Written by: Russell T Davies
Directed by: James Strong
The One Where: Series four opens with Donna Noble (Catherine Tate’s character from “The Runaway Bride”) searching for The Doctor – and finding him, as he investigates a diet pill that causes people’s fat to literally walk off them.
Verdict: It’s a fast-paced romp of an episode, one of Davies’ family-pleasing scene setters, and the enjoyable surprise is: Tate is brilliant. She slots right into the role of the Doctor’s new "mate" with ease, and she also delivers instances of genuine humour. I love the moment when they see each other across a room where the villains are holed up, oblivious to the fact they’ve been spotted. And there’s a good gag about the Doctor wearing the same suit. But the humour is forced in places: when Foster the super-nanny plunges to her death, it’s a pure Wile E Coyote cartoon fall. This episode is fun, but it doesn’t have the wow factor of last year’s “Smith and Jones” opener.
Influences: The alien mothership resembles the classic saucer out of Close Encounters, and makes an unearthly honking sound like the invaders from the recent War of the Worlds remake.
LMAO: “You’re a journalist? Well just make it up then,” the Doctor tells an investigative reporter. That’s us told.
Speculation: What is the Shadow Proclamation to which the Doctor refers? The only other time we’ve heard of this was in the first episode of the Christopher Eccleston series. Does it refer to a treaty of galactic law drawn up after the Time War? I suspect we’ll hear more of this.
Trivia: The alien method of reproduction is described as “parthenogenesis”. It means asexual reproduction, where offspring simply split away from their parent; it occurs naturally in some species of plants and animals in the wild.
Cool FX: The cute alien babies were made with crowd-generating Massive FX technology, originally designed for the Lord of the Rings movies. This represents the technology’s TV debut.
Donna’s mother: "It’s not like the 1980s. No-one’s unemployed these days except you."