The fourth season of the no-longer-so-new Doctor Who is the same emotional rollercoaster of glee and heartbreak as the previous seasons; a ride that thrills and elates and makes tragedy worthwhile. After starting on a slightly weaker note with the flimsiest of the Christmas specials, Voyage of the Damned, season four picks up by reuniting the Tenth Doctor with Donna Noble, former runaway bride.
Although Donna's alternately insecure and brassy personality makes her initially less likable than the departed Martha Jones, Captain Jack and Rose Tyler, watching the character change over the season is one of the best story arcs the new Doctor Who has yet presented. Catherine Tate is superb at making Donna believable in all shades of her transformation from lowly temp to "the most important woman in the universe". With David Tennant's continually flawless Tenth Doctor, season four offers some of the best written, most memorable episodes, including the mystery-laden "Silence in the Library", "The Unicorn and the Wasp" a fantasic historical vignette in which the Doctor and Donna meet Agatha Christie, and the brilliant alternate reality of "Turn Left".
And the ending, as always, is a star-spangled punch to the gut with moments of uplifting delight and crashing lows. Earth faces its greatest threat yet, and the Doctor confronts bitter truths about himself and his impact on the humans he meets. Reuniting all of the Doctor's companions in an epic battle that alters the Doctor's path forever, the finale of season four is the kind of rare, riveting television that you enjoy every minute of and hate to see end.
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"JOURNEY'S END?".....not on your life SUNSHINE!!
Kevin J. Loria | New Orleans, LA USA | 08/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The major dynamic of Doctor Who has always been one of change, after all it IS a show about a 900+ year-old face-swapping, regenerating Timelord with no-fixed-abode, each week an entirely new location, with a new cast of characters. It's because of this dynamic that the series has had such (multimedia) longevity. With series 4, of the new series we see a continuation of this, with the return of Donna Noble from the Christmas Invasion Special of 2006. But, this isn't the same Donna, she herself has changed as a character for having adventured with the Doctor, although she still, thankfully, is not as in awe of the Doctor as Rose in series 1, or in love as Rose in series 2, or struck love-sick with the unobtainable man as Martha in series 3. Donna has a unique perspective on the Doctor and his universe, almost seeing herself as an equal, if unsure of her abilities, but not so completely trusting of the Doctor. As Rose grew into the role of companion, so does Donna, but her journey isn't as simple, she may be the everyman companion (like Sally Sparrow or the men of LINDA). The show's overall perspective has changed, Rose and Martha held the point of view, unraveling the mysteries (for the viewer) of the Doctor and his world, especially with the angry and enigmatic Chris E's 9th Doctor. But now with David Tennant's 10th Doctor the audience knows more about the "last of the Timelords" than any companion, we don't need the companion as an anchor, thus we has Donna on an even playing field, and an excuse to bring back Martha (also changed for her travels)...an maybe Rose?
This season the series has no major catchwords like "BAD WOLF" or "TORCHWOOD" and who can forget "MR. SAXON." Season 4 is bound by other elements, a person, phrase, a prophetic statement/question, a place, building up, so pay attention. These elements aren't clues from this season alone, but references planted going as far back as the first season, or a recently as quotes from the Master in last season's finale, remember "The Crucible," "Medusa Cascade" or the "Shadow Proclaimation?"
What else this season has is loads of great stories from award-winning writers and loads of great performances from award-winning celebrity cameos: Nigel Terry (Excalibur), kylie Minogue, Felicity Kendal, Alex Kingston (ER), Colin Salmon (MI6), Christopher Ryan (the Young Ones), Geoffrey Palmer, Georgia Moffett (the Last Detective) and more. Of course, there are loads of great performances from the series regulars. David Tennant ads so much depth to what was a relatively static character, in the series original successful run. His Doctor still enabling the everyman to act, to be a hero. Along with Catherine Tate, their sense of pathos and comedic timing are nothing short of A-list quality.
DVD set includes:(mild spoilers follow...)
