Ah, now there’s the Series 4 I remember. My memory was that this one was a bit mediocre, but I think I’m leaning towards it being actually bad. It’s a shame, because I do like the Ood, and the new elements to their story work well. Obviously I’m also on board with the notion of using a family-friendly Saturday evening show to talk about the evils of slavery, but there was one main problem with the story. Go on, guess.
I won’t continue to go on about how I hate Catherine Tate’s delivery whenever there’s a moment that’s even slightly light-hearted, partly because to do so would be boring, and also because there were too many irritating instances in this episode to list. This time round, I also had big problems with the way the character was written – all the additional subtlety from the last two episodes has disappeared, and she’s back to the Donna from The Runaway Bride.
And if you don’t like that particular character then tough luck, because she makes everything all about her. When they discover the natural Ood, The Doctor grants her the gift to be able to perceive the universe like he does, but she rejects it because what she perceives is inconvenient to her. In the climax, her first reaction upon discovering that full extent of the Ood’s plight is to say she wants to go home, because the universe has things in it that she doesn’t like. She’s self-centered, entitled and generally not a very nice person. It makes sense that, as revealed in this episode, they made her a West Ham fan.
By far the best thing about the episode was Tim McInnerney, bringing all the sniveling, snidey, rubber-desk-johnny unpleasantness of Captain Darling to create a good old-fashioned Doctor Who bastard. I also quite liked the PR woman who you thought was going to join the good guys, but quickly turned it around and betrayed them – a pleasant and surprising twist on the tried and trusted formula.
I was less keen on the sadistic security guard, and his attempts to kill the Doctor using a giant fairground grabby claw. Nor did I like Captain Darling turning into an Ood. The idea of his personal Ood turning against him is good, and I did enjoy the surprisingly gruesome sight of his scalp peeling back, but it was far too much of a stretch to take considering it didn’t actually have any impact on the plot whatsoever. These various distractions made the ending fall flat – I no longer care about their stupid song, and I’m not going to get emotional about it no matter how many times you show me Donna crying.
And what’s a West Ham fan doing in Chiswick anyway?