Doctor Who Series 4

I went off the series last year. There was something missing from the show that I couldn't put my finger on, and even now, a year later, I'm still not exactly sure what it was that 'stuck in me clack'. I know for certain that I disliked the Daleks in Manhattan episodes without apology, and the series finale was ruined for me by the way the Doctor got out of the (almost) impossible situation. It was a nice idea in theory, but dramatically it was only one step away from a deus ex machina resolution. Then again, maybe I was just in a bad mood. I would love to watch the series again, just to see if the problem lay with me or the series itself.

Anyway, that lengthy preamble brings me to the current series which finished last Saturday with a bang (lots of them actually), a screaming Davros, and a plethora of guest characters all getting their moment to shine in the biggest series finale yet. And I enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, the series as a whole was, for me, the most enjoyable so far. The naysayers (and there are oh-so-many naysayers out there, just waiting in the nay-saying trenches of cyberspace to nay-say at the first given opportunity!) gave Catherine Tate a rough ride the first time she appeared in the Christmas special in 2006; so when it was announced she was returning as a regular companion for an entire series, well, I think the nay-sayers went into overdrive. However, history shows that they also did this to Billie Piper before the revitalised Doctor Who was even screened on TV! And what happened? The majority of people loved Rose by the end of the first series. Well, fans of the show did, anyway. The naysayers will never be satisfied.

Catherine Tate showed she could handle the drama and the comedic moments with equal aplomb. Her performances both in Turn Left, when she was about to be transported back in time, and her final scenes with the Doctor at the end of Journey's End showed she was an actress as well as a comic performer. I enjoyed her portrayal of Donna throughout the series, and if we occassionally saw shades of her "am I bovvered?" persona creeping in, what does it matter? That's a part of her, innit? Her story arc and its low-key conclusion were brilliantly performed by all, especially Tate and, of course, David Tennant, who carried the weight of the show to its heartbraking denoument with true class. I love his Doctor, and he is now so comfortable in the role it's hard to imagine anyone else taking over. The fright we all had at the cliffhanger ending to the penultimate episode ("I'm regenerating!") really brought it home how much I enjoy him as the Doctor and how much I would hate to see him leave the show. The good news is, he's happy, the producers are happy, and, on the whole, the fans are happy, too. I understand Tennant will be present for at least next year's specials (two Christmas specials and two further specials over the course of 2009), and things look set for him to be around for the next complete series in 2010. Let's hope so.

News that Stephen Moffatt (The Empty Child/Doctor Dances, Blink and Silence in the Library/Forests of the Dead) will be taking over from Russell T Davies as chief writer is very welcome news. Roll on Christmas and the Return of the Cybermen!


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