Time Crash: a fully finished short for the "Children in Need" UK charity featuring the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) meeting the 10th Doctor, written by Steven Moffat.This is a direct precursor to the 2007 Christmas Special, in fact it really occurs a few minutes before the final seconds of Season 3's finale.
"The Voyage of the Damned" or the 2007 Christmas Special. Now a Christmas Day tradition, since the 10th Doctor, newly regenerated came to our screens, this is the 3rd such special. This special is very derivative of the action film genre, more so that the previous specials, or Doctor Who as a whole. Moments very-like the Die Hard of your choice appear throughout "Voyage" while Tennant's Doctor is somewhat muted early on here. The Doctor this time out is rescuing the passengers and crew of the Starship TITANIC, a intergalactic cruise liner visiting scenic Earth, where disaster ensues and the Doctor's promises of salvation to the nicely eclectic gallery of survivors proves to be to much to handle. The Sweet, but over-rated and inappropriately aged Kylie Minogue as Astrid, a temp companion who dreams of seeing the galaxy, help the Doctor to resolve the sinister corporate machinations of Max Capricorn, at an extreme cost. Some elements are the angelic robo-baddies, homage to "the Robots of Death" and another classic iconic juxtaposition of holiday imagery.
The first of the real season is "Partners in Crime" in which we rejoin Donna Noble from the Runaway Bride special and for an opening night episode, it still feel like on of the specials. It is fun, face-paced and over-the-top, it too has some Die Hard moments. Since turning down the Doctor's initial offer to travel, she has changed her mind and been investigating on her own hoping to one day run into the Doctor, and so she does. She also runs into CEO, Miss Foster who offers an unsuspecting public new way to lose weight with a sinister secret, well sinister may be to harsh a word, but let's just say that the fat "just walks away." This one, is a bit of fun fluff, but the episode closer offers quite a twist.
The second of the season is "The Fires of Pompeii" or should I say "Volcano Day." Filmed in Rome on the massive set from the HBO/BBC sets and other Mediterranean locales, we see some of the hard historical choices the Doctor must make, a choice I though he would have faced on the real Titanic, had it not been a Starship. In a fixed point in history...Who lives and who dies in the eruption of Vesuvius? This one has got it all, molten rock monsters, togas and Donna pleading for the Doctor to save someone. From the opening to the ending of this one Donna is asking so great and obvious questions (for example, if the TARDIS translates English to Latin & Latin to English, what happens when you speak Latin?).
The third episode "Planet of the OOD" resolves the plight of the subservient, tentacle-mouthed slaves from The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit of 2006. The Doctor didn't really do right by them the last time around, but in his defense he was busy fighting the Devil. The OOD are both creepy and sympathetic simultaneously. This time the OOD are more than just tools, and yet again we have the motif of an evil CEO who needs comeuppance (3 of 4).
The fourth and fifth episodes "The Sontaran Stratagem" and "Poison Sky" obviously see the return of the potato-headed clone soldiers (pre-dating Lucas' clone troopers from "the Time Warrior"). This 2 parter also sees the return of UNIT and Dr. Martha Jones and if you missed her episodes of Torchwood series 2, she is a more confident, bolder character than when she and the Doctor parted ways. This one has another evil corporation and evil SAT-NAVs. These two are great "old school" episodes, Christopher Ryan brilliantly plays Sontaran General Staal. Watch the TARDIS monitor for another clue to the season finale.
The sixth episode title was kept secret until the week before broadcast, "the Doctor's Daughter." This is a really nicely done story, with some great casting Including Nigel Terry (King Arthur from Excalibur) and Georgia Moffett (who is really the Doctor's daughter, 5th Doctor Peter Davison's real kid, who was nearly cast as Rose for 2005). Penned by Stephen Greenhorn, who wrote last season Lazarus Experiment, setting out to write a story that forever leaves the central character changed by the end.
The seventh episode, the Wasp and the Unicorn, is the latest from writer Gareth Roberts, the "historical cameo" king. Having written Charles Dickens & Christmas Ghosts, Queen Victoria meeting a werewolf and Shakespeare with Witches, who better to write a manor house mystery with Agatha Christie? Done with spinning newspaper, flashbacks and a body in the study, this one is a really Doctor-Who-dunnit (sorry). It has lots of cameos, some Dr. Who vets and David Tennant's DAD as the BUTLER!
