Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E02 – The Fires of Pompeii

In the second episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, Donna and the Doctor travel to Pompeii on the even of the famous volcano eruption, setting into motion a terrible future. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

I didn’t expect Donna Noble to have such a huge effect on the Doctor so quickly. I got a sense from “Partners in Crime” that the Doctor was taking on a companion who was quick to call him out, to reign in his relentless personality and force him to think a bit more about his decisions. But it makes sense that the two of them would already start to clash before we got further into the season.

“The Fires of Pompeii” is a slow builder and I wasn’t completely sold by the story for most of the first half. The side characters in the cast aren’t…well, they aren’t particularly memorable, are they? They serve to asset moving the plot along, but I never felt particularly attached to any of them by the episode’s end. I guess that counts as a criticism, but I think I’m ultimately ok with it in this instance because what this script ends up doing is monumental.

The idea of sticking the two time travelers into a fixed point of history intrigued me, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what the Doctor and Donna could do about a volcanic explosion that already happened. As the episode continued to unfold and we were introduced to the not-so-creepy Sybilline Sisterhood, as well as the creepy-ish creature that lives underground, all I could think was, “………….ok? I DON’T KNOW WHERE THIS IS HEADING AT ALL.”

The first moment that grabbed my attention was when the Doctor and Donna head to Caecilius’s house to retrieve the TARDIS and Lucius shows up. I don’t think these people are bad actors or anything, but I just couldn’t get myself invested in this story. The Doctor and Donna had no choice at that point but to leave Pompeii. As the Doctor told Donna, much to her dismay, he can’t change fixed points in time.

And then Evelina and Lucius start dropping bombs. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. How did she know he was the Doctor? How did Lucius know Gallifrey? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

It’s at this point that episode seriously feels like it speeds up to an almost lightning speed, as the pieces of the puzzle falls into place. Why does Lucius have an energy converter? AND THEN THE FUCKING PYROVILLE, THE MOST INCONVENIENT MONSTER ON DOCTOR WHO YET. No, seriously, it took a bucket of water to disable it. That is hilarious and it also opens up the Doctor to later use a water gun, which makes it brilliant.

But let’s get to the horrifying, genius heart of the episode: The Doctor was never supposed to stop the eruption of Vesuvius, despite that Donna does her best to convince people to leave, to save someone from the destruction that is about to come. It doesn’t matter who he cares for or how persuasive Donna’s arguments are. Vesuvius must happen. The Doctor discovers that the Pyroviles have been deceiving the Sybilline Sisterhood into believing there will be no eruption. It’s a trick. Or…oh shit, I have always wanted to say this:


So yeah. Vesuvius erupted because THE DOCTOR MADE IT ERUPT. Oh my god, HE DID IT TO SAVE THE WORLD. Here, Donna has to face the reality of the life of a Time Lord (and the last one left, too). And as she reluctantly agrees to accept this, she helps switch off the energy converter, sending tens of thousands of people to their death. But writer James Moran was quite satisfied with this reality. As the Doctor and Donna head back to the Caecilius household, the tragedy becomes too personalized for Donna. She has to stare into the faces of this family, knowing that they are going to die, watching them as the ash falls from the sky.

So she begs the Doctor to save them. Not the whole city, not tons of people, just this family. The Doctor refuses at first, but finally reluctantly agrees to return to save the family. I can’t even think of a situation like this before. And look, if Catherine Tate was crying that hard in my face, I would pretty much do whatever she wanted because HOLY SHIT IT IS SO SAD TO SEE HER LIKE THAT. (Seriously, Tate RULED THIS EPISODE SO HARD.)

I was happy to see the Doctor admit that Donna was right. He needed someone to counter his opinion, to tell him to stop, to tell him that there’s another choice. And I simply cannot wait to see more.


  • Hot dude alert: Francois Pandolfo, who played Quintus. haaaaaaaayyyyyy
  • I could watch Catherine Tate and David Tennant play off each other for HOURS. Best chemistry between a Doctor and his companion EASILY.
  • “You fought her off with a water pistol. I bloody love you!”
  • “I just said seriously in Latin?”
  • “Well I just might have SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THAT, SPACEMAN!”
  • “I’ll tell you where the wind’s blowing right now, mate.”
  • “I mean, everyone here’s dead!” GOD I LOVE YOU FOREVER DONNA
  • That’s the second time we’ve heard about the Shadow Proclamation and the second planet/homeworld that’s been destroyed. IS THIS A PATTERN. WHAT IS GOING ON.
  • “I love not knowing! Keeps me on my toes. It must be awful being a prophet, waking up every morning, “Is it raining? Yes, it is. I said so.” Takes all the fun out of life.”
  • Oh god, you guys, I am so excited for this series. I LOVE CATHERINE TATE SO MUCH.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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298 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E02 – The Fires of Pompeii

  1. Marissa says:

    Catherine Tate wins at life. Donna is my favourite companion ever, hands down.

    • Jonathan says:

      The last time the Shadow Proclamation was mentioned was either on the asteroid ship when David Tennant took over, or in the hospital on the Moon with Martha.


  2. Stephen_M says:

    Lovely historical episode, doubly so as it's not just the Doctor fanboy'ing over someone famous but actually makes use of the setting to explore the character (and introduce new viewers to at least one of the reasons WHY the Doctor can't always change things / save everyone via time travel).

    Love Donna here, it's a wonderful way to show a companion who's already seen the darker side of the Doctor just how far into the moral grey zone being things can go. For me it's one of the big benefits of dumping the wuv story between Doctor and Companion we've seen thus far in Ten's time, it gives more time to develop characters in other ways and makes them feel far more real somehow.

    Talking of Ten it's a great performance from Tennant here. He's got a great relationship with Tate and it seems to free him up a bit from having to carry so much of the show. That's not a knock on Billie or Freema btw, they were both great, but Catherine brings bigger acting chops to the role and, as a result, everyone has more time and room to breathe. Of course it helps when there's a really good script and David is clearly feeling very at home in the role (and isn't having to be such a dick to his companion this time round which must help).

    The fully grown Pyrovile does, it has to be said, get beaten a tad easily with a single bucket of water. That's gotta be a problem if they're out for a stroll and a bit of unexpected drizzle ensues. But let's be honest, the big bad CGI versions aren't what the episode is about. The threat really comes from the humans and all of them are fantastic. Although can we take a moment to praise whoever got stuck doing the high priestess in that full prosthetic getup, that's not a fun day at work there…

    One last thought, this is a great example of how script and sound design go together. That *dong* that rings out when the Doctor starts firing up the TARDIS engines is normally a great noise, the prelude to the VWORP that, surely, has a claim on ' the most wonderful sound in the world' trophy. Yet here, with Pompey falling around it, it sounds like the end of the world.

    Oh yes, almost forgot, who's that suspiciously tall soothsayer stalking the Doctor with a speaking part, fair skin and very very red hair…

    • elusivebreath says:

      OMG I thought that I saw her name in the credits lol!!

    • Stephen_M says:

      "I was happy to see the Doctor admit that Donna was right. He needed someone to counter his opinion, to tell him to stop, to tell him that there’s another choice." – Ohhhh yes, even if it did take the whole of series 3 to ram that point through Ten's incredibly dense cranium (seriously that thing's made of Adamantium or something). See this is what I really wanted to see in S2 and 3, a bit of vulnerability to the Doctor, a hint that he ain't perfect and sometimes makes the wrong choice.

    • Starsea28 says:

      Yeah, I also get the feeling that David was relieved the Doctor wasn't behaving like an insensitive jerk any more.

    • sabra_n says:

      Oh yes, almost forgot, who's that suspiciously tall soothsayer stalking the Doctor with a speaking part, fair skin and very very red hair…

      HA. I had no idea about that! How the heck did I not notice?

      • MowerOfLorn says:

        Don't worry about it. I knew she was there, and it took me two extra watches to finally recognize her. I think its the makeup.

      • electric ashera says:

        I found out about it through a Doctor Who confidential thing I saw on YouTube.

        • kirby says:

          I am really proud about the fact that I recongized her the first time! Seriously, my first thought was "heyyy doesn't she look like…" and then halfway through I had to look it up becase I was so sure.

  3. Starsea28 says:

    First? At least one of the first, anyway.

    I could watch Catherine Tate and David Tennant play off each other for HOURS. Best chemistry between a Doctor and his companion EASILY.

    RIGHT? They are awesome together, both in character and out. Their chemistry makes this season for me, I'm not kidding.

    "And you're in charge?"
    "TARDIS? Time Lord? Yeah!"
    "Donna, human, no!"

    Love you forever, Donna Noble.

    Peter Capaldi! (Who shall always be known as the Angel Islington in our household.) Phil Davis. (Chas Cale!) Karen Gillan! I understand what you're saying about the characters not being too memorable, but for a British viewer, this is an episode of Who where you're sitting there saying "OMG, that's whatshisname and whatsherface!" 🙂

  4. Andrew says:

    This is the only episode of new DW that I've not seen and it breaks my heart :'((((

  5. Karen says:

    I have such mixed feelings about this episode. On one hand, I think that plot is kind of weird and lame and I always forget what the actual plot is until I’m rewatching it. On the other hand, there are some really fun moments and I completely adore the exploration of the Doctor/Donna relationship and the Doctor’s character in general.

