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Doctor Who - Series 4 Vol. 1 (DVD)

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Genre: Television - Doctor Who / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Actors: David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Billie Piper, Bernard Cribbins, Sarah Lancashire ... / DVD released 2008-06-02 at 2 Entertain Video / Features of the DVD: Colour, PAL

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      15.11.2011 15:52
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      A reasonable start to Tennant's last full series

      Ever since Rose Tyler left the Tardis, The Doctor has struggled to find a companion of equal stature. Martha Jones came and went, leaving little impact behind. Various people have filled in for in for Christmas specials and it's here - in the shape of Catherine Tate's loudmouth, Donna Noble- that the new companion is found.

      Tate was rather annoying in her earlier outing and, whilst she undoubtedly had more chemistry with David Tennant than Martha ever had, her tendency to deliver all dialogue at a shout made her very hard on the ear-drums.

      My initial reaction to the news that she was to take up residence in the Tardis was one of trepidation, and certainly, there are times when she is deeply annoying and has a tendency to try shout, overact and generally try and dominate the episode. Yet, whilst she will never be amongst my favourite companions, there are at least a couple of episodes here in which she shows some promise.

      Partners in Crime
      ------------------------
      What is it with Doctor Who and series openers? Almost without exception, the opening episodes of each of the four series to date have been amongst the weakest; Partners in Crime does nothing to break that trend. Investigating a new miracle slimming pill, the Doctor bumps into Donna - last seen in The Runaway Bride and things start to get complicated.

      The main problem with this episode is that it really is rather silly. Doctor Who has had some stupid enemies over the year ("Bertie Bassett" from The Happiness Patrol in the Sylvester McCoy era anyone?), but the Adipose Fat Babies rival them all. Utterly stupid and consisting of some really poor special effects they are obviously meant to be cute, but just end up being annoying and silly. Sarah Lancashire tries her hardest as the sinister Miss Foster, but the whole episode lacks any sense of menace or danger.

      Still, it's not a dead loss and, whilst Catherine Tate can be annoying, she is very good at visual comedy. There are some great early scenes where The Doctor and Donna (each unaware of the other's presence) keep narrowly missing each other, which brings an element of fun to the episode. The star scene comes mid-way through, however, when the Doctor and Donna (on opposite sides of a building) suddenly register the other's presence and hold a heavily mimed and sign-language dependent conversation across a room full of bad guys. It sounds rubbish, but it's well acted and choreographed by Tennant and Tate, very funny and easily the highlight of an otherwise weak episode.

      The Fires of Pompeii
      ----------------------------
      Hooray! Series 4 gets going with a much faster-paced episode, containing a strong plot, good characters and plenty of emotional moments. The Doctor and Donna land in Pompeii the day before Vesuvius erupts and destroys the city. Initially unwilling to get involved, the Doctor reluctantly finds himself drawn in when he detects alien interference which is turning some of its inhabitants into beings made of living stone.

      This is the kind of episode which Doctor Who has always done well and Fires of Pompeii would not be out of place in the old-style Doctor Who. The story line is well-paced, with lots of mysterious goings-on and a gradual building of tension and danger. Whilst The Doctor and Donna are still feeling their way into the new relationship, Tennant and Tate appear a little more comfortable with each other, and Tate does not dominate this episode the way she tried to do in the previous one. There are some genuinely emotional moments which demonstrate the hard choices the lonely Doctor often has to face; whilst once again, it is his companion who reminds him that even an all-powerful Time Lord sometimes has to show a little compassion and humanity.

      Fires of Pompeii also features some genuinely impressive special effects and it's clear that a lot of the series' budget was spent on this one episode. The rock and lava alien enemies are extremely well animated and convincing (although sadly, they appear all too rarely), whilst the apocalyptic volcanic explosion is impressive and scarily realistic.

      Fires of Pompeii combines all the things Doctor Who does so well - character development, humour, danger and a good, strong plot in one exciting adventure.

      Planet of the Ood
      -------------------------
      A modern day Doctor Who alien appears here is a story which is strong without ever being spectacular. The Doctor re-encounters The Ood (last seen in The Satan Pit), who have now been enslaved by mankind.

      As well as providing quite a bit of excitement, this episode raises some large moral questions about slavery and the business practices of large corporations who have an eye for nothing other than profit. In true Doctor Who fashion, these elements are carefully meshed in with the overall plot, rather than being big, obvious themes, but this is an episode which will certainly make you think.

      In addition to the morality, there is a large dollop of emotion and it's hard not to sympathise with the plight of the Ood and the tragic circumstances in which they find themselves. There's also a very interesting and clever ending which poses (and answers) the question: what is the worst thing that you can do to an enemy who despises your very existence...

      There is slight weakness because you know at heart that the Ood are essentially a downtrodden but good race and so (despite their deadly tendencies in this episode) it's hard to accept them as being any sort of real threat. As such, the episode can sometimes lack that crucial feeling of menace and tension. In fairness, though, Planet of the Ood is intended as one of the more emotionally intense episodes, rather than one filled with danger. It also contains some interesting pointers to some of the key plotlines which are to follow in Series 4.

      Conclusion
      ----------------
      Overall these three episodes mark a reasonable (if slightly underwhelming) start to Series 4. Partners in Crime is easily the weakest episode on the disk, but the action and excitement of The Fires of Pompeii and the emotional elements of Planet of the Ood make up for this. Series 4 shaped up to be one of the best of the re-booted series and this is a good solid (if unspectacular) start.