The long awaited 2-parter from writer 2 time HUGO-award winner Steven Moffat (Blink, Empty Child), "Silence in the Library" and "the Forest of the Dead" has awards written all over it. The shadows themselves are the enemy on a planet-sized Library and who is the mysterious archeologist River Song, who seems to intimately familiar with the Doctor, could she be Mrs. The Doctor? ...Anyway, if you read any of the New Adventures (of Doctor Who) in the 90's the spirit of this story will seem a very familiar homage (Google Prof. Benny Summerfield for more, irony here is her creator Paul Cornell didn't write an episode this season). River Song is played perfectly by the beautiful and talented Alex Kingston, adds to the increasing foreboding clues toward a bleak something on the horizon for Donna.
Episode ten, "Midnight" while Donna relaxes poolside the Doctor goes on a 4 hour tour (you just can trust them). The Doctor and an unlikely tour group visit the surface of the "unihabited/unihabitable" planet of Midnight...but who's outside and who has gotten in? A great answer to the Voyage of the Damned in which a disaster brings out the best in mankind, here we see people turn on each other (and the Doctor) in fear, human nature at its ugliest. This "bottle" episode contained to the "space-truck's" cabin, is claustrophobic and although it contains no monster reveal it is one of the season's most frightening shows since the angels. Props to the sound crew/editors on this one, no visual effects make the sound all the more important! Also, after the 5th Doctor's real daughter, we this time get the 2nd Doctor's son David Troughton is onboard.
Episode eleven "Turn Left" again by RTD himself leading us into the dark waters of the season four 3 part finale to come...hold on! This Doctor-light episode sees the special return of an companion and UNIT as things begin to get bad as a threat to more than just the Earth is revealed.
Episode twelve, "The Stolen Earth" the Doctor's team prepare to battle the new ***** Empire, lead by *****.
Final episode, concluding the tight 3 part story arc, "Journey's End"! Like last season, the season finale features the return of another major classic Dr. Who villain!
Fear not, next season WILL have a Christmas special and 4 more specials to hold us over `til "delayed" season 5 airs. The specials will be the last produced by the remaining original 2005 team as Executive producer Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson has already left and Executive Producer Russell T. Davies will leave following the specials. Steven Moffat will take over for RTD. The full 5th season (2010) may be the time for 10th Doctor's own Journey to end, remember what I said about change, don't worry about that for now, just enjoy this amazing 14 episode DVD set."
The incredible highs compensate...
B. Starbuck | Denver, CO United States | 08/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...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!"
Already on the 4th season and no signs of slowing down
CS112 gja7 | 10/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It wasn't too long ago that the new series of Doctor Who started up, and before that day, I had only heard of the show in passing. I gave it a shot, and coming from a clean slate, I found I loved the show and have been watching it even since. One of the things that really captivated me about the show was anything was possible. You could be watching an epic space battle one episode, then on to meeting Shakespeare in the next. All the while, the show delivers on comedy and even some drama, the show is definitely a step higher in that department from what I have heard and seen since I started watching this show compared to the original.
A basic summary of your average episode would be that the Doctor and his current companion(s) travel through time and space, sometimes visiting famous events and helping out the locals with and alien related problems they might have. David Tennant has done a remarkable job in his acting, always coming up with odd yet funny quotes to relate to the situation.
One thing that I imagine might turn people away from buying this is the price tag. Compared to most other shows, it costs 2-3 times as much, but if you are a fan of the show or even have just seen a few and like it, I have found that I have been rewatching the episodes over and over again. Now season 4 isn't out yet, but in my opinion, the show is continuing on as strong as ever, even with fairly regular cast replacement, most new characters I have found to be just as good if not better than the last."
BLOODY EXCELLENT !!!