    First, some plotty stuff! The Doctor and Donna land in what the Doctor, in his infinite wisdom, thinks is ancient Rome. Unfortunately the Doctor and his fail piloting skills have landed them in Pompeii and it’s volcano day (well technically the day before volcano day, but my point stands). Shouldn’t Jack be running around somewhere nearby trying to sell some space junk to some Time Agents? If only the Doctor and Donna had run into him… then Ten would have had an opportunity to participate in his favorite pastime, being an ass to Jack!

    Really though the best part of this episode, plotwise, is the predictions by Lucius and Evelina.

    <img src=""&gt;
    Lucius: Is that so? Man from Gallifrey.
    The Doctor: What?
    Lucius: The strangest of images; your home is lost in fire, is it not?
    Donna Noble: Doctor, what are they doing?
    Lucius: And you, daughter of… London!
    Donna Noble: How does he know that?
    Lucius: It is the gift of Pompeii, every single oracle tells the truth.
    Donna Noble: But that's impossible.
    Lucius: Doctor, she is returning.
    The Doctor: Who is? Who's she?
    Lucius: And you, daughter of London, there is something on your back.
    Donna Noble: What's that mean?
    Evelina: Even the word Doctor is false. Your real name is hidden, it burns in the stars, in the cascade of Medusa herself. You are a Lord, sir. A Lord of Time.

    How very enigmatic and cryptic of you, Lucius. NOW TELL ME WTF YOU MEAN.

    There are also a couple of really cute comedic moments. Hee! The squirt gun is classic.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Donna Noble: You fought her off with a water pistol. I bloody love you!

    <img src=""&gt;
    I LOVE the bad pun after the Doctor break’s Lucius’s stone arm off. “’Armless enough”. It actually reminded me a bit of Nine in “Rose” when he disarms the plastic arm and then he says something to the effect of “See? ‘Armless!”.

    But in the end, I still don’t really get how they’re able to see the future. Something about explosions and echoing back through time lines? Idgi. The Doctor tries to handwave the whole thing at the end, but yeah… I also don’t get how exactly they’re planning to convert the human race (idk maybe I should just pay more attention to the science babble). But whatever. The actual details of the plot feel more incidental to exploring the characters.

    • Karen says:

      So now we’ve arrived at the really good bits of this episode: the character stuff. Donna is brilliant in this episode. I love the enthusiasm, excitement and curiosity Donna has towards traveling. That scene where she wants to try out speaking in Latin just to see what would happen is great. I also think that it’s an interesting point of contrast between Rose, Martha and Donna. Rose is just excited by the experience like when she steps in the snow in “The Unquiet Dead”. Martha intellectualizes time travel, wanting to know the rules in “The Shakespeare Code”. But Donna? Donna wants to test the rules.

      The other great thing about Donna in this episode is how passionate she is about saving the people of Pompeii. The way she fights the Doctor about it reminds me of Rose and the Doctor arguing about the Gelf in series 1.

      <img src=""&gt;
      <img src=""&gt;
      Donna Noble: What time does Vesuvius erupt? When's it due?
      The Doctor: It's 79 A.D. 23rd of August; which makes Volcano day-tomorrow.
      Donna Noble: Plenty of time. We can get everyone out, easy.
      The Doctor: Yeah, except we're not going to.
      Donna Noble: But that's what you do. You're the Doctor. You save people.
      The Doctor: Not this time. Pompeii is a fixed point in history. What happens, happens. There's no stopping it.
      Donna Noble: Says who?
      The Doctor: Says me.
      Donna Noble: What, and you're in charge?
      The Doctor: TARDIS, Time Lord-yeah!
      Donna Noble: Donna, Human-no! I don't need your permission. I'll tell them myself.

      <img src=""&gt;
      <img src=""&gt;
      But the thing that really makes this episode worth my time is the Doctor and Donna causing the eruption. The Doctor is faced with an impossible decision, directly be responsible for the death of tens of thousands of people or do nothing and indirectly be responsible for the destruction of the human race? I mean one is obviously the right choice, but it’s the harder choice because it necessitates a direct action on his part. A cause and effect of him doing something and thousands dying. But Donna doesn’t make him go through that alone. She puts her hand on his and they do what they have to do, together.

      I love that scene when Donna rages at how unfair and awful it all is and so does the Doctor. Catherine Tate is wonderful in that scene, begging the Doctor to just save someone.

      <img src=""&gt;
      <img src=""&gt;
      Donna Noble: [outraged] You can't just *leave* them!
      The Doctor: [bitter] Don't you think I've done enough? History's back in place and everyone *dies*.
      Donna Noble: You've got to go back! Doctor, I am telling you, take this thing *back*!
      [the Doctor pulls a control and the TARDIS shudders]
      Donna Noble: [softly] It's not fair.
      The Doctor: [softly] No, it's not.
      Donna Noble: [crying] But your own planet, it burned.
      The Doctor: That's just it. Don't you see, Donna? Can't you understand? If I could go back and save them, then I would, but I can't!
      The Doctor: [pauses] I can *never* go back. I can't. I just can't. I can't.
      Donna Noble: Just someone. Please.
      Donna Noble: [sobbing] Not the whole town. Just save someone.

      <img src=""&gt;
      The scene of the Doctor and Donna actually going back to get the family is horrifically cheesy (and omg don’t even get me started on the household gods bit at the end), but after doing something like that, the Doctor kind of needed the win, so I’ll let the cheese slide.

      The Doctor: You were right. Sometimes I need someone.

      Too true. Too true

      • Hotaru-hime says:

        That exchange of "TARDIS, Time Lord, yeah!" and "Donna, human, NO!" really defines their relationship.

      • NB2000 says:

        Oh god that picture of Donna's tear stained face is making me well up all by itself.

      • Starsea28 says:

        don’t even get me started on the household gods bit at the end

        I really hated that bit. I understand that they wanted to show that Donna and the Doctor were being honoured but seriously? The Romans truly believed in their gods, they wouldn't just replace them!

        • Cleo says:

          I don't know, if my family was saved from certain doom by a pair of mystic travelers and I believed in a pantheon of gods I might be well convinced that they were amongst them and were my personal saviors.

        • Stephanie says:

          Well the Roman gods were known to disguise themselves as humans to test people and either help them or hurt them based on what they see. If I were a Roman, I would assume that they were gods that were pleased, and I would want to worship them so that they would continue to be happy, just in case.

          • arctic_hare says:

            Gods in general are tricksy, yes they are.

          • Starsea28 says:

            Oh sure, but worshiping them to the exclusion of other gods instead of including them? I don't like it.

            • breesquared says:

              I think that in polytheistic religions, most individual families do tend to super-worship only one or a few. they respect them all but they seek favor from specific ones.

      • electric ashera says:

        The Doctor: You were right. Sometimes I need someone.

        The interesting thing about this episode is not only that the Doctor needs Donna to keep him company and reign him in… but the Doctor also teaches Donna about the incredibly difficult choices he has to make at times. I don't think Donna fully understood, when he was all Destroyer of Spider Alien Babies, what hangs in the balance of his decisions. Donna learns to destroy as much as the Doctor is reminded to save.

    • bookling says:


      Didn't someone make a spoiler page for Mark Watches? I NEED IT NOW. You just made me realize something.

  6. elusivebreath says:

    It's interesting, because when I went to put this episode on last night, I almost didn't, because I thought that I didn't care for it that much. I decided to watch it in anyway, and actually, I liked it a lot more than I thought. Since this is only my second rewatching of the series, I actually ended up catching a few little things that I had missed the first time around so maybe that was what made it better this time?

    Either way, I do really love Donna and the Doctor. I didn't much care for Donna in The Runaway Bride, so I really wasn't excited for this series at first, but Partners in Crime really nailed it and then this episode came on its heels and nailed it HARDER. Donna begging the Doctor to just save one family, just someone, anyone, was heartbreaking and I fell in love with her right then. As much as I loved the Doctor and Rose, I have to admit that I do love a companion with no romantic interest in the Doctor at all, the dynamics are even more intersesting this way, it seems so far.

    I am excite for the rest of the series!

  7. Narcissaa says:


    <img src=""&gt;

  8. kaybee42 says:

    Mark! I have never disagreed on a call you made about how hot someone is in DW before! This is disturbing!
    Anyway, onto other…y'know…LESS shallow stuff.
    Saying "Veni vidi vici" to that guy and sounding gaelic! haha! apparently we have DEFINITELY got Latin alllll wrong!
    "Donna-human-no!" yes! GO DONNA!

    • Hotaru-hime says:

      When she said "Veni, vidi, vici" I laughed because that would have been the very thing I would have done were I in her place.

    • drippingmercury says:

      Latin V's sound like our W's, and C's are hard – Romans would have been pronounced it more like "weni, widi, wiki". I laughed so hard at the "you sound Gaelic" jokes in this ep.
      /latin geekery

      • kaybee42 says:

        never ever /latingeekery! always be a latin geek, it's fascinating! I wanted to choose another language to learn and I was stuck between latin and german. I ended up on German but I am still fascinated by Latin 😀

        • drippingmercury says:

          ha, only /latingeekery for purposes of that comment. I'm a classics major, so I'm not sure if it would actually be possible for me to stop with the geekery at this point (and I wouldn't have it any other way).
          I'm the other way around – I almost took German instead of Latin! I would still love to learn the language at some point, in part because knowledge of Latin AND German = better knowledge of English and its origins. The history of languages and how they're used is just so fascinating to me.

      • Tauriel says:

        How do you know how the ancient Romans would’ve pronounced it? It’s not like there’s a 2000-year-old recording of someone speaking Latin… 😛

        • drippingmercury says:

          As I commented below, U and V were basically the same letter in Latin. When it's at the front of the word, it's a consonantal "w" sound.
          This is just in classical Latin – things are different in later/ecclesiastical Latin.

