Spoilers for the proper fourth season premiere of "Doctor Who" coming up just as soon as I polish my telescope...
(And please note, "Battlestar Galactica" fans, that my review probably won't be done until sometime tomorrow.)
I'm sure it's tempting to spend the entirety of this evening discussing the unexpected appearance (and then disappearance) of Rose Tyler at episode's end -- even if you knew Billie Piper was coming back, I don't think anyone expected it to be this soon -- but that would be to shortchange the heart of "Partners in Crime," which was the reunion of The Doctor and Donna Noble.
(Also, as a new season begins, let's once again remind everybody that we're following the American broadcast schedule, so no spoilers, or hints, or any other cutesie stuff about episodes that have already aired in Britain. The fact that we're only a few weeks behind instead of several months is a big plus compared to last season, but I don't want anybody to get spoiled.)
As a sketch comedienne, Catherine Tate doesn't do a lot for me, and while her over-the-top shrieking in "The Runaway Bride" fit the storyline, I don't think anybody would have tolerated that version of Donna as The Doctor's ongoing companion -- least of all The Doctor himself. But time and the realization that she should have accepted The Doctor's travel offer has mellowed Donna somewhat, and by the end of "Partners In Crime," she stands as someone I'm going to enjoy having around for a while.
I think it would have gotten tiresome quickly if Martha's replacement were yet another pretty girl with a crush on The Doctor. The tradition of the original series had great companion diversity, and I'm glad to not have three in a row of the same type. Donna isn't worldly, and she can be a brat, but she's also mature enough to see The Doctor through unfiltered eyes, and to be able to call him on his bad behavior in a way that Rose never was, and that it took Martha forever to do. This should be a lot of fun -- as suggested by the hilarious pantomimed reunion scene through the two windows. (This was, I know some fans have suggested, a spoof of the much more dramatic scene from "42" where The Doctor and Martha were trapped on opposite sides of an airlock, but I didn't catch the parallel and still found it a scream.)
What I found especially interesting about the episode was how, with one exception, what the alien nanny was doing wasn't so terrible. Yes, that one woman died, but that was an accident -- and the result of Donna looking into the company in the first place. Perhaps things might have become more nefarious had the plan not been disrupted by The Doctor and Donna, but thus far it was pretty much a win-win: the fatties of Earth got to lose some weight, and the aliens got to breed more cute marshmallow-y babies. In my column last week, I noted that this story was similar to the alien cola plot from the "Sarah Jane Adventures" premiere, but there the aliens' intentions were completely evil; here, they were (for now) simply exploiting an unneeded Earth surplus.
Looking forward to how this season plays out, and how many times David Tennant is asked to give the same expression that one of the "Arrested Development" characters did whenever they declared they had just made a terrible mistake. Arrogant god that he is, he had forgotten altogether about inviting Donna along on the TARDIS party, and the princess luggage didn't exactly have him feeling he had made a wise choice by extending the invite a second time.
What did everybody else think? And are you happy that Rose is going to come back in some form?