much-loved `Blink' in Series 3. Moffat gives us more of the same, delivering a typically dark, clever and intriguing plot that fits together like a jigsaw. What I like about these episodes are that they take the viewer on a completely different experience to what we're normally used to from Doctor Who - using the primal fear of shadows and the dark to create a fairly nightmarish and genuinely scary piece of drama. The majority of the tale takes place in the largest library in the Universe, except it is deserted. Along the way, the Doctor encounters the mysterious and enigmatic River Song (played by ER's Alex Kingston), who claims to have a mysterious connection to the Time Lord. The threat comes in the form of the Vashda Nerada - "Piranhas of the air!", who prove effective and original. The story moves along nicely, and although it sometimes tries to be a little bit too clever for it's own good, it's an impressive story. As ever, the performances are good, and it's very atmospheric. 9/10.
Next comes `Midnight', a self-contained little episode that takes place almost entirely on a bus. Yes, you heard me. A entire episode of Doctor Who... on a bus! And as it turns out, despite it's rather simple premise, `Midnight' is far and away the best episode of Series 4 and a contender for one of the greatest episodes ever. As ever, Russell T Davies delivers a superb script, one in which plays to two of his biggest strengths, character and dialogue. `Midnight' is a tightly-written, claustrophobic ensemble piece, featuring a brilliantly sinister performance from Lesley Sharp as the possessed Sky Silvestry. David Tennant is on top form, supported by possibly the best ensemble cast the show has ever had - featuring David Troughton, the son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton. The threat feels real and genuinely creepy, due to the fact that it works on a psychological level. It's hard to describe the episode without giving too much detail away, but put simply, `Midnight' is a masterpiece of television. I think it's brilliant that an episode such as this went out at 7pm on a mainstream channel on a Saturday evening and was seen by 8 million people. Superb. 10/10
Then, `Turn Left', which could be seen as a stand alone episode, but for me, makes up the first instalment of the epic 3-part season finale. It's a very interesting episode. Fairly similar to `The Butterfly Effect' in it's premise. Execution wise, it's brilliant. I love the way writer Russell T Davies managed to re-use past events of his Doctor Who era and completely turn them on their head, resulting in quite possibly the bleakest episode of Doctor Who ever. The episode is notable for two things, in my opinion. An absolutely stunning performance from Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, combining so many different emotions, veering seamlessly from despair to anger to hope. It was also nice to see a more Runaway Bride-esque version of Donna again. It was like coming full circle and also demonstrated brilliantly how far Donna has come as a character since meeting the Doctor. It also pin-pointed the moment that I decided that Donna was my favourite companion ever to board the TARDIS... sorry Sarah Jane! It also sees the return of Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper, last seen trapped in a parallel universe at the end of Series 2. Oh, and just wait `til you see the cliffhanger... 10/10
The Stolen Earth/Journey's End follow straight-on from `Turn Left', and make up the most epic, ambitious finale to date. Okay, so they're not perfect, but for me, they come close. It's so good to see so many characters together on screen again. Such a massive cast, including David, Catherine, Billie, Freema Ageyman, John Barrowman, Elisabeth Sladen, Penelope Wilton, Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke, Bernard Cribbins, etc. Brilliant. And every single one of them rises to the challenge and acts their socks off. As you'd expect from RTD, the script is top-notch - exciting one minute, devastating the next. It also features the return of the Daleks creator, Davros, brought to life wonderfully by Julian Bleach who gives a chilling performance. This is the best incarnation of Davros we've seen since the Michael Wisher original in `Genesis of the Daleks', and it is clear that Bleach used that `blue-print' for his inspiration. The Daleks also return, en-mass, and are probably the best they've been in New Who. I won't give away too much about the finale, but for me, it's a joyous piece of television. One for the fanboys anyway! 10/10
So, all in all, another great series, full of excitement, adventure, action and scares. Suitable for the whole family. Great fun. An eclectic mix of episodes, all of which, bar one, keep up a very high standard. Recommended. I've pre-ordered my copy.
