Well episode 1 of season 4 finally aired in the U.S. and I must say that I enjoyed watching our eccentric Doctor running around and tracking down clues with what suspiciously looked like a “flux capacitor” from Back to the Future; though the Doctor's device itself had nothing to do with time travel.
Anyway, I thought the episode was a great start, and much like the very first episode “Rose” of season 1 and the first episode of season 3 “Smith and Jones”, it focused a lot on introducing the Doctor’s new companion; even though we already know Dona Nobel from her Christmas special appearance. Perhaps, this was a way to re-introduce her as they tried hard to give her a slightly softer side this time; with what I think was only a mixed degree of success.
We of course got to see more of her family, her grandfather, a likeable stargazer we met before in "Voyage of the Damned", and more of her mother from “the Runaway Bride”, where we see Donna gets the vocal side of her personality. The scenes Donna had with her “gramps” seemed only good for telling us that Donna regretted letting her opportunity with the Doctor slip through her fingers. What we didn’t get though is what changed Donna’s mind about the Doctor and why she was no longer to some degree frightened of him or the thought of sharing his adventures. The only idea we get at all is that she somehow began to see the Doctor as a hero as the earth witnessed the intergalactic events that seemed to have come so close since she had last seen the Doctor.
I did very much enjoy the ongoing bit of the Doctor and Donna just missing one another. This theme extended also to other aspects of the show as well as Donna’s stargazer grandfather had his telescope facing the wrong way when an alien spacecraft passed behind him in the sky. It also was used at the end as we find out that Rose was just around the corner from the Doctor and the Tardis, just missing them. More on this in a moment.
I also thought the “conversation” between the Doctor and Donna through the windows, when the discovered one another was very witty and well performed. This is where Catherine Tate’s comedic skills really paid off. The “your not matting with me sunshine” line was also funny, but her over reaction to her misunderstanding of what the Doctor said was not quite as believable. I mean, I can see how someone could mishear the Doctor’s statement that he “wants a mate”, but something along the lines of “excuse me” or “did you just say…” makes more sense. I think most people would at least entertain the idea that hearing something as forward as they thought may have been do to hearing it wrong. Then again perhaps Donna is still a bit leery of “Alien boy”; yet she gave no other signs of it in this particular episode; in fact we are given the opposite impression.
As for the Doctor “wanting a mate”, we definitely get this message in the short scene where the Doctor finds himself talking to himself all alone in the Tardis. We are reminded that the RTD’s Doctor is “lonely” as the Face of Boe and Madame de Pompadour pointed out way back in seasons two. (Forget Rose Doctor, go get Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson played by Sophia Myles; now that would be a companion.) Anyway, the Doctor’s loneliness is clearly articulated in this episode, as well as his expressed desire for just a platonic relationship and companionship. We will just have to see what this means for the upcoming return of Rose and the romantic tension that existed between her and the Doctor.
Rose’s “return” as a deliberate foreshadowing of what will come by the end of the season was very appreciated; mostly because my wife doesn’t like spoilers and I was glad I did not have to work to keep the news of Rose’s return a secret anymore. Good thing my wife doesn’t visit this blog, I would have let the cat person right of the bag long ago. We don’t learn much except that Rose is still sad and perhaps still looking for the Doctor as she apparently found a way to move between worlds. Apparently, like Donna trying to find the Doctor by tracking down alien events, Rose was checking out this galactic encounter with the Adipose where we can assume she was hoping that where galactic trouble strikes the Doctor usually isn’t far away.
Ok, this was over all an enjoyable episode for one that was attempting to set the table for the season. By the way the “Bad wolf” type season arc reference may be “The bees are disappearing”; whatever that means. It seems like we have a lot of good stuff to look forward too.