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Doctor Who - Series 4, Volume 1 [DVD]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2013
2008 was a great year for me as a Doctor Who fan. Series 4 was one of my favourite viewing pleasures during that year. I was very lucky to have watched this series live on television with the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). It was a series full of fun, excitement and a lot of running. If you're a fan of the Tenth Doctor, you're going to love this.

This DVD contains the first three episodes of that series.


This episode sees the comeback of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. When I first heard about Catherine returning to `Doctor Who' I was initially surprised. But it was a pleasant surprise for me. I know there's been a lot of doubts and disappointment about Catherine Tate being a Doctor Who companion, but to me it made sense and I was very much looking forward to seeing her return. And I have to say I loved Donna's return to `Doctor Who'. It clearly straight-forward. She wants to find the Doctor in order to have some adventures in the TARDIS since she regrets refusing the offer following the events in 'The Runaway Bride'.

`Partners in Crime' is a very funny and enjoyable episode directed by James Strong and a very good start of the fourth series to watch. Donna and the Doctor keep missing each other when they're investigating the `fat' removing activities of Adipose Industries. And when they do finally see each other from `window' distances, it's very funny and exciting to watch. The way they mime their messages to each other when they see each other for the first time is hilarious. The face reactions from both Donna and the Doctor are classic. One of my favourite moments from the episode.

Donna is not the same person we met before in her first story. She's taken an interest in traveling and believes the existence of aliens from her previous adventure with the Doctor. She wants to see more of what's out there and tries to find a way to reach the Doctor in order to change her answer to the offer he made to her. She disguises herself from health and safety (just as the Doctor disguises himself from health and safety) when she goes to Adipose Industries. I love her scenes with the Doctor when they reunite with each other, and she reveals how her plans for travelling the world didn't go according to plan. I enjoyed it when Donna mistook the Doctor when he said `Come with me?' in utter surprise and she full of joy says `Oh yes, please!' They have a scene where Donna's ready to go into the TARDIS and she's shocked at the Doctor wanting a `mate' and she misinterprets this and goes `You're not mating with me, sunshine.' I just knew I was going to enjoy this duo together on so many adventures.

David Tennant's Doctor is fantastic in this one too. I really enjoyed how he reacts to Donna's presence at Adipose Industries when he's investigating the same time as he is. He's pretty stunned but is very pleased to see Donna. I liked how he and Donna confront Miss Foster in the Adipose building and they discover more on who she is and are appalled by her nanny activities in removing fat from peoples' bodies. The Doctor and Donna are their best working together in this episode, and David Tennant is really on top form. He tells Donna about his recent adventures with Martha and that Rose is still lose in a parallel universe which is a moment I really liked. He's pretty good investigating when visiting peoples' houses as much as Donna is. He manages to get Miss Foster's sonic pen when dangling from outside the building. He's pretty baffled by Miss Foster's claim of the breeding planet Adipose III having gone missing. `What do you mean, lost?! How do you lose a planet?' He's pretty serious when warning Miss Foster that he will stop her if she carries on with anymore of her plans.

This episode features some good guest stars. Sarah Lancashire (from `Coronation Street') plays the sweet motherly villainous Miss Foster, in charge of Adipose Industries. I like how Sarah plays Miss Foster with such relish yet doesn't do an over-the-top performance. She believes Miss Foster not to be evil but a straight-forward doing her job no matter how deadly the procedure is to removing fat. Miss Foster as described by the Doctor is a `wet nurse, using human beings as surrogates'. She chose her name to disguise herself since she chose it very well. I love Miss Foster's line about commenting on the UK. `Oh it's a beautiful fat country!' Her voice is so silky and cool that you wouldn't want to mess with her. I found that moment funny when she discovers the Doctor and Donna in their miming conversation and casually goes, `Are we interrupting you?' Miss Foster manages to outwit the Doctor on every occasion he tries to stop her, making her a worthy opponent. It isn't before long that she's the one in trouble, that results in a sticky end.

There's also the return of Jacqueline King as Donna's mum Sylvia. It was nice to see Donna's mum return to `Doctor Who' who had appeared before in `The Runaway Bride'. Sylvia's still difficult and nagging as ever, and Donna finds her tiresome and annoying. There's that scene when Donna returns home and Sylvia's treating her like a child who's worthless. Donna just sits with her cup of tea in the kitchen whilst her mum's nagging on. She's pretty demanding when it comes to asking things from Donna such as needing the car, which prompts Donna quite understandably to have a `quick getaway'. At least Sylvia gets to witness the Adipose coming out of people's bodies when she goes to a party out on the town with one of her friends.