      (c) Copyright SWSt 2011

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        01.02.2010 22:34
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        Series 4 Volume 1 of Doctor Who

        Perhaps my favourite of 'New Who' series starring David Tennant as the Iconic Doctor this would prove to be the final full series starring Tennant. During the 13 episode run he gains a new full time companion in the shape of Donna Noble played brilliantly by Catherine Tate, manages to 'father' a grown up daughter and is reunited with Rose whilst fending off his greatest adversaries - The Daleks and their creator Davros.

        Volume 1 of the series features 3 episodes; Partners in Crime, The Fires of Pompeii and Planet of the Ood and is available in either a single disc version priced at just £3.98 from Amazon or as part of the full series 4 collection. For this review I will give a brief overview of the episodes on the disc, my thoughts on them and my overall rating:

        "Partners in Crime"

        Featuring maybe the cutest aliens ever - the Adipose. Created from human fat these are little critters that are the product of a new slimming drug produced by the Adipose Industries and its owner Miss Foster. Both The Doctor and Donna are investigating the strange happenings that are occurring to the people who are taking the drug and after a series of near misses they are finally reunited after parting company at the end of "The Runaway Bride". We find out that Donna has been deliberately trying to find The Doctor by putting herself in the middle of unexplained phenomenon assuming that sooner or later The Doctor would appear, correct in her assumptions the pair join forces to defeat Miss Foster and after some ground rules are established The Doctor invites Donna to join him in the Tardis, and of course Donna accepts.

        I didn't actually like Donna in the 'Runaway Bride' finding her to be too similar to the characters she portrayed on her own sketch show so when it was announced that Catherine Tate was to become the latest companion I wasn't really looking forward to the new series. However this reintroduction to Donna saw a more quieter and humorous side to her character and she and Doctor made a wonderful pairing which would see their relationship develop over the course of the series.

        The episodes overall purpose is to get the two characters back together so is lacking any serious depth and is a fun way to start the new series. Notable for a fleeting appearance by Billie Piper as Rose at the end which was a huge surprise when first shown and a hint of what was to come in the later episodes.

        I did enjoy this episode when it was first shown and having watched it again over the weekend I was able to pick up on what I thought were 'throwaway' references which in fact provided a few hints as to where the series was actually going. A great episode overall for me and I would rate it as a 4/5.

        "The Fires of Pompeii"

        With Donna as The Doctors new companion they end up in what they think is Ancient Rome, noticing a huge mountain in front of them they deduce that they are actually in Pompeii, the mountain is actually Vesuvius and is due to erupt the following day. Whilst Donna wants to warn the residents of the impending destruction of the town The Doctor explains that they cannot change a fixed moment in time and they have to leave, however finding the Tardis gone and a hearing a prophecy that seems to implicate The Doctor in the forthcoming disaster they have to stay in Pompeii and work out who the strange Stone beasts are that are lurking at the base of Vesuvius and what influence they hold over the town 'seer'.

        When it is revealed that the beasts are actually an alien race that are threatening the Earth it is up to The Doctor to make an impossible decision that either saves a lot of lives by sacrificing some or potentially risk the lives of all mankind.

        This was a solid standalone episode that gave us the chance to see a compassionate side to Donna and witness a powerful speech from The Doctor of what life is like as a Time Lord. The scenes near the end where the Doctor is explaining why he has to make the decisions he is forced into are superbly acted by David Tennant and both Tate and Tennant are excellent in this episode.


        I did enjoy this episode immensely and I thought it gave a great insight into the friendship that was slowly developing between the two lead characters. Some good special effects and light-hearted moments with witty dialogue made for a great second outing for the pair before the much bleaker and darker third episode that was to follow. For me another 4/5 rating

        "The Planet of the Ood"

        We had already met the Ood in a previous series and this episode explains their origin and why they became servants for mankind. The normally placid Ood seem to have developed a virus that sends them rabid and gives them 'red eye', when The Doctor and Donna land on their home planet and see for themselves the conditions they are kept in the Doctors inquisitive nature lands him and Donna in trouble as they seek to find out why The Ood are changing.

        Making it their mission to free the Ood from captivity and a life of slavery The Doctor and Donna have to face the owner of 'Ood Enterprises' and find out the secret of what is being kept in Warehouse 15. The answers to which hold the key to the origins of the Ood and their survival as a race, but while-ever there is money to be made from the exploitation of the species there's going to be trouble for The Doctor and the shocking extent of the cruelty that is inflicted on the Ood is revealed.

        This was a much darker episode that the preceding two and felt more like a 'classic' Who story than the others. There were obvious parallels to the captivity of the Ood and that of human slavery and the revelation as to how "natural" Ood are different to "processed" Ood came as a shock and was quite upsetting really. Catherine Tate is on fine form again in this episode and her compassion shines through when hearing the Ood's captivity song for the first time, David Tennant is brilliant as usual and this is one of my favourite episodes from series 4.

        Noteworthy again due to the final words the Ood say to the Doctor regarding the Doctor/Donnas "song ending soon" which gave a thrilling climax to the episode and of course was the basis of fan speculation as to how the series was going to end. In hindsight this could have been the first indication as to the forthcoming decision by Tennant and Russel T Davies to leave the 'Who' franchise but at the time probably more of a hint towards the events that would happen in episodes 12 and 13. A definite favourite of mine and a 5/5 episode.

        Conclusion

        So those are the first three episodes from Disc one of Series Four and kicked the series off in style. Strong performances from all with great stories that captivate the viewer, Catherine Tate proved to be a brilliant choice of companion who actually wanted to accompany the Doctor rather than falling in love with him and the dynamics between the two are wonderfully played. Often funny, sometimes sad but absolutely superb these are a marvellous trio of stories that should definitely appeal to all fans of the series.