        • mkjcaylor says:

          I definitely think it's based on poetry and how things were supposed to rhyme and/or sound in whatever style they were doing.

          But yea, I was taught that classical Latin always had hard C's and V's were W's. And that 'Church Latin' was much different.

      • Starsea28 says:

        So Wiki is Latin for 'I conquered'? 😉

      • Stephanie says:

        Yeah, what she says is Medieval Latin or Church Latin, which seems to be what most people think Latin is supposed to sound like. It's not technically incorrect, just incorrect for the time period. If they ended up in 14th century Rome, it would have been correct.
        We spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about Classical Latin vs. Church Latin in my Latin class because we are learning Classical Latin and I go to a Catholic school, so we also learn church stuff. It gets very confusing for some people.

      • pica_scribit says:

        'Twas actually Welsh that she sounded, not Gaelic. I know that, in America, Celtic and Irish are largely treated as synonymous, but that's not factually accurate from a historical/linguistic standpoint. < /language peeve >

        • drippingmercury says:

          Oh, I know they aren't. I was going off Gaelic from the previous post – I couldn't remember what they actually said in the episode, I just remembered it was of the British Isles so "Gaelic" seemed correct enough. I believe they mostly said Celtic, which the doctor says "sounds welsh"(IIRC?) and Gaelic is a Celtic language so… hence the confusion, I guess?
          I am indeed American, but due to my vastly Scottish heritage I have massive <3 for Scottish history and language so I actually made an attempt to study Scottish Gaelic many years ago … upon which my brain broke. I could never even hope to do the language justice, so I gave up.

    • pica_scribit says:

      I thought it was Welsh they heard, not Gaelic?

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        If I remember correctly, all the Romans thought they were speaking "Celtic." The first time it happened the Doctor explained it by saying that Donna "sounds Welsh," which if true would make it Brythonic rather than Goidelic/Gaelic.

        • pica_scribit says:

          Indeed. I know that, in America at least, Celtic = Irish = Gaelic, but in Britain and Europe, Celtic (more correctly) refers, as you say, to a wide range of pre-Roman northern European peoples, who would have spoken a language family that evolved into Welsh. < /language geek >

        • electric ashera says:

          All the nerdy linguist <3s for you.

        • virtual_monster says:

          Indeed the Roman trader says 'me no speak Celtic' and the Doctor explains to Donna that the trader thinks she sounds Welsh. Presumably because it's a quick and easy frame of reference that she will understand. And so as not to have to explain the Celtic language family to the audience.

          As you say, they'll be hearing Brythonic, which much later (mostly after the Angles, Jutes and Saxons have driven the Britons into the hilly bits of the island) becomes Welsh, Cornish, Cumbric and Breton.

          I'm learning Cornish – pretty much for the hell of it, given that it's basically a revived language with just a couple of thousand speakers – and, while I don't know Welsh, I'm given to understand that it still shares 75% of its vocabulary with that language (albeit spelled differently) and 90% with Breton.

      • Kaybee42 says:

        You're right, I got it wrong when I typed that. (Well, to be exact, they heard Celtic. Celtic, iirc, is a family of similar languages of which Gaelic is one. However Gaelic is one of the Irish branch of Celtic and the Doctor said she'd sounded Welsh which is a second branch of Celtic. And if I've got that completely wrong then HUGE apologies!)

    • notemily says:

      The latin bits were hilarious to me. "Well, caveat emptor." "Oh, you're Celtic!" I never realized how much latin we use every day.

  9. Latte says:

    My sister and I loved this episode because we study Latin and the textbook we use, the Cambridge Latin Course, I think it is, uses the family in this episode – Caecilius, etc – as a kind of framework for the stories and passages in the textbook.

    It was just sort of awesome to see this family show up in Doctor Who, and my sister's teacher actually showed this episode at the end of term last year 🙂

    • eleventysix says:

      Yeah, I actually got a little too attached to the family because I am a giant, giant Latin dork, and as much as I was waiting to see how the Doctor and Donna would deal with the larger plot, I was also remembering the Cambridge Latin Course books unfolding in my middle-school life as I learned -are verbs are much more friendly than -ere, the dual meaning of "gladius", and just what, exactly, that mysterious ablative case was all about (it is now my favorite of cases…)

    • thehufflepuffproject says:

      I fell in love with this episode as soon as I heard their names!!! I did all four Cambridge Latin books with my Latin class, so I was absolutely in love with Quintus by the end. This episode would have only been more awesome if Grumio and Melissa had been in it 🙂

    • mkjcaylor says:

      I am sad because I took Latin here in the US and we did not use those textbooks. I only learned about this upon reading 'conquer'pedia.

      • pica_scribit says:

        It's just a series of Latin text books. You can get them anywhere. We studied out of them when I was homeschooling in Washington state in 1992-1995.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Ha! me too! I still have the Cambridge Latin books. Quintus in triclinio bibit! And he totally did in this episode!

  10. Tauriel says:

    Interesting fact: The young Sibylline Sister who followed Doctor and Donna was played by Karen Gillan, who, as you know, plays the current companion, Amy Pond. No relation between the characters, though.

  11. arctic_hare says:

    EEEEEEEEEE THIS EPISODE. <3 <3 <3 I LOVE IT. Part of it is, I'll admit, sheer adoration for the setting. I've said before that I'm obsessed with ancient history, so this should come as no surprise, really. DUH. Pompeii is one of my favorite things to read about, so of course I was going to enjoy an episode set there. But this episode has so much general awesome that I love it for more than just that.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    OH HAI KAREN GILLAN. <3 Even under all that makeup, she still looks beautiful to me. DON'T MIND ME, I JUST HAVE A CRUSH, IS ALL. MOVE ALONG.

    "We're in Pompeii. And it's volcano day!" Callback to Jack in Empty Child/Doctor Dances! I LOVE IT. 😀

    I love the family rushing around to keep stuff from falling and breaking. Reminds me of Mary Poppins. Which is one of my favorite childhood movies, so I get a big grin on my face when I watch that part. Actually, I really liked the whole family, and was so happy when the Doctor saved them.

    "Donna, human, no!" OH DONNA I LOVE YOU SO MUCH YOU ARE PROBABLY GOING TO GET SICK OF ME SAYING THAT BUT IT IS SO TRUE. That part makes me so happy beyond all measuring. Not only is she standing up to the Doctor and refusing to take his crap, but she's doing so for something I entirely totally approve of: she wants to save the people of Pompeii. HOW ARE YOU SO WONDERFUL, DONNA? I love her repeated attempts to warn people, and it's so heartbreaking at the end when she's trying to tell people not to go to the beach, to run for the hills. Because nobody listens to her, and we know from history that they didn't. It really was a deathtrap. 🙁 Catherine Tate was so amazing in the episode, particularly at the end when she's begging the Doctor to save someone, even just one person. I cry right along with her, because of her performance and because I know how she feels. I'd be acting the exact same way in her position here. I'm so glad he listened to her and gave in and saved Caecilius and his family.

    And then I start crying again when I see them watching Pompeii get buried and their reactions to it. Or maybe I just didn't stop crying. All their friends, everyone they knew, so many people – it's all gone down there, in such a short space of time. It's so awful, and knowing that it really happened just makes it worse. So much worse. And having it be fixed because the Doctor had to cause it – OH WHY NOT TWIST THE KNIFE A LITTLE MORE. I liked that Donna didn't let him bear that horrible burden alone, though, and I loved what he said about how people won't forget Pompeii, though, how it'll be found again someday. It's so bittersweet.

    "I'll tell you where the wind's blowing right now, mate." Oh Donna, never stop being a BAMF. <3

    "Didn't you think of moving away?" As someone who lives in California, Ten, I wonder that all the time. XP Ah, humans, we're a bloody stupid lot sometimes. More importantly, Ten is really really fun in this episode, especially when he uses a water pistol to fight off the Pyrovile. 😀 This is what I'm talking about when I say that he's at his best when Donna's around. She makes everything better.

    Are we starting to see a pattern here, where my review circles back around about a million times to the awesome of Donna? GOOD. GET USED TO IT. 😀

    Finally, I love that the Doctor and Donna are the household gods at the end. <3

    • flamingpie says:

      lololol oh Karen. I love her ridiculous over the top acting in this. HELLO LARGE HAM OF AN EXTRA.

      actually that goes for the whole sisterhood. XD

    • Stephen_M says:

      I am determined to save my fanboy'ing until the appropriate time but Karen keeping up the (new) Who tradition of companions appearing in the show in one-off roles before they come on board (Donna, after all, was meant to be a one shot, only Rose doesn't fit).

      Also agree about Donna making the Doctor better, it's the benefit of having… uh… well a modern version of the companion rather than a love interest. Series 1 Rose was the other example. IMO of course.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      I interrupt your regular sensible commenting to bring you this message…

      Karen Gillan!!!! Oh yes! Even with that makeup job…I still would! 🙂 That is all.

      I now return you to your regular broadcast.

      Edited to add:
      >Karen keeping up the (new) Who tradition of companions appearing in the show in one-off roles before they come on board

      Very good point. I was saving that factoid until Karen returns as a regular, but it's fine to mention it now, since Mark already knows about her. You can even stretch this pattern to include Mickey. OK, it was a while before he *became* a companion, but the Doctor did *invite* Mickey aboard the TARDIS after his second appearance in the show.

    • echinodermata says:

      "Didn't you think of moving away?" As someone who lives in California, Ten, I wonder that all the time.

