Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Doctor Who: Partners In Crime

Donna: 'I'm waving at fat.'

After 'The Runaway Bride,' I was unsure whether having Catherine Tate as a permanent companion would be good for the show. There's already a thick seam of humour running through Nu-Who—would the introduction of a renowned comedienne upset the already precarious balance of humour and drama? Thankfully, her character this season was a far cry from the Donna we saw back in 'The Runaway Bride'. This was a more vulnerable and wistful Donna. Gone is the shouting fishwife—and I have to say, I think it was a change for the better.

It was nice too, to see the return of Wilfred Mott (capably played by the wombling free Bernard Cribbins). Cribbins had a small role in last year's episode 'Voyage of the Damned', but as with Donna, they've substantially fleshed out his character. He's now Donna's grandfather: a Chiswick allotment holder, with a keen interest in amateur astronomy. The allotment scenes were where I actually started to like Donna. When she's not bawling at people, she's actually quite sweet. And I loved the mime scenes between her and the Doctor. Ridiculous, of course, but so brilliantly acted by Tate and Tennant, that you couldn't help but smile.

At heart, this was really a children's story. The Adipose were nauseatingly sweet, from their fat fingered waves, to their cute, albeit blubbersome, bodies. They reminded me of baked potatoes. They also had 'action figure tie-in' written all over them. Not long after this episode aired, some ingenious fan called Mazzmatazz published instructions on her website on how to make Adipose toys out of wool. She also published knitting patterns for the Ood—until the BBC forced her to take them down. Which is a shame really. Google 'adipose knitted toys' if you're curious. Cute, or what?

For adults, however, the Adipose were a pretty feeble effort. To be honest, I'm not sure the visual effects team could have done much to enhance them. They were just too featureless, which I suppose was intentional—fat is pretty devoid of personality—but they never really looked like anything other than CGI-ed blobs. Maybe it was the concept which failed, as opposed (adipose?) to their on-screen representations.

I've always liked Sarah Lancashire. I'm not sure why exactly, her character in Corrie was as limp as a limpet's limp bits, and she does tend to get stereotyped with somewhat drippy roles. So the character of Miss Foster was a real departure for her. She was like an evil Mary Poppins. She even flew up into the sky at the end. Thankfully, Tennant's mockney accent is marginally more believable than Dick Van Dyke's... but I digress, Miss Foster (or Cofelia) was a curious foe. The Adipose actually helped people to lose weight, so Miss Foster wasn't a villain in the traditional sense of the word. Her breeding plan actually benefited mankind. At least at first.

And the scenes aboard the TARDIS, with the Doctor speaking aloud, before remembering he was alone, were really quite touching. The TARDIS looked enormous with only him inside. Time for a new companion, methinks. I mean, it's not as if Rose is coming back, is she? Okay, well I guess she is, but I was still moderately surprised to see her so early in the season. I have to confess, despite me not enjoying her second season as much as her first, seeing her again was a real thrill. Maybe Russell can undo some of the damage he did to her character. Or at the very least make her less annoying.

Other Thoughts:

—How exactly did Stacey's contorted skin just turn into fat? And how do the Adipose get out without breaking the skin?

—I wish they'd shown us how the Doctor got Donna in through the window. She was too high up, wasn't she? And if Miss Foster had dead-locked the building, how did the Doctor open the window below Donna?

—Do the Adipose have teeth? Teeth made of fat? Surely not?

—Miss Foster's full title was Matron Cofelia of the Five Straighten Classabindi Nursery Fleet, Intergalactic Class.

—Adipose Three is one of the 27 planets which were moved to the Medusa Cascade in 'The Stolen Planet'.

—We had our first reference to the bees disappearing tonight.

Quotes:

Penny: "Oi, you two! You're just mad, do you hear me? Mad! And I'm going to report you for... madness!"

The Doctor: "You've got a hatbox."
Donna: "Planet of the hats, I'm ready."

Donna: "Some people just can't take it... and some people can! So then! TARDIS! Come on!"

The Doctor: "With Martha, like I said, it got... complicated. And that was all my fault. I just want a mate.
Donna: "You just want to mate?"
The Doctor: "I just want a mate."
Donna: "You're not mating with me, sunshine!"
Doctor: "A mate, I want a mate!"
Donna: "Well, just as well, cos I'm not having any of that nonsense! You're just a long streak of nothing!"

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