        An overall rating of 5/5 from me for Disc one and worth a purchase just for the opening episode. My review of the remaining discs from this series will follow over the coming days, thanks for reading my review.

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          05.11.2008 15:43
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          I didn't believe in Catherine Tate at the start, but I do now!

          Series four of the revived Doctor Who (or series thirty if you're an old school Whovian) kicked off in April 2008 after months of speculation regarding how new companion, Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, would fare over the upcoming thirteen episodes. She had previously appeared in the 2006 Christmas special, The Runaway Bride, and her shouty, moany personality was just about tolerable through that. When the return of the character was revealed, the announcement was delivered with promises that the character would be toned down, grounded and, perhaps, likeable. At the very least, she wouldn't continue accidentally slipping into Tate's alter egos from her BBC2 comedy series.

          This is the first of four 'vanilla' releases planned for the next few months, that collect together the new episodes a mere month or so after they air. As the first, it presents us with Donna's re-debut and her first three adventures.

          Partners In Crime is where it all kicks off. The Doctor has returned to Earth from his gallavanting with Kylie Minogue on the Titanic spaceship, and once again he is without a companion. Donna is regretting not joining the Doctor on his journeys, and so she is on Earth, investigating alien paranorma, in the hopes that she will bump into the Time Lord again. The pair are independently investigating Adipose Industries and the unnatural dieting pills they are hawking, and eventually, after a few frustrating moments and comedy pieces, bump into each other.

          This episode isn't so much about the storyline, which is based on cutesy alien babies and an evil Mary Poppins-type who is desperate to ensure their birth, but rather about the reunion of the protagonists and how they have changed since their last meeting. Donna has become a more rounded, warm character, yet still maintaining the likeable aspects of her outspoken side. The Doctor, according to Donna, is more "human", having learnt about compassion and the consequences of his actions from his time with previous companion Martha. The weakness of the script is that very little seems to happen: - there are no threatening enemies, nor an overwhelming sense of danger, just some running about and sweet CGI moments. Still, the comedy and the quality of the acting, plus the unexpected shock at the end, saves this forgettable story. 7 out of 10.

          The psudo-historical story The Fires of Pompeii comes up next, the first of the new Who stories to be filmed abroad. Set in Pompeii on the eve of its destruction under the lava of Mount Vesuvius, we see the Doctor and companion take on a new enemy (the Pyroviles - yes, that's an amalgamation of 'pyro' and 'vile') and about a million soothsayers of different types.

          The most intriguing and exciting element of the story is the friction between Donna and the Doctor, with the human wanting to save as many as she can from the impending danger, and the Time Lord knowing that time needs to be left alone and cannot be interrupted by their travels. Although it is laid on quite thick at times, Donna's confidence in her sense of right results in some quality acting and some excellent moments, and once again it is the acting and the writing that are the high points, and they distract from the weakness of the threat (some visually impressive, but conceptually weak Pyrovile creatures) and some of the scenes with the Pompeii residents. There are a good handful of spine-chilling moments which makes this a jaw-dropping episode. 8 out of 10.

          The highlight of the disc, and in fact he first half of the series, is the third episode, The Planet of the Ood. An encore for series 2's fan favourite aliens the Ood, this one takes us to their home planet, the Oodsphere. The revival and fleshing out of the Ood was a welcome idea, and the storyline is strong enough to justify it. Here, we explore the darker side of human nature, and it is for moments like this that Donna's character was seemingly created - to represent the downtrodden and disrespected. A touching storyline, highlighted by magnificent performances from the regular cast once again. 8 out of 10.

          Three quality episodes shake up everything that was previously believed about Catherine Tate's Donna, and serve both as a wonderful surprise and an exciting beginning to the new series. The DVD itself presents little more than the episodes themselves. Presumably, this is so the cost can be kept low so the kiddies can pick it up for pocket money, but that's just speculation and it could just as easily be because the BBC want to start selling them as soon as possible. All the extras will be saved up for the boxset in November, so if you're a hardcore fan, you're better off holding out for that. That's not to weaken the value of this DVD though - the three episodes are individually superb moments of television, each for completely different reasons, and all of them are worth watching. By everybody. In the universe. Ever.

          (THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON DIGITALLARD.CO.UK, A WEBSITE WHICH I REGULARLY WRITE FOR. IT HAS ALSO BEEN POSTED ON CIAO.CO.UK)

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            21.09.2008 22:54
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            The Doctor and Donna do the time warp...???

            Writers: Russell T. Davis and Keith Temple
            Director: James Strong, Colin Teague and Graeme Harper.
            Producers: Phil Collinson, Russell T. Davis and Julie Gardner


            We see the return of David Tennant as the Doctor, seeing off his assistants like there is no tomorrow, first Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, (series 2), then the fantastic Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, (series 3)...



            The doctors new assistant is the comedian Catherine Tate, who was previously seen in the 2006 Christmas episode 'The Runaway Bride', in which she acted her part excellently, but can her abilities as a long term actress be as goods as, or even outshine her predecessors...?

            With the memories of the last episode still fresh in peoples minds this fourth series has a lot to live up to...


            ** BRIEF PLOTS **


            * PARTNERS IN CRIME ( 5th April 2008) (50 minutes episode)

            As the Doctor investigates some rather strange happenings at Adipose Industries, a business that claims to have the ultimate diet control pill, he stumbles upon his old friend, Donna Noble, who also investigating the business claims in the hope of finding the Doctor...

