Hey guys! I’m sorry for my apparent Rose-bashing in the last series, I didn’t intend on being so harsh on a fan favourite, but a lot of things kinda wasn’t right for me, just wanted to address that, before I air more grievances about the topic.
Today, I’m reviewing the third modern era series of Doctor Who. This is gonna be a bumpy ride.
Smith and Jones
This episode introduces the newest companion, Martha Jones, played by Freema Agyeman, who also played her cousin Adeola in Army of Ghosts from last series. She’s a medical student, in a hospital that gets taken to the moon, and then the Judoon platoon arrive. I’ve read that the “Judoon platoon upon the Moon” line was a production inside joke that was aimed at David Tennant, as he has difficulty speaking the “-oon” suffixed words in an English accent.
The one thing that really annoys me about the episode is the goddamned companion kiss trope, because even though it is there for plot convenience, it sets up Martha’s ‘doting on the Doctor’ character development that just winds me up for the rest of the series. I mean he’s cute, but still…overall, it’s a good episode, hits all the right first-episode-of-the-new-companion story notes for me.
It’s also establishes the Harold Saxon plot point, but more on him later!
The Shakespeare Code
I know I kinda bashed on the notion of reading select William Shakespeare texts at school in a previous post, but here’s an episode dedicated to the Bard himself.
I really do like this episode, a lot more than I give it credit for. The Carrionites are interesting enemies, using word-based science as well as the architecture of the Globe Theatre (I love me some architecture and literature, so a winning combination!). The right words in the right places – cannot relate!
As much as I love this episode, I hate this episode for drawing out the ‘Doctor pining for Rose’ storyline, especially brushing off Martha with a ‘eh, Rose would know what to do, you’re just a hitchiker’, like no, bitch treat Martha with some respect! She saved his life, and came up with the right word to defeat the Carrionites (fucking “Expelliarmus”, by the way), but oh Roooooose. Nu-uh.
It also turns out that Queen Elizabeth I hates the Doctor, and it’s not really explained for a good few years yet…
Overall, a solid episode for getting used to the notion of a new companion, mishaps aside.
And we’re back on New Earth again. How original. And Martha puts it well, referring to herself as a rebound. I mean, it’s accurate.
I gotta say though, it’s a new angle on New Earth, and I went into it remembering that I didn’t like Gridlock all that much. However, on rewatching, I enjoyed it a lot more than I remembered. Martha gets kidnapped by a young couple so that they have enough adult passengers in their car to go into the fast lane – fun fact, Cheen is played by Lenora Crichlow, who also played Victoria Skillane in the Black Mirror episode White Bear (cue link to that review).
I think the fact that there was an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia with the emissions, as well as there being no way out of the Motorway, and people are stuck on there for years, literally having kittens. It’s nice to see
The ending with the Face of Boe is ominous and sad, with his “you are not alone” message. It definitely prompts Martha to be upfront and not take any of the Doctor’s shit. Good for you Martha.
Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
On the flip-side to Gridlock, I remember liking this a bit more than I do now. I don’t feel any attachment to any of the other characters, and Tallulah’s lover Lazslo gets turned into a pig, not unlike the ones from the Aliens of London episode. Are they related? I don’t know, and I frankly don’t really care. They’re a throwaway thing at this point for me, a hybrid experiment for a Dalek to take on a more humanoid form later.
I think it’s Dalek Sec’s appendages in his humanoid form that make it feel disjointed. He also has more humane sentiments in this new form, which makes sense considering the second-half’s story with the Doctor’s DNA embedding itself into the hybrids…it gets messy, especially as I feel that the ending is rushed and there’s so much build-up for little pay-off.
On the surface, it’s fine, but it would have been nice to not have a Dalek-focused episode, especially one like this.
The Lazarus Experiment
I mean, this is alright I suppose. It really begins the Harold Saxon arc in full force, and Martha’s mum, Francine, thinks the Doctor is hella sus. The weird creature that Lazarus turns into is more frightening than the immortal scorpion from Serious Sam 3 (this is why you don’t pirate, kids!).
