Amongst fans, series four of Doctor Who has probably been more divisive than any of the the preceding three, causing some to lament that it had become little more than a soap opera, while others applauded its desire to push boundaries and experiment.
Personally, I fall into the latter camp. As time has moved on, the bar has been moved ever higher in terms of performance, scripting and production values, even since series 3. As good as David Tennant is, and he is VERY good, this is most definitely Catherine Tate's series. When she was cast, there was a vocal tranche of opinion that dreaded her appearance, based purely on her role in the 2006 Christmas Special (in the series 3 boxset). Even that was a little harsh; she had merely played the part as written, though there were clear echoes of her sketch show in it. However, as time went on, the audience went on a journey with Donna and gradually warmed to her, as she gained some kind of enlightenment and a sense of wonder at all the things she saw. Not just that, but her relationship with Tennant's Doctor, though platonic, had that wonderful kind of spark that Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn shared in their movies. I think the perfect example of that comes at the very end of the series; it was the major highlight of the series finale for me.
So, what of the episodes themselves:
First episodes of a series are tough to judge at the time and while series 3's 'Smith and Jones' had been the best at that point, 'Partners In Crime' trumps it. The Adipose plot was admittedly barely a cypher to bring CT and DT back together, but Sarah Lancashire held her own and there were obvious signs of the great chemistry to come. And if that wasn't enough, there was THAT scene to finish the episode off. Hands up who saw that one coming? ( Liars! :-) )
I really loved 'Fires of Pompeii', with its (in hindsight) predictions of what was to come later and in-jokes ofr all those Cambridge Latin Course veterans. 'Planet of the Ood' was a relatively low-key and downbeat affair, though it too subtly presaged later events. It did still give us glimpses of the fact that Tate's Donna was not going to be content to be a mere mute (or screaming) ornament in proceedings.
The Sontaran double bill, a Helen Rayner effort, was infinitely better than series 3's misfiring 'Daleks In Manhattan'. And Chris Ryan was wonderful as Staal. While it didn't hit the stellar heights of later stories it was certainly much better than merely adequate.
'The Doctor's Daughter' was, in hindsight, probably the weakest episode of the series, which sounds bad but isn't really meant to be. I rather enjoyed it, Its very simple premise and its sense of time and history being compressed as they were was a very interesting one. And of course we have a new character floating around the universe. Who knows when we'll bump into her again...
'The Unicorn and the Wasp' managed to keep up a tradition of doing nice historical author-ish episodes with some style and elan. Some quibbled about the effects and the climax, but such things border on the churlish in retrospect. The episode is a fun one, and perfect for peak-time Saturday family viewing.
From this point onwards, however, the series seemed to hit another gear entirely. Steve Moffat's Library double was, quite simply a stunning tour de force on so many levels. By now though, this is what we have come to expect of the man who manages to put the fear of God into the nation's ten-year-olds every series. Job done this time round - "stay out of the shadows"
For me, the two most surprising episodes were 'Midnight' and 'Turn Left'. The former's simple one-set staging reminding me very much of 'Twelve Angry Men'. It left RTD able to concentrate on what he does best, more than ably assisted by Lesley Sharp's performance. The mysterious and unresolved menace was beautifully realised. 'Turn Left' though, was the biggest shock of all. The usual Doctor-lite episode threw us into a world without the Doctor and shows us the consequences. It shows also how important Donna is in this context. And of course we get the return of Rose...
Then, the finale: if this really is to be RTD's swansong then I think the intention was to comprehensively clear the decks and prepare the way for Moffat to do his stuff. As a result, there was an awful lot to pack in and, towards the very end, a suitably RTD-ish tendency to ladle on the cheese, but he largely gets away with it. Once again though, Tate steals the show, with her half-timelord, half-human meta-crisis showing just how fabulous she was all along. The best bits for me were the crackles of dialogue, like when the half-human Doctor regenerates:
and then taking control of things once the threefold man is reunited with all the parts of himself.
There were lots of nice touches, such as the Sarah-Jane references concerning Genesis of the Daleks, especially the moment where Davros recognises her: chilling.
That all this was so wonderful makes Donna's fate all the more heart-rending and pathetic. We'll miss her. And Bernard Cribbins too: a national treasure. I'm not sure about Rose's resolution either, though it does tie up all those floaty, "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey" bits, to steal a quote.
In the end, what is series 4? Well, in my eyes it is certasinly a progression from the series 3. This season had no clunkers at all and was of a generally high standard. Tennant's Doctor is now utterly fully formed, having recovered from some of the overwrought gurning of series 2. Now he's alone again, next year's specials and 2010 series give the writers and team a blank slate to work from. It alsd helps to have such a talent of cast and crew talent and a wealth of goodwill to go wit hit. You really do get the sense that eveyone concerned loves this show.
RTD has done a great job in reviving what many thought was a dead show and making it consistently the most popular, best produced, mote inventive and simply best drama on British TV.
When release time finally comes it will be an essential purchase for me. I hope it will be for you too.
Normally, when a series reaches its fourth season, signs of faltering start to show. Or you find that a programme is way past its best, recycling old material/plot ideas and is no longer as fresh and quality as you fondly remember.
Mercifully, though...that is not something that applies with the fourth series of Doctor Who. Far from being tired and overdone, the fourth season of the new series was just as inventive and deep as ever, with Russell T Davies taking the show in further directions. In fact, I'd call it the best series of new Who. Aside from being my personal favourite, I found Series 4 more consistent and epic than anything that has gone before or since. And most importantly, it turned me from an admirer of the show, into a die-hard fan.
