on August 12, 2008
...for the occasional lows.
Doctor Who: Series Four was, in my opinion, superior to the previous three series'. Yes, there were low points, but each series has had those. For this series, the writers - as a collective whole - did a fantastic job of dropping clues here and there, and there was a sense of anticipation as the series went from one episode to the next; quite simply, the building up to the finale was masterfully done.
After a questionable start, Catherine Tate really kicked it into high-gear as the newest companion, Donna Noble, and she has become my favorite companion of the revived series. Donna brought a maturity, wisdom and warmth, as well as a sense of humor, that Rose and Martha simply could not deliver. She also wasn't trotting behind the Doctor, all pie-eyed like a puppy dog, completely infatuated with him, and that was a welcome change. To me, Donna was in it for the sheer joy and adventure, in the greatest tradition of the Doctor Who legacy, and I am reminded of one of her lines from 'Planet of the Ood:' "A rocket! A real proper rocket! It's like...you've got a blue box...he's got a Ferrari! Let's see where he's goin'!" Love that!
The stand-out episodes of the season are: 'The Fires of Pompeii,' 'Planet of the Ood,' and 'The Wasp and The Unicorn' - all very well written. The two episodes: 'Silence in the Library' and 'Forest of the Dead' were both penned by the new Who Chief, Steven Moffat, and definitely stand above the pack; 'Midnight' was especially creepy and delved into the unseemlier traits of human behavior and mini-mob mentality in an unknown situation, and the chilling synchronicity between the Doctor and Skye will send a shiver down your spine - guaranteed. The final three episodes were the best of the finales we've seen so far, filled with visceral imagery and more than snappy dialogue - most of which takes place between David Tennant and Catherine Tate, who are simply spot on - kudos to Russell T. Davies for some fabulous writing there.
Which now leaves the weaklings of the bunch: 'Partners in Crime,' 'The Sontaran Strategem' and 'The Poison Sky.' While the Sontaran episodes started off fairly strong, 'The Poison Sky' descended into a bit more camp for my taste. Then there's 'The Doctor's Daughter.' I was really hoping for more depth than the episode ultimately offered - it felt hurried and a bit desperate to create a new character for future story lines, and I think they missed a really good chance to delve into the character of the Doctor in some ways, but, oh well.
Overall, however, I simply cannot complain about this series (except for the way it ended for Donna...a most awful, tragic and unfair end to any companion's reign, in my book; but that's a personal beef, since I really loved the way Donna's character evolved over the course of the series), and in my mind it completely eclipses the previous three. I will say, the presence of Martha on and off was a bit of a needless addition and the return of Rose was incidental, with the final resolution for her character being a bit of a cop-out, but giving Rose fans what they wanted; and, Russell T. Davies DID do a nice job in tying up the loose ends from his era at the helm, while leaving plenty of red herrings out there for future writers to expound upon, should they choose to.
On the whole, this series was darker, edgier, more mature, with a sharper sense of humor, and the continuity was nearly flawless. David Tennant has laid claim to the role in a way that Christopher Eccleston did not and I feel a great amount of pity for the actor who ultimately follows in his footsteps. The word "impossible" comes to mind, or at least, "extremely difficult." It's going to be a challenge down the road, I'm sure.
On the upside, the series is moving into the more than capable, award winning hands of Steven Moffat, the writer of 'The Empty Child' and 'The Doctor Dances' from Series One, 'The Girl in the Fireplace' from Series Two, and 'Blink' from Series Three (for which he won a BAFTA), as well as the gems from this current series.
And while change is never easy for us life-long Whovians, I, for one, am more than excited to see where he takes it! He's a brilliant, fantastically imaginative writer and I think it's going to be ~ Molto Bene ~ Very good, indeed!
Unfortunately, it's going to seem like a very long wait! May 2010 arrive sooner rather than later!