Stefan Raffetseder | JAPAN | 08/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It just keeps getting better and better !!! The 4th series is nothing short of excellent !!! Charismatic David Tennant has really settled into the role comfortably by this his third series. Catherine Tate, companion Donna is re-introduced as a regular this series as does Martha makes a welcome return for the Sontaran story but many fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of a new and tougher Rose Tyler. Plus it boasts the return of Davros & the Sontarans, also the Daleks & the Ood,and a mysterious woman from Doctor Who's own personal future,alas the rumour mill is running wild on the internet but I am patient to just enjoy the final outcome on DVD as I have little choice but to wait as I live in Japan.
I don't wanna bore you so I will try to give you a brief outline of the episodes recently screened in Great Britain including the Xmas Cracker;
1 - Voyage of the Damned (2007 Xmas Special with Kylie & the Titanic in Space) 2 - Partners In Crime (reunites Donna & the Doctor, Sarah Lancashire leads a fatty invasion in modern day London) 3 - The Fires of Pompeii (The Doctor tries to stop a crazy alien cult from creating more chaos in Pompeii on the eve of its destruction) 4 - Planet of the Ood (We visit the Ood in the 42nd Century and find out what slavery and rebellion is all about) 5 - The Sontaran Stratagem (Martha recalls the Doctor back to Earth to help stop an invasion based at Rattigan Academy) 6 - The Poison Sky (The second part of the Sontaran invasion as they hope to re-create the earth as a power base for their clones) 7 - The Doctor's Daughter (Starring 'ironically' Peter Davison's daughter Georgia Moffet on a war-torn planet as 2 factions fight it out) 8 - The Unicorn and the Wasp (The story of famous writer Agatha Christie's missing 10 days) 9 - Silence in the Library (Another 2-parter introducing a woman from Dr Who's future and for Donna a phantasmic love story or is it?) 10 - Forest of the Dead (Killer shadows,a million million lifeforms and silence in the library) 11 - Midnight (A hostile Alien gains entry to a shuttlecraft thats broken down en route to a sapphire waterfall with the Doctor trapped on board with a bunch of paranoid half wits) 12 - Turn Left (A meaty role for Donna set on an alternative reality where she never met the Doctor and everything takes a turn for the worse) 13 - The Stolen Earth (Guest starring just about everybody from the previous 3 series - the Doctor and Donna,with Sarah Jane,Rose,Martha,Torchword are Earth's mighty heroes and are challenged by the new Dalek Empire and also guest starring whats gotta be the BBC's worst kept secret in Dr Who history,the return of the 'nasty' Davros). 14 - Journeys End (All loose ends are tied up in this magnificent episode which whizzes thru actionco. spectacularly for an hr leaving you tearful and a little disappointed at its conclusion).
So thats the end of another whizz bang fantastic series,next up are the return of the Cybermen in the X-mas 2008 special so lots to look forward too with a new Producer taking over the reins of Doctor Who. But it doesn't matter, this is a great series well crafted with carefully thought out plots and not let down by an excellent cast and guest stars. This DVD boxset would make an fantastic Christmas present and is on my X-mas wishlist plus to make sure I've also put it on everyone else's wishlist so someone's gotta buy it for me PLEASE :)
The Extras are fantastic,its loaded with extras,lots of extras only...I dont know what the hell they are except that you can pretty much guess what they'll be,there'll be the eXcellent CHILDREN IN NEED special with Peter Davison (or is it Peter 'Davidson' as Amazon UK so love incorrectly spelling it) and all the Series 4 Doctor Who confidentials seen on BBC Tv only extended I feel sure so well worth the wait and the money once the price goes down.
Doctor Who, after 45 years has finally fused the whopping great void between Science Fiction and Drama, small wonder its been firmly established as the BBC's flagship TV Show finally giving Doctor Who the respect it deserves after many many years in the wilderness. Regardless of what many 'fans' say I think Russell Davies has done an excellent job as producer on Doctor Who and we should thank him for his drive and vision in getting the damn show back on the air after so long being without it and lets not spoil it by treating the man like a pariah like so many 'fans' did with John Nathan Turner 20 years ago, lets just be thankful Dr Who is back and not only that its the Number 1 SF/Drama in England if not the World, or indeed the 'Universe' as the Doctor himself would say. The End...for now...."