Doctor Who

Season 4 Episode 2

The Fires of Pompeii

8
Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Apr 12, 2008 on BBC America
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (26)

8.8
out of 10
Average
452 votes
  • Headphones

    8.0
    A fine episode with nothing wrong with it, except that it confirms for me that I can never watch Doctor Who without headphones. Seriously, I miss like a quarter of the dialogue because of their accents.
  • The Fires of Pompeii

    10
    The Fires of Pompeii was a perfect and entertaining episode of Doctor Who. I liked the story lines and it was awesome watching Donna and The Doctor help the people of Pompeii as best they could. The Pyrovile were an intriguing race and It was cool to see them. The special effects were great and the writing was superb. This was a fun adventure and I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!
  • Donna and the Doctor grow closer in Pompeii.

    9.0
    I have to admit--I was worried about Donna as the companion. She annoyed the heck out of me in "Runaway Bride," and I foresaw more of the same in this series. However, I started watching "The Catherine Tate Show" to get used to her anyway. And I have to admit, I've been pleasantly surprised by her performance. Instead of being a wackily irritating guest star, she's actually exploring and building up the character she represents, leading me to start liking Donna Noble. She's determined not to fall in love with The Doctor, for one thing. While this should prove impossible (um, excuse me, it's David Tennant), the lack of sexual tension allows them to grow even closer as friends. Instead of accepting what he says as fact, she takes the initiative and tries to change his mind. Her "just save someone" scene was almost heartbreaking in its sincerity. The Doctor himself (and Tennant) deserves no end of love and praise. Great actor, great character, the most obvious and basic reason for watching this show. Perfect timing in this episode. I love how he's able to say the most ridiculous things with a straight face, as if they're perfectly familiar to him.
    The guest stars in the episode were all pretty good; the special effects, as always, were done well.
    A great, very challenging plot point was when the Doctor realises he caused the volcano to happen. Every time the Doctor has to confront his own morality, convictions and ethics, the episode becomes stronger. Especially this one, considering Donna also betrays her former ideals to help him.
    All in all, a strong, character-building episode.
  • It was ok.

    7.0
    I liked this episode, and it was definitely better than Partners In Crime, but it wasn't all good.

    Good:
    The Pyrovile were pretty scary, and liked the theme of Pompeii. Also, when Lucius Pextrus Dextrus foretold the episode Turn Left. ("she is returning" "something on your back")

    Bad:
    The attitude of the son in the family just wasn't realistic. Teenagers in the year 79AD were different to teenagers nowadays.
    When Pextrus had that stone arm that the doctor just pulled off. That was lame.
    How do you make a big complicated alien machine out of marble???
    How did the doctor and donna survive being inside an erupting volcano just because the were in a pod?

    Meh.
  • The Doctor and Donna travel to Pompeii on volcano day, and meet some delightful people who are going to die. And some have eyes on their hands because they're clearly seven and in nursery. And some stuff blows up. And there's a stone gal at one point.

    6.0
    Well. That's that then.

    Fully expecting an episode on par with last week's cracking opener, I was extremely disappointed this week. Basically, the Doctor arrives in Pompeii with Donna and Donna tries to convince him to help save everyone who is destined to die in the volcano eruption that buried the city. There is also an irritating sub plot with some women who can see the future, and who are infected with a monster made out of stone.

    That's about it. It wasn't very good.

    It had a few good moments, true. Some of Donna's comments to the Doctor were generally amusing. When the Doctor fought a fire monster with a water pistol produced a chuckle. And the insults towards Celts are always cause for hysterics. But that's about it. It's an episode that is only saved by the laughs rather than the action.

    Now, speaking of the action...The Doctor is an ALIEN. Get that into your thick heads writers! He does not cry - he does not show emotion other than anger. He is alien. He does not care about human beings. The Doctor would not go back to rescue someone. The Doctor sat and watched as one of his assistants was obliterated, just because that explosion was the cause of the Big Bang. He does not care. If the Doctor was human, I'd be happy for him to emote. But he isn't!

    Okay, rant over.

    Best bit of the episode was of course when the weirdo predicting villain told Donna "darkness is all I see in your future...you will show you are truly noble before the light returns" and the words to the Doctor "you walk under a false name. Doctor. It is a lie. Like you." and "She is returning to you, Doctor....she is coming!"

    So, basically, I was right. The running theme for this year is (drum roll) ROSE TYLER.

    That bit saved an otherwise crap episode.

    6/10
  • Better than the opener but lacking something.

    7.5
    This episode is an obvious improvement over the season opener but ultimately left me cold.

    Some of the good points were character development for Donna, good performances from the supporting cast and the Latin/Celtic joke, which genuinely worked for me.

    However, the plot was all a bit flat as far as I was concerned, and once again, the CGI monsters left me distinctly underwhelmed. It seems like Dr Who feels it has to compete with Hollywood or something in creating special effects, when to my mind, the scariest monsters from the series have taken the least special effects; the statues and the boy with the gasmask.

    The episode was certainly a lot stronger than the first week's but while there was little to dislike, there wasn't a lot to love either.
  • Volcano Day Written by James Moran Directed by Colin Teague

    9.0
    Donna: "I'm here in Rome. Donna Noble in Rome. This is weird. Everyone is dead".
    The Doctor: "Don't tell them that".