Here, David Tennant was now entering his third series as the Tenth Doctor, and had established himself as both an icon of television and arguably the greatest incarnation ever of the Time Lord, supported by great companions whose chemistry drove previous series to such classic heights. After choosing Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman to share the spotlight with David, Russell T Davies shocked the world by unveiling high-profile comedienne Catherine Tate to reprise her role as loudmouthed temp Donna Noble to return to the series; as the Doctor's FULL-TIME companion.
The reaction was understandable, given that the Donna Noble character (from the ill-received episode `The Runaway Bride'.) was absolutely unbearable and that Tate herself was a comedienne whose style some people find (myself included) hit-and-miss. But Davies clearly knew what he was doing by bringing Tate back. Here, Catherine once again showed absolutely tremendous chemistry with David, and won millions of viewers over (myself included) with her brilliantly funny and heartbreaking portrayal of Donna.
The character itself was reinvented drastically for Series 4, maturing from a real gobby idiot to a much more well-rounded and deeper companion, truly worthy of the Doctor. What's so refreshing about this series was the relationship between the time traveller and his companion. Here, Donna is truly the Doctor's best mate, the big sister he never had. No romance whatsoever. With Rose in series 2, the soulmate premise and implied love felt natural. With Martha and her unreciprocated love, it made for an interesting sub-plot in Series 3. But the relationship here is just two true friends going around and having a good time, and that's what gave Series 4 its heart.
Right from the first episode, "Partners in Crime', you can expect nothing but laughs and quality. It's such a solid start to the series and is terrifically paced, with Donna having long realised to open her eyes and show everyone just how brilliant she is as she seeks out the Doctor, both (independently) investigating an insidious scheme to seed aliens as...weight loss pills (!). In terms of plot, the episode is laughable, with the whole Adipose premise being overly silly. But why the episode is such a winner, is the character depth/interaction, the look at Donna's life and the Doctor and Donna finally reuniting after constantly missing each other. You find yourselves cheering the reunion when it happens, and when the Doctor and Donna team saves the day and sets off, you know you're in for a brilliant ride across the series.
And right throughout, that's what you get, with both David and Catherine at the top of their game, bringing drama, comedy and flat-out excellence, both together and by themselves as they provide so many unforgettable Doctor-Donna moments. In terms of general plot of the whole `Medusa Cascade' arc, Series 4 delivered in a way no other series did, with cracking sub-plots, ominous omens, high-stakes, daunting questions about the futures of both Donna and the Doctor and outstanding guest appearances from the likes of Billie Piper (Rose), Freema Agyeman (Martha), Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane) and John Barrowman (Captain Jack). As for monsters, you can expect some great frights from returning creatures like the Ood and the Sontarans, the insidious Vashta Nerada and dangers of planet Midnight, and of course, the ULTIMATE horror in the Doctor's life (give you a clue, begins with `D'!) and the long-awaited return of its CREATOR.
In terms of overall consistency, Series 4 can still be viewed as being an absolute triumph. Very few episodes are below par, with the majority being either great or must-see classics. Ones to watch are definitely "Partners in Crime", "Planet of the Ood", Steve Moffat's phenomenal "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" two-parter, Russell T Davies' staggeringly good "Midnight", and the utterly essential three-part finale, consisting of "Turn Left" (Catherine's greatest ever performance), "The Stolen Earth" (a rollercoaster epic) and "Journey's End" (an exceptional finale with a climax that's initially uplifting, then utterly heartbreaking).
Special-features, there's loads to sink your teeth into. Commentaries, deleted scenes, trailers, a whole disc full of Doctor Who: Confidential pieces, featurettes, David Tennant's video diaries...Oh, and there's also the 2007 `Voyage of the Damned' Christmas special (featuring Kylie Minogue) and the absolutely brilliant "Time Crash" Children in Need special (featuring the Fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison). Quality-wise, the picture and sound are typical 2Entertain crispness, there are subtitles and audio navigation (for those who need them) and the package itself features beautiful panoramas that fold out.
Even though Catherine Tate's Who days are long over and David Tennant has now regenerated into Matt Smith, Doctor Who: Series 4 still remains utterly essential viewing. I still consider it the best series ever and its impact can never ever be forgotten. At such a bargain price, there's all the more reason to purchase this boxset. It just doesn't disappoint. Classic, quality viewing. Relive the days where the Time Lord continued his travels with (truly) his best friend by his side.
This is the Doctor Who series that most requires rewatching from beginning to end. It is emotional, poignant, political, tragic, heroic, comedic, and, to my mind, the most passionate exposition in Doctor Who's forty-five year journey.
The original Donna Noble character, in the Christmas Special 'the Runaway Bride', seemed at the time to be no more than a celeb-special with Catherine Tate playing a dumpy comic heroine with enough attitude to keep the Doctor on his toes. But, from the first episode of the fourth series (not counting Christmas special Voyage of the Damned), her character builds to be the most passionate and complex of all the Doctor Who companions.
In Episode 1, Partners in Crime, we see Donna taking things into her own hands, and eventually bulldozing the Doctor into allowing her to accompany him -- though, touchy as she is, she almost doesn't go when she thinks he is being too familiar.
In Episode 2, Fires of Pompeii, she persuades the Doctor to interfere with time by saving a family that would have died. But, unnoticed at the time, a soothsayer character tells her 'you've got something on your back'. A throwaway line, it would seem.
Episode 3, Planet of the Ood, lifts Doctor Who to a new level of political awareness, with the enslavement of the Ood brought to an end at the cost of many lives. It also brings in the bizarre apparent misunderstanding 'Doctor-Donna'.