      Lol, seriously. Yellowstone Park (which is a super giant volcano), the San Andreas fault. When I'm so blasé about the literal ground beneath my feet shaking, then I know my sense of normal is a little warped.


      • Mary Sue says:

        I can see two volcanoes from my office windows (well, I could if it wasn't raining).

        One of them erupted in my lifetime, and killed a couple dozen people. Sometimes you can see steam plumes emerging from it.

        Every so often I'm looking at Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Hood and I think to myself– Oh, so pretty! WHY AM I LIVING IN THE BLAST RADIUS?!?!?

        • nyssaoftraken74 says:

          Blimey! I get worried when my neighbours light a coal fire!

        • Ellen says:

          The first house I lived on was on Mt. Tabor. No chance of it erupting anytime soon, really, but still. VOLCANO WITHIN CITY LIMITS. Also, there could be aliens.

      • notemily says:

        The problem is that MOST places are a disaster waiting to happen. If it's not volcanoes or earthquakes, it's hurricanes, ice storms, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis etc. It's hard to find someplace purely "safe," not to mention that most people don't want to uproot their homes and leave everyone they know just because of a vague chance of disaster.

    • Oh goodness, I was feeling all smug about being in a safe state (Colorado) until I remembered that Yellowstone's Super Volcano would still manage to wipe me out too. Damn my hubris!

  12. Eric Johns says:

    I had a recurring nightmare about Pompeii when I was reeeeeeeeeeally little. I don’t remember much else other than that it originally started when I saw some docu about the creepy ash-people.

    That is just total nightmare fuel for me.

    I liked this episode, though it could’ve been better.

    • You too? I had nightmares that my local mountain was secretly another Vesuvius, and I was always trying to get my family to evacuate when it blew but they wouldn't believe me, even with a pyroclastic flow bearing down on us!

  13. Fusionman29 says:

    Trivia time!

    A. I’m sure you were told this. One of those soothsayers is the girl who will play Amy Pond. (NOTE: That isn’t a spoiler Mark knows of Amy and 11. He just doesn’t know when or how.)
    B.Behind the scenes, it was notable for being the first major shoot outside the United Kingdom since the 1996 telemovie. Morevoer, it was the first time a principal photography unit had been outside its country of production since The Two Doctors.
    C. When asked of his identity, the Doctor replies “I am… Spartacus.” Donna then says “And so am I.” This is a reference to the famous scene in the film Spartacus, where everyone announces they’re Spartacus, in order to protect the protagonist. I love you Doctor and Donna.
    D. Donna mentions her father, Geoff Noble only as “dad”. As I mentioned earlier Geoff Noble was going to do what Wilf did but the actor died.
    E. The Doctor tells Donna he visited Rome a long time ago and had no part in the Great Fire of Rome before adding “well, a little bit”. That’s part of a VERY early episode.
    F. The Doctor uses the phrase “volcano day”, first used by Jack Harkness in reference to a con in Pompeii, the Ninth Doctor later used the phrase.
    G. The Doctor mentions the Shadow Proclamation again.
    H. One of episode writer James Moran’s favourite stories is City of Death, so there’s a deliberate reference to that Caecilius buys the TARDIS, thinking it’s a piece of modern art. Coincidentally, City of Death was the first episode of the classic series to involve filming outside of the UK, while The Fires of Pompeii was the first episode of the series revival to have major filming done outside the UK.
    I. In the corresponding edition of Doctor Who Confidential (The Italian Job) Russell T Davies confirms that Caecilius and his family were based on characters from a series of Latin text books used in secondary schools.

    Wow that was more trivia than normal.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      "E. The Doctor tells Donna he visited Rome a long time ago and had no part in the Great Fire of Rome before adding "well, a little bit". That's part of a VERY early episode."

      To be specific, in the episode "The Romans", the First Doctor accidentally sets a map of Rome on fire, giving Nero a rather nasty idea…

      • who_cares86 says:

        Love the Romans. It's the first real attempt at comedy in Doctor Who. It's delightful to see Hartnell being something else than a grumpy old men. OK I haven't seen that much of him and that's just the stereotype but still. I also love the fact that it has two utterly separate stories going on and it actually looks pretty damn good for something made in the 60's.

      • Hotaru-hime says:

        Yeah, it was more than a little bit… as I recall, when Vicky cast it up to him, he chuckled! But then, he wasn't as fond of us at that time.

        • PeterRabid says:

          I really think it had never occurred to him that he could change historical events or even cause them. It's something the Doctor would be horrified about nowadays. At the time he was younger and, dare I say it, immature. It is a bit unnerving when they cut from his giggling to Nero's maniacal laughter.

      • Stephanie says:

        I actually wrote a fanfic about the Doctor starting the Great Fire of Rome when we learned about it in school. I'm kind of disappointed that it's a real episode.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      I want to add a few little behind the scenes stories.

      1. This is the first true overseas shoot of 21st Century Who. Although the Series 3 Dalek 2-parter was set in New York, the cast did not film there. For this episode, they travelled to Rome's `Cinecitta Studios`.

      2. While the production team were on their second rece, there was a serious fire at the studios, which destroyed large portions of the Rome set, including some sections that they had planned to use.

      C…no, sorry…3. On the evening after their first day of filming, there was an incident with a rat in the restaurant, which resulted in a sacred producer Phil Collinson standing on a table!

      4…or D,,,or (iv). When it became clear that the Rome shoot was doable, a Mark Gatiss script that was in development was dropped from the series, thus preventing Mark from being the only writer other than RTD and Moffat to be involved in broadcast episodes in all 4 series' to date. (Having written for Series 1 and 2, and starred in Series 3' Lazarus Experiment.)

    • Nikki says:

      "(NOTE: That isn't a spoiler Mark knows of Amy and 11. He just doesn't know when or how."

      But IS a spoiler for people, like myself, who haven't seen all of Doctor Who and are watching it along with Mark and know nothing of what is to come.

      UGH.. Even Mark himself has made this mistake and ended up spoiling me for Donna's return. Not everyone here has seen every episode. -__-;

    • mkjcaylor says:

      Re: D

      I really didn't realize until now that any reference to Donna's deceased father was actually a reference to the actor who died. I'm glad I'm finally making that connection.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Re: point I – Caecilius, Metella and Quintus were actually a real family who lived in Pompeii during the first century. However, Caecilius probably died during around the time of the great earthquake 17 years before Vesuvius erupted.

    • NotTheSauce says:

      Re: I – That's part of the reason I loved this episode so much; and I think anybody who studied Latin with the Cambridge Latin textbook would have felt the same – when Latin work and Doctor Who collides, only happiness can ensue. I squeed every time they appeared – I guess Mark's (and anybody else's) lack of connection might be partially explained by missing that in-joke.
      We watched it in Latin class, even XD

  14. nextboy says:

    who that there soothsayer?

  15. NB2000 says:

    Oh how I love this episode, and yes Donna rules the episode. The scene where she's begging the Doctor to go back and save the family is heartbreaking to watch, her face is just…oh god.

    Maybe it's just that I've watched the episode several times but I do find myself caring about the Caecilius family, especially once the eruption has started and they're all clinging to each other as they think the world's ending.

    "Hot dude alert: Francois Pandolfo, who played Quintus. haaaaaaaayyyyyy"

    Very true, so very very true.

    And okay, there was some debate in the spoiler blog but it looks like everyone else has just gone ahead and pointed her out so I'll just add: HAI KAREN GILLAN! Even covered in some pretty weird face paint you still look lovely.

  16. Openattheclose says:

    I spy two actors in this episode that look familiar dun dun dun.

    “I am Spartacus.” “So am I.”
    I will forever have a weak spot for Spartacus jokes. They will never get old to me.
    “Brother and Sister? Yes of course, you look very much alike.”
    Caecillius is not prepared either Mark! He says so!

    Selling the TARDIS as modern art is a reference to the scene of John Cleese admiring it in “City of Death.”

    The soothsayer-off is wonderful. I can’t say anything more right now.  

    WHERE IS JACK? He was supposed to be here on volcano day.

    “Your temple containing such size within.” Lol that’s the best description of the TARDIS ever.

    How tragic is it when we discover that Pompeii was CAUSED by the Doctor (and Donna) all along? And that it was better than the alternative? It’s tragic too that they have all of these seers running around AND NO ONE SEES VOLCANO DAY COMING.

    DONNA NOBLE YOU ARE AWESOME. SHE HELPS HIM PUSH THE LEVER AND THEN SHE MAKES HIM GO BACK TO SAVE SOMEONE. She even causes the Doctor to admit that she was right, and that, “Sometimes I need someone.” DOCTOR/DONNA FOREVER!

  17. echinodermata says:

    Playing with translated languages! Karen Gillan! Even the intro to this episode is cool.

    And Volcano Day! Who was hoping for a brief Captain Jack cameo in this episode? Even if he was just in the background somewhere and didn't speak, it still would have been awesome.

    The TARDIS as modern art makes me lol, especially since this ep is set in such a revered era of art history to the modern world.

    <img src=""&gt;
    Donna, human, no! And that is a prime example of why Donna rates so highly among companions for me. And Sparticus jokes generally make me lol, so yay for that too.

    I will say, though that the whole "Romans haven't even gotten a word for volcano" – I'm pretty sure they were already familiar with the concept of a volcano, even if they didn't have a single term for it.

    But ooh, the prophecy-off is cool, and creepy, and all-around a great scene. SHE IS RETURNING. THERE IS SOMETHING ON YOUR BACK.