60 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow start but a wonderful finish; another great Who series,
This review is from: Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] (DVD)We needn't have worried. Although it seems that the bubble will burst on the new Doctor Who universe at some point, it hasn't come yet. Russell T Davis and his team at BBC Wales have pulled yet another very good series out of the bag, providing that compelling and unique formula which appeals to both adults and children, and managing to remain one of the most enjoyable British shows on TV.
David Tennant is clearly familiar with and at ease in his role as everyone's favourite time travelling General Practitioner. The charisma, energy and unbridled enthusiasm he brings to the screen is a joy, and it is very easy to watch and listen to his character, even if the episode itself is somewhat lacking. The BBC will have a very hard time replacing this much-loved actor when the time comes.
Initial concerns over Catherine Tate's suitability as the Doctor's companion are, for the most part, dispelled fairly quickly, although she does go in to 'shouty Donna' mode a little too often. She proves to be a bit of a sensitive soul, with her affection for granddad Bernard Cribbins (reprising his role from Voyage of the Damned) particularly warming, and her stubbornness and predisposition to lock horns with the Doctor on a few occasions prove her to be a suitably different character to both Martha and Rose.
Speaking of Rose, this series sees her much-talked-about return towards the end, if only for a few episodes - mainly for the climactic finale. Other old favourites returning including Martha, Sarah Jane and the Torchwood team (now less two members, if you also follow that excellent series). It's great to see all the related series cross over like this, something I hope the producers do more of in the future.
The episodes are well directed and the special effects are as good as any British TV show has ever been (in fact, often good enough to match some US TV shows). The sets all look authentic and suitably convincing, although some aliens still have a tendency to look a little silly and false - although admittedly no worse than Star Trek has been doing for years now.
Here is an episode-by-episode analysis of the series:
Voyage of the Damned - the Christmas 2007 special. The Doctor literally bumps into the Titanic, a luxury alien space cruise liner come to observe the 'primitive culture' of Earth. Before you can say "mind that iceberg" disaster has struck and the ship is on a collision course with London. With a small team of survivors in tow and a wrecked ship to negotiate, the Doctor must get to the control deck and stop the collision before it is too late, all the while avoiding murderous mechanical angels The Host and trying to find out what went wrong. Notable for a performance from Kylie Minogue as waitress Astrid, this is a classic disaster scenario obviously inspired by '70s movies such as The Poseidon Adventure. A decent adventure which, if anything, feels as though it's over too soon, but it's definitely the best Christmas Special to date. 7/10
Partners in Crime - a fun, fairly harmless Doctor Who episode in which the Doctor meets back up with Donna Noble, who is deliberately looking for trouble in the hope of coming across the enigmatic Timelord again after their encounter in the Christmas 2006 special, The Runaway Bride. Together they investigate the sinister Adipose Industries and its villainous leader, 'nanny' Miss Foster, and the foundation of their somewhat argumentative partnership is set. It's a decent if throwaway introductory episode with obvious references to real-life social issues, lots of running, not much by way of genuine peril and cute, pudgy little alien babies. 5/10
The Fires of Pompeii - this is more like it. The Doctor takes Donna back to Pompeii, mistakenly arriving the day before the infamous eruption of Vesuvius. Once there, they discover a curious sect of seers whose ability has the unusual effect of slowly turning them to stone. Investigating further, he finds an alien race under the city manipulating the people of Pompeii and is forced to make a terrible decision... 6/10
Planet of the Ood - the Doctor takes Donna to the Ood Sphere - the aliens last seen in Series 2's excellent double-bill, The Impossible Planet / Satan's Pit. The Ood are a fairly creepy enemy, but that's not really the idea of this episode; it's one of a couple of instalments this series which examines the awful, depraved things that people do, or indirectly support. There's a little (much needed) character development for Donna, and overall this is a fairly solid episode. 6/10
The Sontaran Stratagem - this double-bill sees the return of the lovely Martha Jones and the less lovely warmongering aliens, the Sontaran. Now working for international anti-alien agency UNIT (like a bigger, military version of Torchwood), Martha calls the Doctor back to Earth to help investigate the suspicious activities of the Rattigan Academy whose technology Atmos exists all over the planet. It's good to see Martha again, who has now got over the Doctor and is getting on with her life (engaged, no less!), and all in all this is a fast-paced, action packed episode which sets up part two with a decent cliff-hanger. 8/10
