As for the storyline itself...speaking as someone who spent approximately 25% of her time with her best friend wildly writing an epic story (albeit more "highly warped but still borrowed characters in an AU" than "original manuscript," and in script rather than prose format), I hereby declare "Lisa the Drama Queen" the best episode I've seen in years.
And regardless of the fact that I feel they may have been a bit mocking with this line, my new quote to live by is "The 'real world'? That's only for people who can't imagine anything better."
[DISCLAIMER: I realize that everyone in the internet had many of the same reactions I did, but I swear I wrote them down before I did any review-wandering...and I'd feel remiss if I didn't include them, since in the future I will only be reading my old reviews, not anyone else's.]
4x02, "The Fires of Pompeii"
So, I had like half a dozen possible ways to start this discussion, and I could neither pick my favorite nor synthesize them into some sort of order, and I wasn't clever enough to do proper running commentary, so let me just display all the possible introductions like so, and then maybe I will expand on the first paragraph and they will be like section headers. It's more verbose this way.
Option 1: *beams* I am pleased to report that any semi-recalcitrant feelings I may have had about Donna evaporated with the following exchange:
Donna: What, and you're in charge?
Doctor: Mm, TARDIS, Time Lord, YEAH.
Donna: Donna, human, no!
*explodes in giggles* I've rewound it like 50 times, and I still cannot help laughing at her accompanying head-bobbing. Greatest. Thing. Ever.
I also like the fact that Donna finally let us address the question "what happens when you actually speak words in a foreign language?", which is something I have always burned with curiosity to know, along with "how do you know if events are fixed or not?" (sidebar: much obliged for the brief flareup of angry!Doctor when he rounds on her, spitting about how he sees everything, all at once, all the time, Curse of the Time Lords style. Even gets in a mention about being the only one left, which is rather fitting seeing as that's a recently reopened wound.)
Option 2: For a minute there, I thought the roaring brimstone-and-fire alien might be spooky. Then it turned into "TRANSFORMERS! Robots in disguise!" At which point, given that I was already laughing uproariously at the plot, I merely exploded into further giggles.
Far more interesting were the temple sisters, with their spooky eyes on their hands, strangely attractive markings on faces,, and lovely if conspicuous red robes. They're really what made the episode for me, I think.
Option 3: Whee, being unspoiled rocks! Season 3, I pretty much knew what and where all the Rose references were, due to my weak nature and YouTube-watching. All I knew going into this one was that there was SOME LINE. And oh, what a lovely line "She is returning" is*. (and is it just me, or does "There is something on your back" after all the heavy emotional stuff sound like a tossed-off line from Monty Python?)
[edit: I like how I apparently missed the actual Monty-Python-esque scene. It's been a while since I watched it, okay?!]
* = You know, lines like this make me really sad I wasn't watching this as it aired, in a way where I could still squee, cling to that line and have daydream fodder for a month imagining how that might work out. I mean, I'm still not entirely sure how the return comes about, so I still get to play with that part, but being 99.8% certain of the foregone conclusion puts a damper on it.
Option 4: You know, the Doctor in ancient Rome was a lot more fun in The Stone Rose. Mostly because I did not spend the first half of the book howling with laughter (to keep from weeping) at the terrible writing. Honestly, watching that family was like watching a live-action version of The Simpsons - you know, when they tell stories like The Odyssey or Hamlet and the main characters of said stories are Homer/Marge/Bart/Lisa? Apparently Doctor Who can only do realistic period drama back so far before they revert to "modern day characters in costumes."
On the bright side: way to sufficiently distract me so as to bring unexpected emotional walloping in the second half. I did not see that coming, until all of a sudden the Doctor is paralyzed by the horror of causing Pompeii, and Donna permanently endears herself to me between her tear-filled eyes and placing her hand over his so that they push the lever together. (see, already, I feel like Donna can connect with him in ways that Martha couldn't quite get)
Option 5: For the first time ever, I don't know what the Secret Season Password is, and I feel very lost and disoriented without it. I suppose it could be "Rose," but I sort of doubt it. I suppose there are also themes, like "difficult choices" and "your home planet was lost," but...see, it tends to be more specific. AND I WISH TO KNOW WHAT IT IS.
