Series four is the beginning of the end for the Russell T Davies era. It would be RTD's last full-length series as the Doctor Who showrunner and it would also be the final full-length series for David Tennant. After series four Tennant starred in a few "one-off" specials that were shown throughout 2009 and is now coming back for the show's 50th anniversary episode. I am so excited about this! Anyway, series four is my favourite of the RTD era. My favourite episodes from his era are actually Human Nature/Family of Blood and Blink - which are both from series three - but I love series four for its overall consistency. It's still flawed of course. The series finale The Stolen Earth/Journey's End is a complete mess. There's far too much going on, most of the guest actors get barely anything to do, and Donna's exit from the show makes me furious. The Doctor's Daughter is rubbish as well. Jenny is an extremely bland character and Martha's story is dreadful. Why did this story have to be her last proper adventure on the show?! There aren't that many bad episodes in series four though and it also features my favourite companion from the RTD era. I love the 10th Doctor's relationship with Donna! It's so fun and well-written and Tennant and Tate have such great chemistry between them. They make for a fantastic partnership! There are some terrific episodes in series four as well. The Unicorn and the Wasp is great fun. The Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead is brilliant and it has the introduction of River Song, who would later becomes a very important character under the Steven Moffat era. Midnight is very tense and scary. The Fires of Pompeii is very emotional and Catherine Tate delivers a fantastic performance in Turn Left.
Donna's character is fleshed out brilliantly in series four and she's never, ever as annoying as she was in The Runaway Bride. Donna is a deeply insecure woman who suffers from a crippling lack of self-confidence (this is more than likely down to her having such an awful mother). She attempts to cover this up by being abrasive and sarcastic. But Donna's character is toned down considerably in series four and she's nowhere near as OTT as she was in The Runaway Bride. You find out that she's really a kind, brave, compassionate and funny woman. And her relationship with the 10th Doctor is a joy to watch. Unlike Rose and Martha, Donna has absolutely no romantic interest in the Doctor. Oh, she has a huge amount of love and respect for the Doctor of course but only in the platonic sense. What they have is pure friendship and it makes for a much better dynamic. They're just friends having fun and - again! - Tennant and Tate have brilliant chemistry between them. Donna is also much more willing to question and challenge the Doctor's decisions than Rose and Martha were when they were travelling with him but she never does it in an obnoxious way. Donna never lets the Doctor treat her like he treated Martha in series three either. Back in series three the Doctor often had this attitude with Martha:
But this is what would have probably happened if the Doctor had treated Donna in the same way!
Catherine Tate is also given plenty of material to show that she's more than just a sketch-show actress. She never gives a bad performance in series four and in many of her episodes she's absolutely fantastic. When you watch her acting her heart out in episodes like The Fires of Pompeii and Turn Left it makes you want to laugh at those who said she wasn't a good enough actress to play the show's companion. As you can probably tell I'm a huge fan of Donna and I love her. I love all of the New Who companions - with the exception of Rose - but Donna is probably my favourite because she's a great character and I love her relationship with Ten so much. Her exit from the show makes me want to cry because it was so awful but I won't comment on that now : (
- The Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (written by Steven Moffat)
- The Fires of Pompeii (written by James Moran)
- Midnight (written by Russell T Davis)
- The Unicorn and the Wasp (written by Gareth Roberts)
- The Doctor's Daughter (written by Stephen Greenhorn)
- The Stolen Earth/Journey's End (written by Russell T Davies)
- Alex Kingston in The Silence of the Library/Forest of the Dead
- Fenella Woolger in The Unicorn and the Wasp
- Lesley Sharp and Colin Morgan in Midnight
- Phil Davis in The Fires of Pompeii
Timecrash is a mini-episode and was written for the 2007 Children in Need special by Steven Moffat. It's set in-between the Doctor's final goodbye to Martha in The Last of the Time Lords and the beginning of The Voyage of the Damned. I love this mini-episode! All of the charity specials that Doctor Who has done so far have been of decent quality but this is by far the best! Even though this mini-episode is only 7 1/2 minutes long it's still very entertaining, lovely and charming. There are some nice references to the classic series but there aren't so many that newer fans would be confused and alienated. Timecrash is brilliantly-written by Moffat and it even manages to have a plot: the 5th and 10th Doctors meet, they bicker a bit, solve a problem together, and have a touching farewell scene. It's great to see David Tennant acting alongside the man who would become his father-in-law too. Both Tennant and Davison are excellent in this mini-episode. You can really sense their mutual respect and admiration for each other but they never break character. Tennant delivers the "You were my Doctor" line with complete sincerity, and I love his Doctor's joy and enthusiasm when he sees his younger self. Davison is clearly older and heavier than he was back in the 1980s but he's still definitely the Doctor and slips right back into character again. Moffat also provide a quick explanation for why his appearance has changed. I love Davison's Doctor. Admittedly the only Davison story I've seen is The Caves of Androzani but on the strength of that serial alone I love him. It's an amazing serial and is often voted the greatest Doctor Who story of all time. Watch it and you'll understand why! Timecrash was also directed by Graeme Harper, the very same man who directed Caves of Androzani.