    <img src=""&gt;
    It's like, OMG!

    And the reveals of the marble circuits made my eyes go all big the first time – it looks and sounds awesome, even if it may not make that much sense.

    Also, hey Bechdel! There's what, six or more women in a scene about prophecies and a woman's fate? This season's off to a good start so far, since Parners in Crime did pretty well too.

    About all the "fixed point" stuff – sounds to me like that's purely subjective, since the Doctor has to decide to erupt the volcano, and quite frequently changes history. So all the various canon about things not to do while time travelling means for me that most/all of it is recommendations, but not impossibilities. He's capable of changing "fixed" points, and going back and saving people, he's just not "supposed" to.

    And the ending to this ep. I've visited Pompeii and the scope of destruction and how absolutely quickly people got buried in ash makes this episode all the more moving to me.

    Archaeologists and the like have poured plaster into the holes where people got buried in ash, so we have plaster casts of the people (and pets) who died while being buried, with the casts taking the shape of their bodies in their last moments, and it absolutely shows how people were trying to claw their way out, and dogs were twisted in agony, and even someone praying the moment they got buried. It's just a really horrible thing to look at (and is also very morbidly interesting).

    So Donna pleading with the Doctor to save the family from that fate, no matter if it changes history, is absolutely amazing to see. And I believe that if the Doctor hadn't given in, she'd have demanded to be returned back to Earth, and no more adventures for her if it meant having to travel with the Doctor and having things like that happen again.

    All in all, I think this is a lovely episode with some very good acting. And Catherine Tate is rocking my world.

    • arctic_hare says:

      I am so jealous of you, I would love to visit Pompeii. Yes, I know, it's so awful, but it's history and that's my weakness. I also think the people who died there deserve to be remembered, so there's that too.

    • Ali says:

      Yeah, I've been to Pompeii and it really is quite disturbing to see the people. That's why I like this episode so much – not really for the plot, but just the idea that something we see as a fascinating historical event from thousands of years ago, looks a WHOLE lot different close up.
      It's kind of a human thing, that we often only really feel a tragedy if it's personalised for us, just like with Donna in this episode.

    • PeterRabid says:

      Who was hoping for a brief Captain Jack cameo in this episode? Even if he was just in the background somewhere and didn't speak, it still would have been awesome.

      Maybe this is me being a Big Finish nerd, but my fangirly dream would be Ten and Donna running into Seven and Mel from the events of "The Fires of Vulcan." They were there on the exact same day as well.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Wow, I had no idea that's how it was in Pompeii. Scary. 🙁

    • Stephanie says:

      Ok, this might be kind of gross or disturbing to some people, but I find it really interesting. Although in Pompeii and most other cities affected by the eruption of Vesuvius, in Herculaneum, the people weren't killed by being smothered, archeologists are finding that most of the people were killed because they breathed in the hot… ash, I suppose, I don't really remember exactly what they were breathing in to be honest, but when they breathed it in, it hardened in their lungs and they suffocated to death. I cannot think of a worse way to go. And I want to learn more about it, because I am deeply disturbed.

      • arctic_hare says:

        We can be deeply disturbed together, because I love learning more about this stuff too.

      • In other cases the so-called "survivors" of pyroclastic flows had the insides of their lungs liquify and they drowned on their own fluids. It's because the air and ash they breathed was so hot (thousands of degrees in many cases) that it ruined their respiratory system.

        Yay fellow nerd!

    • Before Pompeii there really was no record in Latin of the concept of a volcano. People thought that the smoking mountains were entrances into Hades, or Vulcan (Haphaestus)'s forges. It wasn't until Pompeii and Pliny the Younger that there was a scientific observation and analysis of how a volcano operates. 🙂

      • echinodermata says:

        Well, the whole “smoking mountains” thing was more what I was goingfor, and what I remembered. But either way, thanks for the info.

    • notemily says:


      Allllso, the whole "dude coins the word 'volcano'" bit at the end was a bit silly. But whatever.

  18. Anon says:

    I quite like this episode just because Peter Capaldi is in it, if you haven't seen it i highly recommend watching the Thick of It.

  19. Hotaru-hime says:

    GOD, this episode!!! So crazy, everything moving a mile a minute!
    I found Lucius's name quite funny- wasn't the last bit of it Petrius or something like that? Like petrify- stone. And he had a stone arm. Somehow I feel I ruined that sentence.
    But man, this episode made me cry so hard. So tragic. The Doctor's life is so tragic.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Lucius Petrus (stone) Dextrus (right), and his right arm was stone.

    • Amanda says:

      If I recall correctly, his full name is Lucius Petrius Dextrus (or something to that effect), because I remember laughing about his name basically meaning stone right-arm when his right arm was in fact the stone one.

      • Stephanie says:

        I know, as soon as I heard his name and saw that his right arm was covered, I immediately knew what was going to happen. Psh, and people told me that I wouldn't be able to use my Latin class in my daily life.

  20. redheadedgirl says:

    Hello, my name is Redheadedgirl, and I am a Roman Nerd.

    First, I love that Donna's Latin comes out as Welsh. Also she pronounced it wrong-the "v" is actually a "w" sound. I don't know what, but it's true. It also sound pretty much as silly as you think.

    The thing Quintus (I think? The brother) is wearing around his neck is a bulla- it's an amulet given to children so protect them from evil. Worked out pretty good for him.

    The costuming is…. well, it's not great, but the BBC sure knows how to get the feel of Roman clothing right- and all the trim designs were reasonably accurate. Nothing the Sybilline's were wearing had any basis in reality, but, dude. WHO CARES EYES ON THEIR HANDS. Hair styles, however, were pretty damn good.

    The Doctor and Donna as household gods. 😀 Because if they were never there, but still saved the family? of course they must have been gods.

    • drippingmercury says:

      Also she pronounced it wrong-the "v" is actually a "w" sound. I don't know what, but it's true. It also sound pretty much as silly as you think.

      V and U were kind of the same letter in Latin, able to function as a consonant or a vowel depending on it's place in the word. But yeah, since English has the consonantal W that's the easiest way to explain how to pronounce Latin V's.

    • echinodermata says:

      Oh, thank you for the history stuff.

      • redheadedgirl says:

        OH RIGHT. Something else I was going to say.

        I went to an exhibit of artifacts from Pompeii in Minneapolis a couple of years ago. The last room was full of "Death voids" which are plaster casts from the voids that the decomposed bodies in the ash that were found. (The way I remember it is they were digging, and kept finding these random holes, and finally filled a few with plaster to see what they were, and they were people. I may be off on details.)

        Seriously, these things are exactly as awful as they sound. You can see the pain and anguish in their bodies and in a few of their faces- one was even of a dog. NO THANK YOU FOREVER.

        ALso, Google has street-viewed (it's a verb) Pompeii. 😀

    • You are an astral twin of mine, I swear! Thank you for mentioning the plaster casts of the victims. Pyroclastic flows are a bitch. 🙁 The one that kills me the most that I've seen is of a little boy whose dog is trying desperately to shield him from the ash. I cried for hours after seeing that..

    • notemily says:

      What annoyed me about the costumes was that once again, just like in "The Shakespeare Code," NOBODY BOTHERED TO CHANGE CLOTHES. The Doctor and Donna were just wandering around ancient times with their modern clothes on and the Doctor excused it with "anything goes, this is Rome!" Yeah I'm sure they had tailored suits IN ANCIENT ROME.

      Donna did get a badass purple dress later though.

  21. Hypatia_ says:

    Ah, this episode, the only time the Doctor willingly picks up a gun…a squirt gun. Best alien-fighting tool ever.

    The best part of this episode for me is Donna (I will be saying that a lot in Series 4). She's just so perfect for the Doctor. He really needed taking down a few pegs, and Donna's the woman for that job.
    The Doctor: "TARDIS, Time Lord, yeah!"
    Donna: "Donna, human, NO!"

    The scene in the marketplace as the volcano erupts is just horrifying, mainly because, well, it really happened. People going about their daily lives and then suddenly, fire and hot ash falling from the sky, too fast to escape. Nice first trip for Donna there, once again the Doctor's crap flying causes trouble.

  22. petite-dreamer says:

    "Every waking second I can see what is, what was, what could be, what must not."
    The Ninth Doctor touched on this when Rose was all Bad-Wolfy, but it was glossed over in favor of the regeneration. This can't mean that the Doctor is omniscient, since plenty happens that he doesn't expect, but still, Time Lords must have some crazy brains to be able to process that much.

    Also: Oh hai there, Karen Gillian
    <img src="; width="600">

  23. flamingpie says:

    I love this episode for everything that it is.

    Especially the fact that the family is totally based on the one from my old Latin textbook.



    • illusclaire says:

      Did it have Davus the Slavus?

      • flamingpie says:

        I honestly can't say because I have a godawful memory but that SOUNDS FAMILIAR.

        • illusclaire says:

          Wulll my textbook was called ECCE ROMANI and they had Davus the Slavus Romanus, and Flavia went through the portas. Also, lupus sub arborem est.

          Those may be all my Latin Facts.

          • flamingpie says:

            That was totally mine, I googled it! I'm pretty sure we had the 70s edition and we only read the first one and like 2 pages of the second one when Quintus showed up in Rome.

            and you have more latin facts than I do! I couldn't even remember the name of the textbook.

            Although I do have this weird, nearly uncontrollable urge to constantly give my houses in the sims atriums.

