Despite the previous season taking place over four or five days (as they play out in the show’s present), this episode doesn’t rush Doctor David Tennant reuniting with perfect companion (and pre-last season companion Freema Agyeman) Catherine Tate. Tate was the previous year’s Christmas special; a fill-in between Billie Piper and Agyeman.
But now it’s all about Tate. Since we’ve last seen her, she’s started investigating the paranormal and strange in hopes of happening across Tennant again. Not agreeing to be his companion on his immediate rebound from Piper was the biggest mistake she’d ever made.
The show takes its time bringing Tennant and Tate back together, with director James Strong and writer Russell T. Davies doing a great job dragging it out. Tate’s current investigation—which Tennant happens across—is a miracle diet pill. There’s a nice montage of them each investigating before they happen across the same lead at the same time and quickly get found out. It’s a great scene.
Possibly villain Sarah Lancashire’s best scene. She ought to be a better villain but there’s something shallow about her character. The alien plot involves repopulating a global population from human fat. Lots of adorable fat aliens. Not the best CGI, but cute CGI. The show leans it on it hard.
We also get to meet Tate’s supporting cast—I can’t remember if mom Jacqueline King was in the previous Christmas special, which involved Tate’s wedding—so mom King and granddad Bernard Cribbins. Cribbins is all heart, King is another annoying companion’s mom, though a little different than what we’ve seen before.
Maybe because we don’t see King and the Doctor together… it’s just King being crappy to Tate.
The show doesn’t really pretend there’s much question about whether or not Tate’s ending up on the TARDIS, but there’s some lip service to Tennant having previous romantic disinterest issues with Agyeman, which is weird. We never got the same clarification on Piper? Does the show ever do a good companion-transition?
Speaking of companions, though there’s a big companion-related surprise at the end of the episode. Presumably it’s going to be important later in the season.