            With the pair soon uncovering the rather strange truth about the Industry and Miss Foster, (played by Sarah Lancashire), the company manager with her very cool mannerism and a love of little bundles of fat... using the overweight people of planet Earth to fulfil her commitment to her alien employers...

            The instant the Doctor and Donna find each other the trouble really begins, forcing Miss Foster to start her final plan, to rid the world of fat for the sake of a lost world...

            With a million Londoners happily using the little miracle pill, where apparently the fat just walks away, many lives are in danger from the plans of Miss Foster and the Adipose Industries..


            * Other characters in this episode....

            Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott
            Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble
            Verona Joseph as Penny Carter
            Martin Ball as Roger Davey
            Rachid Sabitri as Craig Staniland
            Chandra Ruegg as Claire Pope
            Sue Kelvin as Suzette Chambers

            * and a brief appearance by Billie Piper as Rose Tyler






            * THE FIRES OF POMPEII ( 12th April 2008) (50 minutes)

            The Doctor navigational skills are still as bad as ever, inadvertently landing in the year 79 AD in the beautiful city of Pompeii and the grand Mount Vesuvius, but unfortunately, for him and Donna, they arrive just before the eruption of the great mountain...

            With a quick search around the city, and a few earth tremors later, the pair decide to get back into the TARDIS and leave before the Volcano erupts... only to discover it missing... leaving the Doctor and Donna in a bit of a pickle...

            Tracking the TARDIS to Lucuus Caecilius Iucundus, (played by Peter Capaldi) at his family home he attempts to retrieve it... only to become part of the heated events which begin to unfold, involving a weird sect like Sisterhood headed by a rather stony figure, Lucuus's daughter Evelina, (played by Francesca Fowler), with her psychic abilities, some very fiery creatures made from Rock and some very strange goings on deep inside the heart of Mount Vesuvius itself...

            The Doctor soon realises that he may be the cause of a great tragedy and must again decide as to the world future... possibly changing history forever....



            * Other characters in this episode....

            Tracey Childs as Metella
            Phil Davis as Lucius
            Sasha Behar as Spurrina
            Lorraine Burroughs as Thalina
            Victoria Wicks as High Priestess
            Francois Pandolfo as Quintus
            Karen Gillan as Soothsayer
            Phil Cornwell as Stallholder





            * PLANET OF THE OOD (19th April 2008)


            The Doctor and Donna arrive in the year 4126 and soon stumble upon trouble, involving the Ood, old friends of the Doctor from previous encounters... only this time the Ood race are more like slaves than servants

            The pair are soon snooping around an Ood trading business, ran by a balding Klineman Halpen, (played by Tim McInnerny), where the Ood population are mysteriously infected by something called Red eye, making them vicious killers, almost rabid like...

            As the duo begin to uncover what is happening to the Ood, revealing the real controller of the once placid breed, the heart warming truth soon emerges... giving hope to a now slave species... allowing the Ood to sing once again...


            * Other characters in this episode...

            Tim McInnerny as Klineman Halpen
            Ayesha Dharker as Solana Mercurio
            Adrian Rawlins as Dr Ryder
            Roger Griffiths as Commander Kess
            Paul Kasey as Ood Sigma
            Paul Clayton as Mr Bartle
            Tariq Jorden as Rep


            ** IN CONCLUSION **


            A fine start to the fourth series, re-introducing Catherine Tate as the new companion of the Doctor...

            Reading some of the negative reviews regarding Tate as the full time companion I felt that she didn't stand a chance from the beginning, with many critics burying her before she uttered her first words... but I am one who likes to experience the subject before giving my opinion, especially on some ones abilities to act... and I'm glad I didn't listen to the critics.

            She plays her role brilliantly and even though you can still see some of her characters from her old television show in many of the expressions she makes in all these episodes, it does nothing to spoil her role in the show as the slightly mouthy girl with fire in her veins... (although her loud attitude has diminished slightly compared to her role in the 2006 Christmas special).

            I do feel she has a lot more to offer the future series and will be seen as a good choice of companion... making the critics eat their owns words...

            David Tennant continues to play his role as the Doctor exceptionally well, his grimace like facial expressions now like being part of the furniture...


            The opening episode, Partners in crime, is a very light hearted episode, more re-introducing the characters gently, with out the full on horror of battling monsters... the only monsters in this episode were 6 inches high and made of fat not really frightening at all really... a very pleasurable, if a little weird, opening of what is going to be a very interesting series

            Then with a visit to Pompeii, to battle against the usual horror, which make watching the Doctor Who series worthwhile, the series really begins to make its mark, tantalising the audience into watching the next episode... The story behind the Fires of Pompeii do, to some point, make one think about the actual event way back in history, and for a sort of conspiracy theory it knocks the spots of all the others, giving a different reason for the great eruption of Vesuvius...

            As for the re-introduction of the Ood, this again is a brilliantly thought out storyline, giving the idea that the Ood population are in fact not what they seem, being manipulated by man for his own needs... almost having a dig at the history of the slave trade in general...

            In all a brilliant start to what is going to be a very interesting series... trying to work out the connections with in the episodes for the future episodes in again going to be difficult, only being properly achieved once the entire series has been watched at least twice... then understanding the entire plot from start to finish...


            * Would I recommend this...

            Yes I certainly would.... It is another three fantastic episodes which will play with your emotions... there is action, thrills, entertainment and some great humour... you will love it..

            You can get a copy from www.amazon.co.uk for less than £12.00

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            31.08.2008 17:46
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            Solid start to season 4

            The fourth series of Doctor Who sees another change in companion, with Freema Agyeman's character Martha Jones deciding at the end of season 3 that she wanted to stay at home on Earth and not travel with the Time Lord. Re-enter Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), who we first saw in the Christmas Special in 2006, sandwiched between season 2 and 3. Tate was glad to return to Doctor Who, although reactions were mixed amongst the general public when it was first announced she would be the new companion.

