Archive for the ‘SERIES 4 REVIEWS’ Category

DOCTOR WHO VIEWER NUMBERS SKYROCKET!

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

From Outpost Gallifrey:

‘Unofficial figures show that episode three of Series Four, Planet of the Ood, was watched by 86.9 million viewers, giving it a 33.4% share of the total television audience.’

This makes Planet of the Ood the most-watched Doctor Who episode of all time, beating the previous champion, City of Death Episode 4, by more than 70 million viewers.

The Big-Bang Teary

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

It’s episode 2, it’s a historical, and it has a big SFX finale. Sound familiar? It’s no lie to say that The Fires of Pompeii follows the tried and true formula of previous seasons, but happily manages to mine deeper and darker than romps around Scottish castles and the Globe Theatre.

The episode started a little like it was heading down an Up Pompeii route, with our ‘oh so very modern’ family discussing modern art and teenage hangovers. Luckily, no phallic vegetables presented themselves, and just as it was about to get all ‘Ancient Sexy Money’ on us, the early fluffy tone came crashing down with soothsayer prophecies of returning women and things on backs. Obviously another nod to the series arc, and of the return of Rose, but ‘something on your back’? The fanboy in me automatically thought ‘Metebelis Spiders!’, but then I had a lie down and dismissed it. A great scene though – unsettling, ominous and just what was required to really get the episode started.

 

The journey however wasn’t without bumps – this episode is filled with characters, so many in fact that a fair few of them get next to no screen time (particularly the members of the sisterhood, and the son and daughter). The plot also feels rushed in parts, the alien threat playing second fiddle to the moral dilemma present throughout. Still, it makes a nice change not for it to be all about the monsters, and I’ll forgive any episode that references a story 44 years previous.

 

Tennant was his usual good self (downplaying more than usual, even when paired with a water pistol and lava puns), and Catherine Tate built on a good start, though with not really much to do except run. That said, her role as the Doctor’s conscience is a great place for her character to be, and the ending with the Doctor admitting that he needed her was really quite lovely. Good to see some good emotional range from Tate as well, proving through a teary moment that she’s more than just an loud amusement. Donna crying in episode 2… who’d have picked it?

 

Kudos too for the art direction and visual effects. The location filming on the Rome sets really gives the episode space and an excellent sense of realism, and the mountain and subsequent eruption thereof were stunning. The rock monsters are also beautifully rendered (looking very Balrog-esque, and every bit as good), and from a make-up perspective, the leader of the sisterhood is absolutely brilliant and quite terrifying.

 

This series really does seem different to the previous 3 – I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet, but it just seems more… adult. Which is ironic, given fat monsters and the appearance of Tate, but there does seem to be a much darker undercurrent with the series so far compared to what I think we’ve seen before. If it keeps going this way, then I cannot think what the finale is going to be like. Dark as hell hopefully.

So we’re two down, both with good pass marks, and with next week looking Ood-tastic.  

JP

Fat Friends

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Am I Bovvered?

 

I suppose in many ways we shouldn’t be too surprised by Partners in Crime, it follows a pattern of season openers over the past few years.  We’ve had Cat nurses, Intern companions, and now an alien midwife; we’ve had relatively non-threatening (misunderstood?) female villains, with this year’s silent security heavies mirroring last year’s silent biker types; we’ve got the usual family business, with the obligatory harridan mother; vertical shenanigans with tall buildings/lifts/stairwells/cleaners’ hoists etc.  It’s always window dressing for the main event, new Doctor, new companion, new look, new direction, new meme.  Sarah Lancashire did an adequate job channelling Supernanny, but really all eyes were resting, nervously, on Catherine Tate.

 

‘Ginga’ companions have had a bit of a chequered history (despite some staunch support): Mel, BBC Books’ “Ginger Whinger” Compassion, and now Donna.  Apart from hair colour and fan dissatisfaction, they have a few things in common, they tend to be forthright, opinionated, straight talking, and occasionally shrill.  Even before her return there was quite a bit of fan angst after her hijinx last Christmas.  She was too much a caricature, too silly, too unbelievable, too thick, too unlikeable, too unlikely, and just too much!  And she still is!  But perhaps in a good way.  There is thankfully no Doctor-love angst, and Donna’s simple and direct style may be just the thing to crack the more dark and moody aspects of the Doctor’s nature, while she isn’t the companion to win the Doctor’s heart, she may be the one with a chance of understanding what makes him tick, and this will counterpoint the dark and moody road ahead… Because Donna’s story is going to end in tears.  Not essentially in terms of fan reaction, but because that’s how Rusty works.  Tragedy, tears of a clown, the dramatic impact of killing of the comedy relief.  Given his past form her “100 years” comment could only be foreshadowing something.

 

Similarly the business end of this episode is the bookending that seems to have been missed by many.  While the Doctor and Donna continually missing each other got a bit tiresome relatively quickly, there was a brilliant payoff (even if it was only in mime), but it was also reflected by the surprise cameo at the end.  Looking for the Doctor, and just missing him, and probably continuing to do so for the rest of the season to come.

 

DR