Smith and Jones
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31 May 2014 at 14:16 #27896Craig @craigEmperor
After Donna turned him down at Christmas, the Doctor gets a new companion! Trainee doctor Martha Jones has her hands full balancing her medical studies and her demanding family. The last thing she needs is her hospital transported to the moon and an invasion by an overbearing alien police force. She meets a patient called John Smith who seems curiously at ease with the situation…31 May 2014 at 18:30 #27904
It’s functional as a introduction new companion but that’s all I can really say about it.31 May 2014 at 20:46 #27905
Okay, Smith and Jones. I have to say, I really liked Freema Agyeman as a companion; I would’ve been very happy if she’d stayed more than one series. Unfortunately, she was cast as ‘rebound girl’. The Doctor doesn’t really want Martha. He wants Rose, Mk. 2. In fact, he doesn’t really want Rose, Mk. 2. He wants Rose.
I suspect that a lot of the dislike of Rose comes not from the two series where she actually appeared, but from RTD’s insistence, after she’d left, that Rose was the Most Important Companion Ever. In which view, he does have a point.
Billie Piper made a huge contribution to the successful revival of the series; not only did she play the audience viewpoint character brilliantly through Series 1, she then stayed on to provide a reassuring sense of continuity as a new generation were taken through their first regeneration. So it’s reasonable in-story that the Doctor should feel that Rose is the person who effectively saved him. It was equally right that Billie Piper, the actress, should be part of the 50th Anniversary Special.
But by Smith and Jones the Doctor has been through the break-up, been properly grief-stricken through the following story, asked Donna to be the new girl, and been turned down. By all the rules of the BG series, he should have now have got over Rose.
We saw how that works in The Snowmen, where the Doctor’s genuine and deep grief for his family is dealt with within the story. By the time the story finishes, the Doctor is concentrating on the new companion and his beloved River and Amy aren’t mentioned again – except in the episodes where they re-appear.
Here, the Doctor spends most of Series 3 grieving for Rose. That was certainly realistic; that’s the way normal people work. But it didn’t feel right for the Doctor.
But the episode itself doesn’t start like that; it starts promisingly. Martha has the sort of family anyone would step into a TARDIS to escape from. They’re loving, they love her, but they’re in the middle of a messy divorce between the parents and divided loyalties for the kids. Martha, poor soul, is the family member who everyone looks to as the family peace-keeper.
And then the Doctor steps out in front of her and takes his tie off.
Martha’s fairly obvious companion material. First, she noticed something a bit odd about the motorbike helmet guys. Second, she acknowledges the impossible straight away. The hospital has been taken to the Moon. Third, she constantly makes sensible decisions in the face of unprecedented circumstances and finally, she has a sense of wonder even when in extreme danger. Can we just get her in the TARDIS?
Well, no, because it’s on Earth, and the hospital is on the Moon. Bit of a problem, really, especially when the air is running out. There’s a lot of dramatic running about and screaming, even after most people would probably have calmed down, which seems to be mainly there to a) add drama and b) point up how very sensible and practical Martha is.
Meanwhile Anne Reid is having fun as the villain-of-the-week and the source of all these problems. She’s even brought a straw. Poor Mr Stoker (was his first name ‘Bram’, by the way?).
Meantime, the Doctor has a problem; the Judoon are looking for an alien, and he’s an alien. The Judoon are also very, very thick. Oh, and he has to kiss Martha. Who, instead of giving him a smack on the face, promptly falls for him. The Doctor is clearly a great kisser – maybe he took some tips from Casanova? 😉
But anyway – there is a plan, and that plan is definitely not a Deus Ex Machina in any way. That the plasmavore assimilates blood has been set up, that the Judoon can’t tell which alien they want has been set up, and that Martha knows the Doctor’s an alien with two hearts has now been set up. Anne Reid gets executed in a burst of special effects, and the Doctor revives in time to do something about the exploding MRI scanner.
I pause to note that the make up and acting for the revived Doctor are both really nice. He looks incredibly ill.
Anyway, having got the monster-of-the-week out of the way, the hospital returned (the Judoon are rule-bound and thick, not actual villains), the Doctor takes off in his TARDIS. Only to return when Martha is at her brother’s disastrous 21st birthday party, with (as in all good family get-togethers) a full scale nuclear meltdown in full progress.
She can’t go joyriding with him, of course. She’s got exams. Rent to pay. A real life, just waiting to happen.
Except that he’s got a time machine. Off we go!
