Yes, everyone has already done it. But I finally got a copy (off my brother) and at least I'm in the frontrunners of the Australian camp to review it...
Done 'live' with [rough] time caps. Enjoy.
14: 39 - 14 minutes is a notable figure for this episode. It's the length into the story when I laughed for the first time. Which is incredible because thus far, the episode seems to have been mostly one big setup for some freakish 'super joke' about the Doctor and Donna not meeting each other, but doing the exact same thing. Like most cases of super-sizing it doesn't really work. I like a good running joke, but it isn't a running joke because there are no jokes in between to break it up. It's a joke that swamps everything, making the story secondary to it (because this a comedy story!) but the problem is simple... it isn't really funny. It's a cute idea, but if all you're seeing is this one joke it becomes boring and very predictable - oh, look, the Doctor said something. I wonder if Donna is about to say the exact same thing? Oh, she did it, how riotously funny.
What's interesting is that the joke that made me laugh was so simple. Donna asks her granddad if he's ever seen a Blue Box. His response: "Is that some kind of slang?"
THERE! Something nice and simple, thrown out there, instantly disposable, utterly charming, very believable. That's what a joke's meant to be. Jesus Christ. The only comparable thing was when that black chick said "I want to have sex with you, David Tennant". But I couldn't see how that was really funny, even though it was meant to be, given that that's a simple fact of life for Davo rather than something downright wacky. And I have been stunned by the lack of other jokes... well, I guess there was the whole "I'm too good for him!" from the fat chick but, again, nothing really strong. I was expecting at the least when Super Nanny had freeze-framed the shot from the surveillance cameras to find Donna we would see a shot of the screen and the time lapse had got her with her eyes closed and mouth gurning wildly - it may be low brow but you have to admit it can be funny - or make some snide comments about being able to tell Donna is the spy because of her waistline, etc. But nothing. NOTHING.
How good is Bernard Cribbins, though? What a class act. I'm a teensy bit disappointed from my brief skip-to-the-credits to see that he plays the same character that he did in the Christmas special, though. I thought for a glorious moment that he had played three different roles within the space of a year in DW, including two of them within back-to-back stories, making him the new Peter Purves/Conrad Westmaas.
Ah, Conrad. I love that name, mate. I've been trying to work it into every single blogpost...
Catherine Tait also seems good as Donna, getting to a good start with her character in a more stable frame of mind than the last time we met, so I'm happy. Even if she hasn't done much yet. Which is funny because this is meant to be her story... let's see how things develop.
16:55 - "CORRRRR, fascinating!" The sight of the word "Adipose" causes David Tennant to impersonate his favourite On the Buses character.
Really, just wanted to say that last scene was tremendously good. Heart touching without going "Okay, stand by, we're about to touch your heart" like just about every piece of television does.
I can see where the talk about Catherine Tait's acting comes from... well, I could see it from miles away before I started talking and its simply her professional background first and foremost with her public image running behind that but really what I mean is that I can see where the talk about Catherine Tait's acting from people who weren't Tait-haters at the time of The Runaway Bride is... some stodgy direction. Who the hell decided that she should deliver a monologue straight down the barrel of the camera whilst looking up into the sky? Frigging amateurs. It is such an unnatural pose that the suspension of disbelief is broken before she opens her mouth, and the audience may assume that it is in someway due to her acting.
Her performance as a whole is solid. It's just fairly externalized, which is probably for the best. Donna is a no-nonsense heart-on-the-sleeve sort of character so it's natural for her to be more outwardly expressive when she speaks. This tends to be referred to as 'stage-y' though, because it is the form of acting generally seen in a stageplay, because a performance has to reach the back seats (Not this one exactly, the general form - this is very minor in comparison). This outwardly expressive form is unpopular in television because people think it looks unnatural - see the trashing of the bloke who played Danny in The Satan Pit for example. The thing is, a lot of people actually talk that way and you'll notice it a lot if you just look around but a) TV people are meant to be idealised via unspoken rule and b) You generally never get as close to most people you meet in real life as a TV camera does, so anything ultra-expressive from six inches away does look unnatural.
17:18 - Yes, I noticed that the Doctor is alone, thank you.
Big Finish will be pissing themselves in terror now that the Tenth Doctor has been established as both a needy loser who can't go five minutes without a companion AND not liking to talk to himself. They'll NEVER be able to make a range for him!
