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September 4, 2015

Doctor Who: Partners In Crime

by Brad Trechak, posted Apr 26th 2008 8:21AM
Doctor Who(S04E02) Catherine Tate returns as Donna Noble from last year's Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride" and this time she's going to stick around for a little while. While investigating a shady weight-loss company called Adipose (named for the scientific name of fat tissue), the Doctor and Donna run into each other.

For a Doctor Who episode, this was a great episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. This goes back to my statement from last week in which Russell T. Davies, while not a bad writer, simply cannot write science fiction.Adipose alienThe plot was very simplistic and even the cuteness of the "fat" aliens made it seem more like fare for smaller children. Of course, the plot was simply a device for getting the Doctor and Donna back together and it succeeded admirably in that.

Donna NobleIn one episode, Donna has become my favorite Doctor Who companion of all time. Catherine Tate is already famous in England from her comedy sketch show The Catherine Tate Show (highly recommended if you can catch it). In that program, she played a variety of comical characters. This ability shows in her character of Donna, who is both the most headstrong yet sympathetic of anybody the Doctor has ever traveled with. While far from an unattractive woman, she's not the eye candy of the previous two companions which makes her a little more real (as real as a person on Doctor Who can get). It would be utterly marvelous if Donna had to go incognito in one adventure and became one of the characters she played on her previous show (I liked "Nan" best).

Miss FosterDonna is also the first companion since the series restarted to not romanticize the Doctor. She simply wants the excitement and adventure of traveling with him. She was given a bit more background and depth from her appearance in "The Runaway Bride". The actor who played her father sadly passed away during filming so the producers retired his character out of respect. He was replaced by the character of Wifred "Gramps" Mott, played by Bernard Cribbins (who also appeared in this year's Christmas special as the same character. His ties to Donna were only revealed in this episode).

Donna and her motherOne common feature of all of Russell T. Davies' companions is family issues. Donna, along with Rose and Martha, has no shortage of them.

David Tennant shines as usual as the Doctor. He has a moment in the TARDIS alone when the character's loneliness and need really comes through. He tries to cleverly explain what is happening when he realizes that nobody else is there.

TARDIS interiorThe initial meeting between the Doctor and Donna was priceless. As they stood on opposite sides of two glass walls listening in on Sarah Lancashire as Miss Foster (the "Nanny"), their soundless conversation using only gestures was amazing and a perfect example of both David Tennant's and Catherine Tate's abilities.

Some clues were planted as to the progression and arc for the season. They are: the missing breeding Adipose planet and the reappearance of a familiar face at the end which may or may not be the signal of the end of David Tennant's time in the role.

The Doctor and DonnaDespite a simplistic plot and a non-menacing menace, the episode had excellent characterization and was fun to watch. Donna has a strong enough personality to give the Doctor more humanity and make his character think more about the smaller, human consequences of his actions as well as the grand scheme. I look forward to their interaction in the rest of the season.

What do you think of Donna as a companion so far?
She's great!224 (52.3%)
She's okay!134 (31.3%)
She's terrible. Bring back Martha or Rose.70 (16.4%)

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Claude Turner

I liked this episode. I thought the "little fat kids" were great, my biggest issue was that the company could have gone "public" (or at least disclosed to the patients) how their weight loss really worked, and still made a fortune. Many (most) people would still sign up even know they would give "birth" to the little fat kids

June 25 2008 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode was *fun* ... which is exactly what is needed at the start of the season with a new companion.

Loved it.

April 26 2008 at 10:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just feel I should clear this one up "familiar face at the end which may or may not be the signal of the end of David Tennant's time in the role."

Its already been confirmed that David Tennant will stick around for a fifth season in 2010. Because he will be busy with a stage production with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2009 there is only going to be three specials next year (I assume that does not include the Christmas special for this year).

Its nice seeing Doctor Who finally airing only a few weeks after it does in England. This episode was what kicked off the season three weeks ago. Last weeks was actually the Christmas special.

April 26 2008 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We're in the jury-is-still-out camp about Donna. My daughter and I absolutely LOATHED her after all her fingernails-on-a-blackboard screeching in the Runaway Bride. We've seen her schtick and can only assume she is an aquired taste, but at least she didn't make last night's episode completely unwatchable, so we're feeling a little bit more optimistic about this season of Who.

I completely agree that it was more like an episode of Sarah Jane Adventures, a bit too geared to the youngest viewers, although my teenage daughter did think the babies were cute.

Russell T. set the bar pretty high when he reincarnated the Doctor, and, especially for an opening episode, we thought this one didn't rise anywhere near expectations. HOWEVER, the appearance of Rose, and the look on her face, gave us hope for a more interesting future.

Staying in our seats to see how it all plays out...

April 26 2008 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

I'm sorry, but scifi should not always be doom and gloom. And this Doctor always has a bit of childishness about him, so I like him funny. Seeing Rose was nice. I've read enough spoilers to know what is going to happen, and I can't wait. Donna likes the Doc. Duh! That was so obvious! But she will pretend not to, to go with him. Who wouldn't? And I just couldn't see the Doctor really caring for Martha more than Rose. THAT is his love, and always will be. Except for Sarah Jane. Martha always irritated me. I swear, if they put her on Torchwood, to replace Owen, I will stop watching. And let me get some of those great Adipose pills, please. I'll even take care of the little ones. Sooo cute!

April 26 2008 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Doctor Who" has always been a mixed bag of a show - part science fiction, part children's show, part horror, part comedy, part drama - to say that Russell T. Davies is a poor science fiction writer is wrong. Part of the charm of the show is that it is never stagnant, and that is in no small part due to the vision and guidance of Russell T. Davies. C'mon, the farting Slitheen weren't the most menacing of aliens either, but they're constantly putting the Earth at risk. I'm sure there's something that will happen with these "cute" creatures in the future (Gizmo, anyone?)

April 26 2008 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was a great episode - light hearted and fun - which was exactly what it was meant to be. Donna is a fantastic partner for him and you'll see a bit more depth to her character over the next few episodes. She makes a great companion for the Doctor and is a perfect fit. I too have seen the next several episodes and I have to say, this is shaping up to be a great season!!!

April 26 2008 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you want to see a funny Catherine Tate skit featuring David Tennant, check this out.


April 26 2008 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Russell T. Davies needs to go.

He used to be great but now everything is reused so much it's turning into Stargate.

But I love the little fat creatures, they were adorable.

April 26 2008 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After the horror of Torchwood's conclusion, I was happy to do with a little silliness. Admittedly, the fat bits were just too cute and too much of old school cgi, but I loved how they re-introduced Donna. Having seen her in one of her comedy sketches, I thought she was amazing; but, I hated her character in Runaway Bride. Luckily, RD is fleshing her out. Plus, I agree with you, Ryan. I find myself liking every permanent (and short-term) companion the Doctor has. I don't think they need to go overboard with the 'mates' bit, but I like their early explanation for her future wardrobe changes. Finally, I like how they're slowly intertwining Rose back into the Dr. Who universe. I was wary of the 3-companion bit I saw publicized elsewhere, but it looks like RD will do it with care.

April 26 2008 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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