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The Doctor Gets a New Partner in Crime on "Doctor Who"

Confession up front: I can't get enough Doctor Who but I was never actually a fan of the original, decades-spanning low-budget sci-fi series. So my experiences with the franchise (and its spin-offs, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures) come courtesy of Russell T. Davies' reimagined BBC series, which airs on Sci Fi and BBC America here in the States.

I was very curious then to tune in on Friday to see the actual fourth season premiere of Doctor Who (following "Voyage of the Damned," the Christmas special which I caught during the winter) to see how well newest cast addition Catherine Tate (she of the eponymous sketch comedy series that spawned the catchphrase "Am I bovvered?") meshed with David Tennant's Doctor.

Tate famously appeared as Donna Noble once before on Doctor Who during the Christmas special "Runaway Bride," which bridged the gap between Season Two and Season Three. While the episode was a laugh, I was concerned about having the caustic Donna turn up every week as the latest foil for the Doctor. Don't get me wrong: I love Catherine Tate but, to date, the Doctor's companions have been less sardonic and more of the headstrong ingenue type.

I was happy to see that in the fourth season premiere ("Partners in Crime"), Donna has been toned down ever so slightly, retaining her trademark outspokenness but her omnipresent abrasiveness has been softened since her first encounter with the Doctor. I liked the way that her adventure with him has changed her perspective on life and that she's been driving around with her car boot full of luggage on the off chance that she runs into him again. In the meantime, she's been poking her nose into weird and strange phenomenon, knowing that the more she does so, the more likely she is to find the Doctor.

Donna and the Doctor's paths keep crossing without either of them realizing it as both launch their own investigations into a miracle diet pill called Adipose, actually a breeding ground for alien life and feeds off of human fat reserves and birthing themselves in the night. The villain this week comes in the form of Adipose Industries' chief officer, the malevolent Miss Foster (Lark Rise to Candleford and Corrie's Sarah Lancashire), who is an intergalactic nanny hellbent on delivering healthy babies to her clients. She's a hell of a threat to Donna and the Doctor and she possesses sonic technology (in the form of a sonic pen) to boot. Though I do wish that the Doctor hadn't so casually tossed away that sonic pen at the very end...

The big kicker, however, had to be the unexpected appearance of none other than the Doctor's former companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), who also unwittingly crosses paths with Donna--likely in pursuit of the Doctor herself--before vanishing into the ether. Something tells me that this won't be the last we see of Rose or this subplot. Are the walls between the dimensions bleeding through? Did Rose come through the Rift? Or is something completely different and far more sinister at work here? In any event, it was brilliant to see Rose, even if it was just for a brief minute and I cannot wait to see where this storyline goes.

Ultimately, I was pleased as punch to have Doctor Who back on the air and I am really liking the new interplay between the Doctor and Donna, especially as he did really need to think twice about inviting her aboard the TARDIS. The effect harkens back to a sort of 1960s tongue-in-cheek banter between the two of them as the almost-strangers take on the sort of in-fighting usually reserved for old married couples.

But I'm curious to know what you think: Are you a fast fan of Donna Noble? Do you miss Rose Tyler or Martha Jones? Which companion has proved to be the most memorable foil for the Doctor so far?

On the next Doctor Who ("The Fires of Pompei"), the Doctor and Donna travel to ancient Rome but find themselves in Pompei just before what the Doctor calls "Volcano Day," also known as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which--you know--wiped out the entire city.


eAi said…
It was a good episode - I'm not keen on the episodes written by Russel T Davis, but this one came off better than most. Steven Moffat's episodes (e.g. Blink, of course) are the best. Mr Russel seems to get carried away with running down corridors and somewhat stupid scenes rather too much (such as the one in this episode where the characters kept missing each-other which seemed over played) ...
Anonymous said…
I could not stop laughing during the scene where Donna and the Doctor first see each other and then pantomime an entire conversation. They both did it so perfectly. I think Martha Jones has been the best companion so far.
The CineManiac said…
I'm still in love with Rose. I enjoyed Martha, but Rose is something else so I was sooo excited to see her return!
I loved the pantomime conversation and unlike Eai I loved the scenes where they kept missing each other. I didn't like the fat aliens though as they looked completely ridiculous.

Did anyone else catch the line about Bees disappearing? I think this will be part of this seasons recurring storyline, like Saxon last year.
Unknown said…
Martha was fun and interesting and poignant, but I still love Rose, too. My boys and I were thrilled to see her "ghost" at the end of the ep.

The aliens were a bit too cutesy (and how do they have eyes and muscles, etc. if they're made up of only fat??). I suspect the cute-ness and comedy relief was to balance the preceding, depressing Christmas episode. Poor Astrid.
Carol in NoVa said…
"I want a mate."
"You want to mate?"

That kind of said it all for me. Absolutely love Donna as a companion. Loved the episode, especially while they were somewhat working at cross-purposes. I actually like Donna better than Martha, although I'd like to see more of Martha on Torchwood.
I like that this Doctor Who universe doesn't forget those who were "left behind," whether that be Sarah Jane or Donna or even Rose. I think the after effect of meeting The Doctor is a crucial element to the overall story and I'm glad that it's a theme that keeps resurfacing. And I can't wait to see where the Rose storyline goes! I was so shocked to see her at the end of the episode. I got chills!
Anonymous said…
HECK YEAH I was so excited to see Rose. She is by far my favorite companion. On the other hand, Donna is my least favorite. She annoys the heck out of me. I hope they find a new companion sooner than later.
Katie said…
Donna is my favorite companion to date. I am watching the new season on the UK schedule (bless the internet) and without spoiling anything I just want to say Donna gets better and better.

Just an FYI, Sci Fi cuts down the episode to fit in more ads and I hear that they cut some poignant stuff from Partners in Crime. Lame.

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