Doctor Who season 4 episode 1 review: ‘Partners In Crime’

Our second take on this weekend's Doctor Who episode, and Simon seemed to quite like it. And he thought Catherine Tate was quite good, too

Season openers on Doctor Who are rarely the highlight of the series, and that tradition is likely to be upheld here. But there was enough in Partners In Crime to suggest some good times ahead. And there was quite a bit to fit in.

Firstly, the plot. The story here was of a miracle fat loss pill, that ultimately spawned the Adipose, small, cute-ish creatures made of fat with one eye firmly on the merchandising market. They were quite good little critters in a tidy, if unspectacular story that had some parallel with last year’s Gridlock in that it took a modern day tabloid football and projected it.

It did have Sarah Lancashire going for it, in a nice, sneering performance as the baddy of choice, and saw Russell T Davies happily playing with some of his favourite things: aliens, London, and an abundance of sonic screwdriver action. Too much sonic screwdriver action. Too often over the last couple of years, the sonic screwdriver has been a fix-all for a plot problem, and here it was waved around with the regularity of a lightsaber in Star Wars. Hmmm.

Still, there was some other healthy stuff going on in the episode, and surprisingly, Catherine Tate topped the bill. Like many, I was in two minds about her introduction, but her sparring with the Doctor was far more controlled than I was expecting, and certainly makes a better character dynamic than another female assistant fawning over the Time Lord. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, but so far Tate’s sidestepped the majority of fears. Good to see Bernard Cribbins in Who again too, as her Grandfather.

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Most interesting though are the seeds that you wonder are being sowed for the weeks ahead. A shortage of bees presumably ties into the episode later in the season where a huge bee turns up (I worked that out by myself), while the appearance of Rose at the end was a lovely little moment, left completely unexplained for now and rightly so.

Also, last time Doctor Who spent lots of money on a big spaceship effect – and the ship that turned up near the end looked great, far better than the crappy Tardis shots in the closing reel – it popped up later in the year (Satellite 5 in series one). Will we see the escaping Adipose again, once they’ve grown up a bit? Wouldn’t rule it out…

In all, for me it was a promising start. Partners In Crime was no classic episode, and relied a little too much on a few Who conventions to get by, but it’s a solid foundation for what looks like a lot of fun to come. And that volcano eruption next week looks great

See our other review of Partners In Crime here…