Partners in Crime

Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
Region 2
3-episode volume
(Doctor Who Story No. 194, starring David Tennant)
  • written by Russell T. Davies
  • directed by James Strong
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 48 minutes
Story: Donna Noble investigates a suspiciously miraculous weight-loss pill being marketed in London, all in the hopes that this is the same sort of trouble that would attract the wandering time-traveling Doctor that interrupted her wedding just over a year ago. Her gently supportive grandfather Wilfred Mott soon has more bizarre objects appearing in his telescope than he ever bargained for....

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Audio commentary by writer Russell T. Davies, director James Strong, and executive producer Julie Gardner.
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: A Noble Return (8 min.) with Davies, Strong, David Tennant (The Doctor),
    Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), Sarah Lancashire (Miss Foster), and producer Phil Collinson.
  • Alternate scenes with the late Howard Attfield (Donna's Dad) (7 min.)
  • Deleted & extended scenes (4 min.) - introduced by writer Russell T. Davies
  • Trailers & Promos

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

Good old Russell T. Davies is the writer on this one, and he churns out a piece of predictable formula - easily the least exciting season opener in the past four years. There is a nifty idea turned sci-fi premise concerning weight loss, which sustains about 5 minutes worth of quality screen time, before it becomes repetitive padding. Other than that, this episode only has the interaction of its two season regulars to sustain interest, and really, yet another companion shuffle is not all that riveting. Predictably it forces us to endure the massively overused London, Earth setting yet again, along with the lacklustre domestic accoutrements that have unnecessarily dogged the show since 2005. Not smart. The plot's action isn't anything to write home about - the usual running around doing Who knows what, with the "vertical chase" some fans say is a Davies hallmark. Davies also turns yet again to a female villain, while muddling the line of who we should be rooting for. In the end, it's all quite forgetable.

One saving grace here is the presence of actor Bernard Cribbins, veteran of the Peter Cushing Doctor Who film "Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D." (theatrical remake of story no. 10), as well as being a favourite from the regular cast of the Carry On series of comedy films. Although only in a handful of quiet character based scenes, with next to no impact on plot, Cribbins makes each one come alive and become something truly enjoyable to savour. Behind the scenes info reveals that he was a very last minute replacement for the late Howard Attfield, who played Donna's father in "The Runaway Bride" (story no. 182). I think Cribbins does the job better as Donna's grandpa, and I'm certainly glad we have him in the role. Nice one.

Story structure is designed more for Doctor Who followers than the brand new audience members that season openers should be ready for. Considerable dramatic tension is built up as a comedy plays out, with the two regulars on identical missions who miraculously keep missing each other - but this only works for a first viewing. Subsequently, once one knows the outcome, a feeling of "Oh, let's get past this...." takes over. The actual conflict of the story has little chance of out-doing these comedy gags, being derived from things of such mundane importance as weight-loss pills and stereotypical corporate cardboard cut-out characters. And in the midst of the intercutting of the Doctor's and Donna's separate missions, the establishment of the TARDIS gets sidetracked.

The Doctor has an early scene in the interior, but newly acquired viewers get no clue as to where this is. Shortly after, Donna parks her car and runs off towards a building, not noticing a police box materializing behind her. Great, but to complete this idea for newly acquired viewers, we need to see the Doctor come out of the police box and head toward same building, but the crew sadly isn't smart enough to see the importance of this and include the shot. Only regular Doctor Who viewers will get it.

To be fair, the TARDIS gets more of its usual good intro stuff at the closing of the episode, but at that point, the usual materialization/dematerialization nature of the machine is left off-screen, while literal flying through the air is the bogus substitute. Not all I want in an opening. For once, the Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned" (the previous story) actually turns out to be better suited as a season opener, after which this story works a bit better.

Murray Gold proves dynamic and brilliant with his music yet again, kicking off with the one-two punch of his new version of the Doctor Who title music and heading straight into a jazzed up version of Donna's Theme now called "A Noble Girl About Town". Great. Many more staple cues for the season make their debut, while some favourites from previous years enjoy a return. Good stuff. Murray's got the necessary style for this show's music nailed down really well by now.

A climactic crisis gives the Doctor a solid heroic final action to perform, with a critical assist from Donna showcasing her value. But it all seems a bit contrived, predictable, and uninteresting, hyped up with more energy and panic than necessary. Not bad, but we've seen better. Way better.

The final segments of this story feature a nice "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"-style mothership gracing the screen, one of the great visual effects of the season. But while managing to ignite my imagination in the full-season trailers, it did considerably less for me in this story, and is a bit underused and wasted here on this trivial excuse for an adventure.

This adventure is littered with minor details meant to link into future stories of the season - the "Atmos" stickers on the windshields of the cars being a good example. But the worst is undoubtedly saved for the end. As if the adventure itself didn't leave enough of a disappointing taste in the mouth, we then get a silent, mysterious cameo by Billie Piper as Rose. UGGHH! As if we hadn't had enough of her in seasons 27 & 28! And after all the trouble Russell T. Davies had gone to to safely banish her to where she would never come back, she's barely been gone a year before poking her fake blonde nose back onto our screens. No doubt Russell was trying to drum up extra interest in this year's stories - if only he knew how such a cheesy move had exactly the opposite effect on fans like me.....

Music by Murray Gold
"Doctor Who" (Season 30 Title version),
"A Noble Girl About Town",
"A Pressing Need to Save the World",
"Corridors and Fire Escapes", and
"Life Among the Distant Stars"
are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 4" (2008)

More info & buying options

"After the Chase", and
"The Doctor Forever" are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 3" (2007)

More info & buying options

"Doomsday" is available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who by Murray Gold
Silva Screen SILCD1224

More info & buying options

Well, this tale is definitely not the highlight of Season 30. In fact, it will likely win the Wooden Turkey Award for worst story of Season 30, which means the good news is that things only get better from here on. So, enough said about "Partners in Crime"; there is much better stuff in store this season. Let's get at it....

International Titles:

Deutsch: "Es lebe das Fett"

Magyar: "Bűntársak"

Français: "Le Retour de Donna Noble"

Русский: "Соучастники"

Italiano: "Adipose Industries"

Quite a few of these are creatively non-literal. Top prize goes to the Germans for making me laugh with "Long Live the Fat"!

This story has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode boxed set
for the U.K.
DVD PAL Region 2
3-episode volume
U.K. format only

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Fires of Pompeii"

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