Also there's the fabulous Bernard Cribbins returning as Wilfred Mott (who briefly appeared in 'Voyage of the Damned' previously and who I've met recently since writing this review). It turns out Wilfred is Donna's granddad. I really like Wilfred Mott in this story and for many of the other `Doctor Who' appearances he would do afterwards. I wasn't expecting Wilfred to return to `Doctor Who' from that one appearance he did in the Christmas special the previous year. But it was lovely to see him, and Bernard Cribbins brings so much to the part. I enjoyed his scenes with Donna when they're out up on the hill at night stargazing. Donna tells her granddad about her adventures with the Doctor and wanting to meet him again and asking her granddad to watch out for a blue box. Wilfred's a good old soul who loves his granddaughter and easily believes in the existence of aliens more than her mum does, and encourages her to find the Doctor.

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Howard Attfield who played Donna's dad Geoff Noble in `The Runaway Bride'. He would have appeared in the fourth series, doing what Bernard Cribbins did as Donna's granddad. But sadly he passed away before filming commenced on the fourth series.

I must say I rather liked the idea of Adipose Industries selling pills for people to lose weight without having to do any exercise. It's a clever idea. I wish it were that simple to lose weight without any exercise. But it does have its side-effects as the `fat just walks away' and gradually kills people who take the pills. The Adipose monsters when I saw them are really cute. Perhaps rather too cute to be taken seriously. But I suppose they are just babies after all. There's a whole army of them walking about the streets of London, when they're walking about or skipping happily waiting to be picked up by their ships. I found it terrifyingly amazing when I saw those large looming nursery ships over London. I found it funny when Wilfred plays his music with his ear phones on and doesn't hear the spaceships looming overhead. I liked it when Donna and the Doctor are waving to the Adipose when they fly up in the levitation beam and they wave back. Donna says, `I'm waving at fat!' which is rather amusing.

So a really good start to an exciting new series of `Doctor Who', I have fond memories watching this on its original transmission on TV during the Easter holidays of 2008. It was a pretty good day watching this and it's a fresh start to a new series of adventure which I knew I was going to enjoy with the Doctor and Donna. One more thing...did I just see Rose Tyler in that episode just then?


The second episode of series 4 and Donna's first adventure with the Doctor in the TARDIS. This is an historical adventure that takes us back to Italy, 79 AD. The Doctor and Donna arrive there and excited. They're hoping to have a tour around Ancient Rome. But the Doctor's brought Donna to the wrong place in history. Instead they find themselves a day before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the city of Pompeii.

For me, Pompeii is a significant period of Earth's history. I remember studying Pompeii during my Latin lessons in school (yes I know, Latin. I'm not sure if they're still teaching Latin today. Hardly likely). So I knew what Pompeii was about. I'm sure it didn't feature the Doctor and Donna causing the eruption of Vesuvius itself, but it's still a terrifying episode as it was a terrifying event. The city gets buried in ash and smoke and people get killed turning into ash like statues. I remember seeing those pictures of ashen-covered people in my textbooks during my Latin lessons. And it was really frightening to look at those pictures. I want to talk to my Latin teacher about this particular episode to see what she thinks of it.

The production team went abroad to film this episode in Italy, which is pretty amazing and exotic. They filmed the episode in the Cincetta studios in Rome. Despite production problems and how they managed to get there, they came up with a pretty heat-filled story set in Pompeii. I like the setting of Pompeii with the Doctor and Donna as they go through the streets and enter the mountain of Vesuvius itself where the heat's pretty intense. This is the first time that cast and crew went abroad to film an episode since the classic days, and it's great achievement depicted in this story.

I love the story of where there's a moral dilemma of either evacuating Pompeii's city before Vesuvius erupts or letting history carry on as it is. Donna wants to save the people of Pompeii by evacuating the city but the Doctor telling her they can't since Pompeii's a fixed point in history. Donna won't have it and there's bitter disagreement between the two. This is definitely an episode of explaining the rules of time travel and why you can't change history. Brilliant writing from James Moran who wrote an episode of `Torchwood' before this.