-In case this hasn't come across properly yet, I really loved this episode. Possibly more than the premiere, all things considered. I chalk a large part of this fact up to my adoration of the emotional intensity involved in the last TARDIS scene, with screaming (Donna), bitterness (Doctor) and "Don't you understand, if I could go back and save them then I would, but I can't. I can never go back, I can't, I just can't, I can't." (heart: *breaks at excessive repetition*)
Which, you know, is somewhat the same despair I feel about the fact that this series is on an inevitable path to irreparable ruin. Last year, at least, there was still hope. Hope in the form of a .0001% chance that this show would be canceled when/before Tennant left so things could be wrapped up in a bow, or the even smaller chance that at the end of his run we could imply that he and Rose spent the between-seasons hiatus traveling together until she died and Eleven wound up back in 20__ to sort of start over.
-*cheers self up with the fact that Donna is amazing*
-The fact that Donna just yells and threatens despite being tied to a table, moments from sacrifice = hee! Very Evy the Librarian of her. Plus, being warned that her voice will cease forever, and the Doctor casually hanging out in a corner, all "Oh, that'll be the day"? Between that and the beginning ("Well, I might just have something to say about that, SPACEMAN!" "Oh, I bet you will!")...
THEIR BANTER: IT CANNOT BE EQUALED. I stand firm in my belief that Ten/Rose is the most sparkling and perfect of all relationships, but there is something about bickery banter that I cannot get enough of.
-Doctor/Donna being mistaken for a married couple...I feel like this is another well of amusement that cannot run dry.
-Background music: vastly improved! (is it obvious how much I'm anticipating the soundtrack yet? I've resisted it thus far because I fear spoilery-sounding title tracks. But I clearly cannot wait for it)
[edit: WHAT THE HELL, SELF. I go to Wikipedia to verify that there is, in fact, a series 4 soundtrack, and I accidentally peek at the first couple of tracks. Hey, "A Noble Girl About Town" doesn't sound so bad! Maybe I can listen to this music after all! I scan down and down, and they all seem fairly innocuous, until "The Rueful Fate of Donna Noble." (%*&#(*%#! So much for not dwelling on what possible bad things might happen to her. And I was doing so well on not being tempted to learn things, too...]
-How much did the prophesying daughter look like a blander version of Allison Cameron on House? *is unsettled*
-A squirt gun to save the day!
-*facepalm* Oh, God, not another terribly glowy Doctor scene to mock...bluish-white backlighting has the same effect as actual glowing, you know.
-Donna's purple dress was the prettiest thing ever. Should she at some point decide to adopt the Doctor's dressing routine, I would be in favor of her wearing this dress all the time. Uncomfortable amount of cleavage and all.
-Was kind of hoping we could somehow avoid that "New Household Gods" twist. Sigh.
-Oh! And back in April, I would have been rather happy about them being mistaken as Celtic, but after the Capstone Class of Doom and dragging my way through the endless horrible research project, the mere mention of the word caused something in my brain to snap. *twitches*
Up Next: Ooooood! I would be more flaily, except *whimpers and tries to dive back into Season 2 Happy Place*
Wow, Cold Case seems so much less exciting all of a sudden.
-6x14, "The Brush Man"
Let's see, how many 60's cliches can we work into this: dark side of suburbia, bored housewives, not-so-secret spousal abuse, and homosexual trysts disguised with marriage, YEAH! And man, all the things that kid happened to find - Dad meets guys in the park! Mom kisses formerly trustworthy salesmen! - he couldn't have been unexpectedly hanging around the corner in time to see his dad commit murder/hide the body?
(I'm sorry, I just found it hilarious that he stumbled over two huge secrets about his parents at practically the same time. Either they are the world's least discreet people ever, or he just makes a habit of sneaking around and following them. Or both.)
In other news, Lily's dad finally knows that Lily's mom is deceased, which seemed like a sort of stupid thing to lie about in the first place, and poor Vera let Toni and her kid move in, only to kicked out when she apparently broke up with him. Or maybe they're just having a fight and he hopes they can still get back together, which is the only explanation I have for why he has no legal recourse for kicking her out instead. I don't know how apartments work, but wouldn't they at least have to co-sign the lease, if he wasn't still the only name on it?
The fact that Jeffries (somewhat reluctantly) let him stay with him for a while is pretty cute, though. That could be fun in its own right.