            However, she has silenced the critics by surprising everyone at how good she can be. The comedy factor comes naturally to her, but it is in the serious moments that she is impressive, and she and David Tennant as the Doctor spark off each other very well. The first episode on this DVD and also the first of the fourth series is entitled Partners In Crime, and features the Doctor and Donna separately investigating the strange goings-on at Adipose, creators of a fat reducing pill. Unbeknownst to each other, the Doctor and Donna verge closer to the truth behind Adipose and Miss Foster (Sarah Lancashire) before joining forces towards the end. This episode merely serves as a link for the Doctor and Donna to become reunited. It doesn't have any major significance and the plot is okay, but there is nothing special in it. The performances from the cast are solid, and it is good to see Bernard Cribbins play Donna's grandfather Bert.

            The second episode sees the Doctor and Donna transported back in time by the TARDIS to Pompeii just before Vesuvius' eruption. This episode has a mild significance to the bigger Doctor Who picture as it explains a lot about precognition and the ability to predict the future, but the main function of it is to give the Doctor a chance to give Donna a lesson in TARDIS mechanics and explain time travel. The episode is entertaining, but again nothing special. To be honest, I wasn't really expecting much more from the first two episodes than setting up the relationship between the Doctor and his new companion, and to get decent plotlines is a bonus.

            The third episode is where the series really takes off, and makes you want to watch the fourth episode immediately afterwards (which involves buying the next DVD!) Back in the second series, we experienced a race known as the Ood, who exist to serve humankind as servants. This episode, entitled Planet of the Ood, features the Doctor and Donna being transported to the Ood's planet, where they are bred as a marketing tool and sold to humans in abundance, as you would a car or a house or a washing machine, etc. The episode seems to send a moral message as well as set the scene brilliantly for the future episodes. There are some good performances here from Tim McInnery as Mr Halpen and also from the support cast, and this episode really does make you think.

            Overall, the first three episodes are solid. I wouldn't say this is as spectacular as some previous DVDs from previous series, but it does set the scene very well. The acting is spot on, and Catherine Tate slots very nicely into the role of Donna. Her character becomes more involved from now on, and these first three have done the necessary job of scene setting.

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              31.07.2008 22:29
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              Is Donna Noble the the best companion yet?

              Despite not receiving very good reviews from newspapers when it was on television, I thought the first three episodes of the newest series of Doctor Who were just as good as previous years - and Catherine Tate was excellent returning to the role of Donna Noble, a move that I had feared since finding her bordering on unbearable in the Christmas Special she had appeared in between seasons 2 and 3. The three episodes contained in this volume are "Partners In Crime," "The Fires of Pompeii" and the wonderful "Planet of The Ood" - the episode I was least looking forward to because I hadn't found the Ood that interesting first time around. But this episode was all the better for the fact I hadn't been expecting much from it. David Tennant still excels as the Doctor and I still can't imagine who could possibly take over from him. So hopefully he's not going anywhere quite yet. Meanwhile sit back and enjoy these episodes for the fun that they are.

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                26.07.2008 14:36
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                Watchable but it will get better

                This DVD will certainly be the weakest of season four as it started off with possibly the three weakest stories of the season and perhaps the whole new series.

                The first episode is Partners in Crime where the Doctor is reunited with Donna Noble. This premise is the best thing about this episode as the threat and villain of the piece was pretty one dimensional stuff and as much as this was supposed to be a fun episode I felt little short changed. Although the entire episode is worth it purely for the moment when the Doctor and Donna meet again and do their entire conversation in mime. This and the incredible added on ending of course.

                The next episode The Fires of Pompeii gets back into the traditional style of mixing the ancient with the futuristic. A perfect setting to introduce Donna into the world of the travelling Doctor. Once again, the story isn't the strongest and some of the acting is a bit on the hammy side and I also wasn't moved by the sentimental ending.

                I'm not a massive fan of the Ood or the Slitheen either to be honest so when I started watching this episode I was immediately under underwealmed. I suppose it was nice to take a previous characters and give them depth i.e. show how much the Ood are being used as slaves, but to be honest I found the whole thing mildly entertaining and preachy. Give me big nasty aliens with huge guns trying to take over the earth any day. This is why the return of the Sontarons in the next episode (the opening episode of the next volume)is such a breath of fresh air.

                I'm please to say the series didn't continue down this lukewarm beginning.

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                  24.06.2008 22:00
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                  Dr Who is a favourite for the children in my class

                  I am a big Dr Who fan (from this time round) and love going into school on Mondays to talk to my year 3 class about the latest episode.

                  I have got to say that although Christopher Eccleston made a good Dr Who, David Tennant is my favourite and is the ultimate Dr Who!!

                  I have found this series slow to get into but now I have them all on box sets I watch this series the most. I enjoyed Rose Tyler and Martha Jones as the Dr's sidekick but have got to say there is a brilliant chemistry and spark between Donna and the Dr in this series.

                  Catherine Tate moves away from her sitcom sketches and become a great actress in her own right next to David Tennant, often taking the lead in some episodes. She is still funny in her one liners and quick witted comments but has shown a more serious and refined side to her talents which is very enjoyable.

                  Dr Who certainly rules (as one member of my class stated-I agree!)

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                    14.05.2008 19:18
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                    The Doctor Returns!