This is a completely different story in terms of tone. Departing from the comic atmosphere of `Partners in Crime', things get pretty serious. The Doctor and Donna's relationship is explored in how they see events and how they bitterly disagree with each other regarding Pompeii. Donna's appalled by the Doctor's cold determination to let history takes it course and letting these people die. She wants to change history and is throwing hints to Caecilius' family much to the Doctor's annoyance. But there is a certain camaraderie between these two and I like the moments of humour when the Doctor frees Donna from the Sibylline Sisterhood or when they go down into Vesuvius and Donna's amazed by the Doctor using a water pistol on the Pyroville High Priestess. There's that intense scene with the Doctor and Donna when she challenges him on the death of twenty thousand people dying in Pompeii which is pretty bitter and adds a whole new element to their relationship.

The episode's guest cast is truly spectacular. There's Peter Capaldi who plays Caecilius, a Roman official and a real person from Pompeii's history. Capaldi would go on to play John Frobisher in 'Torchwood - Children of Earth' and is apparently the new Doctor in `Doctor Who' today, taking over from Matt Smith. It's interesting with foreknowledge and makes me wonder why Matt Smith decided to take on the body of a Roman official who met in Pompeii years ago. Ha, ha. Capaldi as Caecilius is brilliant and he plays the part with an interesting edge showing an interest in modern Roman art and even buying the Doctor's TARDIS from a stallholder in the city.

There's also Tracey Childs who plays Caecilius' wife, Metalla and is also a real perform from Pompeii's history. To Big Finish Doctor Who fans, Tracey is known for playing Elizabeth Klein in `Colditz' and has gone on recently to becoming the Seventh Doctor's companion. I enjoyed Tracy's interpretation of Metalla in this story who seems to disapprove her husband's tastes in art and has high expectations for her daughter Evelina in the sisterhood and ridicules her son Quintus for offending the gods or being out of the town. She's your typical wife of a Roman official in Pompeii.

Just as Caecilius and Metalla are real people from Pompeii's history, so are their children Quintus (Francois Pandolfo) and Evelina (Francesca Fowler). I should know this since I studied Caecilius' family in my Latin textbooks (although Evelina was created by writer James Moran for this story). Quintus is a pretty lazy boy about the house of Caecilius who seems pretty bored with mundane life, but at least he helps the Doctor to get into Lucius' house. Evelina is a young girl who's bound to the Sibylline Sisterhood for the rest of the futre and can see into the future, much to the Doctor and Donna's discomfort, even though she can't see the eruption of Vesuvius.

The family of Caecilius are the emotional connection to the audience in this story, especially when they're all together towards the end of the story when Vesuvius erupts and when the Doctor and Donna meet them. This is an aspect of the story I really liked, especially when remembering reading stories about these real people in Latin lessons.

There's an appearance from future Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan (who played Amy Pond with Matt Smith). In this story, she's playing a Soothsayer, a member of the Sibylline Sisterhood. She watches the Doctor and Donna as they arrive.

There's also Phil Davis playing Lucius Petrus Dextrus, a local augur that is a priest and official. I've seen Phil Davies before in `Bleak House', an episode of `Lark Rise to Candleford and recently a Miss Marple film starring Geraldine McEwan called `Sleeping Murder'. Here he plays a vicious performance in the character of Lucius, who serves the cult of Vulcan.

The Pyroville monsters in this story were a bit disappointing for me. We didn't get to see much of them and they were easily defeated by throwing water at them and they crumbled to stone and rock. Also the Doctor manages to sting them with his water pistol when he and Donna are in the mountain. They're not the most spectacular monsters in `Doctor Who' and I didn't really understand them to be honest with you. But I found the scenes in the volcano itself very intense and boiling hot as it should be, especially when the Doctor and Donna go deeper into it and confront Lucius and the Pyroviles in the heart of the mountain. Apparently the Pyroviles' home planet was lost and stolen from them, much to the Doctor's confusion, which explains why they've come to Earth to create a whole new Pyrovilla and boil the 70% of water outside.

There's a little lovely moment of continuity to a previous Doctor Who story called 'The Romans', where the Doctor was partly responsible for the Great Fire of Roman in 64 AD. Also the Doctor and Donna aren't the only ones in Pompeii as at the same time there was another `Doctor Who' adventure where the Seventh Doctor and Mel visited Pompeii in 'The Fires of Vulcan', but that's a different story.

In the end, the Doctor and Donna are responsible for eruption of Vesuvius as they blow up the escape pod with them inside it and destroy Pompeii. I love the final moments when after Vesuvius erupts the Doctor initially leaves in the TARDIS and Donna tells him off when they leave Caecilus' family. `You can't just leave them!' she shouts at him. The acting between David and Catherine is tremendous as the Doctor's upset and silent, but he just can't go back. `Don't you see?! Don't you understand?! If I could go back to save them, I would! But I can't!' But Donna begs the Doctor to go back and `save someone' and not the whole town. Eventually he goes back and rescues Caecilius' family and he reaches out his hand from the TARDIS saying `Come with me!'. It's a touching, moving and tearful moment and it establishes the strong character relationships between the Doctor and Donna as well as their connection to Caecilius and his family.

