I've given up caring about Dr Who recently, in honesty. It was never my favourite show to start with, but I've grown more and more apathetic as the series has gone on. Hence why my reviews have gotten quicker. Here's my review for episode 10, which by no means was a rubbish ep.
Russell T begins his four-episode dash to the finish with an almost entirely Donna-less episode that almost single-handedly proves how much the Doctor needs a foil. The twosome have gone for a relaxing spa-break, which brilliantly means something completely different for each of them. While Donna wants to kick back and sunbathe, the Doctor is itching to go see things. If there’s one thing that Davies has always captured well, it’s the personality of the Doctor, and this episode gives him a strong showing. He goes off and leaves Donna (who gets her own Donna-centric episode next week), thus becoming the star of his own show as the trainride he takes is hijacked by… something.
Davies takes this admittedly short premise and plays it as a psychological affair, seeing how different people react to the pressure of, y’know, alien stuff. The Doctor is accompanied by a ragtag gang of clichés, including a professor and his assistant, a family where the son is infinitely smarter than the parents, and the mysterious stranger, played by Lesley Sharp. This is where things fall apart. Whilst the premise is competent enough, Davies flunks because each of his characters has to bend around the will of the plot. Remember how I said the Doctor is always well-characterised? I lied. He’s well characterised until Davies needs him to not be in order to further the plot. The episode thus descends into an array of shouting which gets nobody anywhere.
The atmosphere that was all around during the two library episodes is completely gone, creating an episode that seems strangely dull and certainly not as intense as would be required. Things happen, and I won’t spoil any of them, but they don’t seem to be as bad as the central characters make out. The actors here, by the way – playing it by the book. They’re all decent, and lord knows Lesley Sharp has a VERY difficult job with what her role asks of her… and they’re all competent enough. Nobody really shines out, and by the end you want most of them to die (and maybe they do? I will never tell). Then again, that’s usually the way with supporting casts.
So basically a load of people are trapped in a small area, strange things happen, things escalate, and then there’s a kinda flat ending which doesn’t help matters much. Donna seems to be acknowledged by the entire Dr Who team as a calming presence now, though, which helps the final scene out tremendously. Overall though, the episode has FILLER written all over it with black marker-pen. It’s not awful by any means, just… competent.