on 26 June 2008
At the point of writing this we are only one episode away from the end of the fourth series. It has received a mixed reaction in our household and had caused a few disagreements over good or not-so-good episodes.
The first three of the series, for me, were fairly good. I loved the Adipodes - tooo cute for words. The return of Donna Noble as the Doc's companion was like a breath of fresh air! Her first appearance in the Christmas Special '06 was immediately after Rose's departure and such a different character was a lot to take on board. After 13 episodes of Drippy Martha, Donna is delightful. She is not in love with the Doctor - as all the others appeared to be - and this gives her character much more scope. She stands up to him, she reigns him in when required and she lets him know what it is like to be human. She is a hit in our household and we totally enjoyed the start to the new series because of her.
Episode 2 - Fires of Pompeii - I liked this. The effects were good, the scenery was excellent and there was enough 'big stuff' to keep the 8 year old happy. Donna had a blub at towards the end when she realised that there was a moral choice to be made and that neither outcome could be without death. I particularly liked the way that RTD used the Doctor to 'create' a time in history.
Episode 3 - Planet of the Ood - By far and large the favourite of the series for us. We have watched this one several times over and we still think it is wonderful. RTD does it again when he revives a 'monster' from a previous series and gives it a different identity. He had us crying over a Dalek in the first series (who'd have thought it eh?) and he does the same with the Ood. Donna has another blub in this episode and we have now realised that this is the flaw to her character - she's always blarting!! That aside, however, this is a magnificent episode to watch.
All in all, the first three episodes are promising for the new series. This DVD is a must for the collection.
on 12 July 2008
After the disappointment of the mainly dismal third series, this one has turned out to be the best yet. This is mostly thanks to Catherine Tate joining the Doctor as his companion. After the emotional turmoil of Rose, and having to suffer the vacant, goggle-eyed staring of Martha, the poor old Doc was badly in need of some light relief, and he certainly gets it with Donna, especially in the first story in the series. Though as the season progresses, we see far more to Donna's personality than just wise-cracking humour and wittiness. But in the first story, we get quite a bit of that and most welcome it is too. The hilarious moment when the Doc and Donna first clap eyes on each other is classic and just gets funnier the more I see it. And this is mainly down to Donna's lively, ebullient personality, which makes such a refreshing change from what has gone before, and of course, she's pretty too, which helps, but mainly it's her vibrant, sparky personality that draws you in and makes you want more.
Miss Foster is hilarious too, in an icily restrained manner, and the Adipose make you go 'aaahh' they are so cute. It was a nice, fun episode, but with pathos too, when we see Donna at home being nagged by her unappreciative mother, and then with her grandfather on the hillside at night, telling him about the Doctor and how she wanted to find him. And then at the end, after she'd found him, but momentarily doubted that he still wanted her to accompany him, she switched from high spirits and ebulliance to vulnerability in the blink of an eye. And then, when she doubted the Doctor's intentions and misinterpreted something he said, she was outraged at what she thought was a dishonourable suggestion on his part, and this was her back in expressively funny mode. The whole interaction between them a delight to behold.
A wonderful first episode to start the season off.
Not so keen on the second story, as I'm not usually with the historical ones, but still entertaining and the relationship between Donna and the Doctor evolving into them being very comfortable in each other's presence and with a lively repartee bouncing off one another that ran throughout the whole series. Nice how the Doctor was shown to be responsible for the events that happened way back in history. This was quite cleverly worked in to the story and was a bit of a twist seeing as how it wasn't really going to happen and he had caused it all along.
The Planet of the Ood was a delight. Once again, the humans were shown in a bad light and the Ood as really rather superior in their innocence. The planet could have been shown a bit more, rather than just snow-covered industrial machinery, but I guess maybe budget restrictions could have been behind this. But it was still very effective and Donna's sympathy for the Ood was very touching. At least in this story, the Ood had a happier outcome to the last time we saw them.
All in all, a great start to a great fourth season. And if you only buy one dvd from this season, then to me, this would be the best.
Oh, and I think the picture on the cover of the dvd is the best yet too!
Not since Bonnie Langford have people feared the return of another red-headed companion... I know a lot of people were less than pleased to hear that Catherine Tate was to be brought back for this series, but I personally enjoyed her portrayal of Donna (even if I didn't love everything about her Christmas special episode).