    After starting off the season with a light episode, the next episode was going to have to be a more serious affair and this week certainly made sure of that. If ever there was an episode on this show that raised an ethical debate, then surely this one would be it.

    The premise of this episode has been around for ages. Thanks to the press, it was well documented that The Doctor and Donna would go to Pompeii on the eve of its destruction and that The Doctor would be forced to allow history to take its natural course.

    One of the concerns that I had is why on earth would The Doctor take Donna to a time where so much devastation would emerge and then have to tell her that he couldn't do a thing to stop it. It would be an incredibly bad error in judgement if ever there was one to be had.

    Fortunately their trip to Pompeii is an error of sorts. The Doctor intends to take Donna to Ancient Rome, not the destruction of Pompeii. Things started off rather funny when Donna embraced the idea of TARDIS allowing her to understand Latin. Donna's attempts then use Latin on a stallholder had her being mistaken for a Welsh person.

    To prove that Donna isn't the dunce of the classroom, it's her who actually comes up with the deduction of their whereabouts. It's also then The Doctor's first reaction to leg it which under the circumstances was the best thing he could've done. It's just too bad the stallholder Donna had previously tried to talk to in Latin sold the TARDIS.

    However it isn't just the TARDIS being missing that is the source of The Doctor's problems. First off there's a creepy sisterhood who have foretold about the TARDIS' arrival and then there's the fellow who it got sold to that also have to be dealt with.

    One of the things about this show that continues to get better and better is the casting of guest characters and having The Thick Of It's swear master Peter Capaldi in the role of Caecillius is one of many wise casting decisions among this episode.

    Caecillius is a sculpture and someone who is determined to gain further social status but he is also a surprisingly more benevolent guy that I thought he would be. His family then consist of wife Metelia who seems more ambitious, a drifter son in Quintas and more importantly, a psychic daughter in Evelina. All in all, they are significant to the episode and stand out brilliantly as a family in peril.

    It didn't take either Donna or The Doctor to find them and when they do, we get a case of the travellers being mistaken for a couple. I guess using the same name didn't help matter either but I like how Donna seems to irk at the idea of people thinking she's romantically linked to The Doctor in any way. I just hope the writers don't overly emphasise this in later episodes.

    Of course, while The Doctor might be enthusiastic to get the hell out of Pompeii, Donna is determined to warn Caecillius' family about the imminent danger that they are going to face. You can't blame Donna for her reactions and also can I point out that if Rose and/or Martha had this experience in their second episodes, I'm pretty sure that they would react similarly.

    Donna doesn't seem to mind standing to The Doctor on the issue too. We know that he's not being malicious and that it's hard for him to have allow so many people to die because of history but he should understand why Donna isn't going to consider that as a reason not to help.

    Thankfully before the two of them can really get into there's the arrival of Lucius to contend with. Another good piece of casting here with Phil Davis, Lucius is an absolute pain in the arse as a prophet who commissioned Caecillius' to sculpt a circuit for him.

    His stance on women is misogynistic too and he grimaces in disgust when Metelia brags about Evelina being psychic herself. However there is an absolutely stunning moment between the two of them of when both The Doctor and Donna's presence tingles their suspicions.

    In a moment that will obviously be foretelling as the series progress, both Lucius and Evelina are able to predict the death of Gallifrey, Donna's origins and The Doctor's own dark secrets as the promise of a returned girl. In fairness after last week, this could be Rose but Martha is also a viable possibility. However given the creepy way Lucius said, it's most definitely Rose that he was pointing towards.

    Donna meanwhile decides to be assertive in spending time with Evelina. Asking her questions about what she does in her social time is nothing new, nor is Evelina given a response that basically highlights her lack of independence. In "The Unquiet Dead" Gwyneth was happy to serve her employer and here Evelina is content to be promised to the Sibylline Sisterhood.

    Donna is also quick in discovering that not only is the girl suffering with skin irritation that is rock but also that Evelina is unable to actually predict that a volcano is about to engulf Pompeii. If that doesn't raise a question about Evelina's abilities as a seer then what does? However Donna trying to warn the girl about Vesuvius ready to erupt also put her in harm's way. Those creepy sisters are able to eavesdrop on Evelina's conversation and when The Doctor is good and distracted, they snatch Donna for sacrifice. Being nearly killed would be the least of Donna's worries though.

    The Doctor on the other hand has been doing some snooping of his own and proves that Quintas is useful too. He figures with all the circuits that Lucius is making some kind of energy converter and even manages to escape the nutter by pulling off his arm. Like Evelina, Lucius is also rock addled; only with him it meant an entire arm of it.

    After doing battle then with a rock creature and rescuing Donna (who even when she's threatened with is still a mouthy piece of work) from the sisters, The Doctor decided to get some answers from their High Priestess. Unlike the sisters, at least the HP didn't object to a man in the room.

    However just like our previous two sight seers, the High Priestess is just nothing but rocks. I mean the poor bint looks something out of Tales Of The Crypt and she is reluctant to tell The Doctor what she has become. Of course he pushes at her so hard that she ends up screaming that she's a Pyrovile.

    Given that this episode is all about fire, a Pyrovile is an appropriate name for an alien threat on the series. The idea of it using Vesuvius to build a new race through human is an innovative as Donna is convinced that by stopping the Pyroviles, thousands of deaths can be prevented also.