The Doctor, Donna and Caecilius and his family watch as they see Pompeii destroyed in ash and fire. I like it when the Doctor tells Caecilius that Pompeii will never be forgotten and that people will remember him in years to come, as it's certainly true with Pompeii being rediscovered after so many years. Caecilius and his family are horrified and grieved when they see the city covered in ash, allowing the Doctor and Donna the opportunity to leave. In the TARDIS, Donna thanks the Doctor for saving that family's life. And the Doctor finally agrees with Donna's statement she made to him back in `The Runaway Bride'. He needs someone, and the Doctor is glad to have Donna with him to remind him of that. They carry on in the TARDIS, having more adventures.

So definitely `The Fires of Pompeii' is a very moving and cracking good `Doctor Who' story, directed by Colin Teague and with fine performances from David Tennant and Catherine Tate. This shows these two are their electrifying best and are a great duo to travel and have adventures in time and space. It's a significant story in their friendship together.


`Planet of the Ood' is one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes from the new series. Simply because I love the Ood in this story and glad they got a good serving in this story compared to their last appearance. This story portrays the Ood in a more positive light and allows us to embrace them better as an alien race.

The Ood first appeared in 'The Impossible Planet'/'The Satan Pit'], but unfortunately they were possessed by the Beast and weren't given a good treatment in the story itself. This time however we get to learn more about the Ood and the truth to their origins and how they came to serve humanity in the first place.

The Doctor and Donna arrive on the planet Ood-Sphere, where its cold, freezing and covered in snow. They made a reference to the Sense-Sphere from 'The Sensorites' since the Ood and Sensorites are sort-of alike for all `Doctor Who' fans concerned and are in close-proximity. Whilst discovering how Ood Operations market their Ood products, the Doctor and Donna discover also the Ood are being ill-treated and are slaves rather than servants for humanity. They also find that a certain part of the Ood has been cut off and they've had their `translators' stitched on in order to condition them to serve humanity. Soon the Ood go red-eyed and start out a revolution, killing many humans on sight at the Ood Operations facility.

I really enjoyed the Doctor and Donna's adventure in this story. I loved it when Donna's thrilled about arriving on another alien planet in the TARDIS before she goes out and finds it too cold and freezing cold. She goes back inside the TARDIS o fetch a coat without the Doctor noticing which I found pretty funny. I also liked it when the Doctor and Donna get inside Ood Operations, passing themselves as memebers from the Noble Corporation. They get mistaken for being a married couple to which they quickly go, `Oh no, we're not married!'

Donna is pretty shocked at seeing the Ood in their appearance but grows sympathetic as one of them dies. She's pretty shocked at humanity still have slaves in the future, despite being thrilled in the Second Bountiful Human Empire in 4126. There's that great scene where the Doctor and Donna challenge each other about slavery when the Doctor asks her `who makes her clothes' and Donna retorts the Doctor for taking `cheap shots'. I liked it when the Doctor and Donna discover the unprocessed Ood and learn the truth about what the company are doing. Donna is so horrified by what she sees that she at that point wants to go home, even though she changes her mind afterwards and adapts. Donna defies Mr Halpen for what he and his company are doing and calls him an idiot. The Doctor approves of Donna's defiance against Halpen and defending the Ood. `Nice one!'

I really enjoyed the chase sequence with the Doctor being attacked by a huge crane. David Tennant gets to have really good action sequences with his Doctor and it doesn't get more action packed when a mad, crazy security chief who's rather horrible uses a crane to pound the Doctor down in a cargo hold almost killing. It's a pretty intense chase sequence with the Doctor running in order to escape from the crane. Also the Doctor and Donna do a lot of running when they're either escaping guards or are in the middle of a gun battle between Ood and security forces. The Doctor takes a moral stance in this story as he puts the Ood on the top of his list and defy humanity on what they're doing. This is different compared to last time when he encountered the Ood since he left them to die rather tragically. The Ood make a prophecy about the Doctor's song seeming to end soon, which the Doctor doesn't like the sound of.

There's a pretty intense moment when the Doctor and Donna are handcuffed and a group of red-eye Ood come towards them about to kill. They are terrified and try to tell them 'Doctor, Donna, friends!' to ward them off. Fortunately the unprocessed Ood make contacted with the red-eyes and the Doctor and Donna are safe, which I found a thrilling and full of relief moment.

