May 13, 2010

[TV] The New Doctor Who: Series 4

Doctor Who: Season 4The Doctor Who series of shows is known for a lot of changes. If this were any other show, then one could argue that any changes in casting would be a disaster for the show. But this is Doctor Who, a series that managed to write casting changes into the very nature of the universe.

As much as a change in who plays the Doctor is a significant thing, many tend to disregard the role of the companion in things. Companions change around a lot more than the Doctor and their function remains key since they represent the audience in these things. They're the average people dragged along for the ride and all the fantastic adventures that the Doctor manages to get into across the far reaches space until the very ends of time itself.

This was definitely one of those times when I wasn't all too sure about this particular shift in the role of the companion for the Doctor. But then by the end I was proven wrong. Shows what I know, eh?

The fourth season of the new Doctor Who still had David Tennant in the role of the time-travelling Doctor. However this time around he ends up with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, his new companion for the run of the season. We last met Donna Noble in the 2006 Christmas special, The Runaway Bride, and it was nice to see her expand from just being a one-time companion.

This season involved the return of some interesting characters and species from the past seasons and even from past serials of the show. The season helped further develop the role of the Ood in the storyline and brought back the Sontarans from long ago. The season also introduced new characters or new interactions like the episode involving THE Agatha Christie. One of the more striking characters brought into the series this time around was the enigmatic River Song, who apparently plays a larger role in the Doctor's life than just another limited companion.

Despite my initial concerns about Tate's ability to handle a full season of Doctor Who, I was very pleased to be proven wrong in the end. She was a nicely spunky companion for the Doctor to take on who had a nice, well, small town feel to her. She was the penultimate ordinary gal to get thrown into the mix and her chemistry with Tennant was something else. Not at all romantic - just the sort that you get with two very devoted friends who have traveled the universe together. Or something along those lines.

With the progress of this season, I find myself having a very difficult time choosing a particular episode (or episodes with an S) as my favorite/s. Silence in the Library certainly stands out because of (1) River Song, (2) the concept of the library and (3) the concept behind the threat presented in the episode. There was also The Unicorn and the Wasp, which was just a LOT of fun given how playful the concept was plus how they managed to tie everything together with Agatha Christie. Then of course there was big season-ender, which was okay but nothing overly stupendous as far as how Doctor Who seasn finales are written.

Plus the season also serves the function of laying the groundwork for the exit of David Tennant as the Doctor. The clues to his eventual "demise" so to speak are all over the place and despite knowing of his coming end, the Doctor just continued on in his normal manner, blazing forward through alien conspiracies and armies in the dark.

Season 4 of the new Doctor Who was a fun ride that remained functional in terms of the plot but entertaining overall. It gets 4 eerie songs of the Ood out of 5.

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