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This review is from: Doctor Who - Series 4 Volume 4 [DVD] (DVD)
This DVD contains the last three episodes of Series 4 of Doctor Who, and for me it's the best and most exciting collection of episodes I've had the pleasure to watch and re-watch on BBC Three repeats live in 2008. This selection includes a gripping one-part story that sets up and leads into the two-part finale that is both thrilling and emotionally heart-breaking at the same time. It also features the largest amount of characters to have featured with the Tenth Doctor and the new series as a whole. If you've been following David Tennant's era without a fault, this is a fantastic Christmas present (in July) and I mean that sincerely.


This story features the Doctor and Donna visiting a Chinese-like market planet in the future called Shan Shen. They're enjoying themselves to the full on this planet, until Donna wanders off by herself leaving the Doctor and comes across a fortune teller (played by Chipo Chung who recently played Chantho in `Utopia' with Sir Derek Jacobi). Persuaded to take part, Donna goes into the fortune teller's tent thinking she's going to get a free reading. Instead, Donna finds herself telling the fortune teller about how she first met the Doctor as a temp at H.C. Clements and revealing how she made the choice of `turning left' at the crossroads. The fortune teller forces Donna by putting a `time beetle' on Donna's back and persuading her to change her decision to `turn right' instead of left. Donna, unwilling to break free from her trance, finds herself turning right instead of left at the crossroads.

Here in this story, we get to see Donna living a life where she never met the Doctor and has permanent job at a photocopying business run by a Mr Chowder. Throughout the episode, he sees events that happen when Donna wasn't there. On Christmas Day, Donna witnesses the Christmas star of the Rachnoss attacking London from 'The Runaway Bride' and the Doctor gets killed after drowning in the Thames, simply because Donna wasn't there to save him. Then we get the Royal Hope hospital in 'Smith and Jones' being stolen by the Judoon and later put back in its proper place with only one survivor and the revelation that Martha Jones is dead as well as Sarah Jane Smith and her gang from her own series (Maria, Luke and Clyde) who saved the world. Then we get the Titantic from 'Voyage of the Damned' crashing into Buckingham Palace and destroying London (Donna and her family managing to avoid that spending a luxury weekend at a hotel). Then America in crisis as people get killed with fat turning into Adipose from 'Partners In Crime'. And the whole world except Britain suffocating from ATMOs gas by the Sontarans in 'The Sontaran Strategem'/'The Poison Sky' only to be saved by Captain Jack and his Torchwood team (Gwen and Ianto) who sacrificed themselves in the process.

All of these are events are things that have happened in the series from Series 3 to Series 4 that we've seen before but with a different turn and disastrous consequences, since because Donna wasn't there to meet the Doctor when she turned right instead of left. And it's not all pleasant for Donna as she gets sacked from her job; forced to live in Leeds and live a life that has become depressing. It's a grim story but brilliantly written and well-thought out by Russell T Davies who does a great job explaining how certain choices affect certain events and everyday lives with `meetings never made; children never born; a life never loved' as Rose says.

Of course, this episode features the welcome return of Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, last seen in the Series 2 finale 'Army of Ghosts'/'Doomsday'. I was excited and thrilled that Rose was returning, since she was the first companion I'd seen from the new series and she had touched everybody's hearts during her time as the Doctor. Even when she left the series I always knew she would be coming back. I didn't know how but I always knew Russell would bring her back into the series. And here she's helping Donna to save her through the world she's created as she's been jumping across parallel universes to get to her. I simply love how Rose interacts with Donna by telling her these important things about the Doctor and persuading her to help her change history back to the way it was.

But it's Catherine Tate who steals the show, as she's tremendous playing Donna Noble in this story. Donna is clearly a different character who's never met the Doctor and is absorbed in her own trival world (much like to how we first met her in `The Runaway Bride'). The emphasis of Donna not thinking herself important and just being `nothing' is strong in this story, and her journey is captivating to watch as she goes through the motions of getting a permeant job to being sacked; to find her home destroyed and having to live in Leeds under martial law and then to becoming horrified when the Italian family get forced out of their home to work in labour camps. Her horror at seeing the time beetle on her back was very exciting to watch when Rose shows her, as is her reaction to the TARDIS (recovered by UNIT from the Thames) when she goes inside it.

Also in this episode are Jacqueline King returning as Donna's mum Sylvia and Bernard Cribbins playing Wilfred Mott, Donna's granddad. Both share Donna's life story as they get evicted to Leeds and experience being nobody's in a society that's crumbling. I loved Donna's scenes with her granddad when they're looking through the telescope and see the stars going out - a warning of things to come as `the darkness is coming'.

