Friday, 3 May 2013

Overview: Doctor Who: Series Three 15/3/13

The boring one. Or at least, that's what a lot of Whovians seem to remember it as. There's a combination of factors as to why the fandom so often dismisses a lot of Series Three, not many of which I can fully understand. It is true that the series has one or two stories that don't exactly push the boat out, but there's also a lot of subtle character development that the series prior to it had really lost. The main reason for that? Martha motherfucking Jones, that's the reason. She defines this season and with very good reason, because she is (at least in her own season) one of the most interesting and emotionally complex companions of the New Series.
     Like Rose, Martha's journey begins at a humdrum life. However, unlike the previous insistence that normal life is quite obviously a fate worse than death, Martha is actually going somewhere in the world - she's a medical student. Her reasons for travelling with the Doctor are therefore less about getting away from her life and her family (who are admittedly falling apart around her) but rather for the sheer adventure of it all. That, and because she's got one hell of a crush. So many people use the fact that her character is underscored by her crush on The Doctor as a mark against her, whereas I see something different - something that eminently fresh in Doctor Who at the time. Fandom aside, the Doctor has only had a few previous relationships in the show, and all were mutual. Just because this series asks the question, "What would happen if the companion had a crush on The Doctor?" doesn't mean that it's bad.
     The key here is Martha's development. She doesn't just stay love-sick and heartbroken forever. Through the last few stories, she spends the equivalent of about two years doing nought but supporting the Doctor, fighting for The Doctor, even putting up with a version of him being incredibly racist. The Doctor himself is dismissive of the role her race plays in their advenures, shrugging it off in The Shakespeare Code as analogous to his alienhood, despite said alienhood rendering him with the body of a while, cisgender male with a British accent. Martha suffers through a hell of a lot of shit, is what I'm basically saying, and in the end she chooses to leave because that's the right thing for her to do. Because she's grown up, maybe not from a girl to a woman, but through the subtle emotional maturation that we all have to go though in our lives.
Ok, so maybe I gush about Martha a little too much in this
article. But I gotta.
     Aside from Martha, the season does have a selection of very good stories. My favourites are probably going to be Gridlock, whose mixture of well-executed sci-fi and subtle characterisation won my heart, and the Family of Blood two-parter, where a deep-probing examination of The Doctor's persona was blended nicely with some firmly anti-war allegories. Something key for me is the presence of a clear arc, but not the kind we've been thrown by Moffat - one similar to the one in the first series, a subtle but omnipresent movement of characterisations.
     I've really enjoyed watching Series Three. In general there's been a greater number of stories that have proved better than I rememebered, and up until the end (with all of the crazy jesus stuff that just makes me cringe) it's interesting even in its most dull or silly moments. It introduced us to one of RTD's best characters and it was, in my opinion, the last season of the new show before everything got real crazy, real fast. While it wasn't the end for Martha (as we'll see in coming weeks), it introduced her, defined her, and gave her a real chance to shine.


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