It’s Volcano Day in Pompeii… Can Donna dare the Doctor to change history?
Set shortly before and during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, this episode depicts alien time traveller the Doctor (David Tennant) and his new companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) on a trip to Pompeii, where they uncover an alien invasion. Their clashing worldviews present an ethical dilemma for the Doctor.
The episode was filmed in Rome’s Cinecittà studios, and was the first time the Doctor Who production team took its cast abroad for filming since its revival. The production of the episode was impeded by a fire near the sets several weeks before filming and by problems for the production team crossing into Europe.
Critics’ opinions regarding the episode were generally mixed. The premise of the episode—the moral dilemma the Doctor faces, and Donna’s insistence that he save a family from Pompeii—were widely praised. However, the episode’s writing was criticized, in particular, for the characterization of the supporting cast: The dialogue was described as “one-dimensional” and Peter Capaldi and Phil Davis’s dialogue as “whimpering and scowling”.