Hot on the heels of the acclaimed third series, Doctor Who returns for a fourth installment with a familiar face alongside the Doctor. Award-winning actor Catherine Tate returns as the Doctor's new companion, reprising her role as Donna Noble who featured in the 2006 Christmas special The Runaway Bride. Now reunited, the Doctor and Donna travel back to Pompeii in AD 79 on the eve of the infamous eruption where people are slowly turning to stone, investigate a series of grisly murders with the help of Agatha Christie, journey to the home world of the sinister Ood and come face to face an old enemy of the Doctor's. Series Four also sees the return of the Doctor's previous companions -- the vivacious Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the feisty Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman).
Kicking off with a jam-packed Christmas special and ending with a blockbuster extended closing installment, Doctor Who's fourth season since it was revived is a breathless, exciting one that also boasts some exceptional episodes. The ones in particular to watch out for are the outstanding "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" doubleheader, the almost-single-location creepfest that is "Midnight," and the trio of "Turn Left," "The Stolen Earth," and "Journey's End" that round off the season. In the midst of those is also one of the very best cliffhangers in Doctor Who's long and glorious history.
This is also the season that introduces Catherine Tate as full-time companion Donna Noble, working alongside David Tennant's Doctor across time and space. And it's--against initial expectations--arguably the best combination since the show returned. There's no hint of romance between the pair, as they instead knuckle down to business, occasionally helped by the likes of Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), and Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). And let's not forget the collection of monsters we meet this time around. The Daleks and Davros are the main attractions, while the return of the Sontarans proves to be a bit of a disappointment. But after viewing the series, chances are you'll be counting shadows around you, and wary of getting on the wrong side of the Ood.
As with most series of Doctor Who, there are one or two uneven episodes and some missteps, but the show is still unmatched at what it does, and even more confident than last time round. That, along with the immense rewatch value, is what makes this a terrific piece of family entertainment.