This mini-episode gives me very high hopes for David Tennant and Matt Smith's scenes together in the upcoming 50th anniversary and I'm ridiculously excited at seeing the two of them act alongside each other. One thing that I do find funny about this multiple-Doctor story though is that the Doctor calls himself "Doctor" and doesn't use his real name. OK, I know the Doctor's real name is a closely-guarded secret and must never ever be revealed and all that but surely it's OK for the Doctor to use it on himself?! Unless he's worried about the TARDIS overhearing?
The episodes of series four summarised:
0. Voyage of the Damned (written by Russell T Davies) - the 2007 Christmas special. Kylie Minogue stars as Astrid and she can't act. The story is boring and the angel villains are repetitive (did RTD think we'd forget Blink?) We get more The-Doctor-is-Jesus metaphors and an Evil Capitalist villain. But David Tennant is still great, some of the guest stars are good, and there are some nice special effects.
1. Partners in Crime (written by Russell T Davies) - the series four opener. It's not as good a series opener as last year's Smith and Jones. There's another Evil Capitalist villain. The storyline and the cute and cuddly Adipose are more suited to The Sarah Jane Adventures than Doctor Who. But overall it's still an OK episode. Donna's return is handled really well and her mime scene with the Doctor is hilarious. It's a classic scene and you can already see Tennant and Tate's chemistry.
2. The Fires of Pompeii (written by James Moran). The first brilliant episode of the series. It has very high production values with amazing sets and costumes - the episode was actually filmed in Italy. It has a great script with the right blend of comedy and emotion. Catherine Tate is fantastic and Tennant is excellent as well. Phil Davis is very creepy and Karen Gillan makes her first appearance on the show. She has a minor role as a soothsayer. Two years later she would play the 11th Doctor's companion Amy Pond. I love this episode.
3. Planet of the Ood (written by Keith Temple). An OK episode - not terrible but not very interesting either. There's yet another Evil Capitalist villain. But it's nice to see the Ood again and Catherine Tate is excellent.
4-5. The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky (written by Helen Raynor). A triple whammy. The Classic Who villains the Sontarans return, UNIT returns, and we see Martha Jones again. It's a really fun two-parter and a big improvement on the Dalek two-parter from series three, which Raynor also wrote. Donna and Martha get on really well which is nice. Tennant is brilliant. The Doctor says "Are you my mummy?" - which is hilarious and was apparently improvised by Tennant! The only downsides are that Martha doesn't get much to do and the actor playing Rattigan has a pretty ropey American accent.
6. The Doctor's Daughter (written by Stephen Greenhorn). It's rubbish! Georgia Moffet is good but Jenny is an extremely bland character. The Hath are crap aliens. It's another pointless episode for Martha - she gets captured in less than 5 minutes and does nothing for the whole episode. Martha/Freema Agyeman deserves much better material than this! Donna gets some good lines and Tennant's acting in Jenny's "death" scene is great - but it's still not enough to save the episode.
