Series Four of the relaunched Doctor Who got underway on 5 April, 2008 in a story written by Russell T. Davies, and while it is not my favourite story, it is definitely a lot of fun. And as a plus, it did bring Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) back into the life of the Doctor (Tennant).
Donna, intent on finding the Doctor, does a bit of sleuthing into strange cases. She also advises her grandfather, Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) to keep an eye out for a blue box, the TARDIS, because she now realises that travelling with the Doctor is what she really wants to do.
They find themselves investigating Adipose industries that is promising a diet pill, where the fat literally walks away.
There is a wonderful sense of play as the two end up crossing paths until they find themselves reunited while the villain Ms. Foster (Sarah Lancashire) monologues.
As we learn, the fat is walking away, literally, as the Adipose (little adorable aliens) are created from fat cells, and we learn that Foster is running a bit of a nursery.
It seems the Adipose have lost their breeding planet, and Foster offered them up Earth.
Once Time Lord and soon to be Companion get thrown together there is a lot of fun to be had, and the Doctor and Donna make a great team. Donna has mellowed out a bit since her appearance in The Runaway Bride, and she has become a fantastic character.
There is also the plotting of the season arc, as we catch a glimpse of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)!
The Fires of Pompeii written by James Moran first aired on 12 April, 2008 and while it brought us to Volcano Day, it also seems to be a very important episode for Who in general. Not only are Tennant and Noble present in their roles, but there’s also a future Doctor, Peter Capaldi, as well as a future Companion, Karen Gillan.
Arriving in Pompeii, the Doctor has the TARDIS sold out from under him, to Caecillius (Capaldi) while Donna, upon learning their location and the date, is determined to save as many people as she can.
The Doctor explains about fixed points in space-time, but Donna keeps pushing, and we learn that Romans didn’t have a word for volcano until it happened.
Meanwhile, we learn that there is an alien race living within the volcano, working to repair their spacecraft, making citizens of the city create their needed circuits out of stone. A Sisterhood (which Gillan’s character is part of) serves the aliens but the offworlders have kept Volcano Day a secret.
There are hints and revelations of what is coming through the course of the season, as one of the side effects of the alien presence in the mountain is an enhanced ability to glean knowledge and the future. But it comes at a terrible cost.
The best part of the episode, besides the fact that Latin went spoken under the influence of the TARDIS interpretation circuits sounds like Celtic, is the moral dilemma presented to the Doctor: he knows Pompeii has to happen and claim the city and its inhabitants, but Donna is going to do her damnedest to save the day. Or just one family… And why did the volcano really explode? That revelation is heartbreaking.
Next time, we encounter the Ood again…