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New Who 4.1, Partners in Crime

I've become increasingly nervous over the past few weeks about how this series of Who is going to pan out. I'd better not say why in too much detail for the sake of those who don't like to hoover up spoilers with quite the same glee as I do. But I think it's safe to say that the sheer quantities of both returning companions and returning villains make the likelihood of Total Bollocks Overdrive (TM swisstone) in the season finale very, very high indeed. It could be done well, and of course we'll all have fun working out the fine details of just what will happen in advance. But it could also be done very badly. After three series' worth of experience of RTD's finales, I'm keeping my expectations low.

This episode, though, seemed like a pretty solid start to the season. Obviously, the actual story was always going to be fairly low-key - because what this episode is really about is meeting Donna. It was played for laughs on the whole, and the actual threat to the Earth was effectively completely zilch. Illegal under Galactic law the Adipose seeding programme may have been, but if the Doctor hadn't tried to interfere with it, it would in fact have done absolutely no harm whatsoever to Earth or any of its inhabitants. The full body absorption which happened to poor old curvy, bouncy Stacy was an emergency measure only.

So instead, we could concentrate on Donna and her character, and how and why she will function as a companion for the Doctor in this series. This was all pretty promising. I liked the parallel investigations mounted by her and the Doctor at the start, the ways they kept narrowly missing one another, and especially the shot with her blue car parked just in front of his blue box. In fact, she felt very Sarah Jane-ish in this sequence, which is encouraging stuff - although obviously in other situations she is a lot more bolshy than Sarah ever was. I liked, too, the various references to Martha (especially the miming through windows as a comic reinterpretation of the much more harrowing scene in 42), and how her time with the Doctor had affected him, and the way that Donna herself notices this. It means that both Donna and the Doctor are now able to operate on a very self-aware level in terms of what they both expect and want out of travelling together, and that points towards a very fruitful partnership.

It's less encouraging to find that Donna has been desperately hung-up on the Doctor all the same, even if not in a sexual way. Catherine Tate said something in Confidential about how Donna hasn't romanticised the Doctor - but she has. Travelling around Egypt was just not the same after meeting him. Arguably, it could be taken simply as showing that she genuinely has the appetite for adventure that a good companion needs. But I felt that it weakened her rather, and I'd have preferred it if she'd just got into investigating paranormal happenings anyway, for her own sake, met the Doctor accidentally, and then decided that now she was ready to travel with him after all. Similarly, I'd have preferred it if she'd contributed some kind of inspired idea or observation when the Doctor needed help to stop the Adipose incubation programme, rather than simply an artefact. But then again the artefact was the product of her earlier initiative in investigating the company in the first place, so I guess that's OK.

As for the future of the series, it seems we've had a couple of pointers laid. I suspect we'll hear more about the bees disappearing, and also about how the Adipose family's original seeding planet got 'lost'. It's also pretty obvious that Donna's mum is going to pick up the Sonic pen from the same bin as her car keys - though what will come out of that, I can't guess at this stage. And as for Rose - well! I was certainly surprised to see her this early, although I shouldn't have been, because she was appearing in behind-the-scenes fan photographs right from the beginning of filming on this series. She doesn't seem to have been just a 'ghost' projection from her parallel Universe, because she apparently heard and reacted to what Donna said to her - although of course she could have been hearing and reacting to something happening in her own world which we couldn't see. Well, we'll see what it's all about, I'm sure - although as I said at the start of this post, I kind of wish we weren't going to.

ETA: actually, thinking about it further, maybe I do see roughly what the image of Rose was about. Somehow or other, doubtless as a result of megalomaniacal schemes mounted by one or other of the Returning VillainsTM, her Universe is bleeding into ours, and Utter Devastation of both will be the result unless the Doctor (and his glamorous assistants) can stop it. Oh well.

For the moment, though, there is the much more thrilling prospect of next week's episode! I shall be busy finishing off reading Bulwer Lytton's Last Days of Pompeii, which is my current bed-time reading, in time for this - although from the trailers and spoilers I've seen, I doubt there's going to be all that much of a direct connection. Instead, I think my Classic Who watching is going to pay off in a pretty big way - because now that I've seen their make-up and behaviour in greater detail, I think there is a very strong link between the Sisterhood of Vulcan in next week's episode and the Sisterhood of Karn in The Brain of Morbius.

So. Now that's all written up, I can spend the rest of the evening reading and commenting on everyone else's reaction posts! Marvellous. :-)

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Apr. 5th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
Not quite sure, but you might be right. Will have to watch again and check!
(Deleted comment)
captainlucy
Apr. 6th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
... and thus are a thousand slashfics born...
qatsi
Apr. 5th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
I presume you've heard of the Sisterhood of Karn?
strange_complex
Apr. 5th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, I have - they sound pretty cool. I would definitely check them out if I lived in London.
ms_siobhan
Apr. 5th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
One of my brothers absolutely loves Dr Who but cannot stand RTD and what he has done, he describes RTD's work as a 'sh+t sandwich without the bread'.
strange_complex
Apr. 5th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's an increasingly common opinion amongst Who fans. I definitely sympathise with it - but then again I also think it's important not to overlook how massively successful he's made it, and what incredibly good ideas he has come up with. I'd rather have Who that's not as good as I could imagine than no Who at all.
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Apr. 5th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
I'm not a massive aficionado of her other work, although I don't hate it. But I like her a lot as Donna so far.
(Deleted comment)
captainlucy
Apr. 6th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
All in all, I quite liked it. It was silly fluff, entertaining and diverting for 45 minutes, and with possibly the cutest monsters ever! There'd better be adipose baby dolls in the shops by Christmas! :D

I do not like Catherine Tate's solo stuff at all, however I thought she was brilliant in Big Train, and so far I like her as Donna. She reminds me a bit more of Jo Grant than Sarah Jane, though. No bad thing, as I quite liked Jo.

I was surprised to see Rose this early on in the series. I don't think it was a projection from Rose's dimension, thouh, as she was leaning over the security barrier when Donna went up to her, and I think Donna tapped her on the shoulder or on the side of the arm, there was definitely some contact made. But nice that she just walked off and then faded away. What is all that about (and I liked RTD's comment in the confidential afterwards, "as if I'm going to tell you this early on!")

Decent enough story, as good as "Smith & Jones" imho. :)
strange_complex
Apr. 6th, 2008 09:52 am (UTC)
I didn't think it was quite as good as 'Smith and Jones' - a clear index of the difference for me would be the way they left Mr. Stoker's name as a subtle allusion in 'Smith and Jones', but felt the need to explain Miss Foster's directly in 'Partners in Crime'. But it was pretty decent stuff. I'd give PiC 7/10, but S&J 8/10.
white_hart
Apr. 11th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
Playing catch-up on my FL
strange_complex
Apr. 11th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Playing catch-up on my FL
Yes, someone else mentioned that on doctorwho this week after it came up in the episode. In which case, I guess we won't hear anything more about it after all, if it's an outside reference rather than an in-story reference.

It's scary stuff, though, about the actual bees.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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