    I can see why she came to the conclusion so the reveal about The Doctor then having to allow everyone die so that the Pyroviles can be defeated certainly packs a punch. Evelina even predicted that The Doctor would have to make a horrible choice and here he really did.

    When the Pyroviles actually did get defeated and Vesuvius erupted, this episode then hit an ambitious scope. Seeing The Doctor and Donna flee the streets only for scared and devastated to perish really hit home. Donna herself hard an incredibly hard time heading to the TARDIS as Caecillius and him family were in danger.

    Which leads to the shocker of the episode – Catherine Tate's acting. Yes she's a good comic actress but seeing as I've only seen her in a limited amount of things, the big question was whether or not she would be able to handle the heavy emotional that even a show still dismissed as being childish and silly by some? There's a simple answer – Yes!

    Her performance as Donna rages at The Doctor for allowing people to die really impressed me. Talk about knocking out of the ball park. I thought my reservations about Donna dissipated after last week. Now it's like I'm ashamed I ever once doubted Catherine Tate's casting whatsoever. The sickening thing however is that she's probably gonna deliver even stronger performances as the series goes on and still many of the critics who don't like her because she's not Billie Piper or Freema Agyeman probably won't relent. As for David Tennant, he's always good but Catherine really does deserve much praise for this episode.

    We've had it plenty of times that The Doctor can't interfere with the course of history and that he would save his own people if he could. I think Donna did take this on board but her persuasion of him to at least save Caecillius and his family allowed for one small victory without violating history completely.

    Having the catch up later with Caecillius' family was great. One of my friends recently pointed out how much she loathed The Doctor always apologising for events that weren't his fault. I think she raises a good point because volcano day here still wasn't The Doctor's fault.

    I also liked the dynamic with The Doctor and Donna at the end. He more or less admitted last week that he wanted someone in his life and right now, Donna is that person and if this episode is anything to go by, then her influence can only be good for The Doctor.

    Also in "The Fires Of Pompeii"

    Unlike last year's Dalek two-parter, all the actors actually got to go to Rome to film this episode and used the same studio to film one of my favourite shows.

    Caecillius (re TARDIS): "What do you think?"
    Metelia: "You call it Modern Art; I call it a waste of space".

    I noticed the stallholder is Phil Cornwall from Dead Ringers. That show has done some great Doctor Who skits in the past.

    Caecillius: "And who are you?"
    The Doctor: "I am Spartacus".
    Donna: "And so I am".

    Lucius: "The prophecies of women are limited and dull. Only the men folk have the capacity for true perception".
    Donna: "I tell you where the wind's blowing right now mate".

    Another thing that Lucius predicted involved something on Donna's back and the Medusa Cascade. The Master mentioned the latter last season and I'll be interested in finding out what it means exactly.

    Quintas: "Don't tell my Dad".
    The Doctor: "Only if you don't tell mine. Pass the torch".

    Donna: "Then what can you see happening tomorrow?"
    Evelina: "Is tomorrow special?"
    Donna: "You tell me. What do you see?"

    Can I shout out praise to Sasha Behar (aka Mad Maya from Corrie) for her role as the lead sister? I thought she was brilliant.

    Donna: "Listen sister, you might have eyes on the back of your hands but you'll have eyes on the back of your head by the time I'm finished with you. Let me go!"
    Lead Sister (to Donna): "This prattling voice will cease forever".
    The Doctor (interrupting): "That'll be the day".

    High Priestess: "Your knowledge is impossible".
    The Doctor: "You've read my mind. You know it's not".

    The timeslot this season is rather erratic. I don't give a toss about I'd Do Anything; just put this show back into a 7pm slot.

    Lead Sister (to High Priestess): "You lied to us and yet this was meant to be".

    Donna: "How many people died?"
    The Doctor: "Stop it".
    Donna: "Doctor! How many people died?"
    The Doctor: "Twenty thousand".
    Donna: "Is that what you can see, Doctor, all twenty thousand? And you think that's alright, do you?"

    I'm starting to get used to the new theme, I might even start to like and at least the trailers for the next episode are a reasonable length.

    Donna: "You can't just leave them".
    The Doctor: "Don't you think I've done enough? History's back in place and everyone dies".
    Donna: "You've got to go back. Doctor I am telling you, take this thing back. It's not fair".
    The Doctor: "No it's not".
    Donna: "But your own planet. It burned".
    The Doctor: "That's just it. Don't you see Donna? Don't you understand if I could go back and save them I would but I can't. I can never go back, I can't. I just can't, I can't".

    The Doctor: "You were right. Sometimes I need someone. Welcome aboard".
    Donna: "Yeah".

    Some really good but familiar score work from Murray Gold this week. The music was pretty perfect.

    This was certainly a rollercoaster. James Moran made a brilliant impression on Torchwood but with "The Fires Of Pompeii" his impact is a lot stronger. This is a delightful episode that in unafraid at looking at the ethics of the series and not fobbing off the audience with an easy answer. I'm impressed with the way this season has started and next week also looks amazing.
  • Better than expected

    9.5
    Given the opener last week - this was unexpectedly better! What the first show did wrong, this did right. I felt engaged from the outset. The ancient setting/location was appealling and from the start we get a real sense of something dreadful about to happen - not only Vesuvius about explode.

