Monday, 25 February 2013

Review: Doctor Who 3.1: Smith And Jones

The Doctor and Martha. Running.
My captioning is a bit lazy this week, forgive me.
Doctor Who - Season 29, Episode One - Smith and Jones
Written between 27th January and 8th February 2013

So our first noble companion has gone, and a lot of the fandom are really, really sad about it. This is not the best way to allow our viewers to recognise Doctor Who's incredible habit of change. Luckily for the show, the opener to Tennant's second season is one of the best scripts that Rusty ever produced, and says a lot more about the quality of the previous season than it does about the projected quality of this one.While Smith and Jones may not be the perfect episode, it is certainly a very good introduction, free of any stress of having to reboot the series and simply allowing us to get in touch with our new regular.
     Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) is a 21-year-old medical student working at London's Royal Hope Hospital. It's her sister's birthday, and the planned party is causing tension between her seperated parents. As she enters work, she meets stranger Mr. Smith, and they're present when the Hospital is lifted by backwards rain onto The Moon. There, Mr. Smith sees Martha's lack of fear and introduces himself as The Doctor. It turns out that the hospital has been lifted by Space-Mercenaries known as The Judoon, who are looking for blood-absorbing alien Mrs. Finnigan (Anne Reid, The Curse of Fenric). She initially disguises herself as human and adapts an MRI machine to wipe out one side of the Earth, but with The Doctor and Martha's intervention she is stopped and the hospital is returned to Earth before everyone runs out of air.
      I suppose you could say that the script is rather desperate to get across Martha's positive traits from the get-go. She's smart, inquisitve and unafraid of the unknown - all good qualities for a companion to have. Something that felt justified at the time but that doesn't really feel justified now is the few references and nods back to Rose - according to the Doctor, she's not even a companion yet (and she won't be for at least another six or so episodes). Like I said, it's a hangover - one that may indeed be touching for the characters involved, but one that doesn't help the show to move on and execute new ideas like having a new companion should help it to.
Rhino people. 'cos.
     As for the plot itself, it's a small curse of the RTD era that monsters from Premieres are rarely very memorable. Here we have weird Rhino creatures with funny names, creatures made of leather and a woman who drinks your blood through a straw. The peril is imminent and the episode is not without tension, but the fun comes from the novelty of the scenario rather than the strength of the individual villains.We're not exactly talking high-cocnept here. But I perhaps think that that wasn't really what this opener needed, and the lack of a strong villain character allowed us to focus more on the relationship between our core protagonists.
     I suppose its the fact that Smith and Jones isn't trying to be big and complicated that is ultimately its greatest success. The main plot is designed to be fun for kids and expose us as much as possible to our new character, who hasn't had a million years to get started. And, as you can probably tell, I'm running out of things to say. Smith and Jones is good at what it wants to be, and as a companion introduction it's probably one of the best, "this is why our companion is cool" episodes. Onto the past.


NEXT WEEK: The Shakespeare Code! Haha Dan Brown reference.

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