But who is that Mr Saxon that everyone keeps talking about? 😉31 May 2014 at 21:26 #27906PhaseShift @phaseshiftTime Lord
I actually enjoyed rewatching this much more than I did the other two series openers, Rose and New Earth.
Like Rose, we’re introduced to Martha through a sweeping shot of her in normal life, and the episode follows the template Rose set by presenting virtually all the action from her perspective.
@bluesqueakpip deals with a lot of the issues I have with the shape of Martha’s story above, but I’ll probably specifically talk about that in later episodes. We’ll actually miss some of the low points (for me) this series in an RTD specific retrospective, but a large amount of the unrequited attraction angle was the problem. I did like the end of her season as a resolution to that problem though. At this point (Smith and Jones), I can’t fault both Freema and Martha.
Yes, she has a family, but she’s obviously distanced from them to some extent (i.e. not living with them – hence the phone catchup). The family obviously has pressure points and she’s presented as the big sister/peacemaker to the various factions. She’s a trainee Doctor, and hence a bit more directed and centred than Rose was when we first met her. Tennant is great in this as well – the bizarre show off with charm turned to the max. I love some of the asides in the hospital bed and the cheeky grin while Martha tries to listen to the heartbeat. The scenes post-transport as the Doctor recognises her analytical skills and calmness in a crises are well done. Martha is independently minded, willing to give him lip (“you have to earn that title as far as I’m concerned” “Better get started then”) and doesn’t run away screaming at his oddity. She’s natural companion material!
Lots more stuff become memorable. “Oooh – you’ve got a little shop” follows on from New Earth. Ultimately, the sequence where the Doctor pretends to be a bit of an idiot in front of the plasmavore always makes me laugh. “Come home, meet the wife. She’d be honoured. We can have cake!”
The RTD scripts in this series had some real callouts to Comics. I’m preparing a blog for Gridlock next week that looks at this, but the Jadoon – Intergalactic Police who are Judge, Jury and Executioner deserve a mention at this stage because there is a lot of the Mega-City One Judges (Judge Dredd) from 2000AD in them. “Justice is Swift”, indeed. 🙂 There is a good reason for this – 2000AD saw its 30th anniversary in the year Series 3 was broadcast, and the worlds of 2000AD and Doctor Who have a history of off the page interaction.
No, Smith and Jones is just fun. Full stop. Lots to chew over with the Saxon references and an overall storyline that screams “Mad as a box of Frogs”. Judoon Platoon on the Moon. Apparently Russell wrote that line specifically because when Tennant met any word with the elongated “-ooon” at the end, he had a hard job of maintaining the accent and lapsed into his own. As a writer, Russell could apparently be a real mischievous bugger.31 May 2014 at 22:06 #27907
I forgot to mention earlier, Martha is often incorrectly referred to as the first black companion. The actual first black companion is of course Micky Smith. I don’t know why so many people make this mistake.31 May 2014 at 22:43 #27908
I don’t know why so many people make this mistake.
@thekrynoidman – basically, because Noel Clarke never had ‘title credits’ status. He was a promoted supporting character, but that lack of title credits meant that lot of the newspapers never noticed he was a ‘companion’, even though he did end his regular run as a companion travelling with the Doctor.
They didn’t make that mistake with Arthur Darvill, who had ‘title credits’ status from A Christmas Carol onwards.31 May 2014 at 22:58 #27909Craig @craigEmperor
I always just thought of Martha as the most beautiful companion. Well, her and Victoria tie, I think.1 June 2014 at 05:39 #27921janetteB @janetteb
I think that @bluesqueakpip and @phaseshift have covered this so well there is little to add, especially as I am relying upon memory because all of our Tennats eps are on a hard drive which is currently inaccessible. This was a fun episode played very much for comedy, the evil alien with the straw, the big, simple “police” and of course Tennant finding his feet and delivering the “judoon on the moon lines” with his customary delight in the absurd. I always throught it as shame that he did not use his natural accent.
Martha begins her tenure well. She has the potential to be a great companion. It is a pity that that potential was squandered by the persistant ghost of Rose.
Janette1 June 2014 at 07:25 #27923Arbutus @arbutus
I’m very fond of this episode. The great thing about doing the retrospective is that it challenges me to examine the episode a bit and figure out exactly why that is. What I love most is the light touch, and the rapport between Martha and the Doctor. Right from the first, with the little wink and raised eyebrow when Martha finds the second heartbeat, he seems to be challenging her: “Are you good enough?” There’s the scene at the window, when the Doctor begins to learn that Martha is perfect companion material, with the contrasting nurse present just to make the point clear. (Watching this time, this scene reminded me of The Night of the Doctor, when the space ship pilot was set up in much the same way, introducing us and the Doctor to the perfect companion, but that time, turning the trope upside down and surprising both the Doctor and us.) And I always love the moment when he tells her he’s an alien with only a highly significant look.