The climax of the episode is tremendously thrilling, as Donna goes back in time to stop herself from turning right and sacrifices herself by getting run over by a lorry. Rose whispers something in Donna's ear for her to tell the Doctor. As Donna from earlier in the car turns left, everything reverts back to normal and the time beetle is forced off Donna on Shan Shen. Donna is horrified at seeing it, but not as much as a the fortune teller who retreats from being scared of what Donna will be. Then we have the Doctor appearing at the end who's still alive (David had the easiest job since he only appeared at the beginning and end).

As Donna tries to remember about the parallel world she created, she remembers Rose Tyler and tells her the message she gave him to tell the Doctor. The message is....BAD WOLF! The Doctor is shocked and horrified. He runs out with Donna to find the street brawled with the two words everywhere - BAD WOLF! BAD WOLF! BAD WOLF! Even on the TARDIS exterior it has the words BAD WOLF, BAD WOLF BAD WOLF written all over it. It can only mean one thing to the Doctor - `the end of the universe'!

Just to mention, my best mate lives in that same street used for Leeds where Donna and her family lived which is actually in Penarth. I was only there just last weekend. How amazing is that?!

Wow! An exciting episode that I have ever seen with a brilliant cliff-hanger of an ending, making me wonder what will happen next. When I saw the `next time' trailer and the official trailer for the next story, I couldn't help but get over-excited as what was to come next was going to be a stupendous event! As Rose says, `it's only just beginning...'



Wow! This `Doctor Who' story is amazing!

It's got to feature one of the most biggest casts in `Doctor Who' history. Not only have we got David Tennant, Catherine Tate and Billie Piper returning, but also we got Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones; John Barrowman as Captain Jack and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. But guess what...we've also got Eve Myles and Gareth David-Lloyd from `Torchwood' playing Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones (I couldn't believe it! Torchwood regulars in a Doctor Who story). There's also Tommy Knight from `The Sarah Jane Adventures' as Luke Smith as well as Alexander Armstrong as the voice of Mr Smith - Sarah Jane's computer in her attic. This makes the first and possibly only time there's a crossover between three shows - Doctor Who/Torchwood/Sarah Jane. We've also got Bernard Cribbins and Jacqueline King returning as Wilfred Mott and Sylvia Noble (Donna's family); Noel Clarke and Camille Coduri as Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler (Rose's family); and Adjoa Andoh as Francine Jones (Martha's family). And...there's Penelope Wilton returning as Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister (yes we know who she is). And...there's Nicholas Briggs doing the voice of the Daleks as well as the Judoon who are also in this. I'm running out of breath...(panting)...but you get what I'm on about. The cast is huge...and the story encompasses everything that has ever appeared in the Russell T. Davies era of the series.

The story itself is incredible (as it should be for the finale of Series 4). The Doctor and Donna return to Earth to find that it gets stolen and taken across thousands of light years to the Medusa Cascade where twenty six planets have also been stolen out of the orbit. These other planets include Callufrax Minor, Jahoo, Woman Wept, Clom as well as Adipose III (mentioned in `Partners in Crime' by Miss Foster), Pyrovillia (in `The Fires of Pompeii' by Lucius) and the Lost Moon of Poosh (in `Midnight'). They've all been stolen to form this engine of power to spread across the universe. Stolen by whom I hear you ask? You guessed's the Daleks. No sooner has the Earth been stolen that the Daleks start to invade, attacking entire continents and military bases including the New York branch in U.N.I.T. where Martha Jones works.

But the Daleks are not alone. As well as being led by the blood-red Supreme Dalek (very impressive and beautiful Dalek to look at I must say), they also brought with them their lord and creator - the Kaled scientist Davros (played magnificently by Julian Bleach - who played a role in `Torchwood' that got him the role). Davros first appeared in `Doctor Who' all the way back to 1975 in 'Genesis of the Daleks' with Tom Baker. Sarah Jane is horrified when she hears Davros' voice, remembering him from that moment. I love that moment. It gave me the chills hearing it. Now Davros comes back in true form to lead his Daleks to conquer the universe with the use of his `reality bomb' as well as the 27 planets to transmit the signal to make the stars go out.