17:50 - OMG! Doctor and Donna missed each other alone! Oh, please, somebody bring me a corset!
18:27 - What the hell? We're getting a live feed of Donna using the toilet? Well... I'm not complaining.
19:02 - Hmmm. It's quite a lucky coincidence that it takes her four hours to ablute. Though, really, wouldn't it have been easier for the Doctor to break in the night before. He has a sleeping-in-closet fetish now, does he? Hey, and has anyone else at all noticed that Catherine Tait has fairly large breasts?
19:49 - See THAT's what I'm talking about re: small jokes. Getting a call on your mobile in the middle of an attempted stealth raid. You know it's the kind of thing that would happen to you in real life.
Supernanny really isn't impressing me so far. You managed to find out that she was hiding in the toilets. After four hours.Wow. That is totally reason to gloat.
19:58 - "I warn you, I'm not a patient woman"
FOUR HOURS. Have I said that enough?
20:18 - ...the reporter? Awesome! RTD, this is the stuff I like. THIS is clever! He's winning me back gosh darnit...
20:20 - Ooh, a nice shot of Catherine Tait that looks mid-orgasm. There'll be some screencaps of that one.
20:58 - "You've got no right to do this now LET ME GO!" Oh dear. I don't know if there's a single fictional character to ever say those words and live.
23:53 - Lawrence Miles can officially go and fuck himself. I don't know if you've noticed but he's taken one quote from RTD that the test of any young writer is how he would write 'the window box scene' from this episode and see how they do it as an excuse for all of his latest tirades and it looks like it will continue until this season ends. I've been dying to see 'the window box scene' for this very reason, to see why this has instilled such hatred from Lawrence. To firstly address the quote: I guess it's a good point from RTD. A lot of the job is in describing not action action (cars flying off cliffs!) but action (guy sipping nervously from coffee cup, not noticing as the scalding fluid flicks onto his shaking hand). And it would indeed be the perfect test for that.
The scene itself: god-damned masterpiece. This cancels out entirely the dull opening 14 minutes. Man. Perfection. I love dialogue free stuff when it's done well. How brilliant to see a sustained mime conversation between two such brilliant comic performers. I can't explain how much I love this scene... if my player didn't freeze if I tracked too much I'd watch it again. Right now.
The really brilliant thing - YOU UNDERSTAND THE WHOLE SCENE! Just about every word. Forget Voyage of the Damned, this is how Davies got his rep.
25: 54 - That direction again. BREVITY. "Unless she's got a sonic device and that's very unlikely" - ideally when Tennant says that Donna should be in the window box, they go down just as the doors burst open then JUMP CUT: sonic screwdriver on window box controls, keeping a close shot of the controls (and thus, where the box will arrive) as we hear the sound of the wire running back (designed to sound as embarassing as possible) and we eventually see a sheepish Tennant and unimpressed Donna move into view. Let's see how it actually goes...
26: 16 - Hmm, reverse of expectations there. BUT did she really need a sonic screwdriver to do that? I'll wait to see if it's necessary for the plot later on...
30: 40 - "I'm trying to help you, Matron..." All these dark speeches from the Doctor about how he's a right hard bastard and will fuck you up six ways from sunset if you dare step into his patch are, IMHO, a little bit tiresome and feel incongruous in little comic stories like this. I mean, did Tom Baker soliloquise to Graff Vynda K and Meglos about how they wouldn't be able to sit down for a week after attempting to cross him? Not that I can remember... he generally focussed on taking the piss out of a badguy until too many lives were at stake and then... did something cool. I really would welcome a return to that kind of subtle, undermining Doctor at the next regeneration.
31: 08 - "Do you know what happens when you hold two identical sonic devices together?" It still doesn't need to have been a sonic screwdriver, erm, pen. Tennant could have used any weird way of getting out of that, even the old Troughton "pull smoke bomb I've never used before out of my jacket"
Maybe I'm getting a bit weird but the Doctor's the only person shown to have had a sonic screwdriver before. I can accept Jack's sonic blaster, but this is a step too far!
31: 48 - They have a computer core... behind a sliding panel of concrete that only needs the slightest nudge to move... in a janitor's closet.... well, they don't seem to be very smart in other regards so I'll buy it.