There is a humorous touch to the alien threat, without making them completely goofy. I love the tongue-in-cheek scene with the cowering intern, terrified of death at the hands of the Judoon, and then, the menacing alien announces, “You will be catalogued,” and marks an X on his hand! I also love that the Judoon offer compensation to Martha for the misdiagnosis as an alien. The matter-of-fact delivery of the baddie as little old lady is also great.
I always enjoy, from any incarnation, the Doctor’s highly typical ejaculation “Humans!” And I love the bit of dialogue where Martha says, “Running on adrenalin,” and the Doctor replies, “Welcome to my world.” I always get a kick out of Ten playing the part of an average human git – he does it so well, better than any of the AG doctors- Nine was too intense, Eleven too obviously alien. And I have always thought that Martha had one of the best “intro to the TARDIS” scenes, after she discovers the mysterious Doctor watching and waiting, and he draws her into following him. I found her reaction to the TARDIS natural and perfect, as she immediately runs back out to check that her senses haven’t tricked her somehow, and his response to her mouthing of the usual “bigger on the inside”.
While it is clear that the Doctor is looking for a new companion now, he hasn’t quite admitted it to himself, claiming “one trip only” in a very defensive tone. I wish that they could have stuck to Martha’s claim that she had no interest in the Doctor, I would have preferred it to the love-struck approach which made me respect her less, because in other ways she was mostly a great companion. They could still have shown her frustration with the Doctor for treating her as a lesser successor to Rose, without the romance angle being part of it. However, that is still to come, and I have always found this episode charming and good fun.1 June 2014 at 16:18 #27944wolfweed @wolfweed
The Dr in his PJs. Yes, very Arthur Dent.
So, the Doctor had a brother? Or is he lying? Or is that what we’re supposed to think?
The rain is going up – Michael Fish is looking decidedly embarrassed.
The supporting cast’s attempt at portraying panic is very cringey. What’s my motivation? Just think ‘Panic Moon’.
Someone’s turned up – Is it the (damned) Moonites? No, it the Judoon. More ‘thug’ than ‘Police’.
David Tennant performs his most eyebrowy acting ever (to express that he’s not human).
I wonder what Emily Pankhurst has been doing with that Laser Spanner…
Locking the door with… a lock (because the sonic’s been destroyed) Hilarious!
‘Some say that one-sided love is better than none, but like half a loaf of bread, it is likely to grow hard and mouldy sooner.’1 June 2014 at 18:17 #27957
So, the Doctor had a brother?
@wolfweed I’ve got a vague memory that the Third Doctor also mentions a brother. He goes climbing up the mountain near his house (on Gallifrey) with his brother.
There’s definitely a brother in the New Adventures; he has a very active life. 😉1 June 2014 at 19:47 #27960wolfweed @wolfweed
TARDIS Data Core states: Braxiatel had no problems with swearing, referring to Cybermen as “metal bastards”…2 June 2014 at 19:09 #27977ConfusedPolarity @confusedpolarity
Alas, poor Martha! She had all it took to be a magnificent companion and yet so much of that potential was frittered away!
Not, I should say, by Freema – a lovely actress who gives a terrific performance – but by the demands of the storyline she was given. Her job was mainly to be “Not Rose”. Such a waste!
I take @bluesqueakpip‘s point about the importance of Rose (and Billie Piper) to the success of the show’s revival. There was a whole generation who had to see the Doctor through Rose’s eyes and she allowed them to do that very well. There’s just a massive gap in my eyes between an important companion and a good one.
Call me a stick-in-the-mud but I found Rose selfish from the off; her much-praised compassion never extended to her supposed boyfriend, and while most of us can empathise with finding “normal life” boring, as my dear Mother would say “Go and un-bore yourself, dear!” There was too much looking for someone else to make her life exciting; and don’t get me started on how smug she and Ten became…
So I started Smith and Jones pre-disposed to like Martha. She doesn’t disappoint.
She’s competent, cool-headed, observant and smart; she’s not overawed by the Doctor (I love her dismissive “Far as I’m concerned you’ve got to earn that title!”) She’s compassionate too. It’s no wonder he’s eyeing her up as companion material almost from the off.