7. The Unicorn and the Wasp (written by Gareth Roberts). It's really funny and entertaining until the last 10 minutes. The Doctor's charades scene with Donna is hilarious. It really shows off Tennant and Tate's chemistry and their comedy skills. Fenella Woolger is brilliant as Agatha Christie (apparently Tennant suggested her for the role). Felicity Jones and Christopher Benjamin (from Talons of Weng Chiang) are also in this episode and are very good. The Doctor's flashbacking scene is pointless though and the episode loses its way in last 10 minutes. The attempt to explain why a giant alien killer wasp is killing people in the manner of an Agatha Christie story is very silly. The episode would have been better as a pure historical story with no alien at all - like those serials from the William Hartnell era.
8-9. The Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (written by Steven Moffat). Amazing! I love it! My favourite story of series four and Moffat does it again! This story is suspenseful, big, imaginative, creepy, moving, funny, sad, clever and thought-provoking. It's got great dialogue. It;'s full of fascinating hints about the future of the show. The mystery about Charlotte is really well-maintained. I love the idea of a planet-sized library. The Vashta Nerada are fantastic villains. It's also a huge gamechanger story - we get our first appearance of River Song who would become a very important character in the Steven Moffat era. Alex Kingston is also brilliant. Tennant and Tate are both brilliant and it's a great episode for their characters. Josh Dallas from Once Upon a Time even shows up as a head on a robot!
10. Midnight (written by Russell T Davies). A companion-lite episode with Donna being barely in it. It's a very dark, scary and tense episode. Lesley Sharp is genuinely very creepy. This episode also features Colin Morgan of Merlin fame and David Troughton (son of 2nd Doctor Patrick Troughton). Midnight is brilliant but very hard to watch. The scenes where the passengers all turn on the Doctor and try to kill him are genuinely upsetting and make for uncomfortable viewing.
11. Turn Left (written by Russell T Davies). The Doctor-lite episode of series four. It's nowhere near as brilliant as Blink but much better than Love & Monsters. Apparently this episode was inspired by the Buffy episode The Wish. It has a very dark story as well. Catherine Tate is fantastic in it. Bernard Cribbins and Billie Piper are both very good as well.
12-13. The Stolen Earth/Journey's End (written by Russell T Davies). The series finale and a big Doctor Who/Torchwood/The Sarah Jane Adventures crossover story. It's rubbish! The Daleks show up yet again only this time with Davros (RTD running out of ideas?) It has pointless celebrity cameos from Paul O'Grady and Richard Dawkins. There's far too much going on with the story - this story brings back all of the RTD companions and some recurring characters but most of them get barely anything to do. They're there just for the sake of it. The characters and the actors themselves are wasted. No-one gets the screentime they deserve. Rose also gets very jealous and bitchy towards Martha when she finds out Martha was a companion of the Doctor's. *Shut up, Rose! The Doctor had over 30 companions before you and one of them was his own granddaughter! You are not special!* Rose also kisses the human Doctor in front of THE Doctor, which clearly upsets the Doctor. Donna becoming part Time Lord is ridiculous. It's a deux ex machina and a cheap way to magically solve everything. Donna's fate is awful and she loses all of her memories of the Doctor. I HATE this! The scene where Donna realises what's about to happen to her is heartbreaking. She then goes back to the annoying woman she was from The Runaway Bride - and she goes back to her old unfulfilling life and a mother who thinks she's completely useless. RTD should have had Donna die a glorious, heroic death saving the universe instead! What point is Davros trying to make about the Doctor's companions? Yes Martha's plan to blow up Earth is a bit mental but she and all the companions were willing to sacrifice themselves if it meant stopping the Daleks and saving the universe. Why is this a bad thing? The Doctor would do it himself! Why is it a bad thing that the human Doctor kills the Daleks? The Doctor already did it himself in the Time War! The only saving graces of this finale are the German Daleks and the acting. But overall it's a massive disappointment.