Monday, April 02, 2007

Doctor Who Season 3 - "Smith and Jones"

In fairness to anyone who intends to watch Doctor Who's third season and hasn't seen "Smith and Jones" yet, for whatever reason, reviews of the episodes will be here on the Spoiler Zone.

Season Three of "Doctor Who" opened with the breath-taking "Smith and Jones", a rattling romp of a tale which introduced 23 year old medical student Martha Jones to the 900+ year old Time Lord. She didn't get a nice easy introduction to the Doctor's eccentricities like Rose Tyler did! Martha was on her way into work at the hospital when a strange man bumped into her (literally), removed his tie, said "Like so" and walked off, still carrying his tie. A short while later, doing the ward rounds with Mr B Stoker the consultant, she sees the Doctor sitting up in bed, complaining of feeling "Bleugh". She's instructed to check him over and comments on him running around outside earlier, which he flatly denies. Then she listens to his heart and discovers he has two ! She doesn’t comment, even when he winks cheekily at her. By lunchtime that day, there's a localised major thunderstorm going on over the hospital – and then the rain starts falling upwards, whilst the Doctor's roaming around the hospital in his pyjamas and blue dressing gown. Moments later the hospital appears to be struck by an earthquake, but when everyone finds their feet, they discover instead that the hospital has been transported up to the moon. One quick change of clothes later (here's the first appearance of his blue suit), the Doctor's commending Martha's intelligence (whilst getting impatient with her fellow student who insists they can't be breathing on the moon when they obviously are !) and inviting her to come outside onto the veranda with him to see what's what. He warns her "We might die" and she promptly answers "We might not!" in a slightly don't-be-so-negative tone, which earns a "Good" from him. It's quite clear that the Doctor's testing Martha, measuring her potential as a Companion – and it's quite clear that she's up to the job as she not only continues to make intelligent comments, but also re-focuses his attention when he starts nattering on about the hospital having a shop (shades of "New Earth", the season 2 opening episode), and she's more concerned with the Space-Rhino-police force (the Judoon) that's turned up at the hospital and were apparently responsible for the hospital's forced removal to the Moon (they have no jurisdiction over the Earth under Galactic Law, but the Moon is neutral). Martha doesn't quite believe the Doctor is an alien (despite the two hearts), but goes along with him since he seems to have at least some idea of what's going on.

There's some brilliant FX work in this episode (loved the Judoon spaceships) from the Mill and excellent Prosthetics work from Neill Gorton and his team on the Judoon Captain (played by the chief "monster" actor, Paul Kasey). There's a scene where the Doctor uses an X-Ray machine (on which he's turned up the setting to a lethal level) to kill one of the henchmen of the female villain (a Plasmavore, who's an internal shapeshifter) – and when the X-Ray machine goes off, you can see the Doctor's skeleton through his clothes - a brilliant detail ! Then the Doctor has to get rid of the excess radiation he's absorbed – and he forces it all into his left shoe, which results in him doing an odd hopping "dance" (I'd love to know how many takes it took !)

With the Plasmavore defeated and the Judoon on their merry way again, the hospital gets transported back to Earth and Martha goes off to her brother Leo's 21st birthday party, where a full scale family row ensues (her dad has a much younger girlfriend, having left his wife, which is causing a good deal of acrimony between her parents), and who should turn up, leaning on the corner of a building, giving Martha a speculative look, but the Doctor? She follows him and finds him standing in an alley, leaning against the TARDIS. He more or less seduces her into taking a trip with him – disappearing off in the TARDIS momentarily to prove that he can travel in Time (he comes back clutching his tie, so that opening moment makes sense now!) And she agrees – then proceeds to tease him about kissing her ("a genetic transfer", he insists), the fact that he travelled across the universe to ask her on a "date" and his tight suit ("Stop it!" he says, completely alarmed). He insists he prefers travelling alone, but he occasionally has guests, the last of whom was named Rose, but Martha's not replacing her. "I never said I was," she retorts. But you can tell, watching them, that she's smitten with him (despite her assertion that she only goes for humans).

This was a corking opening episode - fans agree it's the best season opener we've had so far, and a fun introduction to Martha Jones. I already love the character (who shares some similar charadteristics to the Companion I've created in my own Who fan fiction). Next week's episode is "The Shakespeare Code" and sees Martha making her first trip in the TARDIS, to 1599 when Will Shakespeare was at the height of his powers.

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