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Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Code

Doctor: "The play's the thing! And yes, you can have that."

Okay, so it was Shakespeare in Love with aliens. I still found it to be one of the more enjoyable trips to the past. There were lots of witty lines, I never stopped smiling, and the story never stopped moving.

Great casting of Shakespeare. He was fun and brilliant and sexy and open-minded and smart enough to figure out what the Doctor and Martha were. I thought the fourteen-sided Globe having alien properties was a fun idea, and I liked the idea of words having power, because they do. Just not like that.

Martha brought up the butterfly effect and the grandfather paradox. Probably what I'd do in my first trip to the past, too. The Doctor countered with Back to the Future. In fact, Martha was smart, enthusiastic, accomplished and on top of the situation. Shakespeare was constantly hitting on Martha; he saw her as beautiful, brilliant and exotic (which she certainly was for 1599, if not for today as well).

But no matter what Martha did, the Doctor seemed to find her inadequate – even when they were in bed together. (She thought sharing a small bed in an inn would be romantic. The Doctor squelched that in a moment. For that matter, why even bother when they could sleep in the TARDIS?) For the Doctor, it's still all about Rose, Rose, Rose. You'd think the Doctor would start letting go of Rose and start paying more attention to the one he's with. But no.

Great ending. One wonders exactly what the Doctor will do to piss off Queen Elizabeth I.

Bits and pieces:

-- This episode inspired me to look up Love's Labours Won, which may indeed have been a lost play of Shakespeare's. Although there is also a theory that it was the title of a play whose name was later changed.

-- Martha was the first to start the tradition of yelling "author"!

-- The Doctor carries a toothbrush in his pocket? Venusian spearmint?

-- The Doctor carried out a Vulcan mind meld on Peter Streete, in Bedlam.

-- The Doctor said he planned to keep the crystal ball with the trapped Carrionites (very Phantom Zone) in the Tardis. I think I'd find it unsettling to have something like that hanging around my home. But where else could he put it?

Paul Kelly says...

I liked that they didn't shy away from Martha being a black woman in an age of slavery. I'm not sure the Doctor saying "I'm not human", is the same as Martha being black though, is it? It's easy for him to hide his differences: he's white and looks human. For Martha, walking around like she 'owns the place' isn't going to hide the colour of her skin. Not that it turned out to be a problem -- even the bard found her rather comely. Don't blame you, Shakey.

And Martha was right: Shakespeare looked nothing like his portrait. Isn't he supposed to be bald and a bit odd looking? (If the Droeshout engraving is to be believed.) And instead of the eloquent wordsmith of fable, he turned out to be a loud-mouthed and uncouth, braggart -- yet, in traditional 'don't judge a book by its cover' style, he was still able to deduce that the Doctor was an alien, and that Martha was from the future. So kudos to the bard. Shame about the bad breath, though.


Martha: "Blimey! Do you have to pass a test to fly this thing?"
Doctor: "Yes, and I failed."

Martha: "When are we?"
Man: "Garde a l'eau!"
Doctor: "Somewhere before the invention of the toilet."
Martha's first real adventure started with shit. This could very well be an omen, Martha.

Doctor: "When you go home you can tell everyone you saw Shakespeare."
Martha: "Then I could get sectioned."

Martha: "Just amazing. It's worth putting up with the smell. And those are men dressed as women, yeah?"
Doctor: "London never changes."

Shakespeare: "Oh, no no no. Who let you in? No autographs, no you can't have yourself sketched with me, and please don't ask where I get my ideas from."

Martha: "It's all a bit Harry Potter."
Doctor: "Wait 'til you read book seven. Oh, I cried!"
This was broadcast before book seven came out, of course.

Doctor: "Psychic paper. Long story... oh, I hate starting from scratch."

Doctor: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Shakespeare: "I might use that."
Doctor: "You can't. It's someone else's."

Doctor: "We can all have a good flirt later."
Shakespeare: "Is that a promise, Doctor?"
Doctor: "Fifty-seven academics just punched the air."

Shakespeare: "The Doctor may never kiss you. Why not entertain a man who will?" Really.
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I loved this episode. Gareth Roberts often gets a bad rap but I've enjoyed all of his episodes so far and this was fun.

    Dean Lennox Kelly made for a brilliant Shakespeare and interesting side bar is that parts of this episode were filmed in the Globe Theatre as well.

    Alien salt vampires in the previous episode, alien witches of sorts in this one. Hella fun. Loved Lilith.

    The Doctor's fecklessness with Martha however is an ongoing problem in an otherwise great season.

  2. I also love the idea of the 14 sided Globe having some mystical power. Brilliant.

    Could the three women be the inspiration for the witches in Mackers?

    I LOVED the bedroom scene - the two are on such opposite pages - I almost feel bad for Martha. She's never going to measure up to the idea of Rose, is she?

  3. You forgot Shakespeare using "expelliarmus"!!!! At Martha's prompting .... god that was an awesome line!!!

  4. In my mind I couldn't help but compare this episode to "The Unquiet Dead" with Charles Dickens in season one. That episode was much better than this with more compelling acting and villains. Unfortunately for me, this episode started the most boring run of Doctor Who episodes so far and I felt like quitting or at least taking a long break. Even seeing "Blink" beforehand didn't help much...

  5. I enjoyed this one to a point, but felt that it was more or less a rehash of the Unquiet Dead as others have already said. Martha is great here, but I've always liked her, even as they really don't handle the character well, and the whole 'rebound after Rose' thing is aggravating.


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