The two-parter, Episodes 4 and 5, are more traditional Doctor Who / UNIT fare, giving us back Martha Jones, and allowing for the high comedy moment when the Doctor thinks Donna is leaving, and gives her his leaving speech, only to discover she is going home to get some things.
Episode 6, the Doctor's Daughter, had me almost in tears each time I watched it. The sharply compressed timeline makes this excellent science-fiction on its own account, but it's the revival of the Doctor's daughter _after_ the Doctor and Donna have gone, so that they don't know, which lifts this episode emotionally to new highs. But notice also, it's Donna who figures out that the numbers of the rooms are dates, and solves the fundamental paradox of the civil war in doing so.
Episode 7 is the only false note in this series, for me. Perhaps others who enjoyed it would be better placed to comment.
However, the double Episode 8-9, Silence in the Library with Forest of the Dead, is to me the undisputed pinnacle of Doctor Who so far -- better than Genesis of the Daleks from the Tom Baker years, better than The Green Death from Jon Pertwee's time, even beating the multi-award winning Blink from series 3. It's no surprise that it was written by Steve Moffat, the same writer as Blink, whose forthcoming tenure as main writer promises a golden age. Alongside the terrifying plot device, which speaks to our most basic instinctive fears of the dark, the story opens up new sides to the Doctor when we meet for the first time his long-term love interest, Professor River Song. All the strangeness of a relationship with a Time Lord is brought out when we realise that this event sandwiches the first time the Doctor ever meets her, with the last time she ever meets him. But River Song's meeting with Donna, when she tells her how sorry she is, but won't say why, really sets our thoughts moving.
Episode 10, which barely features Donna at all, could have come from almost any series of Doctor Who, before or after the revival. Although light on ideas, it makes massive dramatic sense after the emotional pinnacle of 8 and 9.
Episode 11 pushes Donna right to the front, and it's also one of the most gut-wrenching episodes I've seen. Its key moment is when the Italian family are put in a truck to be taken to a concentration camp, and Bernard Cribbins as Donna's grandfather, Wilf, cries "It's happening again". Most science-fiction series on TV have a go at at-least-one alternate history episode. Doctor Who, where the rules of time travel are so much more established, understood and central to the plot, has remarkably few of them. To see another one, you have to go back to Inferno in the Jon Pertwee era. But this is the alternate history episode to beat all others: after a time-beetle-thing climbs onto her back, Donna's history is rewritten so that she never meets the Doctor. her absence from 'the Runaway Bride' results in the Doctor's death, which means that successive catastrophes are not averted, and Britain is left in post-apocalyptic dystopia. The episode is so perfectly judged that it would rival many feature films, and I was absolutely astonished to find it was just one episode -- I could have sworn it was a double.
Powerful as it is, we discover that Episode 11 is just the precursor to the extraordinary finale The Stolen Earth followed by Journey's End. Bringing all of our favourite characters back, including the ever-menacing Davros, first encountered all those years ago in Genesis of the Daleks, it is the most extraordinary roller-coaster of accidents and reversals. For once the culmination is not 'reverse the polarity of the neutron flow', but a personal dilemma which mirrors the conclusion of Genesis...
Even more extraordinary is the way in which Donna is left tragically as the only person who can never know that she saved the universe. And at that point, we understand why Professor River Song was so very, very sorry.
I was highly sceptical that Catherine Tate would make a good Doctor Who companion. How wrong I was. Coupled with the amazing presence of Bernard Cribbins, who is now more than 80, and the steadily maturing performance of David Tennant, this one gets my vote as the best series of all time.
All time yet, that is. With Steven Moffat at the helm, we could be heading for even better days.
on 6 July 2008
Doctor Who Series 4 has been a rollercoaster ride of action and emotion. David Tennants Doctor is the best ever, portraying both a lonely traveller and powerful Time-lord. Catherine Tate has also lived up to be one of the greatest companions of all time also, adding depth to the Doctors life and questioning the Doctors role.
The stories have also been some of the best we have seen so far - from The Fires of Pompeii, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead through to Turn Left and the Epic Finale.
Series 4 is definately the strongest yet and has managed to capture a huge audience. It i not only a brilliant piece of British Television, but a piece of our Popular culture - a flagship show that is worthy of Worldwide viewing.
Doctor Who has never looked or been so good. The production values are brilliant and are the best on British T.V. down to the cast and the wonderful scripts it never stops amazing the viewer. Whether you are 8 or 80 Doctor Who is must watch Television and this boxset is definately worth the money!
on 6 July 2008
We needn't have worried. Although it seems that the bubble will burst on the new Doctor Who universe at some point, it hasn't come yet. Russell T Davis and his team at BBC Wales have pulled yet another very good series out of the bag, providing that compelling and unique formula which appeals to both adults and children, and managing to remain one of the most enjoyable British shows on TV.
David Tennant is clearly familiar with and at ease in his role as everyone's favourite time travelling General Practitioner. The charisma, energy and unbridled enthusiasm he brings to the screen is a joy, and it is very easy to watch and listen to his character, even if the episode itself is somewhat lacking. The BBC will have a very hard time replacing this much-loved actor when the time comes.
Initial concerns over Catherine Tate's suitability as the Doctor's companion are, for the most part, dispelled fairly quickly, although she does go in to 'shouty Donna' mode a little too often. She proves to be a bit of a sensitive soul, with her affection for granddad Bernard Cribbins (reprising his role from Voyage of the Damned) particularly warming, and her stubbornness and predisposition to lock horns with the Doctor on a few occasions prove her to be a suitably different character to both Martha and Rose.