    The supporting cast of character (the roman family) contribute to the success of the story telling here with more than plausible dialogue, successfully communicating their emotions and sentiments as the plot unfolds. Tenant is back to his best in a few key scenes - especially at the very end - in an emotional finale.

    Tate is much better also. If youre like me then youll hope she limits her "comedy show persona" to the absolute minimum in further shows. Im still not convinced about her though.

    The story is one of the better Tennant era ones and the visual effects are first class. I think one of the stars of this episode is the actress who plays Thalina (Lorraine Burroughs). I liked her scenes alot! Lots of action, curt dialogue, hanging dread, good supporting cast and subject matter make this an excellent episode that should not be missed.

    I may well return and mark this as a series classic if the writers return to cute flab creatures as the main enemies of the Dr!
  • The Doctor and Donna land in Pompeii the day before Mount Vesuvius erupts. Donna wants to warn the people; the Doctor insists they let history takes its course and wants to leave.

    8.5
    Wow! After the Looney Tunes-eque antics of "Partners in Crime," I was ready to write off Series 4 as a loss and give "The Fires of Pompeil" a pass, but, boy, am I glad I decided to tune in. This season's traditional second-episode journey into the distant past brings the Doctor and new companion Donna to Pompeii, and in classic Doctor Who fashion, they've arrived the day before Vesuvius is about to erupt. Donna wants to warn the populace; the Doctor insists that the destruction of Pompeii is fated to happen and too big an historical event for him in which to interfere. The mysterious woman in red and enough white makeup to resemble a mime following the Doctor and Donna is intriguing, but nothing to get overly excited about... yet.

    After playfully sending up the usual convention/conceit of why people in a different era in a different country sound like contemporary English speakers, including an encounter with a stone cutter who's bought the TARDIS and his very pre-nuclear stone-age family (Holy Roman Holidays, Batman!), the episode kicks into hyperdrive when the daughter (who is being elevated to the Sybillene Sisterhood) points out that the Doctor and Donna are laughing at them and knows not only that the Doctor, who passed himself off as a stone inspector with his magic paper, is called "the Doctor," but that that isn't even his real name. As if that weren't enough to pique our interest, the Oracle, who up to that point appeared to be a typical pompous buffoon, reveals the Doctor's planet of origin and calls Donna a "daughter of London." Can we say, "Whoa"?

    From this point forward, viewers are treated to a plot twist pretty much every five minutes right up to the climax. The result is an episode that is bursting at the seams in story and which ranks up there with "The Girl in the Fireplace" and "The Impossible Planet" in terms of evocative images, chief among them being the members of the sisterhood's telepathic communications with their palms to their faces and eyes drawn on the backs of their hands, stone giants held together by magma, and the recipients of Vesuvius' visions gradually being turned to stone.

    This episode also displayed Donna's value as a companion. Underlying this episode is the idea of fate versus determinism, a philosophical debate that I doubt would have played as effectively with the current Doctor's previous two companions. I love Donna's line about "I don't know what little girls you've been hanging about with, but don't tell me to shut up," and I loved her defiance of the cultist about to sacrifice her. It wasn't the typical confidence in the Doctor's arriving in time to save her; it was disbelief and brazen outrage. As much as I like the current Doctor, I've never felt comfortable with the idea of the Doctor as a romantic lead. I know David Tennant played Casanova previously, but I'm not interested in seeing every woman the Doctor encounters swooning over him, especially not his companions. If there was any doubt that this would not be the case with Donna, this episode thankfully dispelled that notion. It's also interesting to note that the Doctor used to be reluctant to interfere with history for fear of the Time Lords noticing and now that he is the last of the Time Lords, he seems reluctant to interfere because of self-imposed laws of noninterference.

    "The Fires of Pompeii" is a spectacular adventure that puts a modern slant on most of the classic Doctor Who touchstones. My faith in Doctor Who has, for the moment, been renewed.
  • I found it quite scary that the people in Pompeii seem to know so much about the characters...

    9.7
    This episode reveals more about what is to come, because as we know everyone is coming back in this season (Rose, Captain Jack Harkness, Martha etc). In the beginning of this episode the doctor told that "she is returning", obviously he has no idea that Rose is looking for him so we understand why he looks puzzled, as he had thought he can never see her again, but after we had seen Rose at the end of the first episode of the season I find it amazing, that like Donna and the Doctor they were so close and not managing to find each other for quite some time. More about the doctor is revealed, he has a name and Im guessing its not John Smith as it has been said "your real name is hidden" and John Smith is frequently used.
  • Not the best story ever, but entertains from start to finish. Co Starring the cult of Amy Winehouse!

    9.4
    First it has to be said Donna (and Tates portrayal of her) Is proving to be a perfect complement to the Doctor and just what the show needed. Anyone still turning thier nose up to Tate is surely being unfair.

    The story this week definatly lacked the much broader appeal of last weeks episode, and didnt really do much to draw in the viewer to whom this story might not instantly appeal.

    The highlight of the episode was Donnas hard learned lesson that time can't always be tampered with. Through this it was also fun to have Donna ask some of the questions you wonder why haven't be asked before. It was also good to see how much this still bothers the Doctor also.

    Comedy was of course laced throughout, at this point I think we can assume "Oh my God" "youve got to be kidding me" and the trademark Tate Scream are going to be weekly ingredents; thats OK with me, that scream is halirious! (And so far timed perfectly and used appropreatly.)

