Doctor Who review: Donna Noble: The Chiswick Cuckoos

Donna and Nat return home, but they’ve still got an alien invasion to stop in the final episode of Doctor Who spin-off box set Donna Noble: Kidnapped!

After two adventures away from home – perhaps more than enough for Donna’s best friend Natalie, at least – Donna and Nat finally return to London in The Chiswick Cuckoos, the last episode of Doctor Who spin-off box set Donna Noble: Kidnapped! It doesn’t take them long to realize though that something is wrong, as they have to deal with some unfinished business…

What’s interesting about The Chiswick Cuckoos is that it connects back to Out of this World in a big way. While Spinvasion and The Sorcerer of Albion were mostly standalone, The Chiswick Cuckoos builds on hints and threads established in the box set’s opening episode. In some ways, it almost feels like the second half of a two-parter, with two entirely different adventures happening in the middle.

Unsurprisingly, Donna is given a lot to do in this episode. Once again, there’s an alien menace to stop, but unfortunately, there’s no Doctor around to stop it. For the entire box set of Donna Noble: Kidnapped!, the Doctor has been missing. The Chiswick Cuckoos finally reveals exactly what happened to him. He’s in a sticky situation, and he needs Donna’s help to rescue him…

Doctor Who

We learn what happened to the Doctor in the last episode of Donna Noble: Kidnapped!, and it’s up to Donna to save the day!
Image Courtesy Tony Whitmore, Big Finish Productions

Nat’s journey

Along with the usual secret alien invasion story – which is fun to listen to – there’s a lot of character exploration in The Chiswick Cuckoos, too. Particularly with Nat, who’s been a major character in this box set. In some ways, she’s had to act as Donna’s “companion” for the series.

Over the course of the box set, Nat’s life has been explored more and more. On the surface, she seems to have everything in life – she has a successful career, she’s married and she gets to see a little bit of the world every now and then. But traveling with Donna has really made her think about her life, and how happy she truly is with it.

Niky Wardley has been fantastic to listen to in this box set. Along with being something of a Big Finish veteran – she’s even played a companion to the Eighth Doctor – Wardley has had a long and successful working relationship with Catherine Tate for years, allowing the characters’ friendship to feel even more natural. So it’s great that her character is given a satisfying resolution in this episode.

A satisfying resolution

Of course, the same applies to Donna, too. The episode reminds us why Donna was so brilliant in the first place. While meeting the Doctor certainly helped her to gain a bigger perspective of the universe and grow as a person, by this point, she’s brilliant on her own terms. More than that: she’s able to face up to the trauma that brought her back home in the first place.

The Chiswick Cuckoos is a satisfying resolution to Donna Noble: Kidnapped! Along with having a fun alien invasion story that suits the style of Series 4 well, we also get some great character exploration and fantastic performances, particularly from Catherine Tate and Niky Wardley. Add to that an extremely bittersweet ending – one that reminds us how Donna’s journey ends – and you have a great little episode to round off this box set.

Next: Out of the Wilderness – A Classic Whovian’s perspective on Rose

What’s your favorite story featuring Donna Noble? Do you think she should be given another box set of her own adventures? Let us know in the comments below.

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