Speaking of Rose, this series sees her much-talked-about return towards the end, if only for a few episodes - mainly for the climactic finale. Other old favourites returning including Martha, Sarah Jane and the Torchwood team (now less two members, if you also follow that excellent series). It's great to see all the related series cross over like this, something I hope the producers do more of in the future.
The episodes are well directed and the special effects are as good as any British TV show has ever been (in fact, often good enough to match some US TV shows). The sets all look authentic and suitably convincing, although some aliens still have a tendency to look a little silly and false - although admittedly no worse than Star Trek has been doing for years now.
Here is an episode-by-episode analysis of the series:
Voyage of the Damned - the Christmas 2007 special. The Doctor literally bumps into the Titanic, a luxury alien space cruise liner come to observe the 'primitive culture' of Earth. Before you can say "mind that iceberg" disaster has struck and the ship is on a collision course with London. With a small team of survivors in tow and a wrecked ship to negotiate, the Doctor must get to the control deck and stop the collision before it is too late, all the while avoiding murderous mechanical angels The Host and trying to find out what went wrong. Notable for a performance from Kylie Minogue as waitress Astrid, this is a classic disaster scenario obviously inspired by '70s movies such as The Poseidon Adventure. A decent adventure which, if anything, feels as though it's over too soon, but it's definitely the best Christmas Special to date. 7/10
Partners in Crime - a fun, fairly harmless Doctor Who episode in which the Doctor meets back up with Donna Noble, who is deliberately looking for trouble in the hope of coming across the enigmatic Timelord again after their encounter in the Christmas 2006 special, The Runaway Bride. Together they investigate the sinister Adipose Industries and its villainous leader, 'nanny' Miss Foster, and the foundation of their somewhat argumentative partnership is set. It's a decent if throwaway introductory episode with obvious references to real-life social issues, lots of running, not much by way of genuine peril and cute, pudgy little alien babies. 5/10
The Fires of Pompeii - this is more like it. The Doctor takes Donna back to Pompeii, mistakenly arriving the day before the infamous eruption of Vesuvius. Once there, they discover a curious sect of seers whose ability has the unusual effect of slowly turning them to stone. Investigating further, he finds an alien race under the city manipulating the people of Pompeii and is forced to make a terrible decision... 6/10
Planet of the Ood - the Doctor takes Donna to the Ood Sphere - the aliens last seen in Series 2's excellent double-bill, The Impossible Planet / Satan's Pit. The Ood are a fairly creepy enemy, but that's not really the idea of this episode; it's one of a couple of instalments this series which examines the awful, depraved things that people do, or indirectly support. There's a little (much needed) character development for Donna, and overall this is a fairly solid episode. 6/10
The Sontaran Stratagem - this double-bill sees the return of the lovely Martha Jones and the less lovely warmongering aliens, the Sontaran. Now working for international anti-alien agency UNIT (like a bigger, military version of Torchwood), Martha calls the Doctor back to Earth to help investigate the suspicious activities of the Rattigan Academy whose technology Atmos exists all over the planet. It's good to see Martha again, who has now got over the Doctor and is getting on with her life (engaged, no less!), and all in all this is a fast-paced, action packed episode which sets up part two with a decent cliff-hanger. 8/10
Poison Sky - this episode sees the Doctor meeting back up with his old enemy and trying to stop them from destroying Earth. Further, he must find out what plans child prodigy Luke Rattigan has and uncover why Martha is acting so strange... It feels a little too predictable in places, but overall is a good conclusion. 7/10
The Doctor's Daughter - an interesting episode which delves a little into the Doctor's past life and family ever so slightly, but also sets up potential storyline[s] for the future. Caught in a fierce conflict between a small group of human clones and a race of aqueous aliens called the Hath, a DNA sample is taken from the Doctor to produce a clone - a soldier - his 'daughter', Jenny. With Martha captured by the Hath and the two forces ready for a final confrontation, the Doctor, Donna and Jenny must hurry to discover the cause of the conflict and stop the massacre. 6/10
The Unicorn and the Wasp - for me, this was the weakest instalment of the series. It could have been a good murder-mystery in the classic Agatha Christie style, but I think it all got a bit silly when we find out that the murderer can turn into a giant wasp. Still, it features a good setting and costumes, and is a bold if disappointing attempt to answer a genuine mystery from the author's life. 4/10
Silence in the Library - this is where the series really started getting good. Called to the mysterious abandoned Library Planet through his Psychic Paper, the Doctor meets scientist River Song, who strangely knows him very well even though they've never met (again, setting up potentially interesting future plotlines). They soon discover the reason everything is abandoned - the Vashta Narada; flesh-eating creatures that travel in the shadows have infected the planet, and the computer is telling him several thousand people were saved from the creatures, yet they are nowhere to be found. What's more, there is a little girl who can see in to the library when she closes her eyes, but is she helping everyone, or hindering them? 9/10
Forest of the Dead - the second part of the above episode. A good conclusion, with a bit more development for Donna, some fascinating interaction between River and the Doctor and some very interesting ideas explored with the little girl and the nature of the Library. Writer Steven Moffat (of Coupling fame) again proves he is one of this series' greatest assets with this superb double-bill. 9/10
Midnight - definitely the highest point of the series for me, almost as good as (the standard-bearer) series 3's Blink; this is a simple but effective look at what people do when contained in unusual and frightening circumstances. While travelling across the uninhabitable planet Midnight on a sightseeing tour the transport breaks down, leaving the Doctor sans Donna stranded with a small group of people. As something approaches the craft one of them is seemingly possessed, and everyone bickers and argues over what to do while unbeknownst to them the entity gains in power... A brilliant episode, cleverly directed and excellently acted, with a chilling performance from Lesley Sharp as the possessed woman. 10/10
