Doctor Who: The Fires of Pompeii

Posted Sunday, April 13, 2008, 1:37 PM

This week's episode, set in Pompeii the day before Vesuvius's eruption, was special, because they actually flew the crew to Rome and filmed at the sets where the TV series Rome was shot.

This episode starts out much like the other episodes from early in the season (Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria), and I was afraid it would actually be a clone of the Shakespeare episode, as at first glance it did appear to have similar elements. But it soon ended up quite different, and what struck me most was that it came down to a single decision, one which was a lose-lose situation; no matter what the Doctor decided on, sacrifices were unavoidable.

Donna established her character here. I think this is how she's going to be from now on. People have commented on her being annoying, but she's there to bring him up short, to point out the absurdities, to make sure the Doctor doesn't get overly sentimental, but also so he doesn't get too impersonal and distant. He has to be realistic about the big things; sometimes difficult decisions have to be made, but there can be some small salvation in every tough situation, and Donna will point him there. She has the humanity and the cynicism mixed together at the right levels to reign the Doctor in.

Good episode. It will probably be listed as one of many viewer's favourites of the season.

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