This time round Modern Re-Capitulation takes on a story which is probably more remembered for the revelation at the end than for the meat of the story, which in the eyes of the Tour seems unfortunate for Partners in Crime should be known more for it’s somewhat unique tone and execution, not to mention the redemption of Donna as a character.
Farce as a theatrical form of storytelling had only been done once before in Doctor Who, all the way in the Hartnell era in The Romans, where portions of that story were fairly explicit about it. In Partners it’s worked more in the form of the paralleling or twinning actions taken by Donna and the Doctor, moving towards the same goal, yet always seeming to miss each other until more than halfway through the story.
Their exaggerated and clumsy reunion, played with palpable glee by Catherine Tate, is the real showstopper. What became clear almost from the jump once together again was what great chemistry Tennant and Tate had. This was only briefly glimpsed towards the end of The Runaway Bride, and while it’s also withheld in Partners, it leaps off the screen.
But of course what’s more memorable isn’t the jaunty fat but the silent, surprise return of Billie Piper. That the production team were able to keep her presence a secret is something of an achievement at the time, but it began to underline the notion that Doctor Who was beginning to draw in on itself, which would be further underlined towards the end of Series 4.