    CGI was superb and the magma based enemies were beautfully designed and of course very ambitious. If one thing cannot be criticised this week, its the effects and presentation, For an early episode in the series you couldnt ask for more.

    Im Sure every fan will agree the best scene in the episode was having the Doctors and Donnas identity revealed and futures read in a heated competition. What is this thing on Donna back? And is 'she' Rose or his daughter? One presumes he ment Rose!

    I was a bit reluctant to give this episode such a high score, dispite perfect performance and presentation and as normal being highly emotive, thier seemed to be something of an emptiness to the episode. Nevertheless too much went right and the apparant hard work means anything lower than 9 seems unfair. As always Doctor Who shows its self to be one of the most unique, ambitiuos and imaginative shows in the world.
  • It's volcano day!

    9.5
    This was a great second episode to the season, though I felt it would have been a better way to start it off, because I found it more exciting and informative than the first episode was. I loved the "it's volcano day" reference from the earlier episodes "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances", because even though it's been months since I last saw those episodes, I still go around telling everyone that "it's volcano day"!
    It was a very well written episode, exciting, funny, and even sad. Of course, it leaves us with questions, such as why the girl told Donna that "there's something on your back". That certainly has me curious. I can't wait for the next episodes. It looks like Donna is going to be a grat companion!
  • 'Some things are fixed, some things are in flux. Pompeii is fixed... That is how I see the universe. Every waking second, I can see what is, what was, what could be, what must not. It's the burden of a Time Lord, Donna' (Spoilers)

    9.6
    Really kicking things into top gear, The Fires Of Pompeii is an absolutely cracking episode really showing the Doctor Who team at their very best. The Doctor and Donna arrive in what they think is Ancient Rome. However, there's been a slight miscalculation. They've arrived in Pompeii, on the eve of the eruption of Vesuvius that buried the town. Beneath the ground, creatures stir and psychic abilities abound. But why can't the Sibylline Sisterhood foresee the catastrophe? Moreover, how will Donna react to the Doctor's seemingly callous decision to abandon the people of Pompeii to their fate? A funny, thrilling and ultimately moving story set during one of the biggest natural disasters in history, it showcases what a brilliant production team the show has- plus provides ample space for both David Tennant and Catherine Tate to show off their acting chops. If you just think Catherine Tate is a comedienne, watch this episode. Donna's pleasure at traveling in time is soon dampened when she realizes where they are, but she has a plan- round up the entire town and ship them off. Problem solved. Except the Doctor doesn't agree… Her frequent clashes against the Doctor on the subject are both well-written and well-acted. Donna's always been forthright and Tate really goes for the gusto. However, there are lovelier quieter moments, especially when she bonds with Evelina, a young girl with the gift of foresight. Tate's gutwrenching pleas to the Doctor at the end to 'save someone' had me in tears. A very deep and very rounded performance indeed. Similarly, David Tennant shows more depth and more character as he also fights to reconcile himself with the regrettable decisions he has to make. Wounded from losing Gallifrey yet knowing that history must be allowed to take its course, despite how many people will die, his darker side has never been more pronounced. James Moran's script absolutely crackles in these exchanges and its done justice by the actors.

    Yet another great guest cast for this episode. Peter Capaldi excels as Caecilius, a marble merchant and family man who mistakenly buys the TARDIS, thinking it 'modern art'. Another area where Moran excels is putting a human face to the tragedy. We get to know Caecilius, his devoted wife Metella (Tracey Childs), his feckless son Quintus (Francois Pandolfo) and his seer daughter Evelina (Francesca Fowler) as people who will inevitably be caught up in this tragedy. The destruction of Pompeii is on a scarcely conceivable scale so it is only right that it becomes personalized. Phil Davis is also great as Lucius, the town augur who is being controlled by the alien race whom are responsible for the psychic powers. Also good is Sasha Behar as Sister Spurrina of the Sibylline, a group of female soothsayers whom have prophecies stating the blue box will appear at a time of blood and betrayal. The production teams really knock it out of the park in this episode. Everything- from the pale blue toga Donna changes into to the design of the Pyroviles and the final breathtaking eruption of Vesuvius- looks amazing. The production spent two days in the venerated Cinecitta studios in Rome to get a real authentic look to the street scenes and all that effort absolutely paid off. Despite being quite heavily weighted towards tragedy and drama, there are some lovely little moments of humour- such as Caecilius' 'there's lovely' when he thinks the Doctor is Welsh and a few snippy moments from Donna that lighten the mood. Plus also, this is a script that deals heavily with prophecy and foresight. It's only right then that both the Doctor and Donna have prophecies of their own. The Doctor's 'she is returning' may seem obvious. But what has Donna got on her back? The Medusa Cascade also gets a mention as does the Shadow Proclamation and another planet being lost- Pyrovilia is gone, just like the Adiposian breeding ground. Is this important or am I just clutching at straws here? We shall see…

    All said, this was an absolutely top-notch episode. It's already become a firm favourite of mine. The Ood are going to have an uphill struggle to get close to this one.
  • The Doctor and Donna travel to Pompeii

    9.5
    The Doctor takes Donna back in time for their first adventure away from London, to Pompeii, on volcano day! Donna really wants to try and save everyone from the volcano, but the doctor is refusing it as Pompeii is a fixed point in time which is supposed to happen. Theres the sisterhood who see the future but can't see the volcano as the Pyrovile are inside Mount Vesuvius andare going to use it to take over the world. in order to save the world, the doctor must activate the volcano inside Mount Vesuvius. He does this, but manages to save 1 family from death. The family worship the doctor and donna as the household gods for saving them.
  • A series classic!!

