In a similar narrative structure to 'The End Of The World', the second episode of the revived series, the story only sparked into life during the climactic final act. The power of the writing during the denouement became easily evident, with Astrid's tragic demise testing the resilience of the tear ducts, followed by Copper's £1 million jackpot eliciting a warm smile to leave viewers on an emotional high.
Kylie Minogue's performance as Astrid would inevitably be over-scrutinised, given her high profile celebrity status. Fortunately, she emerges with credit, conveying the wide-eyed energetic nature of the waitress while instilling a note of loneliness to her portrayal – which neatly complements David Tennant's performance. Her haunting cries of 'I'm Falling' will resonate for a long time.
Perhaps The Doctor needs to meet a few more guys during his travels – heading off to the intergalactic pub for a few swift Metebelis Mojitos. For his encounters with visually alluring ladies inevitably end in a feeling of sadness, whether it be in the protracted relationships with Martha and Rose, or the briefer encounters with Donna, Madame De Pompadour and now Astrid. Alas, Tennant's look of abject despair, puppy-dog eyes and all, is becoming a bit repetitive now.
A sense of staleness also pervaded the villains of the piece – Max Capricorn and the Hosts. The former quickly explained his evil motivations as if he was reciting a page from a 'Create Your Own Bad Guy' textbook, and as for the latter… they were a nice homage to the classic Tom Baker story 'The Robots Of Death', but mainly served to make one yearn for the sublime dramaturgy and menace of that particular script.
Lacking in sustained drama for the first 50 minutes, the humanity of Russell T Davies' dialogue at least remains – especially when not spoken by humans. Sacrificial lamb supporting characters like Bannakaffalatte and the Von Hoff couple all quickly generated a pleasing degree of emotional pathos, which effectively underpinned their deaths.
'The Voyage of the Damned' looked great, but beneath the skin there simply wasn't enough flesh to sink our teeth into. Appealing turns by the cast and the emotional punch with Astrid's downfall weren't quite enough to compensate for the dullness of events as The Doctor and friends attempted their trip to safety.
> Click here for our in-depth recap of 'Voyage of the Damned'