Doctor Who – Smith and Jones

Reinstated from Scary Rob’s Doctor Who Blog

There are times when I watch Doctor Who and it leaves me banging my head in frustration. I can live with Russell T Davies’ tendency to write in incoherent set-pieces; sometimes it works out. At least there weren’t any glaringly obvious plot holes in this episode. Yet something didn’t feel right.

I can’t put that in perspective without giving the episode the praise it deserves. As an introduction to Martha, Smith and Jones worked brilliantly. It managed to work in her whole family without seeming too contrived and worked as a great introduction to her character. I thought the plot was pretty cool and the Judoon were absolutely brilliant creations (rhinos in New Rocks!). Not only were they well-realised but the idea of a high-tech galactic police force performing a search operation by storming a building and taking marker pens to the suspects amused me in a perverse way. The scenario was a brilliant one for introducing an important new character.

Scene by scene, there were some great moments. Never before had I conceived that somebody could make an ordinary drinking straw seem terrifying and the visual effects heavy scenes were all superbly realised (all hail the Mill!). Smith and Jones was an enjoyable, funny, scary and slick episode and a great season opener in that respect. I can’t fault the acting and I have to give particular praise to Anne Reid for making a “doddery little old woman” act into a very creepy performance.

What upset me about the whole episode was the characterisation of the Doctor. There are times when the illustrious Mr Davies begins to do the things that tend to make fans grab their pitchforks. Fans tend to go off on one when the feel of the show is lost and Davies’ Doctors have an awful tendency to break away from the essence of the character. I can deal with the Doctor being a little ruthless (“Not her; she’ll slow us down”) but I have difficulty accepting Doctor Who the Creepy Stalker Time Lord. The Doctor allows his blood to be assimilated. Fair enough. So Martha performs some very inventive CPR. Irrational, but she was distressed and had probably run out of better ideas. So this CPR makes his blood grow back? I doubt it. Besides, a blood draining session is probably a regeneratable case. It seems his blood grew back quite quickly anyway, so his claim that Martha saved his life rings as a poor excuse to give her a ride in his TARDIS. Worse still, Davies is so hell-bent on making the companion feel like the Doctor’s equal to the viewer that he’s created an archetype that will become clichéd quicker than the screamers of old. After Rose, Martha is just not an interesting character – she’s the same type of person in every way that matters. I think we can call this a first-episode judder so I’ll content myself with looking forward to next week, when the script’s been written by someone else.

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~ by Scary Rob on 1 April, 2007.

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