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> Series 4 Reviews > The Fires of Pompeii

Guest Review
of The Fires of Pompeii

79AD. The Doctor brings Donna to Rome. Or so he thinks. The ground is shaking and the mountain is smoking, whilst some of the men and women of the town seem to have gained second sight...

I was looking forward to 'The Fires of Pompeii'. Like the Titanic its one of those areas of history we are all fascinated by. But I have also been to Pompeii, which made my interest deepen perhaps that bit more. Was I to be disappointed like last week?

Well no. Far from it. It was magnificent. Obviously stretching the budget to film at Italy's own standing sets gave the whole thing a realism that perhaps couldn't have been achieved otherwise. The effects guys pulled out all the stops, and The Mill produced some of their best work. All of which gave the story a real depth.

The story wasn't lacking either. A really well paced and plotted story which gave way to a very emotional ending, showing the burden that the Doctor takes with him wherever he goes. But it also had lots of good comedy and Catherine Tate's experience is really playing well against David Tennent. There were only one or two weak jokes and a silly accent near the start that didn't spoil it overall.

A story I have re-watched already and I'm sure one which I will r-ewatch over and over again. I hope the rest of the season lives up to this sort of quality.

Review by Jay from Bristol

The Show is On Fire

short on adjectives to sing the praises of this story.

Breathtaking, magnificent, touching, exhilarating and beautiful will do for a start.

As a very "traditional" fan of the classic series, I look for certain qualities in a story. A good rampaging monster, a likeable set of characters, lots of running down corridors, a witty script, and an idea which reaches a little bit beyond the confines of what you see on screen.

Pompeii delivers this and more. With echoes of so many classics from the past (The Sisterhood of Karn from The Brain of Morbius, monsters in underground services from The Web of Fear and The Talons of Weng Chiang and tinkering with Roman history in The Romans, to name but a few), it couldn't fail to tickle the fancy of Old Who fans.

The humans we meet include the amusing and the pleasant, and the antagonists are wonderfully villainous. The monsters are remniscant of the Kraags from Shada - only good. The setup is thoroughly enjoyable and the story plays out as a good Doctor Who mystery should.

But the real payoff comes at the end when we get two treats - one intellectual and one visual.

The eruption of Vesuvius is one of the greatest sequences in the history of the show. Unlike the seige of Troy, the burning of Rome, the Massacre of St Bartholemew's Eve, or the Great Fire of London, we are finally treated to seeing a pivotal moment in history in all its glory.

Then, for really the first time properly, the Doctor explains how his view of the universe allows him to know what can be changed and what can't. I've asked the question on this very site about the episode Father's Day - how can he make a fuss about Rose saving one person's life, while he saves (and sometimes allows the deaths of) loads of others? Now we understand. He's a Time Lord and he just sees. It answers so many nagging questions from the past, and also harks back to Tom Baker's enigmatic "I walk in eternity" line from Pyramids of Mars - another story which touched upon what happens when you change (or try to avoid changing) the past.

I adored this episode. I thought it was nearly faultless and deserves to rank in the pantheon of true greats reserved for the likes of The Talons of Weng Chiang and The Evil of the Daleks. It is nearly impossible to deliver more adventure within forty-five minutes than was provided here.

Review by Murphy from Staines

Next episode - Planet of the Ood

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