                    DOCTOR WHO came back with a bang 6 weeks ago with the 4th series of the modern version. The Doctor is still played by the fantastic David Tennant, but this time he is accompanied by new companion Donna Noble (played by Catherine Tate, returning after appearing in the Christmas Special from a couple of years ago).

                    This DVD features the first 3 episodes of the new series:

                    PARTNERS IN CRIME
                    THE FIRES OF POMPEII
                    PLANET OF THE OOD

                    I have to say that these are not great episodes to start off the series. I didn't expect to like Tate as a companion (she was a bit too 'shouty' in her previous experience), but she has grown on me a little. The problem is that the stories are not particularly exciting, which is a shame when it comes to DOCTOR WHO. The first really exciting story came with the next episode, THE SONTARAN STRATAGEM, which will be on the next volume to be released.

                    All in all, this is worth a purchase if you didn't have the chance to see the episodes on TV, but otherwise I'd wait until the inevitable season box set after this series has completed airing on TV in a few weeks time.

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                      28.04.2008 17:24
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                      Forth Time Lucky?

                      Doctor Who series 4 kicks off with a cracking start with the story Partners In Crime. Having realised what she was missing out on by not joining the Doctor (David Tennant) in his journeys through time and space Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) is searching for her time travelling hero. Having realised that wherever the Doctor may be trouble can't be far away Donna deliberately hunts down anything that seems remotely out of this world, crop circles, the Loch Ness Monster, and now the incredibly unusual goings on at Adipose. Adipose have a wonder pill, the pill can guarantee that its users will lose weight, the results being better than anything that they have tried before.

                      The Doctor is in the same location exploring the strange goings on at Adipose, unaware that Donna is frantically looking for him. It's not long before the Doctor and Donna meet up and it's just like old times. Both realise that the sinister Miss Foster (Sarah Lancashire) is up to something she should not be, and try their hardest to prevent her master plan. As well as battling a new enemy, the couple have to wrestle with the past.

                      Donna first encountered the Doctor in the 2006 Christmas special The Runaway Bride, and the arrival of comedienne Catherine Tate who plays the character has been the subject of much controversy since it was announced almost a year ago that she would return. I'm pleased to say however that Catherine is much better this time round, at the start when she speaks with her grandfather played by the legend Bernard Cribbins there is a realism about her that previous companions failed to meet up to, on the basis of episode one (called Partners In Crime) I'm happy to say it seems I'm wrong about the actress, whether she continues to deliver though we will need to wait and see.

                      David Tennant is as spectacular as ever playing for the action and the laughs, his reuniting with Catherine Tate is pure magic, as the two bounce off each other like an old 1970's double act, with humour aside though Tate makes it clear she is not all about the humour. Back to Tennant and you can tell that in his third series in the role he has well and truly found his feet, not criticising his previous performance he just seems more at home now than he ever had before.

                      The odd factor of Partners In Crime is that there is not really a villain as such, while Foster starts as a bad guy, she has purely innocent reasons behind her actions. The aliens in question being by far the sweetest Doctor Who aliens of all time, and I suspect a range of these as cuddly toys come the latter end of 2008.

                      Special effects have again improved as they have year on year, this time looking far more like big movie effects than before, but special effects company have special help this time with special effects experts who worked on the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, which could well explain the dramatic improvements. More like a movie than any previous Doctor Who story the show takes special attention regardless of the lack of sets, making it look bigger than it actually is.

                      Two big things are firstly an improved version of the theme tune which has some very 80's hints echoing the time that Peter Davison controlled the Tardis as the Doctor. But the big issue is a rather brief but much awaited return of a character who new Doctor Who fans have until now thought lost, although the return was much publicised who expected a return so early in the series regardless of the length of time will send shivers down your spine.


                      Having allowed her to join him on his travels through time and space, The Doctor and Donna travel back in time to ancient Rome in the story The Fires Of Pompeii. It gives the Doctor the opportunity to discuss some of the refinements of Tardis time travel with Donna, as she asks how the Romans can understand what they are saying. But this lesson is short lived as a loud crashing noise draws the couple to look at the giant mountain that towers above the City, but this is no mountain, this is a Volcano, and our time travellers have arrived in Pompeii the day before the volcano explodes destroying the city below.

                      It's a breakthrough episode of Doctor Who, because it's the biggest budget story ever since the shows return in 2005, since the shows return it's also the first time that filming overseas has taken place as in order to film the show, cast and crew have travelled to Italy's famous Cinacitti Studios in Rome.

                      For the second show of season four, the story is expertly delivered; the special effects amazing, and the story so big it's difficult to understand how they can possibly cram it all into the 50 minute running time.

                      The story tackles an awful lot of things that an avid Doctor Who viewer might have questions over, beyond the gift of translation. The key one of these big questions is knowing that 24 hours from now Pompeii is about to be destroyed by a volcano, if you have the knowledge of this what would you do? Let the people living in Pompeii know so they can escape, or leave them all to die? On top of this for educational fans the news that until the destruction of Pompeiii nobody knew what a volcano was, let alone the sort of damage they could cause.

                      The story moves at a momentous pace as the main story of the volcano plays a relatively small factor of the story, beneath this is a cult of ancient sisters who can predict the future, human sacrifice, and a powerful Soothsayer with a strange knowledge of electrical circuitry centuries before electricity was realised. These secondary facts almost make you forget the story that at first seemed like the biggest issue.

                      There is a marvellous series of humorous moments when the big question of Tardis translation raises its head, Donna asks if the Tardis translated Latin to English what happens if you speak Latin? The result is that to Italians they sound Welsh, and from this lots of comic Welsh jokes come into discussion, "There's Lovely" says Peter Capaldi as Caecillius to the Doctor's Caveat Emptor quote.