            • illusclaire says:

              Yeah I think we only got to book two as well (it was red, the first was blue), and by then most of those who weren't planning to continue to GCSE had almost completely lost interest. In Ecce Romani 1 it was all still new and fresh and everything about it seemed so funny that some fragments still remain.

            • agrinningfool says:

              Atriums are cool. My house has an atrium now.

    • Helena says:

      The dog was called Cerberus, the slave was called Clemens, there was a cook called Grumio and a slave girl called Vanessa who 'pleased Caecilius very much' (ahem) and who Metella (surprise surprise) 'did not find pleasing'. Goodness knows how I remember this when the only word of Latin I remember is 'eheu!' as in 'eheu! Quintus' discus has knocked off the statue's nose!'

      • flamingpie says:

        oh my god your memory puts mine to shame.

        I vaguely remember someone who was their slave named Felix who Caecilius freed because… he… saved him or did something I don't remember I just remember his name was felix and I was disappointed because at that chapter title, I was hoping it would be about a cat.

        I was a weird kid.

      • thehufflepuffproject says:

        I think the slavegirl was named Melissa in the copy of Cambridge we had.

        Grumio delectat ancillam
        Ancilla delectat Grumio

    • pica_scribit says:

      Yes, it's the same family as the one used in the Cambridge Latin books, but they were based on a real family from first century Pompeii. Caecilius, Metella and Quintus were all real people, though Caecilius probably died around the time of the earthquake 17 years before the eruption of Vesuvius. I don't think it's known what happened to Metella and Quintus, though the Latin books give him further adventures.

  24. flootzavut says:


    I just really love everything about them together – in and out of character. I think even my least favourite eps from this series are fantastico. I AM SO EXCITE.

    I also think that in the end the Doctor actually loves (as opposed to is in love with) Donna more than anyone, because she is absolutely his perfect foil.

    And also – I like that this was a thought out decision on her part. With Rose it was an impetuous attempt to escape from life with a guy she found intriguing, with Martha it was lurve and curiosity, but with Donna it was a thought out, grown up decision that there was more to life and she was gonna go grab it by the balls. Plus, even though she's often very courageous, her humanity and fear are often also shown even while she's doing something brave. She's much more of an "everyman" character, and her decision is more adult and much closer to home for the viewer. She's just… ordinary and fabulous, not young and beautiful, not a clever med student, just an ordinary woman who also happens to be fantastic 😀

    Enough waffle. Enjoy, Mark. Enjoy!

    • nanceoir says:

      I also think that in the end the Doctor actually loves (as opposed to is in love with) Donna more than anyone, because she is absolutely his perfect foil.

      Taking different types of love into consideration, I think this is probably at least mostly true. There's more that could be said about the matter, but for now… spoilers.

  25. This ep sort of cemented my love of Donna forever. I liked her quite a lot before but this one sealed the deal. It's just so nice seeing a companion who calls the Doctor out for once. Again, I like Rose and Martha but they were crushing too hard on him to really call him on stuff. Donna has no such qualms and I love her for it.
    Plus, like everyone has said, the chemistry Tennant and Tate have when they play off each other is fantastic.
    Another quote: "I think you've been out sooth-sayed."
    Also thought-the mention of the Cult of Vulcan. Sly shout out to Trekkies?

    • echinodermata says:

      See, now I'm just thinking about the Vulcanologist joke in Buffy. Won't say more because of Buffy spoilers, but I loved that joke.

    • Shiyiya says:

      Vulcan is the Roman version of Hephaestus. Which…. probably also doesn't tell you anything. I'm less familiar with the Roman variations, but in Greek mythology Hephaestus is a blacksmith god also associated with volcanoes. Vulcan>volcano.

      • Vulcan was named after the Roman God Vulcan, who, as you said, was like a beefed-up version of Hephaestus. They believed that his forges were beneath mountains, hence the volcanoes.

    • mkjcaylor says:

      Vulcan the Star Trek planet was supposedly hot and dry. Am fairly certain it was named after the god. However, there was once believed to be a planet between Mercury and the Sun and it was named Vulcan.

      Check Wikipedia for more information, but there were definitely cults that followed Vulcan. Something of interest on Wikipedia I have found is:

      "The word volcano is derived from the name of Vulcano, a volcanic island in the Aeolian Islands of Italy whose name in turn originates from Vulcan."

  26. who_cares86 says:

    Love this episode. The Doctor and Donna really go at eachother right from the start. Visually it looks stunning and it has a good plot (apart from the fact that the family doesn't quite work).

    A little thing people might not have noticed. Doctor says they won't have a word for Volcano until tomorrow. At the end of the episode the family he saves are the ones who invent that word. So history always meant for him to safe them.

  27. psycicflower says:

    This episode is just <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"> I think I'd forgotten just how sad an episode it is.

    I love that we got more information about the TARDIS translation circuit. I'd just assumed that it would translate regardless of what you were saying, even if that's the language everyone else was speaking. It's a fun quirk that trying to speak a language that's foreign to you ends up sounding foreign, whatever your country's language is at the time, to the other person. I also love how being Celtic is there excuse for everything they do that doesn't quite fit in. It's hard not to like the Doctor beating a bad guy with just a water gun.
    The side characters are a bit of a cliché, particularly in the family, but I do randomly kind of love the market stall owner who sold the TARDIS as modern art purely to make a bit of profit because it was on his turf. I love the seer-off for Evelina sticking it to Lucius and his assumptions and because of the sudden increase in drama it brings about.

    Pompeii does throw up all the problems with time travel. The Doctor can't change anything and Donna learns that you can't save everyone. As soon as she starts talking about gathering everyone together to warn them you know it can only end badly. I'm glad though that she understands why it has to happen and why the Doctor has to go through with it and is right there by his side pushing the lever. Still, when Donna is shouting and pleading with eveyone to head to the hills and then just out right begs the Doctor to save someone, any one, she breaks my heart everytime. <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Musically this episode has the first use (I think, can’t remember if it was used in Partners in Crime) of the new Doctor’s theme. A lot less lonely and barren than the first one (which suited that aspect of the Doctor, particularly Nine) and so much grander with the full choir and orchestra.

    • echinodermata says:

      Dammit, I'm not on my normal computer and I have AD gifs on it that I want to upload and post now.

      "Pompeii does throw up all the problems with time travel. The Doctor can't change anything and Donna learns that you can't save everyone. "

      See, I definitely feel like the Doctor can/is able to change stuff, it's just generally in bad form or something. And that's why you get varying time travel stories where doing some things are okay and others not. Or that's my headcanon to explain potential canon contradictions, at least.

      • psycicflower says:

        Arrested Development love!
        <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

        I probably should've phrased that better as can't always change things but I agree with you. Besides this episode gives us the explanation that Time Lords can see time as set or in flux so that can always be used as a hand wavy reason for why it's okay to change things here and there.

    • mkjcaylor says:

      Oh yea, I love the translation circuit bit. Cause here's a funny thing I asked a teacher once:

      We were watching Lion King in French class (yay Disney movies in High School) and I asked my French teacher about other Disney movies– like Little Mermaid. How do they portray the French chef in Little Mermaid in French?

      Apparently, they made him Italian. So instead of le poisson, it is pesce?

      So, I'm totally down with the idea that the translator circuit allows for the same sort of thing!

    • notemily says:

      Something that bothered me during "Voyage of the Damned" was when Astrid was talking to Wilf on Earth–the Tardis shouldn't be translating for her, either! And the dude at the end, he's stuck on Earth now and he probably doesn't speak the language. Little problem there.

  28. Maria says:

    I LOVE Donna. She's amazing. It's also interesting to see the Doctor speak about the fixed points in history, the things that must happen – it's just so hard to accept. And Donna eventually collaborating with the Doctor in what he had to do to save the world, taking some of the responsibility herself, and thus forgiving the Doctor for it as well… that was just beautiful.

    Um. Now, I am so sorry; I hate to be THAT person, but I have to say this because I've noticed it in several of your reviews and I can't contain myself any longer – it's "rein in", as in reining in a horse? Not reign in. Sorry sorry I hate myself too :/

  29. Anon says:

    If you don't mind a little swearing i suggest everyone youtube Malcolm Tucker, trust me you wont regret it!

  30. Inseriousity. says:

    I love this episode. So many good jokes (TK Maxximus, ME. NO. SPEAK. CELTIC, just us girls etc) and an interesting storyline. Plus who needs Ipods when you can communicate with your hands. Shame they all died, they could've developed this amazing discovery.

  31. Vicki_Louise says:

    I am extremely ashamed to say that when Catherine Tate was announced as a full time companion i was a bit dubious. I assumed that because i knew her (and loved her) because of her comedy show, i thought that she'd be useless with the emotional aspects of a series. I was so unbelievably wrong. When i watched this episode i was absolutely astonished! Catherine Tate is an incredible actress, possibly the best i've ever seen. Her emotions are always so real and genuine, there's no over acting, she's just a pleasure to watch, i wish she did more drama 🙁

    I love this episode so much, it's beautiful and very respectful to the people that died. It cemented Catherine/Donna as my favouritest thing ever, i completely fell in love with her and every single time i watch this series it makes me love her even more, which is surely impossible.

    I love that Donna continually has a go at the Doctor to make him save everyone, she has opinions and a mind of her own and she deserves to be listened to by the Doctor. She's wants to be treated as an equal by the Doctor, not just a pretty face to stop the Doctor's boredom and loneliness. She wants to be the Doctors best friend not his guest. She's fierce and brave but very compassionate, even to people she's never met, "Just someone. Please. Not the whole town, just save someone." God i could discuss the awesomeness of Donna until the end of the universe!

