Doctor Who – Partners in Crime

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. Hopefully it won’t happen again any time soon. I’m aware that this is a bit of an odd review to be posting now, four weeks into the run of the new series, but every year I’ve wanted to review the whole series and every year I’ve failed due to having unscheduled breaks from blogging. So if putting up late reviews en masse is the way I have to do it, then so be it.

I have to say that Russell T Davies’ series openers have come to disappoint me. I found Rose enjoyable, but sillier than I like as a Doctor Who fan and felt that it was an opener that did its job of making the introductions and nothing more. New Earth struck me as a silly, unsatisfying, poorly written mess; though, being fair, it was apparently rescheduled as the season opener last minute, so perhaps I should let it off. The only one that I’ve actually been impressed with and that felt like a good statement of intent was series three’s Smith and Jones. I shouldn’t have expected Partners in Crime to do anything more than reacquaint the audience with Donna, yet here I was expecting a satisfying adventure.

For me, Doctor Who is many things at once. It’s action, it’s horror, it’s drama, and, whether you like it or not, it’s comedy. I’ve always preferred the more horror-oriented stories, but that’s just my personal taste. Partners in Crime was fun. It had a lot of funny moments and it had a lot of action-packed, hair-raising moments. I enjoyed watching it. Yet something was missing for me. Its tone lacked any sense of real gravitas. The deaths seemed too silly to take seriously, to the point where I just didn’t know how to react to the sickening crunch of Miss Foster’s demise.

Even at their daftest, Doctor Who villains manage to be threatening. It’s what they’re there for; they’re antagonists. Here, the villains just didn’t seem that villainous. The plot could have come together without the deaths of the innocent dieters who bought into the pill. In fact, the only thing wrong with the situation appears to have been a piece of intergalactic law (that us poor Earthlings don’t know is protecting us) preventing mass breeding by alien species. The threat posed by the antagonists was minimal, and possibly even created by the Doctor’s interference. Miss Foster and the lardlings weren’t Doctor Who monsters, they were just plot fillers.

That’s not to say there weren’t some very positive things about this episode. Frankly, I could watch Bernard Cribbins’ Wilf all day. And I have a lot of time for Donna as a character. She’s the sort of annoying character that grows on you where others just grate harder on your nerves. And it was a funny episode. In fact, it was an enjoyable episode. It’s just a shame the plot seemed so vacuous on closer examination.

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~ by Scary Rob on 30 April, 2008.

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