    10
    After a rather whimsy season premiere, Doctor Who embarks on an adventure so enjoyable, I'd boldly say it's one of the best episodes from Nu-Hu to date: ranking, at the very least, in the top three, alongside "Blink" and "Utopia". There's plenty of humour throughout, with Donna getting some cracking one liners; from a visual standpoint it completely floored me - the special FX were top notch, if a little too ambitious at times, still, they rocked; there's some nice hints of what's to come with talks of Medusa, something on Donna's back, London's Daughter etc., that stand-off scene between the two seers was hella intense. Also of note, we're once again reminded of the Shadow Proclamation, it's all very intriguing. The set-pieces were terrific and the pacing consistent. Nay-sayers of Donna should come around with this one, she's fitting in marvellously as the Doctor's conscience, and the last 10 or so minutes are unusually powerful for an alleged "kiddies" show. How Donna placed her hand on the Doctor's hand - wonderful. Her plea for him to save at least someone was superbly played by Catherine, and this episode also explores the unfortunate downsides to being a time-lord, it's a hell of an episode. And next week? All I can say is, I'm thrilled Doc Who is back!
  • This is a good example of what Doctor Who is. It also does a good job moving Donna forward as a character...

    9.0
    This episode was very solid. It had a good story and it was a good setting. The main point, I felt, of the story was to have Donna Noble get more of an understanding of who the Doctor was. She saw him as some sort of "Superman" type of character who would just come flying in and save the day, but the Doctor unfortunately had to show her the much harder side of travelling in the TARDIS.

    It doesn't just stop with the development of the Donna, but it also develops the Doctor a bit more and how he is going to have to change this season. No longer can he be quite as hard as he once was, but he has to have some heart, because Donna, who is much more of a mother figure then either Martha or Rose isn't going to allow him to be so cold as he has been. Even though Tennant's Doctor hasn't been as much as Eccleston's Doctor, there still is that trace because of how close to the destruction of Gallifry he still is.
  • Mount Vesuvius erupts and Donna learns you can't always save everyone

    8.9
    The high points of this episode involved the special effects and more importantly the character progression. Both were stunning and the latter really made the last 10 minutes of the episode.

    The Pyrovile plan to take over the world, they have given the soothsayers the power to see the future and read minds. Their leader is Vesuvius (a stone god held together by Magma) named after the Volcano which in 79AD erupted killing 20,000 people and destroyed Pompeii. The Doctor and Donna arrive the day before the eruption. The Doctor knows this eruption has to happen and everybody die as not to disrupt the timeline but Donna aint havn any of it.

    The actual eruption of Vesuvius is stunning to watch, especially as the Doctor and Donna run away from it. The Pyrovile are not the most original creation but definitely look good, creating a very visual episode, but if that's all there was then this episode would be marked way down.
    What makes this episode stand out is the Doctor's morals vs Donna's. Both have differing views and you can clearly see this and it's played out well. As said in my review of last episode I had a problem with the casting of Catherine Tate but with the exception of the occasional scream her performance works on so many levels to keep the doctor in check, and when the emotion levels are ramped up at the end it feels convincing. David Tennant never takes his hands off the reigns, it is his show after all but there are moments when Donna shines as a character. The discussion at the end brings back the dark doctor glimpsed last season in 'The Family of Blood' not willing to save anyone until Donna brings him around. He can't save his own planet, it was meant to be as was this, so why should he save anyone now.

    Lastly, Soothsayer's, what would we do without them? We wouldn't get hints at future episode's otherwise (well except for the Shadow proclamation thing, mentioned this episode and last, something to do with the Sontaron's probably). Two things got revealed this episode 'she is returning' (Rose most likely)and something I'm sure was in one of the Trailer's 'There is something on your back!' directed at Donna. Oh yeah, also,I don't know if 'Pyrovilia was lost, it was taken' means anything but you know, it might.
  • Amazing episode

    9.7
    Wow, I loved this episode. Where to start?

    I loved the gag about them speaking Celtic. I always wondered how the TARDIS would translate when they were speaking in the dominant language and that bit was really funny.

    I loved the whole storyline about soothsayers and prophecies. When the two characters whose names have excaped me were having that stand off telling things about the Doctor and Donna was really well done.

    And on to Donna. Wasn't she fantastic in this episode? I love the fact that she doesn't hold back and tells the Doctor exactly what she thinks and she's not afraid to tell him when he goes to farcause she's right; he does need telling.

    Can't wait for next week. Return of the Ood!!!
  • What a good choice Catherine Tate turned out to be!

    9.0
    A great episode with a wonderful setting (the producers of the old series must have been consumed with envy, watching this), a decent story, and an assistant who's more than just the excited youngster.

