RELEASED: April 5th 2008 – July 5th 2008
DISTRIBUTED BY: BBC
SHOWRUNNER: Russell T Davies
WRITTEN BY: Russell T Davies, James Moran, Keith Temple, Helen Raynor, Stephen Greenhorn, Gareth Roberts & Steven Moffat
DIRECTED BY: James Strong, Colin Teague, Graeme Harper, Douglas Mackinnon, Alice Troughton & Euros Lyn
MUSIC BY: Murray Gold
STARRING: David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman, Billie Piper, Alex Kingston, Bernard Cribbins, Jacqueline King, Sarah Lancashire, Peter Capaldi, Francesca Fowler, Karen Gillan, Tim McInnerny, Christopher Ryan, Dan Starkey, Rupert Holliday-Evans, Ryan Sampson, Georgia Moffett, Fenella Woolgar, Felicity Kendal, Felicity Jones, Tom Goodman-Hill, Colin Salmon, Talulah Riley, O. T. Fagbenle, Lesley Sharp, Rakie Ayola, Colin Morgan, Noma Dumezweni, Penelope Wilton, Gareth David-Lloyd, Eve Myles, Thomas Knight, Julian Bleach & Nicholas Briggs
REVIEW: After the so-so approach to the last series, series four really rounds out the David Tennant-led series’ on a high. I would even go so far as to claim there are no episodes that are ‘bad’ or even ‘fine’, they’re all good to great.
While some might argue that episodes such as Partners in Crime, Fires of Pompeii and Unicorn and the Wasp might not be among Doctor Who‘s best, they all have qualities that make them better than the majority of the last two series.
Series 4 sees the Doctor reunited with Donna Noble, who has been tracking him down since he changed her life forever a couple of years prior. Together with old friends such as Martha Jones, Rose Tyler, Sarah-Jane Smith and Captain Jack Harkness, they face greater threats than ever before, such as carnivorous shadows, Agatha Christie-esque murder mysteries, deadly spa-days, alternate time-lines and the ultimate victory of the Daleks.
This series combines all the best things of Russell T. Davies’ run on Doctor Who; high stakes, exciting adventures, fascinating new locales and monsters, and dramatic tension, as well shovelling on a good dose of comedy, primarily thanks to the wit of new companion played by Catherine Tate. There are honestly times in this series when I wouldn’t be surprised if they just allowed her to ad-lib, as you can see some of the actors around her on the brink of cracking up at her jokes.
Together, Tate and Tennant make he ideal pairing. Gone is the overdone romance plotlines, and finally, the Doctor is allowed to have a companion with whom he shares a genuine, friendly, chemistry. Tennant and Tate truly feel like they’re having fun here and that radiates out of the screen.
The threats they face are much better than they have been the past few series as if the show has finally reached its peak. Things popping up since series one have been expertly woven together, and there is fan-service and payoff aplenty. Watching this series makes you feel truly justified in being a Doctor Who fan, and it’s no wonder people look back on the Tennant era as being so ‘brilliant’ when it ends like this, despite the shortcomings of some of the episodes from prior series.
If I had to pick out faults, then I could only say that the finale isn’t quite as strong as the penultimate episode, but that can be forgiven, as, by that point, Davies is clearly just having fun with the toys he’s been setting up for the prior four years. But that doesn’t mean they’re ignoring any serious moments, as not only is this series both fun and funny, but it also takes time to further delve into the Doctor and those around him, and has some truly heartbreaking moments.
Series 4 is prime Doctor Who, and even after all these years, it manages to elicit the same emotions in me that it did when it first aired on TV, despite the fact that I already know what’s coming. The stakes still feel high. The actors are giving their best. The writers are firing on all cylinders and the crew is meeting all those high bars set.
All-in-all, I give it: