In the first episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, the Doctor investigates some strange events concerning Adipose Industries and discovers that his old companion, Donna Noble, has been doing a little snooping of her own. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
Best episode ever or BEST FUCKING EPISODE EVER? Russell T Davies, this is EASILY the best opener for any new series yet and this might be your finest work. It’s hilarious, it’s surreal, it’s ambiguous, and OH MY GOD CATHERINE TATE IS BACK!!!1!!!1!!1
Not to suggest that there was anything necessarily wrong with the past few episodes/special, but “Partners in Crime” gave the show a much-needed dose of healthy humor and set the tone for how Catherine Tate and David Tennant would interact with each other. Most of what made “The Runaway Bride” such a fun episode was the antagonistic and hilarious chemistry between the Doctor and Donna. In short, Donna straight up does not take any shit from the Doctor. I now can’t find the comment since I need it and this is how these things works, but someone mentioned in a recent review that the Doctor has no one to reign him in, that Donna mentioned in the end of “The Runaway Bride” that he actually needed someone to stop him. Little did we know that tiny bit of foreshadowing would lead to where we are now, with Donna accepting the position as the Doctor’s companion, but in terms where she doesn’t worship or romanticize him.
There’s so much about this episode that involves complicated maneuvers of writing and plotting and the way it’s pulled off is a huge pay off. We first learn that the man in the newspaper stand is actually DONNA’S FUCKING GRANDFATHER OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK. Donna, in the year since she last saw the Doctor, seems to have slipped into a rut that leaves her feeling incomplete and wanting so much more from life. I like that this isn’t framed as some sort of dependent relationship either, that Donna doesn’t need the Doctor as much as she wants the freedom that his adventure with her sparked in her mind. We’ve seen it before with other companions in the past, especially Rose, and I can’t imagine I’d act any differently. How do you go about your normal life after you’ve seen what the Doctor has seen?
This is the set-up for the episode, and what follows is the frustrating parallel actions by the Doctor and Donna. (I mean that entirely as a compliment.) The two come within feet of each other as they begin to investigate Adipose Industries, a company marketing some sort of “revolutionary” weight loss pill that’s being spread across London. Like nearly every story like this on the show, you immediately get the feeling that there’s something sinister going on. Watching Miss Foster speak certainly didn’t help that. (Bless you, Sarah Lancashire, you were perfect in this role.)
And because we’re so used to this trope being used on Doctor Who, that makes the “reveal” about what the pill does all the more horrifying AND confusing. The company’s slogan is, “The fat just walks away.” We discover that this is COMPLETELY FUCKING LITERAL. We watch in horror and disbelief as a small white alien DETACHES ITSELF FROM THE BODY OF A WOMAN THAT DONNA IS MEETING WITH. Even worse? The creature is about as threatening as giving hugs to puppy dogs and then cuddling with a unicorn. I kept expecting the Adipose to eat someone. Or shoot lasers out of their eyes. Or tap into the riff in Cardiff or something and open the space-time continuum. Instead, the Adipose giggled and waved. Giggled and waved.
The most ambiguous and confusing villains OF ALL FUCKING TIME.
The real terror, though, comes from the idea that, in an emergency, the Adipose can spawn so quickly that they can actually use up an entire host’s body. But that only happens once. Hell, by the episode’s end, all I could think was…WELL, THAT WASN’T TOO BAD, WAS IT? Some people lost some weight, these cute, pudgy aliens will get to go home to their families, and only two people died. All in all, a pretty decent turn out, especially for Doctor Who.
It might be the events of the previous year or even Donna’s presence throughout this, but the Doctor has finally started to change. The Doctor and Donna both meet up finally and…wait, ok, first we need a moment to celebrate the monumental mime scene between the two of them when they spot each other in Adipose Industries. What I love so much about Donna is that her joy is so genuine and real and it was impossible for me not to giggle uncontrollably as she dragged the miming out way past the point it should have stopped at. Her face lit up at the sight of the Doctor and that was SO SATISFYING TO WATCH.
Anyway, it’s important to note a couple huge changes we see here: Firstly, the Doctor doesn’t kill the aliens in “Partners in Crime,” the polar opposite of what he did with the Racnoss the last time he and Donna were together. I don’t know if it was that specific memory that made him decide to allow the Adipose to leave, but we finally see the Doctor issuing some restraint. Despite that he also doesn’t say it to the person who needs to hear it, he also acknowledges that what he did to Martha Jones was pretty awful. The Doctor’s invitation to Donna might be the most complicated and emotional, but he knows that he has to be clear from now on: his relationship with his companion is just that. It’s a companionship. It’s someone to travel with, not someone to fall in love with.
I could not be more excited that Catherine Tate is going to be in a full season run. OH GOD.
- When was the last time we heard about the “Shadow Proclamation”?
- I don’t care how cheesy it is, but having Donna’s grandfather see the Doctor and Donna together was pretty awesome.
- “You’re not matin’ with me Sunshine!”
- Is it bad that I want an Adipose of my own to hang out with? THEY ARE SO CUTE!
- Oh, poor Penny Carter. Continually ignored!
- It would take a LOT for Donna’s mom and grandfather to take the title over, but man, they are SO GOOD IN JUST ONE EPISODE. Jackie still wins as best companion mom, though.
- I actually kind of feel bad that Miss Foster died? She wasn’t that evil to me at all. I mean, she certainly wasn’t in the right but being dropped to her death like that? That made me sad.
- Ok, I know you’ve been waiting for it. I have to. So:
HOW THE FUCK IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE THAT ROSE TYLER WAS AT THAT CRIME SCENE
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON
I WILL NEVER RECOVER FROM THIS