32: 06 - "If that man's an alien then he'll have alerted the Shadow Proclamation-" ... is Russ having some trouble with words here? The Shadow Proclamation is implictly established in Rose as a treaty by its use in dialogue, as made further clear by the name - a proclamation is an announcement, after all. So how the Doctor can alert a book containing a treaty and, furthermore, how that book can take decisive action against Supernanny, is a complete and utter mystery to me.
Wouldn't it have made more sense to say "If that man's an alien then he'll have alerted the Judoon"?
35: 59 - ...did some wires get crossed? I'm seeing an unrealistically cute army of midget, square teletubbies being born, and Murray Gold is giving me the standard "EPIC HORROR SHOCK". It... really doesn't feel epic. The terrible acting from the extras does not help, btw.
36: 31 - It is also painfully obvious that they filmed extras looking at nothing and CGI'd them in later. Okay, so that's ALWAYS the case with stuff like this, but having all the extras standing in lines in small, square areas of the shot is not the way to make it more convincing. Who the hell directed this? If only I could have been arsed to check...
36: 40 - "A million people are going to die!" Oh, so that's why I'm meant to care. Thanks for that. I was starting to wonder. Seriously, I was.
38:00 - Fat people live! And that IS a shock ending in an RTD script..
38:55 - Wow, the nursery looks really cool. It's pretty rare for Mill effects to really make me take a second look, too.
39: 49 - But, Doctor Who is really keeping up the old traditions of massively variable affects. Because that CGI shot of Supernanny talking to the Adipose is, by far and away, the single worst CSO shot I have ever seen. Who directed this crap? Come on, own up. One of you had to. Was it YOU, Hawes? I've had my eye on you since TCI...
40: 56 - Okay, not keen on the suggestion that until he met Martha the Doctor was a rabid infaticidal psychopath but I'll let it slide for the moment...
41: 27 - Doctor, please please please please please please don't save the Matron's life. She is one of the most irritating villainess' you've ever encountered. Not quite up there with Excelsior from The Last but very close. Is this the woman who played Cancer in B7 or something? Also, another terrible FX shot as she hangs there in mid-air. I know, there's the thing about pointing out terrible FX in DW being a bit weird, but I say that I'll stop it when they have the balls to do more alien planets. Why not guys? You say the effects won't convince? Well, they don't know and we're on Earth. So come on, then! Give me some Sontar action!
41: 30 - "If I NEVER see you again it'll be tooo soon!" See, this is what I'm talking about. How much irritation can you put into one. Fucking. Line. Kill her, kill her NOW! She's seconds away from saying "I WISH I could say it was a PAINLESSS death..." FFS! I mean, she delivers that as if it's meant to be clever and original. Oh, well done. Only 5.5 billion people have come up with that before you, bitch.
41: 32 - Ooh, Tennant's pissed off with her as well. Good lad. Still sticking to those pesky morals, though...
41: 51 - "Oh, I'm FAR more than that........ I'm nanny!"
42:07 - YES! Ack... searched all over my computer for Smashmouth's Pacific Coast Party to listen to in full and add to the celebratory feel of that one glorious moment of 'Nanny go Plop-Plop' as the scene should be officially known, but sadly I couldn't find it, and can't think of any other similarly up-beat songs... oh, fuck, Steel My Sunshine! Well, moment's gone now. Dang.
42:36 - "And I'm going to report you for... madness!" Yeah, that's a moment of comic relief that didn't quite work. I thought she'd be more prone to say "What the hell was that all about?!" Or ask them. I'm not sure why she should be pissed off at them either. They untied her. She was the one who got herself tied up again. The chair thing is kind of funny, though.
43:03 - Donna has her bags packed in the boot of her car... CLASSIC!
44:16 - Fuck you, emo Doctor. You used to be cool.
44:22 - "I just wanna mate".. you know how some people run their words into each other? Sometimes this has hilarious consequences.
44:26 - Oh, right, Donna heard it too. Well, that takes the wind out of my sails.
Surely the funnier way to do the joke would be for Donna to say "Sounds good to me!" and strip off with ridiculous speed? No? Okay, I admit it I just wanted to see her tits.
Hehe, jokes about the Doctor exploiting people for casual sex in DW. Charles Daniels must be loving it.