The story features a superb guest cast, including Tim McInnerny as the villainous businessman Kilneman Halpen. I've seen Tim in the live-action `101 Dalmatians' films playing Cruella De Ville's valet Alonso and recently in the `Johnny English Reborn' movie with Rowan Atkinson. I only just realised he was in `101 Dalmatians' after watching this episode. It was great and interesting to see him playing a villain after all these years. Halpen's a man who's under a lot of stress. I love it when he arrives and demands to know info quickly, `How many dead?! Come on! I didn't come all this way to discuss the weather! Which by the way is freezing!' He's using hair tonic to get his hair to grow back and has his own Ood Sigma to serve him like a valet. There are also some really gruesome sequences in this story, such as where Halpen turns into...well I'll let you find out what happens.. It gave me a shock when I first saw it. It gave Donna a shock too with her open-mouthed.

There's also Ayesha Dharker (from `Coronation Street') as market saleswoman Solana Mercurio. She works at Ood Operations supervising the marketing aspect to the Ood when she hosts the sales conference taking place. I found that scene very funny when she presents each Ood in turn on different settings from normal to seductive to comedy setting. She's a pretty weak person as she doesn't consider the Ood being slaves since she does her job in selling them. She refuses to help the Doctor and Donna or go with them to help, as she calls out the guards to capture them. She remains loyal to Halpen despite his edge and gets a sticky end when one of the Ood attacks her with a translator.

There's Adrian Rawlins playing Dr Ryder, who works at Ood Operations and sorts out the red-eye. He accompanies Mr Halpen and joins him when they go to the warehouse where the big secret is kept. Dr Ryder seems a subservient character working for Mr Halpen and appears a normal scientist doing his job. But there's a lot more to him than it seems, as he reveals to Mr Halpen by the end of the story. Unfortunately he too gets a sticky end.

Of course there's the Ood, who are the main stars of this story. Silas Carson provides again the disturbingly polite and silky voices of the Ood. The Ood are pretty good in this story and seem quite scary even when they're being nice and hospitable. They get scary when they go red-eyed and attack people with their light translators which is pretty terrifying to watch.

The main Ood in this story is Ood Sigma who works for Halpen and he seems patient, benevolent and doesn't seem to be affected by the red-eye like his Ood brothers are. I found it creepy when all the Ood in one cargo container lit up their translators and said, `The circle must be broken!' freaking Donna and even the Doctor out. The circle seems to be an important thing running through this story and must be broken so that the Ood can sing. I was pretty surprised and shuddered when I found out the secrets of the Ood by the end of this story and it's well built up both in writing and directing terms.

I also liked the songs the Ood sing such as the 'Songs of Captivity and Freedom' as there are real choirs singing these songs and they really touch you at the heartstrings. It brought close to tears, even Donna was brought to tears when she was allowed to hear it but couldn't bear listening to the sadness of the song. A wonderful achievement on the musicians and Murray Gold's part.

A brilliantly written episode by Keith Temple who reinvented the Ood for the new series and did them justice. It was also brilliantly directed by Graeme Harper, who I've had the pleasure of meeting at a convention in Swansea back in 2010. I saw Grame and Keith during an interactive panel at that convention, and I had the pleasure of being directed by Graeme when he explained how he directed his episodes for `Doctor Who'. I had a signed piece of script from `Planet of the Ood' by Grame Harper himself which I still keep. I hope I'll be able to meet Grame again at a convention, and hope he directs another `Doctor Who' story in the future.

`Planet of the Ood' is definitely one of my favourite episodes from `Doctor Who'. It's full of ideas, full of excitement and adventure and has made me love the Ood all the more since they've been given a good offering. I used a clip from this episode for a Doctor Who quiz I was doing at a summer camp which I enjoyed using. It's pretty gruesome in parts with a surprising and unexpected climax, but I'm sure you will enjoy. It'll certainly whet your appetite for seeing more Ood in later stories and is certainly a great one for the Doctor and Donna who still travel in the TARDIS after this.

So this DVD collection is certainly an enjoyable watch, containing three good episodes to start off the fourth series of `Doctor Who'. David Tennant and Catherine Tate are absolutely brilliant in these episodes and I certainly enjoyed the camaraderie they were sharing with each other. I was looking forward to seeing more and where the Doctor and Donna's journey would take next.

The next story is 'The Sontaran Strategem'/'The Poison Sky'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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...
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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.
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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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.
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