The Case For…Partners in Crime
Guest contributor David Selby makes the case for the Series 4 opener.
Partners in Crime is an episode which is often debated by fans – some love it; some hate it. In this article I will compare the two sides and, hopefully, settle it.
The monster of the episode, the Adipose, are often the main reason behind the arguments. Criticisms usually leveled against them state they are that they are ‘stupid’ and ‘childish’. I, however, find myself disagreeing with this assessment.
Yes, the Adipose are hard to take seriously, but the point is they aren’t meant to be, as they are not the villain of the episode. The Adipose showed a side to Doctor Who that hadn’t really been explored in great detail before, and that is the innocence of aliens. After the first three series, fans may have been wondering if there were any aliens who would come to earth in peace. The Adipose proved that there were aliens with a child-like innocence, which was admirable (and also a strange contrast given the way they were born).
The fact that Partners in Crime was a series opener meant that the general focus was on the companion and their meeting with the Doctor. Usually the monster or villain plays as a backstory until the end of the episode. In Rose for example, the first half of the episode was almost entirely about her and the Doctor. And in the immensely popular The Eleventh Hour, Prisoner Zero only ever played alongside the ‘girl-who-waited’ story. So, it has to be said that the Adipose didn’t need to be a major part either, and therefore writer Russell T. Davies and the production team could go along with a lighthearted alien to brighten up the episode.
Donna (Catherine Tate) wasn’t new to the show at the time, but writer Russell T. Davies did a fantastic job of changing her character from an ordinary human being to a time traveller. In The Runaway Bride, Donna was loud and constantly stressed out, and there were moments when I thought, “For crying out loud Doctor, just dump her in the church!”
When I first heard that Donna was going to be returning as main companion I was very unsure whether the series would be as good. But when she did come back in Partners in Crime, I found her a much more likeable character. Not only that, she arguably became the Doctor’s most kind, caring and ‘human’ companion yet. Illustrated no better than in The Fires of Pompeii and The Planet of the Ood.
The general structure of the episode was excellent as well; the fact that the Adipose story ran alongside the Donna story well, and all the little plotline hints hidden away throughout the episode. Along with this, the special FX, casting, acting and setting were all superb and top-quality.
Even after this article, I am aware that some fans will still disagree with me; however I hope that this has shown another side to this RTD story which will allow you to think differently. This is one of my favourites and also what I consider one of the most underrated episodes of Doctor Who. I think that with a little bit of time and help from us, this story will never be forgotten.