44:38 - "Just as well, because I'm not having any of that nonsense! You're just a long streak of... nothing!" Yes! A companion who completely, fully, absolutely no-doubt has-never-been-so-sure-of-anything-in-their-life is NOT in love with the Doctor! And points for the most hostile atmosphere for a Doctor-companion send off.
45:10 - Awww, the Doctor takes her bags in. Isn't that cute? A really lovely establishment of the dynamic.
45:56 - I still don't believe those rumours about Billie Piper coming back. No sir. Okay, they aren't rumours as such because there's photos onset, official press releases, RTD has gone on record saying "I AM NOT JOKING YOU BASTARDS ROSE IS COMING BACK!" but I don't believe any of it. Not a word. And if you try and convince me by Billie Piper appearing, in this episode, I say no. I think Billie Piper just showed up for the role of "woman who Donna tells about bin", what with her being desperate for any work going, and the Director was too pissed off his brain to notice.
Oh, what? She just WALKS OFF? Oi! You lazy tart! What happens when Sylvia's looking for her car keys? Huh? Fuck you, inconsiderate-woman-who-just-happens-to-look-identical to Rose!
Seriously, though, I can't help but wonder what the hell the gigantic companion gang-bang planned for the end of the series hopes to achieve. I mean, everyone agrees that Rose sucked with Tennant in Series 2. Everyone. She's great as a headstrong companion to the Doctor equivalent of Jack Black - the possibly-stoned loser who shouts a lot, bigs himself, but bumbles through life and gets everything wrong - but when she's with a Doctor who gets things done she becomes an insipid pop-culture spewing groupy. Somehow she transforms into Charlotte Pollard.
Wait a minute... Gary Russell became script editor in Series 2. I JUST BLEW MY OWN MIND!!!
Nice that they have Rose's song from Doomsday in the soundtrack right there, though. Let us celebrate the one good thing about that scarring episode.
46:10 - ... she fades away? Huh. Well, I guess that's sort of a reason for not sticking around to see Sylvia. But give somebody else the message! If Sylvia doesn't get her car back SHE WILL TRANSFORM INTO DAVROS!
46:26 "Here it is. The TARDIS. It's bigger on the inside than it-" "Oh, I know all that bit!"
Another punch-the-air good moment, RTD! After the unbelievably long-winded and poorly integrated intro of Martha to the TARDIS at the end of Smith & Jones this is a wonderful breath of fresh air. It couldn't be done better. I mean... I can't be the only one over the moon that he's stopped rewriting the script of Rose. And I say that as somebody who loved Rose. But you can't tell me that it didn't get old after Everything Changes, Invasion of the Bane and Smith & Jones. (Yeah, Bane was done by Gareth Roberts. But it had way too many moments blatantly cribbed off it..)
And then Bernard Cribbins does a crazy dance. I really can't think of a better way to end every story. Will this become a regular feature? Instead of the time vortex the credits scroll up over Cribbo attempting the moon walk whilst shouting gibberish and/or dialogue from his Fawlty Towers appearance? I say yes.
In the trailer
Let's see... David Tennant manages to make 'Ancient Rome' sound like "Hey Gerome!" ... does Maloney have fake teeth there? Or is that just the worst wig ever made? He looks like a pissed off Roger Rabbit. Nice sexism, though... "I can tell you where the winds blowin' right now, mate!" I don't get it. Is that right before she does the "Pull my finger" joke?... HUMAN SACRIFICE! It's been years, it really has... "We're in Pompeii.. and it's volcano day!" Ehh. Could the trailer have made that any more obvious by that point? Really?
JAMES STRONG! That's the bastard. Fire him. From a cannon.
Anyway, to sum up... probably 7/10. Past the dull, single joke of the opening 14 minutes this was quite a lot of fun. The idea behind the aliens was silly, but then it was meant to be, and the majority of the humour worked really well. Along with the fact that there's no year 5 billion story next week, RTD has broken the formula mould the series had in place previously which I definitely stay is a step in the right direction. Given the nature of the story no harm is taken from the weak effects, only from the quite distinctly awful direction and Sarah Lancashire... hang on. Is that her who played the Rachnoss? God, she always hams it up in this show, doesn't she. Oh, sorry I was mid-sentence wasn't I... as "Mrs Foster". I'll set aside my concerns over the season arc, and proclaim that this story looks like a success from here, and I look forward to the rest.