The character needed depth, and she got it. Left feeling disillusioned since The Runaway Bride she manages to find The Doctor and pretty much invite herself into the TARDIS - and I'm glad she did. Since Doctor Who was re-launched it has managed to capture some brilliant moments. With Catherine Tate in the series, you always knew the writers would tap into her comedy credentials, and the scene from the first episode where Donna and the Doctor mime their way through a conversation is one of the funniest moments throughout the shows 45+ year history! For me, this is the strongest first episode since Ecclestone's "Rose". Those little Fat Creatures (I'm sure everyone went "aw" when they saw the Adipose) were fantastic, it was only on a second viewing that I noticed that some of the poor blighters were squidged by a taxi when it skidded over them to an understated yet comedy splat noise!
Any doubters that Catherine Tate wasn't strong enough to pull off the joint lead for this series were convinced by the second episode where we got to see her experience the harsh realities of disaster, and also the inner angst that comes with being a Timelord; we get to explore more of the doctor and the difficulties he faces with every decision often life or death decisions for thousands of innocent souls. There's CGI galore here and it isn't too bad.
Finally, we see the return of the Ood. This episode didn't feel as strong as the others but it followed the dark theme, in this case the sadness lay with the plight of the exploited Ood and the revelation around the extent of their loss.
The single disk format with no additional features is disappointing, but the inevitable box-set will no doubt contain a mass of special features for those who want a bit more.
on 24 August 2008
This is a definite comeback for Doctor Who after the lamentable time of Martha Jones who to me was a very one dimensional character. Catherine Tate, who isn't constantly in awe of the Doctor, adds a lot of humour to proceedings.
The first episode, "Partners in Crime" was not scary as such but made you think and featured great turns by Sarah Lancashire as Miss Foster and Verona Joseph (Jess from Holby City) as nosy a journalist. The Adipose were also the cutest monster in existance.
Episode number two, "The Fires of Pompeii" is probably the weakest episode as the monsters were neither scary nor particularly thought provoking. However, when you return to this episode, having watched the whole of this series there are many threads and references to pick up on which become relevant later on.
The third episode, "Planet of the Ood" is deeply moving and thought provoking. It also sees development in the character of Donna, no longer simply humourous and feisty. This is definitely the most scary episode of the three and the most taut and interesting storyline.
Overall, three great episodes which you will be surprised how many times you'll watch and which become more fascinating after you've watched the later episodes in this series...
on 21 May 2009
'Doctor Who' returned to TV in 2008 with the prospect of featuring what might have been one of its greatest enemies - audience familiarity. With the novelty of new Who having worn off, could the series continue to attract viewers and keep them happy? Remarkably, Series Four seems to have taken the show to new heights of public popularity, and its first three episodes are present on this DVD.
'Partners in Crime' is, on the face of it, a lightweight opening episode, concerning diet pills that literally make fat walk away, in the form of baby alien creatures called Adipose. It's the kind of dubious plot that has the potential to veer into the ridiculous, and to some extent it does - but surprisingly, in a good way. It's helped by not taking itself too seriously, and of course, by Catherine Tate returning as Donna Noble, the titular Runaway Bride of the 2006 Christmas special. Russell T Davies' sparky script provides the kind of breezy breackneck pace regular viewers will be well used to, imbued with a real sense of fun. Also, the Adipose are a triumph, marking a first for the show in providing alien monsters that are genuinely rather cute. 'Partners in Crime' isn't the best the series has to offer by a long way, but it did manage to defy all my expectations and pull something entertaining out of a not-especially promising idea.
Bringing back the Ood must have seemed like a bit of a no-brainer for the production team, as they are one of the few original monsters encountered in the revived series that can properly stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the Doctor's classic adversaries. Unfortunately, 'Planet of the Ood' is a bit of a disappointment. Visually, it's very impressive with its creation of a sprawling, snowy alien environment, but in attempting to give greater depth to the Ood, the script does them a disservice. It takes away some of the fun, leaving us with a run-of-the-mill 'Doctor Who' adventure, albeit one with one or two entertaining and somewhat macabre twists along the way.
But if you buy this DVD for one episode, make it 'The Fires of Pompeii'. Partly filmed in Italy, on standing sets from the TV series 'Rome', this story manages to cram in more incident and spectacle in 45 minutes than many Hollywood movies manage in more than twice the time. Tightly plotted, and with a collection of interesting and engaging characters, it's so much more than just an effects-filled extravaganza. Particularly noteworthy are the scenes where the Doctor and Donna find themselves at loggerheads over the rights and wrongs of altering history, and whether it is the Time Lord's place to interfere in such matters. David Tennant and Catherine Tate play these scenes beautifully, Tate in particular establishing Donna as so much more than the mouthy, self-centred figure she may have first appeared in 'The Runaway Bride'. It boasts a fine guest cast too, including Peter Capaldi and Phil Davis. If there's an episode that proves 'Doctor Who' still has much to offer, this is it.