Turn Left - an interesting premise and a twist on the time-travelling idea; in this episode Donna visits a mystic lady who offers to read her future, only she traps the unwitting Donna in an alternate timeline where she never met the Doctor, and observes the series' happenings as an outsider. Seeing the return of Rose as a strong, charismatic leader in her own right, this is one of the best episodes and an excellent idea, well explored. 9/10
The Stolen Earth - here it is; the beginning of the epic series finale which is definitely on par with series 2's magnificent climax. Earth itself is pulled across the galaxy for dark purposes unknown, and whoever has done it has ensured the Doctor cannot trace it. So it is left to his friends and allies on Earth - Captain Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha and others - to try to resolve the problem, work out a way to outwit their captors and contact the Doctor. Meanwhile, one of his oldest enemies stirs and the Doctor has to go to the mysterious Shadow Proclamation for help. Lots of returning faces and a pace that barely lets up in this excellent episode. 10/10
Journey's End - the series bows out in spectacular style. Like the first part, the plot races along and barely lets up once - it does all seem a little confusing at times, but you don't really have time to think about all that anyway. With one or two unexpected twists along the way and a very bittersweet ending, this is a superb finale to a yet another very good series overall. 10/10
on 16 October 2016
Series 4 is one of my favourite series of new who, the banter, the return of Rose, The introduction of River Song, the depth and beauty of the worlds they go to, yes it is cheesy in parts but that is Doctor Who all over and I love it
on 2 October 2014
Series four of Doctor Who sees the return of Donna Noble, the new companion who is travelling with the Doctor this series. Series three is in my opinion the best series of Doctor Who, but series four is definitely a close second. There are so many great stories in this series and I will now give you my thoughts on each of the episodes.
Voyage of the Damned – This is a good Christmas special, but not up to the standard of “The Christmas Invasion” or “The Runaway Bride” in my opinion. It was great to see Kylie Minogue in an adventure with the Doctor; there are some funny moments as well. The characters are great, in particular Astrid, Mister Copper and Banacafalata. The plot is okay, the “Host” are good as they generate suspense but there are some flaws and areas that could have been improved. However, it is an enjoyable Doctor Who story. Grade: C- (7/10)
Partners in Crime – This episode is a great start for series four, and is a really good way to bring the Doctor and Donna back together who haven’t met again since “The Runaway Bride.” The chemistry between David Tennnant and Katherine Tate is brilliant. This episode is a lot of fun to watch and is very funny. This is possibly one of the funniest episodes I have ever seen of Doctor Who. I loved the characters and the ending is excellent. The plot and the Adipose are the weak parts; it’s light-hearted most of the time. The storyline is bizarre but the entertainment factor overpowers this negative element. The comedy is what makes this episode work though. It’s good to see aspects of Donna’s life and view the introduction of Wilfred Mott who is a significant character for later in the series and the specials. It’s a solid opener for series four. Grade: B- (8/10)
The Fires of Pompeii – This is a decent story, not the greatest episode in series four though. The monsters bothered me slightly and I didn’t really like that Peter Capaldi was in this episode, he was to become the 12th Doctor later in the show. I found parts a little boring but I think lots of the dialogue is well written. David Tennant and Katherine Tate give superb performances as the Doctor and Donna. The scenes where they debate Pompeii’s fate and if the Doctor should save people from destruction or not are brilliant. The setting of Pompeii is good; the recreations of the era look very realistic. Overall, I just feel that this episode could have been better. This is the weakest historical episode so far in my opinion since the series has been revived. Some scenes are great and even emotional, but I find other episodes in series four superior to this one. Grade: D (6.5/10)
Planet of the ood – This is a good episode. It explores the themes of lying, slavery and profiteering off of others, which are dark themes but the episode handles it very well. However, lots of the characters are underdeveloped as the episode focuses most of its attention on the main plot and the topic of slavery etc. Only Mister Halpen is developed well as a character. Donna’s viewpoint of being disgusted by the ood to caring about the species happens too quickly. There are some great action sequences and well written dialogue but some scenes are put in to waste time, such as the scene where the Doctor runs from the claw. The ood brain aspect is confusing but the ood look good in the episode and it’s well Directed by Graeme Harper. This is a darker episode of the series, concentrating more on the emotional aspects from the series. I would have enjoyed it more if the villains were not one-dimensional characters, being motivated by money and they come across as evil most of the time for no reason. The ood mention at the end of the episode that the Doctor’s song is ending soon, implying the death of the 10th Doctor which I thought was great foreshadowing. This episode has a great atmosphere, it’s chilling and entertaining. Not the best in series four, but very good. Grade: B- (8/10)
The Sontaran Stratagem – This is a really good episode, I enjoyed seeing the return of Martha Jones and are there are a few different things going off. The CGI is incredibly well done and the plot is good, even if it is a basic idea. I like the fact that we got to meet Donna’s family as they meet the Doctor (having met him briefly previously), this was something that was lacking in series three as we didn’t see Martha’s family much. What I didn’t like in this episode was the way the Doctor treated people, he is mean much of the time. This is not David Tennant’s fault; the Doctor is just badly written in this episode. The characters are developed well and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this first part which has a dramatic ending. Grade: B (8.5/10)
