The Series 4 opener was a good (re-)introduction for Donna Noble, now to be taken on as the Doctor’s full-time companion, but the episode was not without its faults. The main issue that stuck out like a swollen part of the anatomy was the almost facepalm-inducing story premise. It’s about an alien species growing living fat babies from obese humans. I’m not quite sure what was going through RTD’s mind when he decided this was a cracking idea for a series opener… I really can’t comprehend it. What made it worse was that those walking fat babies were realised in CGI so comically (I mean that in a bad way). It was just silly. More than ever before, this show felt like a children’s show. Series 4 is an exceptional series on the whole, but its opener is probably its weakest point for the inane storyline. Granted, this opener was more about introducing Donna—which it did exceptionally—than the plot, but given the quality of previous companion introduction episodes, Smith and Jones and Rose, I’m not as disposed to overlook the poor story that I might have been.
Onto Donna. I liked the Ten-Donna partnership in The Runaway Bride, so of course it’s excellent to see them together again. Donna was re-introduced really well here. She was shown to be a frustrated woman; all the motivation and the energy to make something of herself that the Doctor had inspired in her the last time they met was seemingly frustrated as she found seeing the world and doing something with her life “easier said than done”. This received beautiful exposition in some touching dialogue between Donna and Wilf under the stars as Donna spoke wistfully of her longing to find the Doctor again. It’s all the more ecstatic when the Doctor and Donna are reunited again, in that genuinely hilarious scene involving the Doctor and Donna playing charades through the windows at Adipose Industries. I think the tone of the Doctor’s accepting Donna as his companion at the end of the story was really optimistic and sweet, and I’m looking forward to seeing their “matey” partnership play out over Series 4. One more thing—I like the way Donna has been toned down from her “shouty fishwife” characterisation in The Runaway Bride and made a gentler person. It’s a sensible character development: Donna seems more jaded and humbled than she was when we saw her last. I think her experiences at Christmas and since have given her a lot to think about, which has ultimately changed her outlook and attitude.
Wilf, by the way, is already shaping up to be an excellent recurring character. Also, that cameo of Rose’s was stupefying, and a just a bit hair-raising. Although of course I know what’s coming, it’s clearly setting up something big for the finale, and did that brilliantly. I only wish I’d been a Doctor Who fan when that was first broadcast, so I could hear the sound of fans’ jaws around the world dropping in dumbfounded unison.