Sunday, 6 April 2008

Doctor Who Series 4, episode 1: Partners in Crime

[Includes Episode 1 Spoilers]

I didn't have a personal blog for any of the previous series of Doctor Who and so I couldn't comment as the episodes went along. This time I am quite inclined to do it. I am not an expert TV critic, or even a competent TV critic, so these will just my own jottings as we go through, and you are encouraged to ignore them. One of my commenters, Loren Rosson, has already indicated that he disliked the first episode of the series. Although not surprised, I disagree. I loved every minute of "Partners in Crime". Gush, gush, gush. It was just he kind of story that Russell T. Davies has made his name for. Funny, clever, delightful, full of exquisite touches that have marked new Doctor Who. This episode surpassed the introduction of Martha this time last year, in "Smith and Jones", and was on a par with the introduction of Rose in series 1, in "Rose".

The first twenty minutes of the episode was rather Sarah Jane Adventures -- investigative journalism, and the doctor very nearly running into Donna as they both tried to get behind Adipose Industries. We know that Donna and the doctor are going to meet eventually, and the anticipation of the meeting keeps the tension throughout that first half. And when they finally meet, with lip-reading across the room, as the drama is already reaching its high point, it's a great Doctor Who moment (and very funny).

There are the requisite action sequences, with the window cleaner's box, all nicely done. And the action between the doctor and Donna is wonderfully handled -- you can't wait for the dialogue when they finally get together. We love meeting Donna's mother properly, and seeing the mother-daughter tittle-tattle, and Bernard Cribbins, as her grandfather, up the garden watching the stars, was a fantastic creation (apparently substituted for Donna's father, the actor having died before filing began, as we found out in Confidential afterwards).

I like to laugh out loud in Doctor Who and this looks likely to be the funniest series yet. Donna is going to make us laugh (and then we are going to end up crying too). I loved the way that the episode ended by playing around with several of the standard themes. He doesn't need to explain about how it is "bigger on the inside". She has all her luggage ready in the boot of the car. She doesn't want "to mate" with him. Fantastic. It's about time we had a companion like Donna; she can tell him where to go and what to do and won't end up fancying him. Excellent.

And that final moment, when we see the return of Rose, just how fantastic was that? Well, it went down very well in my family, where we were watching it together at my parents' house. We all knew that Rose was to return, and we had seen the pictures, but in the first episode?!! This was as good as Derek Jacobi and Whogasm in "Utopia" last series. Well done, Russell, on springing this on us. The moment where one realizes that Donna is talking to Rose, without knowing it, as we see the blond girl in the crowd turn around -- this was fantastic. And it only leaves us desperate for more of the story. Why is Rose there? Why does she react the way she does? How has she made it through from the parallel dimension? Where is she going as she disappears at the end? Has Russell ever set the stakes so high at so early a point in a series?

No doubts whatsoever. Series 4 is going to be fantastic. I can't wait for more.

By the way, I loved the Adipose.

4 Tardis groans.


Loren Rosson III said...

Hi Mark,

I look forward to these weekly reviews, which will obviously be less curmudgeonly than my own when I do everything at once at the end of the season. Needless to say, we're at odds on this one. I don't care much for this humor -- though will admit that Davies' fun at the expense of fat people (cf. Aliens of London/World War III) gave me a certain tickle.

Blast the Adipose!

Anonymous said...

Q wonders if the Dogder can cope with three Loren Rossons... At least only one of them is currently attacking with his test tickles.

Doug Chaplin said...

I'm not quite as enamoured of it as you, Mark. I didi enjoy the Donna and Doctor meet mime scene, and the filming up to that point. I thought it lost a bit after that, and needed a bit more tension to balance the humour. Like you, however, I thought the intro of Rose in the first episode was both stunning and surprising. It looks like this will become one of those effective series devices (like Bad Wolf) that hint at an overall narrative arc across the separate stories.

I think we'll have to excuse Loren's lack of appreciation of Catherine Tate. He s, after all, American.

Loren Rosson III said...

Doug wrote:

I think we'll have to excuse Loren's lack of appreciation of Catherine Tate. He's, after all, American.

Since I've appreciated Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman, I don't follow the logic.

The Tate woman just isn't in their league. And I'm heartily glad to see (from this season opener) that she and our Time Lord aren't going to be romantically inclined towards one another. But I'll probably get used to her -- who knows, with the reappearance of those who should be put to rest, maybe she'll come off pretty good.

Doug Chaplin said...

Loren, Catherine Tate brings something of her well-known-in-the-UK TV persona as a comic (in a very English style) to Donna. It's inevitable. As such she is an acquired taste.

Juti said...

Thank you, Mark, that's precisely the kind of report I'd hope to have!

Gonna be a long wait until we get it over here, though.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks for the interesting comments. Juti: not too long to wait if you are in the US: SciFi channel begin broadcasting at the end of this month.