Up, Pompeii

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 by

There was Martha. There was Sarah Jane. There was Captain Jack. There was Mickey. There was Rose. There was Harriet. There was even Davros… Well, nearly. He was shrouded in darkness, but from the silhouette we knew.

This was the Doctor Who series four press launch, and the trailer that blistered out at the end of the screening. Held this evening at the Apollo West Cinema on Regent Street, London, it was a lowkey event by Who standards. Yep, yer Whileys, yer Sladens and even yer Cribbins were there (he was first to leave), but there was no after-show drinks. No party.

And the two episodes screened received a thumbs down, thumbs up reaction (in that order) 

The opener – ‘Partners in Crime’ – was, to be honest, not to my tastes. Fellow journos (I shan’t name) seemed to queue up to concur with this opinion afterwards. Broad brush comedy, that riffs off both the current obsession with obesity and the not-so-current obsession with Supernanny Jo Frost. Sarah Lancashire wields a sonic device, but no Rani is she. She’s marketing a slimming pill that secretly turns flab into mini marshmallow men. “They’re called Adipose. Made out of living fat. From humans”. Meanwhile the Doctor’s mooching around some slimmer’s house, evoking ‘Survival’. “Thing about cat flaps,” he says, “they don’t let things in, they let them out too”.

The second, ‘The Fires of Pompeii’, was much better. Some very interesting stuff addresses the age old “why can the Doctor change some elements of the past and not others?” question, and the story’s blessed with a fantastically disturbing looking baddy. I wasn’t so keen on the shtick of presenting ye olde worlde “typical” family in the olden days (“You are not going out wearing that!”/”Don’t start dad, it’s what all the girls in Rome are wearing”) but otherwise this was tops.

Throughout both were threaded plot points about home planets being destroyed, bees disappearing, and Donna having “something on her back”. Oh, Donna, you say? No great revelation. If you liked her Christmas before last, you’ll like her here.

The Q&A afterwards was guarded, with David Tennant, Catherine Tate and Russell T Davies taking question… mainly from kids, actually, who asked what the TARDIS looked like in episode one, and how the Daleks work. Efforts to ascertain when RTD and Tennant were leaving were given short shrift, Tate revealed she wears Marks & Spencer foot gloves, and it was confirmed Georgia Moffet (the Doctor’s daughter) is indeed playing the Doctor’s daughter.

“I think episode 10, ‘Midnight’ is creepy in a way we’ve not done before,” said Tennant. “It’s psychologically scary”. RTD then chipped in that Donna goes through the mill in 11, in a way unlike any companion before. There was some talk about scheduling too. It’s starting earlier than the team would like this year, but that’ll be pushed back later in the run…

But still. Davros. The audience hissed, then laughed. He’s going to be great.


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