So, a solid start to the fourth series, although only one of these episodes is absolutely essential viewing. They're all worthy of your attention to some extent, though, and the scale of their ambition has to be applauded.
on 7 February 2009
The first `vanilla' release from Series four of the revived Doctor Who series stars David Tennant as the nomadic Timelord and features Catherine Tate as his companion, Donna Noble. We last saw Donna in the 2006 Christmas Special; The Runaway Bride; and she reappears here investigating the mysterious `Adipose Industries', a company that claims to have produced a fat-busting pill that leaves the user transformed - literally. Donna is clearly hoping to re-encounter The Doctor, after she rejected his previous offer to travel in time and space with him; and this she does, as it seems that the Timelord is also extremely interested in what Adipose Industries are up to. The two eventually meet in one of the series' great moments so far, and quickly prove that they are a great combination - Donna is quick to eschew any romance between them and the Doctor courteously (but clearly relieved!) concurs. `Partners in Crime' is a worthy start to the new series; although the Adipose themselves are far too bland and cuddly to make interesting aliens. The real `monster' is intergalactic super-nanny Miss Foster; played with relish by Sarah Lancashire. As a way of kicking off the new series and reminding the viewer of the state of things, this does the job perfectly; as a stand alone episode it is slightly above average.
Donna's first excursion-proper in the TARDIS takes the travellers to Rome at the height of its powers; however it isn't Rome but actually Pompeii - circa AD 79 - the day before Vesuvius erupts with devastating consequences. The lava creatures `The Pyrovile' are hiding under the volcano and using the `Sybilline Sisterhood' to convert people to Pyroviles. The sumptuous scenery (on location in Italy) and the many colourful characters, make this one of the outstanding stories filmed for Doctor Who. The new series' ability to attract great guest stars remains undiminished, with Peter Capaldi and Phil Davis appearing as local marble dealer and sinister town soothsayer respectively. The Pyrovile are also great value and the creepy sisterhood reminded me of 70s Gothic Doctor Who - specifically `The Brain of Morbius'. Apparently this was one of the least critically-acclaimed episodes in the series; but I have to confess that I enjoyed it immensely; the cringeworthy deification of The Doctor at the end notwithstanding. Visual nods to previous serials - such as the aforementioned Brain of Morbius and 1979 story `City of Death' are subtle, but great for long-term fans. Writer James Moran also incorporated several references from the first three series, such as `The Shadow Proclamation' and `The Medusa Cascade'. The central premise - that The Timelord needs an earthly companion to `humanise' him, was well-worked and not to pushy; as R.T. Davies' ideas occasionally are.
The third and final story on this disc sees the TARDIS crew travel to a `proper' alien planet, where they find themselves on the `Ood-Sphere' with the servile Ood; a race that the Ninth Doctor encountered back in the first series in 2005. The year is 4126 and The Ood are being exploited as servants for wealthy humans; Tim McInnerney's oily owner of Ood Operations, Klineman Halpen, is chief villain here; whilst Roger Griffiths plays one-dimensional sadistic Head of Security `Commander Kess'. The episode's central theme of slavery remains true to the show's original tenets to be educational and issue-based, and the central pairing of Tennant and Tate is growing into a great partnership. It's truly exciting to see such a well-realised alien world - if only The Trial of a Timelord had been able to boast such impressive CGI! The story is gripping throughout, whilst the grotesque ending is classic Doctor Who.
on 19 May 2008
I think that these three episodes are great and a brilliant way to start the series.
Partners in Crime:
This is a very good first episode to start the series with. Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) is searching for the Doctor in this episode, they cross paths quite often and will eventually find each other. Donna works for Adipose Industries which is a company which have come up with a drug which will make you lose weight. Little do the people know that the fat in you will become little creature called Adipose, which will then absorb your body. The owner of the company has a sonic pen which she occasionally uses against the doctor.
