Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oh Lurcio!

Catherine TateI feel somewhat ambivalent about last night's episode of Doctor Who.

The Pyrovile rock monsters looked like rejects from the Transformers movie (maybe they thought the Tardis was the Allspark cube?) and sounded like a dodgy haemarroid cream. I also felt that Phil Davis - a terrific actor - was rather wasted as Lucius Petrus Dextrus (what, he can carry Chihuahuas in both hands?).

The 'limbs turning to stone' thing was rather ridiculous too. Phil Davis spent much of the episode running around like a vandalized one armed bandit. I was constantly waiting for the Doctor to score three cherries (but alas the Syballine Oracles weren't at all interested in his sonic screwdriver).

And yet the story overall did pack quite a bit of emotional punch. The history of Pompeii is well documented but still manages to move (unless you're as hard hearted as the Pyrovile of course) and the writers capitalized on this resonance by wisely focusing our attention on a select few of the town's inhabitants - making the sense of tragedy personal rather than general. The scene where Donna tries to rescue a small child from the panic before it is snatched away by its mother was superb. Very simple but it hit the target big time and Catherine Tate proved beyond all doubt that she is a superb actress in the harrowing scenes that followed.

I also liked the fact that Donna is acting as a "moral earth" to Tennant's Doctor - grounding him a little in the minutiae of existence rather than merely seeing the universe as a massive binary tapestry of what is and what is not meant to be. Their relationship is set to be far more rewarding for us viewers than the Doctor's previous travels with the lovelorn Martha Jones.

If only Donna could lose some of her Essex girl attitude when under life threatening stress... it is a little off putting to have her shout things like, "'Ere babe, no, leave it aht, wot you fink you're doin'?" etc when the proverbial is about to hit the fan. OK, I'm exaggerating a bit but I was half expecting her to whip out a white hand bag and pointy stilettos from beneath her amply bosomed toga.

The rine in Spine falls menly on the pline, anyone?

17 comments:

MOTHER OF MANY said...

Even with the things that you pointed out, we still found it to be very entertaining.
The Pyroville reminded me of The Thing from The Marvel Comics that my brother read years and years ago.

Steve said...

That's true actually, Ally - a cross between The Thing and the Human Torch... I wonder if we can expect a stretchy rubber monster in a future episode?!

Reluctant Blogger said...

I don't watch Dr Who these days but I will do next week as the Ood are back, I believe. Such handsome creatures.

I am looking forward to seeing what Catherine Tate is like in her new role. The last series didn't work for me and I gave up on it but I shall give the new series a try next week.

It's funny really how blogging is leading me to watch more TV just so I can say something in comment boxes!

Steve said...

Deepest apologies if I'm leading you astray Gina! I actually think Catherine Tate is doing a terrific job and have to say that... gulp... I prefer her as a companion than drippy Martha Jones...

Daisy said...

i miss watching the new dr. who's...i may just have to pop back over...soon...

Steve said...

Daisy, I'd give it a week or two before investing in the air fare if I were you... just to make sure the quality is consistent! ;-)

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

I can't separate her from Lauren "Am I bovvered?"
I just want her to suddenly relapse into "Does my face look bovvered?" when the Ood breathe out their threatenings against her.

Steve said...

As Old Cheeser knows, I'd love her to lapse into East End Gran whilst in the Tardis... or even "How very dare you"... Options that Russell T Davies may even be considering right now...!

Inchy said...

Bring back Tom Baker.

Bah, humbug.

TimeWarden said...

I'm afraid I thought the episode far from "lovely jubbly"! Especially the first 15 minutes!! It did improve after that but I still can't warm to Donna Noble. Why Tate plays her the same as one of her comedy characters I can't understand because, watching "Confidential" afterwards, she doesn't speak/act/behave like that in real life!

In fact, "Doctor Who Confidential" was more interesting and certainly more informative! Especially the tour guide, who was also highly amusing, as he showed David Tennant around the preserved ruins of old Pompeii!!

Steve said...

Inchy, Tom Baker is a damned scary man but I'd welcome him back too.

TimeWarden, yes I thought the tour guide was most entertaining too... "a big-a volcano, a big-a explosione of fire eh? You a-lika my momma's lasagne!" Karen and I would love to visit Pompeii but we both watched a documentary a few years back which revealed that, because of the archaic layout of the roads, if people did have to evacuate it would be instantly gridlock within 10 minutes...!

The Sagittarian said...

Dare I suggest "bring back Rose" - I can't really get enthused about the prospect of the Doctor not having just one trusty/lusty companion. It just doesn't seem right to "deviate" so far from the usual, and I'm not just saying that cos the ages of the young wimmin seems to be getting even younger. I think this time round Rose has been the best. but thats just me. And I haven't seen the new series yet way down here!!

Steve said...

Amanda, I think Rose has certainly been the love of the Doctor's life (well in this incarnation at least) so there's bound to be fireworks when/if she does make a return (don't want to ruin any plots for you)... but it is quite nice to have a companion that isn't mooning over the Doctor and swooning every time he whips out his blue-tipped sonic device...!

Old Cheeser said...

Enjoyed it overall and Donna's concern for wanting to save Pompei was touching. Nice compromise at the end.

God knows what would happen if CT did lapse into East End Gran, Steve! Don't put ideas into RTD's head!

I enjoyed it overall, good use of the Roman set and Donna's concern for the people of Pompei was well portrayed (with a nice compromise at the end).

Some of the lines grated though, especially "TK Maximus" and the attempt to "normalise" the Romans speech didn't always work - the cockerney stall holder was just annoying?! Phil Davis could have been better used. Peter Capaldi's son was quite a cutey, I half-wished there'd been a sudden gust of wind to lift his toga...Carry on up Pompei anyone?

Steve said...

Hi OC, yeah the cockney stallholder was awful as were all the lame jokes. Karen informed me that Petrus Dextrus means "stone right arm" or thereabouts. Surely the Doctor would have been bright enough to suss that out?! The set was beautiful and as TimeWarden previously reported on his blog it was used in Rome... in fact I was quite expecting to see Titus Pullo strutting down the street to carry Donna Noble off into the night... now that'd be a show!

Rol said...

Donna Noble has to die.

That's all.

Steve said...

Rol, I'm sensing slight antipathy from you towards Ms Tate...