                      The story features other great guest stars Philip Davis best known for the movie Quadrophenia stars as Pompeii's chief soothsayer Lucius, while Tracey Childs appears as Caecillius' wife Mettella.

                      There is of course the expected eruption and this is something that looks absolutely mesmerising, the effects being far better standard that back in 2005 when the show returned. While obviously being CGI effects, for the first time there is a sort of element of doubt with the show, is that CGI or is it some sort of effect with a model. There is a magnificent scene in which the Doctor and Donna are running from the volcano with lava chasing after them, and you really do have to ask "How do they do that?"

                      On a far distant planet The Doctor and Donna arrive as something strange is happening. The servant creatures of humans known as the Ood are struggling with a mystery illness. Having been all faithful to humans for centuries the Ood have been developing a condition known as red eye, shortly after the infection of red eye, they lose control attacking their masters; but what has happened to cause this sudden condition to develop, only one man has the answer.

                      The Planet Of The Ood and I say this after every episode is the strongest of series four so far; it's an emotional tale that echoes the 2005 series story 2005 in which you are given reason to feel genuine emotion for something for something that essentially is bad.

                      Knitted together tighter than the previous two stories a couple of years ago this would have been a two part story; but with the tremendous weight of the stories from the series as a whole find the story condensed into a 50 minute episode, and there is barely a moment for you to be distracted.

                      The Ood were introduced to the show during the second series (2006) of Doctor Who with the stories The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, these creatures with a face that resembles a squid are known for their courteous nature, and their soft voices. And while in 2006 they turned bad, as they do here you realise that in their hearts they just want to enjoy a peaceful life. And The Planet Of The Ood is all about giving the Ood, or at least attempting to; back their freedom.

                      The Planet Of The Ood is very much like a translation of the story of black slavery, you get to look at the Ood, not as alien creatures but as equals; wrongly treated and as a result viewed upon as potentially dangerous. There is a lot of poor treatment of the Ood, as they are bossed about without as much as a please or a thank you, expected to do the most mundane of tasks with nothing in it for them "We are born to serve" they state when asked why they allow themselves to be treated in such a way.

                      A scene involving a giant claw allows Doctor Who to get involved in that big almost Hollywood action sequence, just in case the story was starting to become too moving. This action sequence really is a testament to how the show has progressed over the last few years, because the sequence really does look real, rather than the blundering CGI we were treated to earlier in the series.

                      The biggest transition of the story revolves around Donna, who allows you to enter into her soul and see the situation through her eyes, she's not the all screaming Catherine Tate that you come to expect, and you really feel that as an actress she feels what Donna sees. Donna begins to question on her first experience on another world exactly why she travels with the Doctor, having watched the demise of thousands, now she has to sit by as an entire race stands the chance of being wiped out on the whim of rather ignorant humans. "I want to go home" she cries out to the Doctor.

                      The show has another collection of recognizable actors Tim McInnery, and Adrian Rawlins leading the way with a great performance from Ayesha Dharker who I loved recently in the movie Outsourced. This Glaswegian actress of Indian decent really lightens up every scene she appears in.

                      As is typical the story features a number of story arcs forming, and those more aware will notice the frequent worship of The Doctor and Donna, almost elevating them to the status of Gods, as well as random comments leading to a bigger picture, all drawing reference to the return of someone lost. There are even clues in the Doctor Who logo that those more observant will get a clue as to what awaits round the corner.

                      Doctor Who series 4 disc 1 is available to buy on the 2nd of June priced £12.99 the DVD has no special features although their is a preview of the coming three stories.


                      Now for those that like a taste of the future read on, for those that don't stop now, as here is a hint of what the lies in store for The Doctor for the rest of 2008.

                      Having not encountered them since 1985 Martha calls the Doctor back to earth when The Sontarans arrive.
                      What happened to Agatha Christies missing days? The answer at last and a guaranteed murder involving lead pipe. And what's the story with all those bees?
                      We all know the Doctor's original travelling companion was his Granddaughter Susan, but how will the Doctor feel when he is reunited with his daughter.
                      What is the secret beyond the wall, what is that banging; something's coming as two worlds collide the Doctor and Donna's fate lie in someone from another world. "I missed you!", "I missed you too!" but this reunion is bought to a sudden end "Exterminate!"
                      Someone loses their memory of travelling with the Doctor forever as companions from the recent and long past come back to help the Doctor in his hour of need, lots of attention is given to the return of the Daleks, but they were not the only creature drawn into the time vortex; everyone completely forgets about the Cybermen. And as the Cybermen return they for the first time arrive in Earth's past, to blend nicely into a piece of England's heritage.

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                        28.04.2008 08:08
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                        The Doctor Meets Tate Modern

                        Insistent that the new series continues to keep everyone on their toes, Series Four marks another change of companion and a new direction from producer Russell T Davies. When it was announced that comedienne Catherine Tate would be returning to the TARDIS, reactions were mixed to say the least, but three episodes into the series, it's clear that for both The Doctor and his audience, this is something of a new beast.

                        In Partners in Crime, both The Doctor and Donna Noble find themselves investigating strange goings on within a company developing a new diet pill. Following her adventures in The Runaway Bride, Donna Noble now spends her time investigating any strange reported phenomenon, in the hope that she will eventually bump into The Doctor, who is seemingly unable to keep away from trouble. Initially jubilant at the reunion, Donna's smile is soon wiped off her face by the sinister Miss Foster and hordes of squeaky little alien creatures, named Adipose, whose evolution threatens the future of the human race; well, the fat ones anyway.

