Okay, so I just finished watching Partners in Crime, the first episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who. And I loved it.
As I have alluded to in recent posts, things have not been all happiness and light in the Penelopecat household. There have been ups (managed to pull off a huge program at work, a comics convention, that attracted a thousand people, plus I got promoted) but they seem so tiny compared to the downs. Well, one big down, really; my dad passed away a week before Christmas, and it still haunts me, every single day. Sometimes there are things that distract me, but I never forget. But Doctor Who has always been more than a distraction for me, more than just a favorite TV show. In the words of Paul Cornell, it's a lifestyle choice. Whether it's a book or a magazine or a comic or whatever, Doctor Who has always been something I could completely lose myself in. And a new TV episode that I've never seen before? Better than anything else in the world.
And it helps that the show goes from strength to strength. Catherine Tate, returning as Donna from Christmas, 2006's Runaway Bride is phenomenal. I loved Billie Piper as Rose during the first two series. I loved Freema Agyeman as Martha last year. But after one new episode of Donna, I don't particularly miss either one. (Having said that, I'm looking forward to Martha's return. And, of course, Rose.) I know only too well that Donna/Catherine Tate had her detractors; the vehemence of some online comments is what keeps me backed away a bit from online fandom. But me, I loved her in The Runaway Bride, especially at the end, when we see how Donna has grown over the course of her adventure with the Doctor. I swear, anyone complaining that Catherine Tate only played the character as shouty, self-centered, stupid, and soulless must have turned the show off five minutes before the end. Their loss.
This episode builds on the development we've already seen Donna go through, and she is a fully rounded-out character. She's clever, she's inquisitive, and she's oh so funny. And she's not funny because she's playing a stylized character in her own comedy series, but because she's a woman with a sense of humor. She also has some wonderful moments of warmth, particularly in her scenes with her granddad. Partners in Crime is the perfect title for this episode, because that's how the Doctor and Donna come across: as equals. With Rose and Martha, with the various shades of romance in their pairings with the Doctor, plus their relative youth, that sense of equality wasn't quite there.
Once again, I find myself not at all interested in the online reaction, because I can predict the complaints. I'm going to generalize here, but the more comedy in an episode, the more upset the vocal parts of the fan community seem to get. Whatever. I laughed out loud over and over again, but not because the episode was played for laughs at the expense of the story. The humor fit right in, although it must be said that the story wasn't as dark as other episodes. That's the thing, though; this is a show that can go up and down that scale with ease. And that's why, as much as I like Battlestar Galactica and admire the quality of writing and acting and all that, it's too dark and joyless for me to give myself up to it so completely, the way I can with Doctor Who.
So excited for next week. And I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention That Sudden Surprise Toward the End, but I don't want to give anything away. So I will just leave you with this: loved it, loved it, loved it.