Doctor Who: Smith and Jones

Doctor: "I'm the Doctor."
Martha: "Me too, if I ever pass my exams."

There was a lot I liked about this one.

The structure of this episode was a deliberate callback to "Rose" (and probably to many episodes introducing a new companion). Big public building that she works in, terrible alien threat. He even yelled "Run!" and grabbed her hand to pull her along.

I liked the idea of the Royal Hope Hospital on the moon. Rhino stormtroopers in space were a fun concept, even though the Judoon were too much like Cybermen, what with the tramping about in formation. (And on the moon with low gravity, even.) Salt vampire? Star Trek, although the straw was a nice touch, and I liked how the Doctor charmed her into thinking he was harmless. But I found the Doctor's death confusing. And where did the electricity for the computers and the superharmful jazzed up MRI come from? How would a being made entirely of leather even be able to stand? And didn't they run out of air rather quickly?

And I like Martha Jones, even though she didn't grab me right out of the gate like Billie Piper did. In many ways, she's a perfect companion for the Doctor. She enjoyed the adventure and immediately threw herself into it. She's practical, resourceful, and not easy to scare. And at least, unlike Donna, Martha actually noticed the Christmas Invasion and Canary Wharf, and accepted them as evidence that aliens do indeed exist.

But you know, it was like, after the Doctor and Rose's rather tragic, star crossed, alternate universe love affair, the writers were setting him and Martha up as a romantic couple from the get go, with no back story and no chemistry between them. The Doctor was deliberately charming Martha into coming with him, and he even kissed her, using genetic transfer as an excuse.

Martha clearly thought the Doctor was romantically interested in her when she decided to go along; you could tell by their exchange. Is he? Is he really, when he's still missing Rose? I didn't think the Doctor ever got truly romantically involved with anyone. But I don't know the earlier Doctors at all. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Bits and pieces:

-- Martha's arguing family got tiresome. But I reminded myself that I did learn to like Jackie and Mickey, almost in spite of myself.

-- Martha said her cousin Adeola worked at Canary Wharf, and never came home. Just to cover Freema Agyeman being in that episode. Nice continuity there. Although I must say that I have lots of cousins, and none of them look exactly like me.

-- Episode about a salt vampire, and her first victim was named Stoker. Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.

-- Did the Doctor's hair look pointier, or was he just having a bad hair day? I know. Hospital bed head.

Paul Kelly says...

Probably the best of the new-companion episodes -- scant praise, as introductory episodes are generally poor -- but it did its job in introducing us to Martha. Some parts were a little too much. The hospital patients, for example, went way too far with their screaming and angst -- but apart from that, it was a satisfying mix of the weird and the improbable. We had a vampire drinking blood through a straw; the Judoon, with their high-tech scanners and low-tech marker pens; a hospital being transported to the moon; and the Doctor expelling radiation into his shoe, before chucking it in the bin. All totally sensible, then.

The Doctor's first meeting with Martha was ostensibly unremarkable -- he simply took off his tie and walked away -- but later in the hospital there was an undeniable chemistry between them. Martha instinctively chose not to reveal the Doctor's unusual anatomy to her colleagues, and similarly, the Doctor found himself trusting Martha immediately. If there's one thing the Doctor loves, it's a clever human, and there's much to like about Martha. She's smart, logical, beautiful and level-headed in a crisis. Ideal companion material in fact. And, likewise, there was much to attract Martha to the Doctor. His tight suit for instance. I know Martha said she wasn't interested in him and that she only goes for humans, but when he kissed her... well, I suddenly found myself not buying it.

A pretty solid week too, villain wise. The Judoon looked great and Florence Finnegan was suitably creepy as a crazy old vampire. This isn't Anne Reid's first adventure in the Whoniverse. Twenty years ago, she played Nurse Crane in "The Curse Of Fenric" (Sylvester McCoy). But how did the Judoon manage to march in the moon's gravity? And, if the rain was going up, then why were the clouds at the top? Shouldn't they have been at the bottom? Answers on a postcard please.

It looks as though they intend to continue their 'thread a phrase through the season' ploy, which will no doubt culminate in an entirely expected reveal. We had two Mr Saxon references this week: he was mentioned by Morgenstern during the radio broadcast, and there was a Mr Saxon poster in the background later in the episode. I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that Mr Saxon will feature heavily later in the season. I know, it's like I'm like Sherlock bleedin' Holmes.

