Doctor Who – 4x02 – The Fires of Pompeii

This is a step up from last week’s episode, to be expected perhaps as the first in each season seems to be the weakest, but that would be unfair to the writer.

An interesting story, a bit more than last week’s alien of the week, but the story for the most part established Donna as a worthy assistant.

I don’t think we’ve really seen too many people being left behind in the Doctor’s wake, it was nice to see a lot of people being affected by his time travel all at once. And it was perhaps a nod to the end of the Time Wars, the Doctor having to make a people burn to save the day, only this time he gets to save some of them.

That was excellent, touching and, in places, funny. (“Look you”)

The prophecies - I think it’s an open secret who the “she” is that’s coming back, but what does Donna having something on her back mean? The Pyro-thingies planet is lost too, so that’s another recurring thing this year. Hmmmm…

I thought it was great! Seemed to be quite a bit of foreboding, which is always interesting. The Shadow Proclamation has been bandied about a bit, and my husband pointed out that this was the second reference to a planet that was missing - not gone, destroyed, but missing.

I’m really warming to Donna, it’s a refreshing change to have someone who’s not afraid to question the Doctor’s actions, which as he himself realised at the end of the episode, is just what he needs.

I thought I’d missed something with the line about Donna’s back, I’ve no idea what it meant either.

Is the missing planet a reference to the Time War, something to help get Donna up to date with the Doctor’s past?

I couldn’t see why they bothered to schlepp all the way to Cinecittà to film it - looked to me just like any ordinary episode. Would it not have been easier (and cheaper, said a licence-fee payer) just to CGI the backgrounds as usual?

I loved the use of Caecilius and his family. A real nod to anyone who learnt Latin in school (Cambridge Latin Course).

Caecilius est pater.
Metella est mater.

A fine episode, definitely a step up from last week. I wouldn’t call it brilliant but I can’t complain.

No. Not easier, not cheaper. Flying forty people to Rome is much cheaper than 500 man hours on the computer. They had enough work doing the CGI they had through the episode, especially the scenes of the eruption.

I don’t think a CGI background could have looked any better either. The CGI wasn’t bad but the stock volcano footage stuck out a bit too.

Hell, this is Doctor Who we’re talking about. I was just relieved the volcano wasn’t a baking-soda-and-vinegar-model.

Blimey - I’m in the wrong business. Don’t forget the three or four lorriesful of stuff (cameras, special effects etc) they had to take, plus however much it cost to hire the studios and the extras for 3 days. And that’s still cheaper than employing some nerdy bloke to sit in his bedroom in Rhiwbina fiddling with a keyboard for a few hours a day???

You want a photorealistic re-creation of Pompeii for 80 shots? Try fifty people, working two months solid, at a state-of-the-art facility. If you’re even lucky enough to find that many talented people in one place.

Also consider that they need those fifty people to work on the 12 other episodes of the season, and Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and any other shows they’re contracted for. All in all, it’s cheaper and easier to fly a crew to Rome. That’s why any movie chooses location filming instead of sets (digital or otherwise) wherever they can.

Glad i wasn’t the only one that noticed that!

Caecilius, Metella and Quintus were all present. I was half expecting Quintus to be the only person to escape the eruption alive (as with the course).

I think I underestimated the time it would take, too. Closer to 5000 man hours.