                        In Fires of Pompeii, the Doctor takes Donna back in time to the Roman era, when the TARDIS inadvertently lands in Pompeii, just twenty-four hours before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Local townspeople are becoming gifted with the power of foresight and when the Doctor traces this new power to the tunnels beneath the city, he quickly realises that aliens are at work. But his attempts to avert their plans are threatened by a mysterious group of priestesses and a local councillor, not to mention Donna Noble, who is insistent that the travellers warn the people of Pompeii before Vesuvius claims their lives.

                        Planet of the Ood sees the Doctor come face to face with adversaries previously seen in series two. Materialising on the Ood-Sphere in the forty-first century, the Doctor and Donna are horrified to find that the peace-loving Ood are being bred as slaves to mankind. But something is afoot. Some of the Ood are starting to show symptoms of "Red Eye", a condition that turns them from peaceful, submissive slaves into vicious killers. When the Doctor and Donna are forced to confront the man behind the whole system, they are unprepared for what the Ood are about to do next. And in one of the secret hangars, something terrifying lurks in a dark, stinking chamber....

                        It's clear from the first three episodes of the series that the Doctor's prominence over the series is threatened by the presence of his new companion, with Catherine Tate dominating the headlines and reviews. In true Marmite fashion, Donna Noble's character is something that audiences either love or hate, but for me it's certainly the former, with the first three episodes forming one of the most entertaining story arcs of the entire new series to date.

                        Donna Noble's character has changed many dimensions of the series in ways that might not have been expected, with all three stories on this disc demonstrating this amply. There's a much stronger comedy element here, which is no surprise given Tate's history, but gives the series a completely new tone. From a farcical mimed conversation through windows in Partners in Crime, to a rather disparaging discovery that she has been abducted in Fires of Pompeii, Tate's character is quite unlike any companion that the Doctor has ever faced before. The doe-eyed love interests in Rose and Martha (requited or otherwise) are now completely removed, with Tate insistent that she wouldn't fancy the Doctor if he were the last man in the universe. After a hilarious exchange at the end of Partners in Crime (where Donna clarifies whether the Doctor wants "to mate" or not) the two characters keep each other distinctly at arms' length and for this incarnation of The Doctor it's an entirely new experience.

                        But Noble's character is not just for comical relief. Tate (for me, a very gifted actress) often adds a fresh, human element to the stories that more closely echoes the relationship between the Doctor and his companions seen in the classic series. In Fires of Pompeii, for example, Donna cannot understand why the Doctor is powerless to avert history and eventually pleads with him to at least save someone. In Planet of the Ood, Donna's reaction to the plight of the peaceful Ood is sensitive and warm, with an interesting exchange of views about the role of slavery in Earth culture. Given that this is Doctor Who, it would be wrong to expect anything particularly profound, but the writers do keep things topical and provide food for thought. (Miss Foster's observation around the prevalence of fat earthlings provides a wry dig at the nation's growing problem of obesity.)

                        The technical competence of the series continues to approve, with all three stories showcasing new heights for the series. The little Adipose of Partners in Crime are competently animated through digital effects (and are, in actual fact quite cute) and The Pyrovile of the second episode stand out as some of the most impressive monsters from the series so far. The eventual eruption of Vesuvius in the same episode is well-handled, as are the location filming and set pieces of both the second and third episodes, which have none of the cheap / shoddy feel so fondly remembered from the classic series. The writing is tight too, with exciting, well-considered stories fitting neatly into the forty-five minute running time and the absence of two-part adventures at this stage barely noticeable. As is now the norm for the new series, hints of things to come are subtly introduced too; Rose Tyler makes a surprise appearance in Partners in Crime and the Ood have a strangely cryptic message for the Doctor at the end of Planet of the Ood.

                        As has now become the norm, all three episodes feature a number of well-known guest stars, apparently queuing up for a role in the new series. In Partners in Crime, Sarah Lancashire is effective as the steely Miss Foster, and clearly relishes the opportunity to play a baddie. Likewise, Tim McKinnery in Planet of the Ood, reprising many of the qualities we last saw in Blackadder's Captain Darling, with a rather more sinister streak to boot. Peter Capaldi crops up as a Roman businessman in Fires of Pompeii, but once again, it's the villain of the piece who has the most fun, with Phil Davis rather relishing every moment as the loopy councillor, Lucius.

                        Criticisms? Well, the series remains distinctly cheesy, with The Doctor's abilities and presence rather bigged up into traditional hero territory. At the end of Fires of Pompeii, for example, there's a particularly cheesy moment where the errant Time Lord appears from the TARDIS and holds out a hand like some kind of messiah. The dialogue in Fires of Pompeii is a problem too. Whilst we know that the TARDIS helps The Doctor and Donna understand foreign dialect, the conversation in the Roman family is rather too 21st century to feel "right". There's also a looming presence from Donna's family (unwelcome with both Rose and Martha), with a prickly mother and eccentric grandfather lurking back on earth and threatening to crop up in later episodes. As for Tate, well time will tell. She's had a fairly easy ride of it so far, but with old enemies and companions looming later in the series, it will be interesting to see how she shares both the Doctor and his screen time. Nonetheless, as an introduction to the new companion, the first three episodes are good stuff and do bode well for what is to follow.

                        Like each of the new series volumes, there are no extras on the DVD release, which simply features the first three episodes and will retail at around £12. The UK region 2 DVD is to be released in June this year, but viewers are recommended the complete series set to be released at the end of the year, which will feature all the episodes plus a bountiful supply of extras.

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