Quotes:

Doctor: "My mate, Ben. That was a day and a half. I got rope burns off that kite, and then I got soaked."
Stoker: "Quite."
Doctor: "And then I got electrocuted."
Stoker: "Moving on. I think perhaps a visit from Psychiatric."

Doctor: "You fancy going out?"
Martha: "Okay."
Doctor: "We might die."
Martha: "We might not."
Doctor: "Good. Come on."
That's the Doctor/Companion relationship in a nutshell, isn't it?

Doctor: "It's a screwdriver and it's sonic. Look."
Martha: "What else have you got? A laser spanner?"
Doctor: "I did, but it was stolen by Emily Pankhurst. Cheeky woman."

Doctor: "Judoon platoon on the moon."

Doctor: "Solid leather, all the way through. Someone has got one hell of a fetish."

Doctor: "Crossing into established events is strictly forbidden. Except for cheap tricks."

Doctor: "I mean, rhinos from space! And we're on the moon! Bloody space rhinos with guns on the moon! I only came in for my bunions. Look. All fixed now, perfectly good treatment, the nurses were lovely. I said to my wife, I'd recommend this place to anyone. But then we end up on the moon! And did I mention the rhinos?"

Doctor: "I'm a time lord."
Martha: "Right! Not pompous at all, then."

Doctor: "Welcome aboard, Miss Jones."
Martha: "It's my pleasure, Mr. Smith."
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

7 comments:

Mark Greig said...

A great season opener, possibly the best since the show restarted. But, and it a big one, I can’t stand Martha Jones. I don’t know if it’s the character or Freema Agyeman’s acting but the future Dr Jones just irritates me to no end. Think its a mixture of both. Plus her family are a tiresome lot. If I were related to them I’d run off with skinny weirdo in the police box too.

In the past, before Rose, the Doctor never showed any romantic interest in his companions with the possible exception of Romana (Mary Tamm and later Lalla Ward). Of course this could easily be excused as simply Tom Baker clearly fancying the pants off Tamm and eventually going on to marry Ward.

The 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) did snog a woman he’d only just met, who also inadvertently killed his previous incarnation. She was also a doctor. Hmmm, maybe he just has a thing for medical professionals.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I felt the chemistry thing was more one side, as in Martha fancying him more than he did her but overall, Martha rules.

The Judoon and Plasmavores were excellent alien creatures and I loved them both equally.

Martha's family vary a bit. I find the mothers never come off well on this show but I did like Tish though.

Anonymous said...

Hi.
Great review as always. I liked Martha despite her doctor-crush. Who can blame her after all? And she was competent and loyal.
Anna

Anonymous said...

Lol, the hospital in this ep is based on where I work (St Thomas', right slap bang in the middle of London) except it looks *nothing* like the 'Royal Hope'! It got a bit distracting, as I was screeching at the TV so much it quite put me off the episode ;o)

Maybe as well because I work with too many junior doctors in real life, but I really wound up not liking Martha... it was like she didn't really need to do a runner from her life (unlike Rose, and Donna later) so why go chuck in all those years of training..?! I have issues with lots of the third season, but they all kinda start with this ep...

Michael Colvin said...

A couple of quick thoughts: Martha was very clever at assessing situations but not at diagnostics. Interesting.

The first time we saw the straw come out it was creepy and cool. The second time on the doctor felt lame. We know that he cannot die (4th wall and all) and it felt empty.

The idea of a hospital on the moon was lovely. I really loved the visuals of the Martha and the doctor standing on the 3rd story balcony on the moon. Just wonderful.

Disciple of the Blue Box said...

DOCTOR: My sonic screwdriver! I loved my sonic screwdriver!

MARTHA: You're mad!
DOCTOR: You're right... I look daft with just one shoe. (Removes his remaining shoe and throws it away) Barefoot on the moon!

DOCTOR: Jadoon platoon upon the moon.

Trousers said...

"Lol, the hospital in this ep is based on where I work (St Thomas', right slap bang in the middle of London) except it looks *nothing* like the 'Royal Hope'! It got a bit distracting, as I was screeching at the TV so much it quite put me off the episode ;o)"

Nope, thats because it's Singleton Hospital in Swansea, and most of the internals were filmed in Swansea University Library. The "little shop" that the doctor likes so much, that'd be the IT Helpdesk where I worked for 4 years. We got invited to see the filming of this one, so I've got a bit of a soft spot for it. It's most odd seeing Judoon stride through your workplace!