Julian Bleach is absolutely tremendous as Davros in this story, and very scary, playing to same level as Michael Wisher and Terry Molloy played Davros all those years ago. His ranting and raving match superbly to the classic days as much as his cool, calculating and quieter tones whenever he's chatting to the Doctor whether it's on the sub-wave network or holding him prisoner in the vault of the Dalek Crucible. The make-up of Davros is truly sensational, matching to the make-up that was used back in the 1970s when Michael Wisher played the part, as the production team wanted to keep true to the original style of Davros all those years ago. And Julian manages to pull off the part pretty well with such enthusiasm and energy. I'm sure he scared the living daylights out of children when he appeared in these 2008 episodes.

There's also the return of Dalek Kaan who managed to escape at the end of 'Daleks In Manhattan'/'Evolution of the Daleks'. Kaan did an emergency temporal shift and went into the Time War to rescue Davros before he got killed. As a result, Kaan became deranged and manic as he could see into the future and tell prophecies to Davros about what's to come. He also has the knack of giving off hysterical laughs. It's very strange and eerie. I don't think I ever heard a Dalek before, and it's really quite creepy.

Harriet Jones manages to get the team of companions together including Jack and his Torchwood team; Sarah Jane and her son Luke and Martha Jones by contacting through a sub-wave network (Rose sees this networks through the Nobles' laptop but doesn't get in touch since it doesn't have webcam. Together, the `secret army' (or `children of time' as Davros calls them), use their skills and resources to make contact with the Doctor using Martha's mobile phone to bring the Doctor to them. They use Mr Smith and the power of Cardiff's space/time rift through Torchwood to boost the signal. The trick works, as the Doctor and Donna follow the signal in the TARDIS and enter the Medusa Cascade a split second forward in time to find the 27 planets. It's now a race against as the Doctor has to reach the Earth before Davros and the Daleks can stop him.

As the Doctor and Donna arrive on Earth, they soon find Rose Tyler waiting to meet them. The Doctor is overjoyed as he and Rose run to meet each other and be reunited. But it's short-lived as a Dalek glides along and shoots the Doctor on the spot with its death-ray. It's one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the series and it got me on edge. The Dalek gets blown up by Captain Jack who turns up. The Doctor and Rose have a momentary reunion before he finds himself dying and about to undergo regeneration. Jack orders Rose and the Doctor to get inside the TARDIS before any more Daleks come along.

The first episode's cliff-hanger has got to be one of the best and most `nearly on the edge of your seat' moments. We have three endings to this episode. Sarah Jane is about to get exterminated by the Daleks in her car; the Torchwood team Gwen and Ianto open fire with huge guns on a Dalek invading the Hub and the Doctor is with Donna, Rose and Jack in the TARDIS who stand back as he's about to change. The Doctor explodes in fiery energy about to regenerate. This really made me panic and wonder what would happen next as I didn't want David Tennant to change. It really seemed like it was going to be the end as David Tennant was regenerating into M-! He's not changing. He's sending his regeneration energy into that severed hand he's been in the TARDIS that Jack gave him. He's still David Tennant. He hasn't changed. Thank goodness! I really did not see that coming. I didn't know how the Doctor was going to get out of that one. I had that reaction Rose, Donna and Jack had at that moment. He's clever that Russell T. Davies using that life-line. I should have spotted that, shouldn't I? The Doctor and Rose are allowed to have their reunion as they hug each other, to which I was very happy watching. Donna wanted Jack to hug her too, which was funny.

Also the Torchwood team manage to get out of it as they find the Dalek as well as the Hub sealed off in a time lock bubble with bullets firing in mid-air. This was set up by their former colleague Toshiko Sato (who died in the Series 2 finale of Torchwood `Exit Wounds' as well as Owen Harper). It means they're safe from danger but can't get out and have to wait for Jack to return.

Sarah Jane also survives as she's saved by Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler who appear properly in this episode jumping from their parallel universe. They use big guns to destroy the Daleks to which they blow up. Sarah Jane's relieved. They've come to find Rose. The three go off together to find the TARDIS (with Doctor, Donna, Jack and Rose inside) being sent off to the Crucible by the Daleks. In order to get up there they have to drop their guns and surrender to the Daleks. The trick works as the Dalek are about to take them up to the Crucible as well.

Martha Jones has an adventure of her own too, as she uses U.N.I.T's new teleport `Project Indigo' to make for Germany, outside of Nuremberg. She has to avoid the Daleks who are also there, speaking German. I found it rather amusing, hearing Daleks speaking another language saying 'Extermineiren! Extermineiren!" Martha's good at speaking German too when she arrived to meet the woman at Osterhagen station, where she has to use the `key' of that same name to save the world. It's a dangerous choice for her to make, but Martha's not going to use the key until she speaks to the Doctor about it.