    Let me start with the bad news. The rather dramatic ending is one we have seen too often in the rebooted series. The final fifteen minutes nearly ruined it for me. But, before that, we have an interesting mystery (how did those soothsayers recognise the Doctor?), comedy that does not ruin the magic and an interesting dynamic between the Doctor and Donna. The choice of a slightly older assistant (and an actress with a comedy background) proves to be inspired. Though amazed about what is going on, Donna refuses to be browbeaten by the Doctor. The discussion about interfering in time has been essential throughout the history of the show and gets a down-to-earth repeat here. The comedy is clever enough to stand repetition as well. The celtic accent joke just cracked me up each time.
  • In the words of 9 himself, FANTASTIC! A lovely contrast from last week, with action, adventure, suspese, thrills, fanwank and heartbreak.

    9.0
    I really loved this episode. The Pyrovile were very convincing aliens, and Phil Davis gave a stunning performance. I liked the way it showed the Doctor's burden as a Time Lord. A shocking dark portrayal at thee nd, where he runs past the dying family to his own safety. It really showed why he needs a companion, a nice nod to TRB. Donna was amazing also, the scene where she's running around, trying to save someone, anyone, was amazing. And the scene where Phil Davis and the girl read the Doctor's mind gets full marks for fanwank. The Medusa Cascade got a mention, as did the Shadow Proclamation later on. (Not to mention the nice little referance to Rose)The shots of Vesuvius erupting simply proved how brilliant the Mill are - the best CGI shots since the Beast. Bad points - the 'Oh look Roman people are acting like 21st century people' gag got almost as annoying as the 'I'll have that' gags from the Shakespeare Code. And it would have been nice to catch a glimpse of Jack. Overall, a solid IX out of X.

    Quote of the Week:

    DONNA: I'm sorry, are you in charge?
    DOCTOR: Doctor, Time Lord, yeah.
    DONNA: Donna, Human, NO!
  • T.K.Maximus

    8.5
    This was a very well written episode i thought with a bit of a twist. I knew it was going to involve soothsayers but then it twisted into a story about crashed aliens.

    I thought the Pyrovile were really well designed yet they were ridiculously easy to stop. These massive fire breathing aliens (and their smaller "footsoldiers" could get stopped by what seemed to be the smallest amount of water. I'd like to see them return but come back stronger. Maybe we could find out what happened to their planet?

    The main thrust of the story was the clash between Donna wanting to save everyone and the Doctor saying they couldn't stop it.

    I thought it was excellent bit of character exploration with Donna refusing to just blindly listen to the Doctor and just do what he says.

    I also can't remember when i have seen the Doctor go to such a dark place when he just looked at the family huddled in fear and just walked away. I can't think of any of the previous Doctors doing that except for maybe Hartnell right at the very beginning of the series.

    I've given it an 8.5 but the more i think about it i should have given it a higher score.

    Thing i didn't like - the aforementioned easiness of stopping the Pyrovile, the whole water pistol thing stretched it a bit, if the Tardis was changing the language then why didn't they all speak cockney. Lastly i think Tennant is a very good actor and certainly one of the best Doctors with his performance here pushing hiim further up the list but he don't half run funny!!
  • donna and the doctor arrive the day before volcano day and there is(as always) skullduggery afoot

    7.3
    The doctor and donna take a quick tour of Pompeii before the volcano but a street dealer (looking like the guy from stella street) flog it to a passing marble seller.the doctor finds the house and gains entrance under the guise of "spartacus the marble inspector" (didnt jason lee call his son that?)
    we discover thier daughter is to join the order of sybil and become a prophetess thee other visitor luicus decries her abilties to see the future .They both use there powers on the doctor and find out his true identity .late donna tries to tell the newbie farseer that pompeii will be destroyed .

    the sybil types are watching the the events of the household through the young girl .they are a mysterious group of soothsayers with matching red togs .They kidnapp donna and plan to sacrifice her(the only way to shut her up) .fortunaely the doctor shows up and pulls out his specail weapon.
    they escape into the bowel of the city and discover a secret at the heart of vesuvius.

    Another not bad episode. donna gets emotional and the doctor must make a sadistic choice destroy pompeii or destroy the world.I wonder what happens next.

    Location filming ?it looked like they filmed it in a shoebox.
    the making of showed a huge sunny wide open roman set the result of the episode was that it looked like it was filmed
    in a broom closet they really should have saved thier money
  • More proof that Doctor Who does the faintly ridiculous very well

