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Review: Doctor Who (2000s)

Season Three - Episodes 1 & 2 reviewed…

Explosive start The new Doctor Who’s third season opens with the bang you’d expect, with a straightforward, crowd-pleasing episode with lots of monsters and special effects, before following that up with a brilliant period joke-fest.

The first episode, Smith & Jones, has a very straightforward plot, once the initial ‘they did what?’ moment has set up the situation – reminiscent of last year’s werewolf tale Tooth and Claw. A hospital is unexpectedly transported to the Moon, because that’s the best way that a bunch of extremely stupid alien cops (who Life on Mars’ Gene Hunt would consider needing lessons in sensitivity) have of cordoning off while they track down an alien fugitive who’s hiding in there.

Bad news for the Doctor, who’s sneaked in after sensing something was wrong, and been collared as the suspect – because the Judoon are really not that picky about getting the right man… er, alien.

What follows is a long series of chases, with medical student Martha Jones thrown together with the Doctor right from the start, and then kept at his side as she shows a knack for asking the right questions.

And that of course is the big question, how does Martha work as the new companion? Answer.: rather brilliantly. Freema Agyeman, slightly awkward in the publicity stills, is pure magic in motion. She squares up to David Tennant right from the start, isn’t phased by the Doctor (or even Roy Marsden’s cameo as a consultant), and starts pulling rabbits out of a hat unexpectedly early. Oh, and Martha’s ‘Got to take another call’ family look set to fill the gap left by ex-companion Rose Tyler’s very efficiently.

EpisodeTwo, The Shakespeare Code, is a bit of a joke-fest, in a very good way. Under the influence of witches (pretty scary and distinctly Maceth-ian witches), William Shakespeare has rashly promised to première his sequel to his play Love's Labours Lost the next evening, and as the Doctor gets involved, scattering Shakespearean quotes left, right and centre, every variant on the “Oh, I’ll use that,” routine is played out wonderfully. The story itself treads a careful balance between magic and Science Fiction, throws in some really obscure bits of series continuity for the fans and makes rather good use of the spectacular setting of the rebuilt Globe Theatre in London, though Dean Lennox Kelly performance as Shakespeare does seem to come from the same bit of medieval England as Richard Armitage‘s Gisburne in Robin Hood.

by Anthony Brown

Coverage of the new season of Doctor Who continues in
TV Zone #214

Photo © BBC
Review © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #214, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #214
May 2007
ships from Mar 28 2007
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