    "But the Pyrovile are made of rocks. Maybe they can't be blown up."
    "Vesuvius exploded with the force of 24 nuclear bombs. Nothing can survive it. Certainly not us."
    "Never mind us."

    I love that Donna pushes the leaver with the Doctor, the look on both of their faces is beautiful. The Doctor not only has a companion to share the good times with, he also has someone to share the bad times with, the guilt of the sometimes devastating life he lives and the hard decisions he has to make for the sake of everyone else, because if the Doctor doesn't make those decisons no one will.
    I think it was RTD who said this, in the confidential of this episode, it was something like "the Doctor may not be able to change history, but with Donna's help he can rewrite one line"

    • Minish says:

      I never get tired of hearing people say they were wrong about Tate's acting.

      …So I was I. Being proven wrong made her emotional scenes about 5x more incredible to watch.

  32. Minish says:

    I feel for this episode as I do for The Shakespeare Code, which is that it's quotable, but the story's enjoyable but meh.

    "Don't go getting clever in Latin!"

    "I'm Sparticus."
    "…And so am I."



  33. who_cares86 says:

    If anything this episode proved everyone who thought Catherine Tate was just a dumb silly comedienne completely and utterly wrong. SHE CAN FUCKING ACT.

    • hassibah says:

      I'm always surprised when people think comedians can't act because comedy is about a zillion times harder to pull off than tragedy and they almost always kill at depressing roles.

      • who_cares86 says:

        Yeah comedy is by far the hardest acting job there is. If you can do comedy chances are you can do anything.

        • Emma Thompson came up in the Footlights comedy troupe with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry (the same group the Pythons came out of, much earlier). It always drives her batty nowadays when people assume she can only do SEEEERIUS STUFFZES, because she started out a comedienne — but everyone forgot about it when she made her name in Shakespeare. :->

  34. bookling says:

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    I don't especially love this episode, but god do I love Donna Noble, and her determination to save SOMEONE. She's so human compared to the Doctor, and the way she reminds him of the individual people and the tragedy here is fantastic. I just can't wait for you to watch more of this season, because DONNA NOBLE IS THE BEST.

    Also, this exchange made me laugh so much:
    Donna: Veni vidi vici!
    Vendor: Me… no… speak… CELTIC!

  35. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    They keep the Latin sounds Welsh thing as a running gag. When talking about the TARDIS the Doctor says things like "caveat emptor" and "the status quo" and gets replies like "Oh! You're Celtic. There's lovely" and "You Celtic charms are no use to you now."

    There's also an interesting take on how complicated and counter-intuitive causality could become if there is time travel. The volcano erupting is a fixed point but it only happens because the Doctor makes it happen – so it's either something he was always going to do or the Pyroviles arriving was in danger of changing history and he was restoring it to its correct course. Actually, the second one is probably the case since the Doctor explains the psychic powers and seeing the future as being caused by the explosion making a rift in time that "echoed back into the Pyrovillian alternative". It's an interesting idea of reverse causality – that an event can be so significant that it influences events before it happens.

    [Austin Powers]Oooh I've gone all cross-eyed.[/Austin Powers]

    It doesn't really make sense – but the way it's expressed give it a storytelling logic that I like. And I also like the idea that time travel would make things unpredictable and odd, since I've seen even the most supposedly simple and logical systems behave in ways you wouldn't expect.

    The expediency is, of course, that they tailor the nature of time travel to fit the story they want to tell. But I like the sense of complexity and weirdness that this generates across the series – and I certainly wouldn't want them to be hamstrung in their choice for stories by a need to stick to an all encompassing idea of how time travel works.

  36. Kaci says:

    This episode is like a breakdown of why i love ten and Donna. Screening about Donna is amazing to me and i actually cried rewatching this last night. Also I just love Peter Capaldi but seriously, Donna Noble, y'all. Ten has needed a companion like this for YEARS.

  37. nanceoir says:

    You know, I feel like I can't really add anything useful in these comments, mostly because I'm going to be spending this entire series (not even a bit of an exaggeration) going, "OMG I LOVE DONNA AND THE DOCTOR AND TENNANT AND TATE AND CRIBBINS AND OMGSQUEEEEEE!" Like, I flat-out refuse to consider anything bad about any of these episodes (they are *~swete angle baybees~* that must be protected from every bump and breeze!) because I love Spartacus and Spartacus together (but not like that). 😀

    Add to that the fact that a lot of other people are expressing similar ideas, and, well, I don't want to be too echo-chambery.


  38. PeterRabid says:

    Catherine Tate really knocked it out of the park in this one. I don’t doubt she swayed a lot of the nay-sayers with her performance in the latter half of the episodes. Anyone who said she was just a comedy actress clearly didn’t realize that comedy is the hardest kind of acting and she is a classically trained professional.

    This isn’t an episode I watch all that often, but I really enjoy it when I do. There are some brilliant one-liners and a “The Romans” reference. When an episode refers back to my favorite First Doctor serial, I immediately have a soft spot for it.

  39. Rachel says:

    Popping out of lurkerdom to tell you this!

    (Though someone may have beaten me to it)

    Caecilius was real. He genuinely did live in Pompei and his life was the basis for the Latin textbooks used by British school pupils. I learned latin form reading about him, his wife and son (though not his daughter, she was added in by the writers). Those textbooks were seriously awesome (first and only textbook ever to make cry, honestly) and seeing them referenced made me so excited.

    I would also like to take a moment to celebrate the amazingness that is Peter Capaldi. I love that man so much.

    • virtual_monster says:

      I believe the real Caecilius was a banker and the reason we know he existed is that his financial records and some other documents were unearthed in the ruins of his house. I find it brilliant and mindboggling that someone's accounts could be dug up from so many centuries ago, giving a view of everyday history quite outside of the 'kings and battles' types of records and propaganda masquerading as books, such as Caesar's account of the conquest of Gaul.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Joining in on the Cambridge Latin and Peter Capaldi love, though I came to know and love both of them in America.

  40. Nikki says:

    So Donna is pretty much the BEST THING EVER! <3 I loved this episode. I have many wonderful *feelings* about it, that I don't know how to put into words. I wish I could be articulate. =(

    I have had serious moral issues with the Doctor (most especially with Ten) in the past and here Donna comes along to say everything I want to be said and to throw things in the Doctor's face that need to be thrown. PLEASE DON'T EVER CHANGE DONNA! <3

  41. grlgoddess says:

    This combines several awesome things for me – Doctor Who and Pompeii. Ever since I read that one Magic Treehouse book about Pompeii, I've been in love with ancient Greece and Rome. I don't even care if there are plotholes or anything, THE DOCTOR AND DONNA ARE IN POMPEII AND HE USES A WATER GUN TO FIGHT THE BAD GUY!

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

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    Okay. Sorry. I got lost in my Photobucket. Turns out I have less Doctor/Donna stuffs than I thought…

  42. buyn says:

    I like this episode, because it reinforces that what has happened, has happened, and will happen. Time traveler's can affect little, without creating problems on a very large scale. Rose, I'm looking at you.

    Well, on we go!

  43. drippingmercury says:

    Latin largely developed from Greek and Etruscan language traditions. In very early Latin, both K and C were used, but over time the spellings changed and K became a much less common consonant, being replaced by C. This indicates that the word evolved from a "k" sound, and Classical Latin has many cognates with Ancient Greek that were K in Greek/C in Latin.
    Variant spellings and spelling errors can also indicate how words were once pronounced, since people often spell phonetically. K for C was common mistake, indicating that the two could be pronounced the same.

    There's a step in between having Greek-like "k" sounds and Ecclesiastical "ch" and "ess" sounds for the letter C. That step is Classical Latin, which is what people were speaking during the republic and early empire. The Ks became hard Cs before they became the Ch/G/S sounds in later Romantic languages.

    • Tauriel says:

      Ahh, now it makes sense. 🙂 Thanks for the explanation, drippingmercury. I never studied Classical Latin, my only contact with Latin is the occasional Latin Mass at church… 🙂

  44. Liz says:

    She is my woooooorld.

  45. StarGirlAlice says:

    I heart Catherine Tate forever and always. Donna and the Doctor are my favourites of all time.

  46. Danielle says:

    Donna, I love you so hard. People were not enthusiastic about Catherine Tate, but I think they forget how good an actor you have to be if you want to be a successful comedian.

  47. mkjcaylor says:

    When I was in 8th grade, one of my comp projects was to write a historical fiction story. I based mine in Pompeii and ended up loving the research and the writing. I wrote a first person thing from the perspective of a girl who lived with a family, and they had a dog. (The dog was of course based on the 'Beware Dog' signs they found in Pompeii.) So this Pompeiian family just made me squee.

    I still love Pompeii and the idea of Pompeii, and I'd love to go see the site sometime.

    Supposedly, though, there had been multiple eruptions of Vesuvius over many years, and each city was sort of built on top of the old city after the old one was forgotten. So of course, the one eruption of Vesuvius that we have so thoroughly documented wasn't the only one, and we by no means can blame the Doctor for every eruption. 😉 Just for the most well-documented one.

    I was also kind of hoping the Doctor might save Pliny the Elder. 😉 "Pliny is still remembered in volcanology where the term Plinian (or Plinean) refers to a very violent eruption of a volcano marked by columns of smoke and ash extending high into the stratosphere."

    • Stephanie says:

      In my Latin class, we just did a translation of a passage by Pliny the Younger about Pliny the Elder going to Pompeii when he heard about it.

