Doctor Who: Season Four Opening Episode

Directed by James Strong

Written by Russell T Davies

Starring David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Sarah Lancashire, Bernard Cribbins and Jacqueline King

‘Partners in Crime’, the opening episode of the fourth season of the hugely successful revived Doctor Who, was written by the show’s executive producer Russell T Davies and continues to mine the style he has established for the show ever since its return in March 2005.

Donna (played by Catherine Tate), who we first met in the 2006 Christmas Special ‘The Runaway Bride’, is investigating ‘Adipose Industries’, a mysterious corporation promoting a miracle diet pill. They claim “the fat will just walk away” and that is exactly what does happen. The Doctor (the ever exuberant David Tennant) is also investigating activities at Adipose Industries, now on his own following the departure of his companion Martha (Freema Agyeman, who will return later in the season following her recent stint in the second season of the spin-off show ‘Torchwood’). The Doctor and Donna are reunited and do battle with Miss Foster, an alien “nanny” who is using the excess fat of humans to create babies for her employers, the “Adiposian First Family”.

The episode incorporates all the trademarks of a typical Russell T Davies script, including large doses of tongue-in-cheek humour and commentary about current fads and obsessions – in this case, hysteria about the issue of obesity amongst the population of Britain. There is also plenty of knockabout “Keystone Cops”-style running around, although perhaps this is becoming a little stale now.

Not all fans of the show are fond of Davies’s episodes, complaining that he doesn’t know how to write for Doctor Who, but I think he is a constantly superb television writer.

I have to admit I did not take to Martha in the third season and although I certainly do not hold any hatred for the character, her absence here is not a great loss to me. Donna is okay, although I cannot shake the impression that Catherine Tate is somewhat miscast. Time will tell because she will, I believe, be sticking around for the rest of the season. David Tennant continues to impress in the title role, even if, on reflection, I probably prefer his predecessor Christopher Eccleston.

Sarah Lancashire is good value in her guest role as Miss Foster and it is always a pleasure to see Bernard Cribbins, here playing Donna’s grandfather. There is also a little surprise cameo that will be explored further in later episodes.

'Partners in Crime' attracted an impressive audience of close to 8.5 million, indicating there has been no drop in interest in the show.
It’s a good start to a season I hope to enjoy more than the last one (the extraordinary episode ‘Blink’ being a noteworthy exception).

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