Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 4

“Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble has been saved”

And here we are, my favourite series of Doctor Who. So much huge wonderfulness and even its less good moments are still more than halfway decent. Key to the series’ success is Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble – gobby and one-dimensional in her introductory episode the Christmas special The Runaway Bride, her character journey throughout this season is magisterially constructed, a true awakening of self (with thankfully no romantic inclinations towards our Time Lord) and one given unbearable poignancy due to its frustratingly tragic end.

It’s also one of the best constructed series in terms of its over-arching season arc, its warnings and clues layered meaningfully into several stories and building into a momentous and properly climactic finale, which lands just about the right level of grandiosity. There’s also the first companion-lite episode (the superbly creepy Midnight) to go with the Doctor-lite one (the achingly beautiful dystopian Turn Left); a typically brilliant Moffat double-header in  Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead with gorgeous work from Alex Kingston as the soon-to-be-hugely-significant River Song; and if the return of Rose undoes some of the emotional impact of the Series 2 finale, Billie Piper’s work is spikily powerful. These are episodes I can, and have, watched over and over again.

Episodes, in order of preference

Turn Left
Silence in the Library
Forest of the Dead
The Unicorn and the Wasp
The Stolen Earth
Journey’s End
Planet of the Ood
The Fires of Pompeii
Voyage of the Damned
Partners in Crime
The Sontaran Stratagem
The Poison Sky
The Doctor’s Daughter

Top 5 guest spots

1 Fenella Woolgar’s marvellously layered Agatha Christie
2 Ryan Sampson’s brattish teenage genius Luke Rattigan
3 Sarah Lancashire’s nanny in the stars Miss Foster
4 Lesley Sharp’s technical brilliance (along with everything else) as Sky Sylvestri
5 And serving up Winifred Bambera-style realness, Noma Dumezweni’s Captain Erisa Magambo

Saddest death

You have to admire Kylie’s gumption, not only securing a guest star role as Astrid Peth but securing her place in the annals as one of the few companions to perish in the line of duty. Special mention to the truly haunting demise of Talulah Riley’s Miss Evangelista in The Library.

Most wasted guest actor

O-T Fagbenle’s Other Dave, I just love him too much to be satisfied with anything less than a lead role.

Most important thing that is never mentioned again

THE REALITY BOMB – yet another all-powerful weapon that no-one else has tried to use

Gay agenda rating

B – loving the casual references to characters’ sexualities (ie Sky in Midnight) and the pointed recognition of the contemporary difficulties – of the flirting boys in The Unicorn and the Wasp



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