Doctor Who – The Fires of Pompeii


The week is finally over and after last week’s start to the fourth season of the new Doctor Who the next episode is here! This week the Doctor and Donna are in Rome, or at least that’s where they wanted to be. Instead they’re finding themselves in the middle of Pompeii and of course it’s the day before the eruption of the Vesuv which, as history teaches us destroyed the city and killed all it’s inhabitants with it’s toxic lava and hot ash.

Many spoilers follow, do not carry on reading if you don’t want the story spoilt!

The sisters from the Sibylline sisterhood

The season opener had many surprises; Donna being less annoying than she was during ‘Runaway bride’ and of course the mysterious arrival or rather appearance of Rose who up until that point was believed to be stuck in an alternate universe. This caused some discussion in the comments of my post with a few theories, such as Rose being a hologram just like the Doctor was at the end of ‘Doomsday’. But I don’t suppose we will find out until the end of the series!

The high priestess has been changed into stone

Donna’s role has become clear though. She is more down to earth than Rose and Martha and does not have a problem standing up to the Doctor and criticise his decisions as she has previously done in the ‘Runaway Bride’. She is his moral consciousness trying to get him to show compassion and help others more than he would want as shown by him saving a family that would have otherwise died.

Who said a water pistol wasn’t useful?

Some things are fixed, some things are in a flux, and Pompeii is fixed…That’s how I see the universe. All the time every waking second: what is, what was, what could be, what must not. That’s the burden of a Time Lord, Donna.

A good reference to ‘The Parting of the Ways’; an indication of what is to come for the Doctor?

The TARDIS translation in action and explained.

One thing I am absolutely loving so far is the music. Murray Gold is an excellent composer and things like ‘Martha’s Quest’, ‘YANA’, ‘Rose’s Theme’ and ‘This is Gallifrey – Our Childhood, Our Home’ perfectly compliment the series. The new series so far has reused ‘Donna’s theme’ and excerpts of ‘YANA’ with this episode introducing a new violin based underlying theme and a suspenseful piano based one found in most of the episode. It’s taking a new direction away from the more playful ones in the previous seasons.

A Pyrovilian.

The episode itself feels a bit disjointed with many different adversaries and possibly too many characters that appear making it a very busy episode. It’s all about them stuck in Pompeii as they have yet again lost the TARDIS or rather it was sold to a marble merchant. His family consists of his wife, a daughter that has mysterious visions and a lazy son. Throughout the episode it is revealed that an alien race called the Pyrovilians has become stuck on Earth and are planning to destroy the entire planet. The Doctor is able to thwart their plans – by causing the eruption of the Vesuv thus killing 20000 people.

Donna pleading with the Doctor

And that is the central moral dilemma of the episode; is the life of a few worth sacrificing to ensure the survival of many? The Doctor and Donna struggle with the decision and she seems to be dealing with it a lot better than he does by helping him make it. She is also responsible for convincing him to show compassion by having him return to the house and saving the family and as much as I appreciate Donna’s bold move, I’m hoping there are no later repercussions.

“Come with me.”

Small things that caught my attention this episode:

  • The Doctor seemed very annoyed at parts, especially in the beginning where he seemed quite short with Donna.
  • It’s great to see how they finally explained the TARDIS translation system, something I was wondering about myself.
  • There are many references to his past, him being the last of the Timelords and references to ‘The parting of the ways’ and him being able to see everything at the same time.
  • The episode shows again what an influence the Doctor can have on people, such as the transformation of the son throughout the episode.
  • The mentioning of the Shadow Proclamation again.
  • Another planet gone or taken?
  • It’s nice to see that there isn’t any sexual tension.
  • Catherine Tate is a far better actress than I thought she would be.

The Doctor and Donna are now household Gods

Overall I wasn’t all too impressed, but the music saved it a bit – 6/10.

Next week: “Planet of the Ood”. The Ood are back!

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10 Responses to Doctor Who – The Fires of Pompeii

  1. Sha says:

    Wow. Looks like a really good epi. Might go and borrow off someone I know who taped it.


  2. Cat says:

    It’s not as good as last week’s was, but still, I love DW, so.. :)


  3. B0bbyG says:

    Wow. I didn’t realise you were this into Doctor Who. Although, it is an excellent show! :)

    It was a rather cluttered episode, probably with too many concepts crammed in, but I do think it was redeemed by the script, the music, and the ethical dilemma. I got very irritated with Donna in The Runaway Bride, but I agree that Catherine Tate is much better now.

    I can’t wait for the next episode. Hmm, for an ostensibly harmless, docile species, the Ood seem worryingly aggressive. The return of “the Beast”, perhaps?


  4. Cat says:

    Funnily enough I’m not really all that into it! Well, I like it and all, but I more love story arcs. So many shows I used to watch have finished recently.

    Didn’t the Ood have a mind control back in S2? Where their telepathic field was dampened? I can’t quite see the beast coming back again or at least I hope it won’t. The good thing about this season has been the new places/people. I’m already dreading the Daleks being back, they’re in it far too often!


  5. B0bbyG says:

    I think they want to make the most of the Daleks given how difficult it was to get the rights to use them. As for Ood with mind control… I really can’t remember anything like that. I was kind of hoping that with the return of the Ood, we’d get to see them as actual people, rather than just another monster of the week. Ah well.


  6. Cat says:

    I didn’t really follow DW back then when the new series came out, why were they hard to obtain? Isn’t that all covered as part of the general DW franchise?

    As for the Ood, I just read a bit on Wikipedia and looks like I was wrong, i assumed that the machine that monitored their brain activity also controlled their telepathy.

    It would be nice to actually have some nice aliens for a change. Like I’d love to see the tree people from the end of the world episode again. Or Cassandra. She was brilliant!


  7. B0bbyG says:

    I was only vaguely aware of it, so I don’t know the exact details, but the rights to the Daleks are jointly owned by the BBC and Dalek creator Terry Nation’s estate, and the latter didn’t want to relicence them to the former for some reason.

    There’s not much chance of Cassandra returning, since they killed her off in series 2. Shame, really.


  8. Juan says:

    Here in the US, the Sci Fi channel is going to start airing Dr. Who this Friday. It looks like a cool show so I’ll give it a look.

    BTW, going a bit off topic, an English show that a co-worker introduced me to and that I absolutely love is the IT Crowd. That show is freaking awesome!


  9. Cat says:

    That would make sense I suppose, although it’s strange he wouldn’t want to considering the Dakels are such a big thing.

    I know, I think killing her off was a big mistake, but at least it was done in a tasteful way. I just love the actress I suppose, she did it so well!

    Juan – it’s a great show, very detailed and overall funny and captivating. Ideally you would start with season 1 of the new series though, just so you see what it’s all about.

    I watched maybe one episode of the IT crowd, but it was never really on when I was watching TV. Been meaning to watch it actually!


  10. Awsome post and straight to the point. I don’t know if this is actually the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to get some professional writers? Thank you


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