      • Stephanie says:

        I submitted that before I finished, because I'm discombobulated. Anyway, my friend and I spent the entire class talking about this episode because of it, and then I get online and see this. Weird coincidences.

    • I was hoping we'd see Pliny the Younger, and I half expected that to be Quintus until they said his name. MOAR HISTORY, Y'ALL!

  48. Bobcat says:

    Ahhh! Silly detail, but I love seeing you trying to find the arc. Squinting around for clues.

    It's always hard to filter the intentional themes from the coincidences. I remember hearing that everyone thought there was a moon theme in series 2… total coinkydink.

  49. xpanasonicyouthx says:




    christ, how hard is this.

  50. EmmylovesWho says:

    Donna is flawless. FLAWLESS.
    I really love this episode for the historical aspects.

  51. LittleCaity says:

    Episodes like this are why I think Donna is the Greatest. Companion. Ever. She's so human and wild and vibrant and she plays off the Doctor so well, it's such a pleasure to watch. I relate to her more than any other companion, especially later in the series when things get darker.


  52. Emily says:

    …so did we conquer a bunch of children or our feet?

  53. diane says:

    As was the Mayor's assistant in Buffy. Joss likes to put comedians in dramatic roles.

  54. pica_scribit says:

    This is a total geek-out episode for me. For one thing, PETER CAPALDI!!! I have adored him ever since he co-starred in "Local Hero" in 1983. God, he was adorable then! And he plays Islington in Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere", so I was really excited to see him here.

    Also — and this is the especially geeky part — in high school, I took the Cambridge Latin course, wherein the entirety of book one is set in Pompeii, and the main characters are Caecilius (a banker), Metella and Quintus (Evelina wasn't in the book). At the end of the book, of course, everyone dies as Vesuvius erupts and students get to learn a lot of vocab having to do with ash and burning and death and destruction and despair. Awesome. Quintus escapes, though, and reappears in the second book. The family were real, and a quick look on Wikipedia tells me that Caecilius was probably killed in the earthquake 17 years before Vesuvius erupted.

  55. Emily says:


    *smacks lips*

    Anyone else getting a hint of Lauren Cooper, there? 😀 It's my favourite flavour of sass.

  56. KVogue says:

    I remember watching this episode just a couple weeks ago with some friends, and I was surprised that pretty much all of them agreed with the Doctor about going back. They all said things like how neither of them should have bothered getting involved since they were going to die anyway, and that saving the family was pointless since they couldn't save everyone along with some more spoilery things I'll bring up when it comes. I was pretty surprised, and definitely agree with Donna here. I thought they did the right thing saving the family because it did matter to them. The son got his act together and the daughter is living her life as a normal Roman girl instead of suffering as a seer. The family got closer because of it. I think some of it might be misplaced Donna hate though, since I know that none of them like her very much. I'm 95% sure that if either Rose or Martha were in Donna's place they'd make the Doctor go back too.

    I'm interested to see, are there other people that thought the Doctor was right?

    • turtle_turtle says:

      I agree that both Rose and Martha would have made the Doctor go back. That's what I love about RTD's companions: for all their flaws, all of them have been compassionate. It's not a matter of if they'll help someone, it's a matter of how fast can they get there to do it.

    • arctic_hare says:

      I just don't understand that mindset. Saving someone's life is never pointless. They got to live on and be happier together, how is that pointless?

  57. FlameRaven says:

    Man, the Doctor and Donna play off each other so beautifully, it's just a joy to watch. It only gets better, so enjoy the ride. 🙂

  58. kytten says:

    Ok, back from pub-crawl and babysitting some poor girl who is falling-over drunk. Poor creature.

    Anyway, I love this episode, I really do (bUt I love most of series four, I'll be able to talk about specific episodes in more detail when we get there) and msot of what I love is the interaction between Donna and The Dr.

  59. Tilja says:

    “I love not knowing! Keeps me on my toes. It must be awful being a prophet, waking up every morning, “Is it raining? Yes, it is. I said so.” Takes all the fun out of life.”

    Well, I hope you love it as much as well because YOU ARE SO NOT PREPARED!

    God, it's been so long since I last said it! =3

  60. Gil says:

    I for one spent the whole episode giggling because I swear my 6th grade Latin textbook featured a family with the exact same names as the family the Doctor saves.

  61. Stephanie says:

    Mark. I am disappointed that you didn't mention my favorite line.
    "No men are allowed in the temple of Syballine."
    "Oh, alright. Just us girls then."
    The way he said it just made me laugh my head off.

  62. Angie says:

    I love all the companions. It's really, really hard for me to point one out as my favorite. But I have to say, I think I like the Tenth Doctor best when he's with Donna.

    "Pompeii… we're in Pompeii – and it's volcano day!" I wonder if Cap'n Jack's around somewhere.

    Early in the episode, when the earth shakes, I always think of the Mary Poppins scene when the old salt next door fires off his cannon and shakes the neighborhood.

    "I have a vewwy gweat fwiend in Wome called 'Biggus Dickus'." I don't remember why I wrote that down. OH it may be when the art collector/artist introduces that guy for whom he made the thing. (Did I mention this rotten cold I have? It excuses massive name failure, right?)

    The creepy stone alien in the fire pit reminds me of the 'Return to Oz' version of The Nome King. And I find the Stone Sybilene Seeress genuinely creepy. DNW.

    I think Donna is so pretty, especially in that gorgeous dark purple toga dress thing. I would totally wear it myself. Purple is a color associated with royalty and nobility. It may be interesting to note that the name Donna means 'lady'. So Donna Noble wearing purple is quite fitting, I think.

    Donna's tears are SO effective. I definitely had tears of my own going when she was pleading with the Doctor to save that family. And the Doctor. I can't imagine how hard it must be to have the knowledge of things that are, things that were, things that might be, and things that mustn't be. What a heavy burden, and what a heartbreaking decision he has to make. He's not omnipotent or omniscient; he has to see the wide picture "How will this decision effect the planet/galaxy/universe/all of time and space." Sometimes he needs someone (in this case, Donna) to redirect his attention. I'm so glad they saved that family.

  63. sabra_n says:

    I was pretty much floating on a wave of Doctor Who bliss after "Partners in Crime" and "The Fires of Pompeii". Donna! How are you so wonderful? Seriously, her transformative effect on the show can't be overstated – it's not just Tate's tremendous chemistry with Tennant, but the freedom of having them simply be "mates" and the deep relief of a Companion who keeps Ten grounded.

    But of course, this episode wasn't just about Donna forcing Ten to see the small, personal picture and save that family, but about her being forced in turn to see the world as the Doctor does – to understand the terrible burden he carries and to volunteer to take her own small share of it. The scene at the Vesuvius lever was so hugely resonant and moving. Nine always avoided pulling those levers and Ten was overly eager to, but they both always made their choices essentially alone. Donna forces the Doctor to share not just his thoughts but his responsibilities. She does what the best kind of friend does and takes a bit of his pain as her own.

    She's also responsible for a dialogue exchange that still makes me cheer:

    "What, and you're in charge?"

    "TARDIS, Time Lord, yeah!"

    "Donna, human, no!"

    Donna just refuses to be awed, and she won't take the Doctor's decisions on faith. Which is what makes her joining in the destruction of Pompeii so much more meaningful than it otherwise would have been. She does it with knowledge, not merely on the Doctor's orders – not for him, but with him. If the Doctor is Spartacus, so is she. And they're both household gods. After two years of banging my head against the wall of companion mistreatment, even an episode with an A-plot as sloppy as this one made me practically sing with joy, just because of the way the two leads related to each other.

    Not only was Donna funny, brave, empathetic, and moral – Ten acted like the sort of protagonist I could actually cheer for. He apologized when he insulted the family's religion, he asked nicely for an audience with the high priestess, and in several other small ways he just acted decent rather than like an arrogant sod who just saves his regard for blondes under 30. He had a water gun in his pocket! How could I not love that?

    Other things:

    -The "modern art" bit with the TARDIS was a cute callback to "City of Death", no?

    -Nerdy speculation about the TARDIS translation circuits always delights me, so I was quite pleased with the "Celtic" stuff as well.

    -The Pompeiian father was played by Peter Capaldi, a totally brilliant actor who had a big role in Children of Earth and was also once in a punk rock band with Craig Ferguson.

    -The Doctor's exposition about how the Romans didn't have a word for "volcano" still makes me cringe. HISTORY FAIL. Dude, the Romans knew damn well what a volcano was.

    -The image of Ten reaching out from the white light of the TARDIS and saying "Come with me" is a very close echo of Nine reaching out to Lynda in "Bad Wolf". Between that and the choice made at the lever, this was a very Nine-reminiscent episode for me.

  64. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Did anyone else notice that Caecilius's servant was named Rhombus?

  65. arctic_hare says:


  66. dcjensen says:

    Least Canon Doctor Who comic, ever:

    By someone who hasn't watched Doctor Who.

  67. electric ashera says:

    YES, I think in her own odd way, Donna is very like the Doctor in being a fellow scientist. She questions, experiments, formulates and tests hypotheses.

  68. Oh man, I love this episode because it's a large-scale version of the train problem. So amazing, so fucked-up. Oh, Doctor. The things you have to do.

  69. calimie says:

    That director was an idiot.

  70. Minish says:


    And I hereby rename the Sibylline Sisterhood "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Ham."

  71. Albion19 says:

    Oh god I had forgotten how sad this episode gets ;__;

    The new header looks great Mark 🙂

  72. Ashley says:

    I love Donna and the Doctor. The actors and the writing…SO. MUCH. FUN.

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