It’s understandable that she’d be a bit swept off her feet, too; playing the family peacekeeper in the middle of her parents’ marital breakup would have anyone looking for an exit door. The Joneses are sketched out in fairly broad strokes here – it’s the classic Mid-Life Crisis scenario with the convertible and the helium-voiced blonde to boot, but as TV shorthand to set up the characters it works.
But she’s Not Rose, and therefore she’s doomed to be second best before she even starts. I think, again, @bluesqueakpip, you’ve nailed my fundamental problem with the whole saga. The Doctor pines for Rose like a normal human being would, and he’s not that. Or he never used to be 🙂
I do love the effects throughout the episode; I rather like the Judoon, thick though they are. There’s a code of sorts and they’ll stick to it; there are too many “bent coppers” around it seems; I’m glad Doctor Who didn’t add to them!
My only small negative is a patronising pat-on-the-head to the audience: Martha’s identical cousin Adeola. It’s almost as if RTD was saying “Yes, kiddies, I know you think you’ve seen her before, but see? It wasn’t her at all, so that’s all right then.”
If you’re going to “explain” an actor’s reappearance, go the whole hog Say twin; say sister, even. That’s plausible, even if it’s a bit of a convenient coincidence. Identical cousins? It felt wrong on first viewing; it still makes me wince now. It’s also why I’d sooner Mr Moffat ignore that Pompeian marble merchant altogether come Series 8…
Overall though, Smith and Jones is a solid introduction to a likeable new girl and one of my personal favourite series openers. Oh – and I’m pretty sure on the commentary track it was mentioned that Mr Stoker’s initial on his office door is B! 🙂2 June 2014 at 21:05 #27979Whisht @whisht
@phaseshift – completely agree that there are many overlaps between the creative worlds of 2000AD and Who (Moore and Gibbons spring to mind), but for the Judoon I thought there was more than a passing resemblance to the Gamorrean Guards:
While searching for a pic of that guard from Star Wars I couldn’t decide whether to post the one above or this one:
Wish I had Wolfweed’s skillz to choose the right pics…3 June 2014 at 17:43 #27988Anonymous @
@confusedpolarity I also think that she was wasted as an actor, at least she came back on Torchwood though. She was a lot better character in Torchwood than in doctor who.27 June 2014 at 15:23 #28480Anonymous @
Let’s face facts here. The Judoon are one of the greatest Doctor Who monsters of all time. They explode onto the screen. They bulldoze their way through the hospital and to hell with anyone who’s going to stand in their way. This is shown when a terrified bystander lashes out at a Judoon with a vase (and for all the good it did he might as well have just done that to the wall) and almost immediately gets sent to oblivion. “Justice is swift”. Awesome. I love the design as well. Choosing a rhinoceros to be the design of brutal over zealous space police is a great idea. The gladiator look suits them down to the ground. I love how their guns incinerate you into a screaming pile of dust. The use of gadgets they have for communicating with confused culprits is neat. Making them logical and just a little bit thick means they’re very dangerous. Never give an idiot authority and never give him a gun – especially if he has the strength to knock you through the wall. It helps that this episode is really well directed. One of the best directed episodes of Doctor Who ever. Love the music. Love the location. Your stuck with these monsters and your on the clock. Doctor Who’s best episodes force the Doctor and his companions to pick up the pace big time. Also, this episode has multiple problems and antagonists wanting different goals at the same time and to add to the dilemma they’re stuck on the moon. The Doctor’s solution is a great one. A excellent episode.27 June 2014 at 15:43 #28482
Let’s face facts here. The Judoon are one of the greatest Doctor Who monsters of all time.13 December 2015 at 15:52 #49383Anonymous @
Just revisiting this and it’s actually surprisingly good. There are several strands of genuine peril, Martha is great and not yet wasted as a companion, the amoral jobsworthiness of the judoon is very refreshing, and the Doctor’s victory is very well done, if a tad risky (Martha has flunked her previous two medical tests). Also we learn that the Tardis translation circuit has a limited range.
The whole thing has a great sense of fun often running through RTD’s tenure that seems a little missing these days, even though I prefer Moffat’s take overall.
But it’s not perfect. While there is, as I said, genuine peril in the story, the promise that the Judoon would destroy the inhabitants of the hospital if they found the alien there turned out to be bunkum, as well as giving them a vicious streak that contradicted everything else we learned. The resolution focuses on a fairly weak, one-dimensional villain. And the snog! Urgh!
But, after the recycling of the previous year’s Xmas threats and some nonsensical interjections of the Torchwood subplot (for an institute designed to protect the Earth from alien threats, they had some curious involvement with Earth-threatening invaders), this was a great start to arguably RTD’s greatest season.
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