Poison Sky - this episode sees the Doctor meeting back up with his old enemy and trying to stop them from destroying Earth. Further, he must find out what plans child prodigy Luke Rattigan has and uncover why Martha is acting so strange... It feels a little too predictable in places, but overall is a good conclusion. 7/10
The Doctor's Daughter - an interesting episode which delves a little into the Doctor's past life and family ever so slightly, but also sets up potential storyline[s] for the future. Caught in a fierce conflict between a small group of human clones and a race of aqueous aliens called the Hath, a DNA sample is taken from the Doctor to produce a clone - a soldier - his 'daughter', Jenny. With Martha captured by the Hath and the two forces ready for a final confrontation, the Doctor, Donna and Jenny must hurry to discover the cause of the conflict and stop the massacre. 6/10
The Unicorn and the Wasp - for me, this was the weakest instalment of the series. It could have been a good murder-mystery in the classic Agatha Christie style, but I think it all got a bit silly when we find out that the murderer can turn into a giant wasp. Still, it features a good setting and costumes, and is a bold if disappointing attempt to answer a genuine mystery from the author's life. 4/10
Silence in the Library - this is where the series really started getting good. Called to the mysterious abandoned Library Planet through his Psychic Paper, the Doctor meets scientist River Song, who strangely knows him very well even though they've never met (again, setting up potentially interesting future plotlines). They soon discover the reason everything is abandoned - the Vashta Narada; flesh-eating creatures that travel in the shadows have infected the planet, and the computer is telling him several thousand people were saved from the creatures, yet they are nowhere to be found. What's more, there is a little girl who can see in to the library when she closes her eyes, but is she helping everyone, or hindering them? 9/10
Forest of the Dead - the second part of the above episode. A good conclusion, with a bit more development for Donna, some fascinating interaction between River and the Doctor and some very interesting ideas explored with the little girl and the nature of the Library. Writer Steven Moffat (of Coupling fame) again proves he is one of this series' greatest assets with this superb double-bill. 9/10
Midnight - definitely the highest point of the series for me, almost as good as (the standard-bearer) series 3's Blink; this is a simple but effective look at what people do when contained in unusual and frightening circumstances. While travelling across the uninhabitable planet Midnight on a sightseeing tour the transport breaks down, leaving the Doctor sans Donna stranded with a small group of people. As something approaches the craft one of them is seemingly possessed, and everyone bickers and argues over what to do while unbeknownst to them the entity gains in power... A brilliant episode, cleverly directed and excellently acted, with a chilling performance from Lesley Sharp as the possessed woman. 10/10
Turn Left - an interesting premise and a twist on the time-travelling idea; in this episode Donna visits a mystic lady who offers to read her future, only she traps the unwitting Donna in an alternate timeline where she never met the Doctor, and observes the series' happenings as an outsider. Seeing the return of Rose as a strong, charismatic leader in her own right, this is one of the best episodes and an excellent idea, well explored. 9/10
The Stolen Earth - here it is; the beginning of the epic series finale which is definitely on par with series 2's magnificent climax. Earth itself is pulled across the galaxy for dark purposes unknown, and whoever has done it has ensured the Doctor cannot trace it. So it is left to his friends and allies on Earth - Captain Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha and others - to try to resolve the problem, work out a way to outwit their captors and contact the Doctor. Meanwhile, one of his oldest enemies stirs and the Doctor has to go to the mysterious Shadow Proclamation for help. Lots of returning faces and a pace that barely lets up in this excellent episode. 10/10
Journey's End - the series bows out in spectacular style. Like the first part, the plot races along and barely lets up once - it does all seem a little confusing at times, but you don't really have time to think about all that anyway. With one or two unexpected twists along the way and a very bittersweet ending, this is a superb finale to a yet another very good series overall. 10/10
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Doctor Who : Complete BBC Series 4  [DVD] by David Tennant (DVD - 2008)