By ALAN STANLEY BLAIR
Source: SyFy Portal
The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for "Fires Of Pompeii," the second episode from the fourth season of BBC’s "Doctor Who."
"You fought her off with a water pistol … I bloody love you." -- Donna to The Doctor.
As far as "big" episodes go, this is perhaps the biggest “Doctor Who” has ever attempted.
Ambitious, enthralling and filmed in Italy, “Fires of Pompeii” sees The Doctor and Donna arrive in the lost city of Pompeii only a day before it is due to be wiped out. Being “Doctor Who” though, the fate of the entire planet is put at stake when a race of creatures rise from the ashes of the volcano with plans to re-create their world anew. And in stopping them there is a fantastic moral dilemma as The Doctor and Donna are forced to erupt the mountain themselves and destroy Pompeii ... killing thousands.
Despite the grand majesty of Cinecitta Studios, the illusion of life in ancient Rome was ruined somewhat by the colloquialisms of modern day Britain. There was something definitely off and more than a little out of place about a Roman trader exclaiming “lovely jubbly” after selling a piece of “modern art” and family banter from the current age.
Luckily though, the story of the Sisters, the Oracles and the coming of the great blue box encompassed enough intrigue to sweep away any historical annoyances and keep “Fires of Pompeii” fresh, exciting and a thrill from start to finish.
Once again Tate was a joy to behold and Donna Noble moved even further away from her "Runaway" character that initially joined the show. Her protests over The Doctor’s attitudes carried so much weight (more so than the previous companions) and her emotional attachments to the people or Pompeii were unexpected and wonderful to watch unfold ... especially when she manages to bring the best out of the Lord of Time.
“Fires of Pompeii” was filled with so much intensity as the soothsayers proclaim The Doctor to be the man from Galifrey -- a place consumed by fire -- making it a welcome contrast to the season premiere. It was also accompanied by a lot of walking through the streets with wider-than-usual shots show off the wonder of Ancient Rome and also to firmly root the episode as a period piece.
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