This is a very funny and exciting episode with a alien, which for once is non-threatening which makes a change. There are lots of laughs with Donna and the Doctor and Rose unexpectedly turns up..... A great way to start the series. 9/10
Fires of Pompeii:
This is definetley my favourite episode of the three episodes. The Doctor takes Donna for her first to Ancient Rome, or so they think; they actually are in Pompeii and they're there the day before volcano day. The Doctor and Donna look round getting to know people, little do they know that they are being followed by some people called the Sisterhood. Fire Creatures turn up from the volcanoes causing very dramatic scenes. In the end the Doctor has too make the sacrifise of killing all 20,000 people. This is my favourite episode of the three because it is very high-paced, exciting and 'explosive'!! 10/10
Planet of the Ood:
On the Ood are re-introduced after appearing in Series 2. This time the Ood aren't in control of the devil, they have a disease called Red Eye. The Doctor very early one realises there is a third source, that something else is there in control of them, that thing is the huge Ood Brain. This has a very entertaining feel to it and is very exciting. There is a very gruesome yet cool scene where a man pulls the skin off his head and tentacles comes out his mouth and he becomes an Ood. This is a very good episode.
In conclusion this is a great buy and I seriously reccommend that you purchase this, after all they are 3 outstanding opening episodes to the series. Overall: 10/10
My thoughts on the stories in turn:
Partners In Crime - essentially a light, inconsequential story designed to kick the series off and (re)introduce Donna, who here is much more likeable than she was in The Runaway Bride. The Adipose are among the least threatening DW monsters ever, but at least they're fairly original. There's a scene towards the end of the episode that lifts it considerably, and whets the appetite for what is to come later in the series. A fun, modern, agreeable story with plenty of wit.
The Fires Of Pompeii - very much a return to 'traditional' DW stories like ones in the old series, eg the Doctor and companion go to an 'alien' culture where there is evilness afoot and eventually save the day after encountering a monster or two. Of course now we have sensational special effects, non-wobbly sets and much better acting. An improvement on the series opener, Fires, while not being a classic, is a decent yarn with, once again, a few tasty references to something going on below the surface. Russell T Davies is very good at structuring a season, and this tale is placed exactly in the right place in the run.
Planet Of The Ood - about as good as its predecessor, maybe a shade better. It also feels like 'traditional' Who - landing on an alien planet, meeting icky monsters, doing battle with a corrupt human etc. The snowbound setting gives it a fresh, different feel to many others. The Doctor and Donna are developing terrifically as a partnership, and their repartee is really enjoyable.
These three stories are all worth watching but one can't but help think of the delights to come in Series 4 - it's likely that the final three stories will knock the opening three for six.
on 2 May 2008
This DVD contains the first three episodes of the fourth series of Doctor Who, starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble.
As with every new series, there is always a certain level of expectation that surrounds it - and the worry that it might not match up to the previous high standards. Luckily, Series 4 has hit the ground running with 3 massively enjoyable episodes. The big difference with this series is that Martha Jones has gone, and been replaced by Donna Noble, last seen in the 2006 Christmas Special 'The Runaway Bride'. When Catherine Tate was announced as the new full-time companion, there were many fans that thought that her casting signified the beginning of the end. I wasn't one of them - as I thoroughly enjoyed her turn in the festive offering, finding her funny and entertaining to watch. She doesn't disappoint. She is easily my favourite new series companion to date - with great comic timing and genuine vulnerability and charm. She has superb chemistry witrh David Tennant, who continues to just get better as the Doctor.
'Parnters in Crime' is a typically light, action-packed series opener, full of energy, life and fun. It serves as a great re-introduction for Donna, and features a massive surprise twist at the end. 'The Fires of Pompeii' is probably the show's most visually impressive effort to date, as the Doctor and Donna travel to AD 79 and the eruption of Mount Vesvius. And then, 'Planet of the Ood' reunites the Doctr with the tentacled slave-race last seen in Series 2. All three episodes are very different, but all equally enjoyable, featuring some lovely guest performances by Sarah Lancashire, Tim McInnery and Peter Capaldi. I can't wait to see how the series, and the character of Donna, develops. Have no fear, Doctor Who is as good as ever.
on 5 May 2013
Adventures in time and space with the Tenth Doctor and his companion Donna Noble.
Partners in Crime: Donna and the Doctor reunite and must save the lives of millions.
The Fires of Pompeii: It's Volcano Day in Pompeii... Can Donna dare the Doctor to change history?
Planet of the Ood: On her first alien world, Donna finds the human race has developed dark secrets...
05 - 19 Apr 2008