Doctor Who, Review, Television

Doctor Who Season 4: Hitting a Stride

I’d say that this is the best season of the show. Unfortunately, season five exists. So I can’t really do that. But hey! Second place isn’t bad!

Out of all the 10th Doctor seasons, this is the one I’d argue is the most consistent in its quality. It properly balances compelling sci-fi with the series’ signature corny absurdity, delivering some of the most interesting and memorable episodes in the entire series! It has some of the best characters, most interesting stories, and even some of the best visuals (for a 2008 sci-fi show, at least). Not all of it is great, there are still a few really stupid episodes. But the ratio leans much harder onto the positive side this time around!

Mainly because we get Donna back this season and she is absolutely brilliant! But we’ll get to that.

Story: Bring Back All the Plot-Threads!!

This season is simultaneously the most genuinely great and the most ridiculous. It is completely bonkers and I fucking love it! Although there are still a few episodes that I don’t particularly care for.

After parting ways with Martha (and a pretty dumb adventure with the Titanic in space), the Doctor carries on his adventures. One of these lead to a reunion with Donna Noble, who has been investigating any strange activity in the hopes of meeting the Doctor again. When the two are reunited, they take off on wild adventures through time and space! But things aren’t all sunshine and roses. Several times throughout their adventures, they come across distraught aliens who’s home planets have mysteriously vanished. On top of that, a familiar character is pushing to return, carrying with her a warning of incredible danger.

Like I said, this season has some really strong episodes! ‘Partners in Crime’ is the best first episode so far, featuring the best dialogue in the whole series! ‘Planet of the Ood’ is a fantastic follow-up to the first Ood story, developing the species in an interesting, organic way! ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’ and ‘The Poison Sky’, while it does have some fairly cheesy moments and dumb writing, is an amazingly fun and intense two-parter that brings back a classic enemy to fantastic effect! ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’ is an emotional one, one that perfectly utilizes the Doctor’s character while spinning a super engaging, unique sci-fi war story! ‘Midnight’ and ‘Turn Left’ are two of the creepiest, most interesting stories yet (although I think ‘Turn Left’ is a much better episode overall).

And then there are ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘Forest of the Dead’. These two episodes are easily, without a doubt, without hyperbole, the best episodes in the Russell T. Davies era! Kind of ironic, considering they were written by Steven Moffat. They have the best character writing, the most interesting mystery, and the creepiest and most intimidating monster! Plus, it introduces River Song!

Whether you like her or not is up to you. Personally, I love her! But I think we can all agree that her story had a pretty shitty payoff.

Still, no season is perfect (unless it’s season five). ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’, while highly entertaining, is incredibly stupid and corny as hell, even by Doctor Who standards. The season finale, ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End’, while they are still very good episodes, are jam-packed with waaaaay too many plot threads. Some of which are awesome, others of which are really stupid. Again: not bad. Just really dumb.

In terms of overall writing, this season is spectacular! The dialogue, while it is still corny as fuck (never change, Doctor Who), is easily the best out of any season so far! The characters, both those that last through the whole season and those that only stick around for an episode, are some of the most well-written so far. It has some of the most memorable moments in the entire show, some of which people will still quote to this day!

For better or for worse.

It also builds off of a lot that was setup in the previous three seasons. There are the returning characters, of course, but there also some more subtle additions! Hell, they even incorporate not one, but two Doctor Who spin-offs in the finale! If you watched the previous seasons, you’d find a lot of enjoyable fanservice in this one!

It’s not a flawless piece of science fiction. But by this show’s standards, it’s spectacular! It’s still ridiculous and more than a bit stupid. But it’s so much damn fun and it has some truly, unironically great writing! This season was the first step towards the show’s peak in quality!

Presentation wise, this season’s the same as the last one. So let’s just move on, shall we?

Performances: This is now the Catherine Tate show

Let’s be real. Not only is Donna easily the best character this season, but Catherine Tate is masterful in bringer here to life! She’s charismatic as hell, perfectly capturing the character’s loud-mouthed strengths as well as her insecurities! Not once, at any point in the show, does she fail to deliver! She’s an absolute scene-thief and I love it!

I also really love Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott. He perfectly captures everything that makes Will a great character: he’s a lovable grandpa, through and through. His character has some of the strongest moments in the whole show and he always manages to deliver! Thank god he came back later! If you don’t love Wilfred, there is something wrong with your brain!

Everyone else is really good, from major to minor characters. David Tennant, Billie Piper, and all the other returning actors are all as amazing as ever, earning their spots in this season. Not a single actor drags the story down at any point.

Even if some of the villains are corny as hell. Hey, they make it work! And it’s Doctor Who! What did you expect?

Conclusion

When my siblings and I were kids, we’d often sit around and watch the same thing over and over again together. What can I say, we were lazy kids. We all shared a love of the same shows (most of the time) for various reasons. The more we rewatched it, the more we loved it.

We watched this season a lot.

This is my second favorite season of the entire show. It doesn’t stand on its own as well as the other seasons, but it plays off of the others splendidly! The time sink of watching the others to get here is definitely a consuming one. But they’re enjoyable enough to keep it from being tedious. Plus, reaching this one makes it all worth it!

Now, only one roadblock stands between me and the best season. Thankfully, these roadblocks are all (mostly) good.

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