The Blogtor Who Top 50 - No. 42

Here it is! Blogtor's personal countdown of his 50 favourite Doctor Who television stories, one a week till the big day in November 2013. Now, just to point out, this choice is purely my own. So don't expect reasoned debate or objectivity. Or even the need to please every fan out there. This is my list, and I stand by it. I will also add that I've seen every Doctor Who story released (at least twice), so I feel like I know what I'm talking about. Anyway, enough chittle of the chattle, let's begin...

The Fires of Pompeii
First broadcast 12/4/2008 starring David Tennant 

An almost perfect episode this one - for me. Barely a few stories into their run and Davey & Cathy T demonstrate just how good they are together - and just how they make for the most delightful and meaningful of Doctor/Companion relationships. It starts off all laughter and gags and ends in tears and compassion. But more of the Doctor/Donna later.

The rest of the cast in The Fires of Pompeii are an absolute treat. Peter Capaldi, so chilling and engaging in Torchwood: Children of Earth, brings his more friendly and familial side to the proceedings. Caecilius would have made an excellent addition to the TARDIS. His treatment of his offspring makes for a gigglesome watch and, indeed, the family are instantly likeable - which makes for their peril during the denouement so much more palpable.

And just check out the nasty Phil Davis, a formidable villain; the "seer-off" scene is a particular highlight as the actor hisses, "There is something on your back!" Chilling. Collectively, the Sisterhood impress too. It's got an old skool Who feel to it, evoking The Brain of Morbius, though the rock monster Pyroviles are something we could only have dreamt about back in the day. The stone bad-boys are terrifically realised, making for an impressive beast as they lump about underground.

But a gold star and a see-me-after-class for the hugely pleasing CG work throughout the tale. From the aforementioned underground rockery (which was one of the best bits of FX I've seen on the show) to the startling eruption - it's all flawless and integrated immaculately. Fires has the feel of a massive blockbuster, and this is complemented by the dramatic turn and moral questions raised by knowing the future (though, according to some writers, it can be rewritten *coughs*).

And this is where the Doctor/Donna relationship comes into its own as Chiswick's finest drives the moment, touches our hearts and even changes the Gallifreyan's mind. No mean feat! Catherine Tate's performance is heartbreaking, one of her most memorable moments for sure. The saving of the family may be up for moral debate (future timelines and all that) but aren't we glad The Doctor did? Watching them cower in the shadow of death was deeply distressing, making the Time Lord's U-turn all the more thankful.

It's a pity that The Fires of Pompeii was only given the forty-five minute slot as there is so much going on, and so much to enjoy and think about. James Moran's first and only contribution to telly Doctor Who (at the time of writing) is a self-contained joy that honours history and stretches the possibilities of the series.

See Nos. 50-42 HERE

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