The Poison Sky – This is episode is more of a disappointment after the great set-up in “The Sonataran Strategem.” It’s not bad, but is much more action orientated and there is not much character development. I’m not a fan of the Martha clone element, even if there is a funny scene when the Doctor talks to the clone after he finds the real Martha (with the Doctor knowing all along that the Martha clone was a clone.) The interaction between the two Martha’s is cheesy but emotionally driven. David Tennant’s Doctor could again have been better written and the plot isn’t as interesting. The Sontarans are not the best villains; raging war for no reason is a silly concept towards the end. Some scenes are well executed and I liked that Wilfred Mott, Donna’s Grandfather, appears in the story again. The episode has some good scenes but it’s weaker than part one and is not a strong entry from series four. Grade: C- (7/10)
The Doctor’s Daughter – This is the worst episode in series four in my opinion. I find the plot very boring in places and standard, being a basic war storyline and it’s uninteresting. Jenny is one of the more intriguing guest characters we have had this series and there are some funny scenes. I liked the scene towards the end which packed emotion. The episode is a waste of potential for the most part, the acting is great though. The Hath are not a very good species but okay. I know some people who like this and I respect your opinion if you do like it, but for me it’s a disappointing entry into the fourth series. Grade: E- (5/10)
The Unicorn and the Wasp – When I first saw this story I really liked it. However, now having re-watched it again, it didn’t have the same effect on me as I knew who the murderer was. It took away the mystery but I still think it is a good episode. Agatha Christie is brilliantly cast and all the characters are good. The setting is suitable and it’s great to watch the Doctor in a detective story. Donna didn’t really do much in the episode; however she did fit into the story quite well. Some scenes could have aimed at being more serious, but the fun side of the episode worked well. The plot is slightly bizarre, but the story is engaging. Screen time was divided well for each of the supporting cast. It is also easy to follow and doesn’t feel overloaded which is good, considering it’s a murder mystery. It could have been more ambitious but the character development is excellent, as is the CGI for the wasp and the direction. It’s a fun and enjoyable episode. Grade: C (7.5/10)
Silence in the Library – This episode is one of the best in series four. It has a very intriguing storyline and a lot of suspense which keeps the audience in the moment. The villains are also intriguing and I like the character of River Song. The mood of the story and dark setting help the episode a lot in delivering a spooky atmosphere. The library gives the feeling of no escape for the characters. There are many questions posed in this episode that a viewer wants answering in part two. Series 4 really ups the game from this point onwards. Grade: B+ (8.7/10)
Forest of the Dead – This episode is excellent and even better than part one. I liked the emotional side to this episode towards the back end and the alternate reality surrounding Donna. It has a great plot, good characters, great pace and I very thrilling. I loved this one. Grade: A- (9/10)
Midnight – This episode is brilliant and definitely my favourite from series four. It’s my third favourite episode out of all the revived Doctor Who, behind “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” and “Blink” from series three. It’s so tense and chilling; the actress who plays Sky is excellent and really creepy. David Tennant is again fantastic as the Doctor. The enclosed setting makes it all the scarier and it has a great cast. The dialogue is superb as well. That’s what makes this episode, the dialogue. It’s wonderfully written by Russell T Davies, he creates conflicts constantly among the characters. This is by far the best RTD’s scripts for Doctor Who; he did an amazing job writing this episode. “Midnight” is original, imaginative and terrific. Grade: A (9.5/10)
Turn Left – Another great episode this time giving Donna most of the screen time, the Doctor barely makes an appearance. The absence of the Doctor does not affect the quality of the episode though. I like how Rose Tyler returns and the plot is really interesting. The music is great in this story, the acting is superb and it carries some emotional moments. Katherine Tate’s performance is outstanding in this episode and it really shows how great an actress she is. This episode ends on a dark note and leaves the audience eagerly awaiting the next instalment. Grade: B+ (8.8/10)
The Stolen Earth – This is a great episode and sets up everything for part two really well, with a powerful cliff-hanger. It features the return of the Doctor’s arch enemy and their creator, Davros. He has to be the best villain in series four. The Doctor and Rose are reunited and we are greeted to some old faces that have appeared over all the four series. A really strong episode. Grade: B (8.5/10)
Journey’s End – This is where all the Doctor’s companions come together to fight the evil Daleks and thwart Davros’s deadly plan. This episode is a great end for series four; I especially liked seeing all the Doctor’s companions in the TARDIS towards the end. It lacked some suspense and a lot of the action took place aboard the Dalek ship, but I really enjoyed this episode. It feels like the end of an era to me. It’s sad what happens to Donna but this episode ends series four very well. Grade: B- (8/10)
Series Four is not the best Doctor Who series, but it is good. The second half of the series delivers some brilliant episodes and really boosts the grade up in my opinion. The Doctor is again on his own after this series and there are now only five more 10th Doctor episodes. The end of the Russell T Davies era and David Tennant’s reign as the 10th Doctor is almost upon us…
on 7 July 2008
Ever since the re-launch of Doctor Who in 2005, popularity in the show has risen. The Doctor has become the BBC's biggest money maker and it is clear why. This series is by far the best of the New Who, not one dull episode in this series and it all began with the Children in Need special "Time Crash" where Peter Davison returns as the Doctor for 5 minutes of wonder. Great short ep, but Xmas brought out the best of yet to come.
Voyage of the Damned, 3.5/5. Not bad, I enjoyed this episode very much with the heavenly hosts reminding me of the Tom Baker badie the "Robots of Death", the only let down is the master mind behind all of it was bad, a let down, but the rest is great, Kylie looked great after her Cancer recovery!
Partners in Crime, 3.5/5, again not bad, very funny moments between Donna and the Doctor, but this episode felt like they only did it for the toy market with the Adipose, but still somehow works.
Fires of Pompeii, 4/5. Great episode with the Doctor uncovering an Alien conspiracy in the Town of Pompeii, the only problem is, its Volcano Day!