    8.1
    I love this show, I probably say that everytime I submit a review for Doctor who, but I really do ******* love this show, because it can turn any situation to something completely out of the ordinary. Doctor who isn't bound by the rules of the norm, you got a volcano that exploded 2000 years ago destroying a city, the doctor's there.
    Anyway, the episode. As with the previous three years, we have our first episode set in the past, and the furthur back we go, the more 21st century England things get. Last year when The Shakespeare Code aired I was complaining about the lack of being able to believe the setting, but here in the fire of pompeii, I just really didn't seem to care. Last series, I was feeling down about the whole situation, was it really losing the magic? And so the whole past not being that different to the present bothered me, they can do believable, the unquiet dead proved this, so to (to an extent) Tooth and Claw, but the Shakespeare Code went furthur back, and just lost what had made the preceding episodes great. Of course that's just my opinion, some liked the Shakespeare Code, but Pompeii is a different experience. On the one hand, I was thinking "this is just insane" at the scenes of *cough* "typical" family life in 79AD, which to be honest was just family life in the 21st Century with a few words interchanged, although this wasn't consistent, sometimes speech of the characters from the past seemed believable, sometimes not. However I did like the fact that speaking in latin to latin speakers comes out as celtic. In fact, where Tooth and claw made too many jokes, this episode made just enough, light humour is a good thing at times. "I am spartacus" "and so am I" - brilliant. Fighting the enemy with a waterpistol, faintkly ridiculous as I said, but that's the thing I've found about this series so far, its ridiculous, but I'm enjoying it all the same.
    Anyway, wow, lot of comment on the context of this episode there, I feel quite pleased I have some form of attention span. Anyway, getting right down to it: the volcano, it's always been a running theme that most big events in history are caused by the doctor in the weirdest of ways, for example the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, fanitly ridiculous, but enjoyable all the same. It's a good story, I gotta give it that, it had less of the safety of last episode, where London, a city where a third of the population have been in danger of falling off a roof, a massive electric star that killed people, and a massive titanic shaped spaceship almost crashed into it, are invaded by tiny cute thingies, made of fat. Instead here, twenty thousand people die as a volcano explodes thanks to the doctor....happy endings people!! It's a well plotted episode, I like how doctor who can use tragedies to tell a good story.
    Anyway, as usual with doctor who, good acting all round, as I said earlier, I was slightly uneasy about the way people talked to each other for 79AD, but still, tardis speech thingy in head does something I guess, still dunno whether an ancient italian would use the phrase "lovely jubly" but I'll just leave the merchant from the beginning of the episode for now. I'm really starting to like Donna, I didn't think I would, but I am so there...and that's basically all I have to say on the matter (I want to go watch TV right now).
    Anyway, I think that's sufficient for this review, in a nutshell: pretty good episode that I didn;t expect to like as much. I'm honestly looking forward to next episode seeing as I loved impossible planet/satan pit. Plus according to the bbfc it contains a moderately gory moment, yes, gore, something I didn't think doctor who did. Anyway, that is it, the end, go home
  • The docotr must make a terrible choice when he lands in pompeii one day before it is due to be buried.

    9.0
    The dcotr and donna travel back in time to ancient roman times but instead of landing in rom the docotr clearly made a mistake with the controls and they land in pompeii instead. the idea of the aleins here wasn terribly orignal, this si something that ahs been done numerous times before on the show, it was quite emotional though when the doctr had to destroy pomepeii to stop the aliens before they coudl take over earth, alhtough despite this the aliens were beaten rather easily, they obviousely didn't expect interference by the doctor, all in all a good improvement over the last episode and I hope to see more great episodes in the coming weeks.
  • The Doctor and Donna arrive in Pompeii the day before 'Volcano Day', and the pair clash over whether or not to save the citizens before it's too late. However, fate soon teaches the pair a valuable lesson... Spoilers ahead...

    10
    For the first half of the episode I was thinking, 'okay, the average second episode - good, but nothing special'. However, I was happy to see that Catherine Tate was able to eradicate the claims that she could not act by delivering both a comedic and emotional performance in this episode, and it provided the perfect example of how well both the Doctor and Donna work together.

    The subtle comedy of this episode worked excellently with the tragic undertones present, with clever plot lines (e.g. the Doctor and Donna sadly being responsible for the eruption killing the thousands).

    Further to the excellent acting and clever writing, this episode appeared to open the gateways to the plots for the rest of the series, particularly the fact that 'she is coming' and yet another planet has gone - possible story arc?

    Another great episode for Doctor Who - roll on next week!
  • The Doctor and Donna arrive in Pompeii on the eve of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Donna insists that the Doctor should warm the residents of the impending disaster, but a supernatural threat spells even bigger danger. A much better ep than the opener...

    8.8
    After the silly and in some places rather childish opener to the season in 'Partners in Crime', here we move into a deeper and mostly more serious affair.

    By this second episode of the series, I have taken to Catherine Tate as new sidekick Donna, with all of my previous fears dispelled. If nothing else, she's miles better than the frankly quite dull Martha.

    It might seem (albeit unconsciously) an unofficial tradition to make the second episode of each season a historical based episode. Here we have Pompeii, second episode last season we had 'The Shakespeare Code', and in the season before that we had the Queen Victoria-related 'Tooth and Claw'.

    The episode was partly filmed in Rome, the first time modern 'Who' has been filmed abroad, and it really adds some impressive backdrops to the exterior shot scenes.

    The episode has a good cast, although I did feel that the talented Phil Cornwell was rather wasted as the stallholder and should have been given more to do.

    The story is a fair one, but not a classic, and one of its main problems in my opinion is that it takes an age to really get going. The first half is very wordy, and I might suspect a bit heavy going for the series' more junior fans.

    It is not until later in the story that things start to liven up more, with the Pyrovile being interesting (although again, not classic) villains-of-the-week.

    I like how the Doctor is morally torn over warning the locals of the impending disaster, a theme which harks back to a number of vintage 'Doctor Who' stories. Catherine Tate as Donna provides a good moral counterpoint to the Doctor, and is a good example of how a good supporting character can liven things up and be a good balance to the Doctor (cough*Martha*cough).

    I'm not really sure how to sum this episode up. It's a vast improvement over the silly season opener, but not a classic example of modern 'Who'. It is a fair story and does have its moments later on, but takes time to warm up.
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