Very soon we have the final showdown as Davros and the Daleks manage to capture all of the Doctor's companions - Martha, Jack, Sarah Jane, Mickey and Jackie along with the Doctor and Rose - in the vault before they can do anything to stop them. Davros barks his command to `detonate the reality bomb' which will send the signal using the stolen planets to destroy the stars, planets as well as everything else in the universe. It seems rather hopeless, until the TARDIS arrives (presumed destroyed by the Daleks) and out steps...another Doctor. Yes I know, how weird is that?

This other Doctor looks exactly the same as David Tennant. Except this Doctor was grown out from the severed hand containing regeneration energy, touched by Donna Noble who was in the TARDIS at the time - causing an instantaneous metabolic crisis. This Doctor also has only got one heart - making half human, half Time Lord. He's also got some of Donna's lip - going `Oy!'; `No way!' and `isn't that wizard?' all the time. I don't know about you, but this was the most daftest, ridiculous and probably most ingenious idea RTD's ever come up with. I love it when Donna goes `You're naked!', moments after the new Doctor's born.

The human Doctor tries to stop Davros with some gadget of his to kill him and the Daleks, but Davros zaps him with his metal hand. He also electrocutes Donna who comes running out of the TARDIS moments after the human Doctor's shot down. It seemed like it was the end of Donna as well as the end of the universe when the `reality bomb' countdown reached to zero. But...the countdown stops as does the detonation of the reality bomb. Who's done that then I hear you ask...?

Donna Noble! She's managed to stop the reality bomb and disabled Davros and the Daleks within a flash. All because she's now got the mind of the Doctor's following that meta-crisis business. She talks like the Doctor, she even acts and sounds like him. She's become part Time Lord; part human - the DoctorDonna. I found this really amusing, and Catherine Tate does a really good David Tennant. Now there are three Doctors in this episode. And if you're heads are scratching when reading this review as well as following this story, I tell you now I'm not surprised. Don't let it worry you.

This gives the chance for the Doctor and his companions to fight back and work together to stop Davros and the Daleks. This gave me great moments of happiness watching this band of heroes together fighting the great enemy. Pretty soon the 26 planets get sent back to their time and place by the two Doctors and Donna, except for Earth as the blood-red Supreme Dalek blows up the equipment before it gets blown up by Jack. The human Doctor fulfils Dalek Kaan's prophecy by committing genocide for all the Daleks and destroys the Crucible, to which the `real' Doctor's not happy about. All of the Doctor's companions get inside the TARDIS as well as the human Doctor ready to go. The Doctor calls out to Davros to save him, but Davros curses the Doctor ranting and branding him `the destroyer of the worlds' before he gets enveloped in a fiery inferno. I don't think that's the end of Davros. He must have survived somehow at the end of that episode, mustn't he? Mustn't he?!

The two Doctors and their companions now have to pilot the TARDIS and take the Earth home back to its proper time and place. And they're not alone as they enlist Torchwood's help as well as Mr. Smith (Sarah Jane's computer) and K9 - yes I know! K9's in this (voiced by John Leeson). Another big name added to the cast list. The Doctor gets his companions to take part in piloting the TARDIS using the six sections of the console (except Jackie as she was told not to touch anything by the Doctor - poor Jackie love her), as they take the Earth home. What follows is a wonderful sequence of the complete Tenth Doctor team journeying back home in the TARDIS - with the reprise of the Ood `Song of Freedom' in the background - and enjoying the ride. They eventually bring the Earth back to its proper place and time (with Moon in orbit) and the Doctors and companions are thrilled and overjoyed, hugging each other as they've become one big family. It was one of the most happiest and thrilling moments I had ever seen in the series.

Pretty soon the Doctor says goodbye to his friends, as Sarah Jane goes back home to her son Luke, Jack goes back to Torchwood, Martha to U.N.I.T. and Mickey decides to live a new life on the `real' Earth as there's nothing for him left in the parallel universe (especially not Rose). Mickey soon joins up with Jack and Martha. The new Torchwood team perhaps? Possibly not.