Planet of the Ood, 3.5/5. The first time a new who villain has returned
for another story in two separate series, the Doctor and Donna arrive on the Ood planet where a Ood revalution is taking place, but who are the evil ones, the Ood, or their human masters?
Sontaran Stratagem, 4/5. Martha Jones calls the Doctor back to Earth to help with the mysterious death toll in cars with the new Atmos system, the Doctor investigates and descovers an old enemy is behind the deaths.
The Poison Sky, 4/5. Pt 2 of the Sontaran Stratagem, the Atmos cars are polluting the Earth choking every living being, what is the plan of the Sontaran's, and an the Doctor stop it? And why is Martha acting so strange? Two great eps, the Sontarans are as good as ever!
The Doctor's Daughter 3.5/5. Not a bad epsiode, an interesting idea of
seeing how the Doctor suddenly copes with a Daughter (Played by Geogina Moffat, actuall daughter of former Doctor Peter Davison), a war raging for generations is involved, can the Doctor unlock its secrets?
The Unicorn and the Wasp 4/5. If you like Agatha Cristie, you will love this, the Doctor and Donna gate crash a party were Agatha Cristie is the guest of honour, one day before her mysterious disapearence, but a Giant Wasp is spotted after an Agatha Cristie style murder, can the Doctor solve this mystery?
Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead, 5/5. Steven Moffat strikes again with another fantastic Doctor Who adventure, I only have one advice for you whn watching this ep, count the Shadows! The Doctor and Donna arrive in a Library that is an entire Planet, life readings go over 100,000,000, but not one human being in sight, does it have anything to do with the moving shadows?
Midnight, 4/5. The Doctor takes a trip on a tour bus on the Planet Midnight which is made of diamonds, only to find a strange alien is trying to take over his mind using a human as host. (Featuring David Troughton, son of former Doctor Patrick Troughton)
Turn Left, 5/5. What if Donna never met the Doctor? now you will know, in a world where she was never there to save the Doctor, we see reality crumble around her as disaster after disaster strikes with no one to help them, only Rose Tyler can help Donna go back and turn left to save the world.
The Stolen Earth, 5/5. The Doctor and Donna arrive back to earth only for
it to go missing while they are in the Tardis, Sarah Jane, Torchwood, Martha and Rose work to bring the Doctor to help prevent an invasion of Daleks, The doctor returns only to hear the voice of Davros.
Journey's End. 5/5. Torchwood, Martha, Donna, Rose, Jackie, Micky and Two Doctor's, what more could you ask for? The Daleks are close to destroying reality and the universe, but can the Doctor and gang stop him? Which loyal companion will die as Dalek Caan has for told? Get the hankies out for a sad ending.
Great series and a great way for Russel T Davies to hand the torch over to Steven Moffat, a must for your Dr Who DVD collection!
on 27 July 2008
In my opinion, Series 4 of the revived Doctor Who is probably the best yet. I certainly think it's the most consistent. David Tennant returns for his third year as the Time Lord, and Catherine Tate returns as his companion Donna Noble last seen in the 2006 Christmas Special `The Runaway Bride'. The box set features all 13 episodes and the 2007 Christmas Special.
`Voyage of the Damned', first shown on Christmas Day 2007 and seen by a staggering 13.3 million viewers is a pretty enjoyable, if unspectacular festive offering. It's my least favourite Christmas Special, but it's still got enough going for it, including some lovely performances from comedy veterans Geoffrey Palmer and Clive Swift. I suppose the most notable thing about this feature-length episode is that it features Kylie Minogue in a guest role as Astrid Peth, a waitress abroad the Titanic (spaceship) who befriends the Doctor. It's a decent romp, with the occasional lovely moment. There's a little too much running about for my taste, and the main villain is disappointing but Astrid's journey is well-handled and the whole thing is pretty good fun. 7/10
Partners in Crime is the first official Series 4 episode and sees the Doctor reunited with Donna Noble when they team up to investigate the mysterious Adipose industries who have been connected to several sinister events involving weight-loss. Some fans hated the cute, cuddly Adipose, but I genuinely liked them. Very cheeky and funny. Sarah Lancashire makes a formidable foe as Mrs Foster, and there is a great miming scene, some wonderful scenes with Donna and Grandad Wilf stargazing and a surprise appearance from an old face! It's a typically light, action-packed, fast, funny adventure to kick-off the series. Yes, it may be light-hearted but the vitality of the script ensures that it's great fun. 9/10
The Fires of Pompeii is the season's annual historical, taking the Doctor and Donna back to 79AD, to the day that Mount Vesvius erupts. It's a great episode, full of great moments. I think the script needs tightening up in a few places, but the performances and special effects make up for it. The last 10 minutes, when the volcano erupts and the Doctor has to make a terrible choice gives me goosebumps. It's a well-paced, well-directed episode that feels, in some ways, a bit like an episode of the `classic series'. 8.5/10
Planet of the Ood is a traditional episode of Doctor Who. It doesn't break new ground or anything, but I love it. It's genuinely beautiful in places, and in one scene genuinely haunting, and features some gorgeous music from Murray Gold. It's also good to see The Ood make another appearance, last seen possessed by The Beast in `The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit' in 2006. The Ood are beneign slaves, and we see a new side to them than we did in the Series 2 episodes. We learn more about where they came from, etc. it's also nice to have an Ice Planet... don't ask me why, but it is. 9/10
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky is an excellent, action-packed 2-parter, which sees the return of the Sontarans to the show after a 20 year absence, as they were last seen in `The Two Doctors' in 1985. It also sees the return of Martha Jones, who has now joined UNIT. There is plenty to enjoy here - loads of good set-pieces, some lovely moments featuring Grandad Wilf, played by Berbard Cribbins, and I really like the new re-design of the Sontarans. Admittedly, they're not the most menacing aliens to date, but they're funny and obsessed with war. Christopher Ryan is awesome as General Staal. 8.5/10
The Doctor's Daughter comes next, and well, I'll be honest, this episode really wasn't my cup of tea, despite some really good performances from David and Catherine. But, sadly, the story feels underdeveloped and rushed and feels some downright awful/cheesey moments. Georgia Moffet, real-life daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison is decent as Jenny, but ultimately the character and premise do not manage to live up to the premise, because with a better script the idea could have worked brilliantly. Ah well, at least we get some lovely descriptions of Time Lords and Gallifrey. 5/10
The Unicorn and the Wasp is probably a bit of a love/hate episode. Personally, I absolutely loved it. It has a wonderful ensemble cast who all play to their roles brilliantly, and a brilliant, witty script from Gareth Roberts that delivers probably some of the funniest scenes in Doctor Who's 45-year history. Fenella Woolgar is the perfect Agatha Christie, and the whole 1920's murder-mystery setting is a real treat and suits the feel of Doctor Who superbly. One of my very favourites. 10/10.
