Series 4 of Doctor Who stood out as one of the best in the entire run of the series, easily. It’s difficult to truly describe it, and it would be totally pointless to say “oh dude, you gotta watch it!” I figure you would want an idea of what you’d be getting. Plus, I’m in no way as talented of a writer as Dale Leif, or Ryoko. My recaps are boring as hell. Plus, there are dozens of sites out there that have absolutely fantastic recaps… so go to them if you want a recap. Or ask Dale, Leif, or Ryoko… they would probably be able to do a far better job than those other sites. As for me? I’ll do what I do best.
Death Follows The Doctor
An unbelievably large amount of people die in Series Four. People die on the Titanic. Thousands die when they were turned into the Adipose. Pompeii. Many of the Ood and their enslavers. Hundreds of humans when the Sontaran invade. The Doctor’s own daughter. Roughly ten of eleven slain by a huge wasp. A hostess killed herself. The entire universe died (yes, the entire f**king universe… and the viewer got to watch it happen slowly). And lord only knows how many died when the Daleks stole the Earth. Pretty much every episode had to do with people dying all around the Doctor. It’s like the Doctor is the eye of the storm and everyone dies within his proximity. Not saying that he’s the one killing, but it really seems like death follows him around like a newborn puppy. Most of the death was meaningless. All those innocent people slaughtered. The Doctor tended to arrive too late to save so many.
It makes me wonder how he always acts to cheerful and upbeat throughout all of it. It really softened the blow a lot, to an extent that it doesn’t feel like all those people died… But they did… Because death really does follow the Doctor. Everyone dies, except him.
Always Alone / Never Alone
This season saw the return of two companions that were “lost.” We saw another companion vow to never leave the Doctor’s side. In fact, the only reason why she left was because she lost all her memories. It was one of those awesomely tragic moments where we can feel the Doctor’s suffering. One of the few things that Doctor Who, almost every incarnation of the Doctor, could never do was say goodbye.
The companion plays a critical role in the Doctor Who series as a whole. The companions give the Doctor the justification he needs to travel and explore the world. At this point in his life, the Doctor probably had all the adventures you could imagine. So now, he’s sharing the universe with someone new. It’s a little selfish of the Doctor, really. He lives his life through someone else.
Consider what was arguably the greatest moment for the Tenth Doctor. He and a large number of companions he had with him on the Tardis worked together to return the Earth back into orbit, including one companion from the older Doctor Who series! The Doctor revealed one of those fun secrets of the series. The Tardis was designed to have six pilots. It always shook because the Doctor had to do the work of six people. So we got to watch the Tardis fly as it was meant to fly while it towed the Earth back to its proper place in the galaxy.
It was very much a moment of triumph and teamwork. All those people believed in the Doctor and was there for him, just as much as he was there for them. But…. what happened soon after? He dropped off everyone to their respective homes and stayed with Donna Noble. Her mind was irreparably damaged because of what she did and was forced to have her memories of the Doctor wiped to save her life. So he returned her to her family and started to leave, walking out in the pouring rain….
Wilfred Mott (Donna’s Father): Oh, Doctor… what about you now? Who’ve you got? I mean… all those friends of yours…
Doctor Who: They’ve all got someone else. Still, that’s fine. I’m fine.
He wasn’t fine. Not by a long shot. He lost his companion… sure, she was alive. But she wasn’t coming back. She could never be told about the Doctor without the risk of retriggering her memories and killing her. So the Doctor left Donna’s place, with her not recognizing him… all alone. No more than like 15 minutes after being with all those friends, he was alone in the pouring rain.
In his mind, he has nobody to really connect to. It’s that type of loneliness that’s strangely relatable. You can’t tell me you haven’t felt alone in a crowd or unable to feel like you can connect to people who surround you. In that very specific way, the Doctor is always alone. And that’s made very apparent in that scene.
The Daleks stole the Earth
I have to admit, I did not see that coming. Total dick move by them. And the way it was done, with the Daleks actually relying on prophecy froma Dalek that went insane… that’s bleedin’ fantastic!
It was done fairly well. Not only did we have two Doctors there… neither of them could save the day. It took the companion to step up and do the impossible, becoming part time-lord. She dominated the Daleks like nobody else ever had. I think they may have been far more scared of her than they ever were of the Doctor! Sadly, her existence was part of what the Ood foretold as heralding the end of the Doctor’s life.
The season had some very nice horror moments! Most of them came from ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘Forest of the Dead’ with the living shadows and people’s faces melting. Jesus, that was disturbing. When they try for horror on this show, they tend to do a very good job with it. And it is never overdone… only saved for special episodes!
She guest-starred on the Christmas special for Dr Who, playing the character named Astrid. Speaking as a guy… WOOHOO!!!!!
The episode was called ‘Voyage of the Damned.’ As a Dr Who episode will go, it was alright. You have mechanical angels as the monster of the week with a human antagonist behind it all. It was a fairly routine episode, which was far better than most other shows out there. It’s pretty awesome that I can say that with complete sincerity…. anywho… seeing her was a nice treat!
My One Complaint
I think she’s a fine character and all, but the way she was introduced on Series Four actually upset me. She claimed that the 10th Doctor wasn’t Dr Who yet. He was still becoming the Doctor…
You know, I get that fanboys will always have their favorites. This sort of debate is in every single piece of science fiction out there. Star Trek. Star Wars. Battlestar Galactica. Every fan out there has the one they think is best. It’s cool. That’s what being a fan is all about.
But there’s no way a character IN THE SHOW should declare a favorite or that one character is somehow better than another character. That’s a fanboy debate, not something that belongs in a show. It just felt like the writers in the show was making a subtle jab at the 10th Doctor, claiming that a future Doctor would be better. And screw that!
Leave the debates to the fans.
My Own Dang Opinion
Yeah, I sounded rather negative in this review of the 4th series. It wasn’t meant to be. Overall, it was possibly the finest series in the history of Doctor Who. It had pretty much everything you could hope for. Adventure. Mystery. Chaos. The universe falling apart.
Oh. And Donna was possibly the greatest companion the Doctor ever had. With every other companion, there might have been hints of romantic tension. But with Donna, she and the Doctor were friends. Actual friends! And that worked so well for what happened on the series. The Doctor needed a friend more than anything else. Someone who was strong-willed and not afraid to speak her mind.
I guess if I were say anything in conclusion to this series… it is this. Series four filled me with a sense of wonder that I loved. The Doctor faced some of the biggest challenges that I could imagine and he came out smiling. What more could you ask for?
Thank you David Tennant for a wonderful ride.