The Doctor also takes Rose and Jackie back to `Bad Wolf Bay' in Norway in the parallel Earth where he leaves them with the human Doctor. The Doctor tells Rose to look after the human Doctor because of what he did in destroying the Daleks and that she can spend the rest of her life with him as he ages the same time as her and never regenerates. It's the most kindest thing RTD does for Rose as she can now live happily ever after with a human Doctor that looks like David Tennant, just as the Doctor and Donna leave to head back off into their own universe. I look forward to seeing the next time Billie Piper appears in `Doctor Who' again since she was the first companion I saw and is one I'm very fond of.

This story however has a tragic end for Donna Noble. I don't know why but I honestly thought she was going to carry on into the next series, since I enjoyed Catherine Tate so much. But as she's now got the Doctor's mind inside her head, it begins to kill her as there's an information overload for her and her brain starts to burn. The Doctor knows what's happening to her and he can't let the Donna die even though it pains him to sacrifice his travelling days with her. Donna doesn't want her travels to end and begs the Doctor not to `make her go back'. It's a heart-wrenching and agonisingly-emotional moment, but the Doctor has to do it in order to save her. Saying his final goodbyes to Donna, he wipes Donna's memories of ever meeting the Doctor, including her first adventure.

Donna blacks out, and the Doctor takes her home to her family back in Chiswick where he tells them everything and instructs them not to tell Donna anything about him or the TARDIS. It's really tragic, and it's a harsh thing for RTD to do to Donna. When we next see Donna, she's back to that absorbed, annoying and trivial character that she'd been before ever meeting the Doctor. She doesn't even recognise him. The Doctor leaves the Noble house with Wilfred telling him he'll watch out and think of him to which the Doctor's grateful. The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, and is saddened with the loss of Donna, as he's now alone all over again. I'm close to tears.

This has been a tremendously brilliant collection of episodes from `Doctor Who' and are my most favourite. All three episodes have been brilliantly written by Russell T Davies as well as brilliantly directed by Graeme Harper. They encompass everything about the Russell T Davies era as a whole as well as the David Tennant years, and it's a great to celebrate one of the well-loved eras of `Doctor Who' as a whole. Highly recommended. You'll be excited and engrossed in these episodes as you watch them.

The next DVD to follow this is 'The Next Doctor' where the Doctor faces the return of the Cybermen. I got excited watching the 'Coming Soon' trailer at the time with the stomping footsteps in the background, eager for what was to come that following Christmas...
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Nov 2013 11:28:23 GMT
Timelord007 says:
Jesus, Blimey Tim this Is a Lord of the Rings review an epic but a very well written & structured.

I remember the Cliff hanger to Stolen Earth being a WTF moment I was snacking & nearly choked that my second favourite Doctor about regenerate & I couldn't see any solution apart from a new Doctor which I'd been gutted RRD doing mid story.

Great story & review.

If you like Davros check out Big Finish 4 part I Davros mini series.
It's one of the most shocking disturbing yet brilliant story's Big Finish have done.

If you purchase this mini series I guarantee you'll not regret it.

keep up the great reviews mate.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Nov 2013 12:43:01 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Nov 2013 12:44:30 GMT
Paul Tapner says:
I concur with the above. As regards that cliffhanger: I was out walking in the countryside when the day when Journey's end aired, and my bus home was fifteen minutes late. So by the time I got in it was eight minutes into the episode. Felt like such a long wait till I could check how they'd gotten out of it.

Posted on 12 Nov 2013 14:08:49 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Nov 2013 14:09:06 GMT
Timelord007 says:
Thought you'd like to know my review for Light At The End on my review page now.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Nov 2013 09:42:43 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Nov 2013 09:47:25 GMT
Tim Bradley says:
Just finished reviewing 'Journey's End' now.

'Lord of the Rings'?! That's going to be a big one. Need to find time to review those films as they're my favourites.

I was very anxious wanting to know what would happen to David Tennant as the end of 'Stolen Earth'. It was too soon. I didn't want him to regenerate. It wasn't the right time. And I honestly didn't know how that cliffhanger was going to get resolved. Of course I should have known better. And it did say in 'Radio Times' David Tennant was going to be in 'Journey's End' but I just didn't know. I was really pleased with the resolution and glad David Tennant's Doctor didn't die so abruptly.

I am aware of the 'I, Davros' mini-series, yes. I've got plenty of other Big Finishs to listen to though. I hope to get to listen to 'I, Davros' soon and I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

I was able to see plenty of repeats of these episodes on BBC Three, including a repeat with 'Stolen Earth' and 'Journey's End' back-to-back on one Sunday. It was a pleasurable experience for me to do that watching those episodes.

Thanks for your comments, Paul and Timelord. Glad you enjoyed my reviews. Tim
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