Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Partners in Crime"

In this series opener a good reintroduction to the character of Donna Noble from "The Runaway Bride" is somewhat marred by a stupidly childish plot about people being converted into fat babies. My biggest complaint is probably that the character of the Matron is an unbelievable ham. She walks around delivering scathing comments and dispensing tiny evil smiles like a female villain from a cartoon and there's even a shot where she spins around in a big leather desk chair like she's Blofeld. It isn't funny or menacing, and it's absurd to think that this foster mother would be so horrible. It would provide so much more ambiguity to the story if she was concerned and protective but she's more just needlessly menacing and cruel because RTD believes we should be told what to feel and never think. There's not much more to say about the plot; it's a very strong indicator of everything this era is about when the scientific explanation of how the pills work is muffled for the sake of a joke from the Doctor about being in the film booth. They really don't care about the science in this show at the moment, do they? Let's move onto the characters.
It's good to see so much development from Donna. She was pretty annoying in her first appearance and it's nice that her one experience with the Doctor has caused her to mature significantly. It's also good to see Wilf from the previous episode reintroduced as her grandfather because he's pretty decent quality and will continue to be so for the mercifully short remainder of the Tenth Doctor's tenure. Unfortunately yet again we have the 'horrible old pushy mum' archetype shoved in our faces. Rose had it, Martha had it, and now Donna has it. I'm unsure why RTD couldn't put his hangups and psychological issues away when he wrote this stuff and it makes some elements seem incredibly repetitive by this point.
At least for once we have a completely platonic relationship established between the Doctor and the Companion, something RTD establishes in this story as if it needed to be said and as if somehow the Doctor's constantly getting into romantic mishaps with his friends. I really wish we could have avoided this by preventing the romantic side of the Doctor entirely but as we know now he is suffering immense psychological trauma which has only just caught up to him in the aftermath of the Time War and therefore isn't entirely responsible for his actions. That's still my theory, anyway.
It's also rather tiresome to see the Doctor being all hesitant and laying down the disclaimers before Donna comes aboard. These are all hangups and neuroses with which RTD has burdened the character of the Doctor, and the mistakes the Tenth Doctor has made become increasingly frustrating because of how out of character they are. If the Doctor is so disturbed by his lifestyle, why does he keep going? As it is the way RTD develops the Doctor's character makes his behaviour increasingly inconsistent with the fundamental nature of the show and while it was temporarily interesting to give the Doctor these anxieties about his lifestyle, the only options now are to have the Doctor deal with them, which he refuses to do, or let the Doctor carry himself onwards and downwards into a mess of angst. Surely the Doctor has some new and inventive alien method of coping? Oh wait, didn't the Second Doctor let his family 'sleep in his mind', for instance? Guess they don't care about prior character developments in this instance.
There's not much more to say about Partners in Crime apart from the appearance of Rose. I get the impression she knew Donna by this point, so why didn't she run down the street and tell the Doctor that Davros was building a superweapon capable of destroying all reality? But as usual RTD wants to establish a pretentious sense of mystery to keep the thickies watching. I can't believe he barely managed a full series without Rose. How tiresome.

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