The fourth series of RTD's Doctor Who hit our TV screens last night with something of a greasy splat... little blobby creatures made from the excess body fat of the clinically obese were running amuck in London. Well. Not running exactly. More like waddling very slowly and occasionally hyperventilating when they passed a chip shop.
The evil Miss Foster - deliciously played by Sarah Lancashire - had come up with the ultimate diet pill that literally made your fat "just walk away". So what's the problem, I hear you ask? Well. To maximise productivity of these little creatures - Adipose, as they were called (such a stupid name, they sound like a brand of trainers) - the unfortunate dieters were being reduced to nothing but a pile of oversized clothes. Britain's burgeoning obesity problems solved in one fell swoop you might think but no... by a marvellous script coincidence both the good Doctor and Donna Noble were attempting to put a stop to it.
Ta da! Welcome to the wacky world of the BBC's Doctor Who.
Actually, it was fairly entertaining stuff and although it didn't say anything intelligent about the UK's obesity problems and the worldwide obsession with quick-fix dieting I suppose the story could be seen as mildly satirical. It just didn't go anywhere with it. The Adipose themselves were a bit of a disappointment too. Way too cutesy by half. Little blocks of lard with arms and legs and, rather bizarrely, a single solitary tooth in their little Mr Men mouths. If the Pillsbury Dough-boy and the Michelin Man ever spent a night together in unholy bodily union, the Adipose would be the end result.
But at the end of the day the Adipose were a sideshow. The real focus of last night's episode was Donna Noble's promotion to Doctor Who's travelling companion number twenty-whatever...
So, how did she do? Was she a harridan? Was she a travesty?
I'm possibly going to break ranks with a great number of people when I say that no, I don't think she was. The girl did good. Sure there was the occasional nod to the "Catherine Tate comedy persona" - mouthing "Oh my God" through the window at the Doctor for example - but other than that she was reigned in by the script and her character was given more character and less caricature. And it worked. All at once she was less annoying than her Christmas special debut and became more of a sympathetic, well rounded, likeable character. And a strong character too.
It'll actually be nice to have a foil for the doctor who isn't mooning over him and sighing over his every twitch with the sonic screwdriver. Martha's moo-cow eyes last series were seriously starting to grate on my nellies. In fact as was said on Doctor Who Confidential afterwards: Donna Noble is a "grown up" whereas Rose and Martha were lovelorn teens / twenty-somethings. The Doctor has at last got an older woman on board the Tardis and it might just do him some good.
So dare I say it? A promising start to the fourth series! And Bernard Cribbins as Donna's grandfather played a blinder too.