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead combine to form an excellent two-parter by Steven Moffat, the much heralded writer behind the much-loved `Blink' in Series 3. Moffat gives us more of the same, delivering a typically dark, clever and intriguing plot that fits together like a jigsaw. What I like about these episodes are that they take the viewer on a completely different experience to what we're normally used to from Doctor Who - using the primal fear of shadows and the dark to create a fairly nightmarish and genuinely scary piece of drama. The majority of the tale takes place in the largest library in the Universe, except it is deserted. Along the way, the Doctor encounters the mysterious and enigmatic River Song (played by ER's Alex Kingston), who claims to have a mysterious connection to the Time Lord. The threat comes in the form of the Vashda Nerada - "Piranhas of the air!", who prove effective and original. The story moves along nicely, and although it sometimes tries to be a little bit too clever for it's own good, it's an impressive story. As ever, the performances are good, and it's very atmospheric. 9/10.
Next comes `Midnight', a self-contained little episode that takes place almost entirely on a bus. Yes, you heard me. A entire episode of Doctor Who... on a bus! And as it turns out, despite it's rather simple premise, `Midnight' is far and away the best episode of Series 4 and a contender for one of the greatest episodes ever. As ever, Russell T Davies delivers a superb script, one in which plays to two of his biggest strengths, character and dialogue. `Midnight' is a tightly-written, claustrophobic ensemble piece, featuring a brilliantly sinister performance from Lesley Sharp as the possessed Sky Silvestry. David Tennant is on top form, supported by possibly the best ensemble cast the show has ever had - featuring David Troughton, the son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton. The threat feels real and genuinely creepy, due to the fact that it works on a psychological level. It's hard to describe the episode without giving too much detail away, but put simply, `Midnight' is a masterpiece of television. I think it's brilliant that an episode such as this went out at 7pm on a mainstream channel on a Saturday evening and was seen by 8 million people. Superb. 10/10
Then, `Turn Left', which could be seen as a stand alone episode, but for me, makes up the first instalment of the epic 3-part season finale. It's a very interesting episode. Fairly similar to `The Butterfly Effect' in it's premise. Execution wise, it's brilliant. I love the way writer Russell T Davies managed to re-use past events of his Doctor Who era and completely turn them on their head, resulting in quite possibly the bleakest episode of Doctor Who ever. The episode is notable for two things, in my opinion. An absolutely stunning performance from Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, combining so many different emotions, veering seamlessly from despair to anger to hope. It was also nice to see a more Runaway Bride-esque version of Donna again. It was like coming full circle and also demonstrated brilliantly how far Donna has come as a character since meeting the Doctor. It also pin-pointed the moment that I decided that Donna was my favourite companion ever to board the TARDIS... sorry Sarah Jane! It also sees the return of Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper, last seen trapped in a parallel universe at the end of Series 2. Oh, and just wait `til you see the cliffhanger... 10/10
The Stolen Earth/Journey's End follow straight-on from `Turn Left', and make up the most epic, ambitious finale to date. Okay, so they're not perfect, but for me, they come close. It's so good to see so many characters together on screen again. Such a massive cast, including David, Catherine, Billie, Freema Ageyman, John Barrowman, Elisabeth Sladen, Penelope Wilton, Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke, Bernard Cribbins, etc. Brilliant. And every single one of them rises to the challenge and acts their socks off. As you'd expect from RTD, the script is top-notch - exciting one minute, devastating the next. It also features the return of the Daleks creator, Davros, brought to life wonderfully by Julian Bleach who gives a chilling performance. This is the best incarnation of Davros we've seen since the Michael Wisher original in `Genesis of the Daleks', and it is clear that Bleach used that `blue-print' for his inspiration. The Daleks also return, en-mass, and are probably the best they've been in New Who. I won't give away too much about the finale, but for me, it's a joyous piece of television. One for the fanboys anyway! 10/10
So, all in all, another great series, full of excitement, adventure, action and scares. Suitable for the whole family. Great fun. An eclectic mix of episodes, all of which, bar one, keep up a very high standard. Recommended. I've pre-ordered my copy.
on 30 July 2016
My children have recently discovered Dr Who and we are all catching up on all of the post revival Dr Who episodes.
It is staple Saturday morning viewing my household (not evening as some are a little bit worrying for just before bed!).
All the family love these and the Dr is great as ever.