I always forget the resolution of this episode, the ending itself feels really forgettable, and I always look back and think that it ended at the lab rather than at the cathedral. Please don’t ask why, that’s just what I keep remembering of it.
Honestly this is the worst episode of the series. I just felt that it was a worse mimic of the Ood/Beast two-parter from last season.
A common characteristic with Martha is definitely her adoration for the Doctor, and this is despite getting the chance to smooch Riley.
The only benefit this episode added was the scenes with Francine and her phone being tapped for information to give to Harold Saxon. So it’s basically more of a filler episode than most in this series.
Human Nature / The Family of Blood
You’d be forgiven for not liking this particular two-parter purely for the character of John Smith, because that was my first thought going into these episodes initially. It’s mainly because the Doctor has had to become human to escape The Family, and that rewrote literally everything, although bits and pieces of memories resurface.
As time goes on and I keep rewatching the episodes, it’s easy to sympathise with John Smith. All that he’s known was a human life, and is basically scared of the identity of the Doctor. You feel for him and Joan, and Martha especially. It’s a very bittersweet ending though, and those ninjas decided to make a visit to cut some onions while I watched the Rememberance Day scene.
After the last Doctor-lite episode (Love and Monsters) wasn’t a big hit, it was interesting that they decided to make another one in the form of Blink. However, this is my favourite episode of the series. We can all agree that it gave Carey Mulligan a great starting platform as Sally Sparrow, the main character of this episode.
This was definitely scary on first viewing, and now that we’ve had more episodes of the Weeping Angels, it’s lost its appeal somewhat. But I like the core introduction of them, especially with the people in Sally’s life disappearing, like Kathy and Billy, both having lived full lives in the past.
The whole ending sequence is pretty terrifying, and definitely worthy of a horror genre, as well as the wibbly wobbly timey wimey…stuff.
Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords
This is a strange set of episodes, because it ends up becoming a three-parter. Captain Jack makes a return (and is not impressed with the Doctor for ditching him in the middle of nowhere), and his immortal ass glomps the TARDIS. I quite like this episode, and initially thought it’d be standalone when on first watching, but something was amiss. A lot of little plot conveniences such as the Doctor’s chopped-off hand and the fob watch from previous episodes makes its way to Professor Yana, who’s a bit more than a little bit insane, and trying to launch the rocket to get all of the humans to Utopia.
So yeah, turns out Yana is the Master. Who’d have thunk it?
It leads onto what would have otherwise been the two-part finale (and makes it a three-parter), and it seems like the Master has a penchant for double lives, going by the previously-alluded-to Harold Saxon, who is now the Prime Minister. I’ve had Voodoo Child in my head for the longest time after watching The Sound of Drums, and this was a great dystopian episode set that I like so much (completely the opposite of the Utopia from the first of this three).
The last episode is basically why I really like Martha as a companion. She’s just so badass in this episode, and I’m glad that even though everything got reversed, the ‘eye of the storm’ means that she still keeps all of that character development, then leaves the TARDIS after confessing her love for the Doctor.
Also props to the Master for using I Can’t Decide, which was definitely one of my favourite songs from the Ta-Dah album.
Voyage of the Damned
Here we have the traditional Christmas episode, having had the Titanic crash into the Titanic.
Remember when Astrid was rumoured to be so important because her name was an anagram of TARDIS? Yeah, turns out absolutely not, she’s just a regular humanoid character. Think it would have been expensive to keep Kylie Minogue on as a regular companion, although it’s the same Doctor romance trope that I’m now tired of.
It’s a shame though, because Astrid was a breath of fresh air, and it would have been nice for the Doctor to travel with a humanoid companion that’s not from Earth (we do get that later with Nardole, but that’s much later).
I think it’s a tad cheesy this episode, but it’s for Christmas, so it’s always going to get that cheese factor in there.
Overall it’s been a good series of episodes. I think a lot of people see Martha as a rebound companion but she holds her own really well, her only major character flaw being besotted with the Doctor. I mean, given that it’s David Tennant, I’m not surprised.
She’s a better companion that a lot of people give her credit for, and she’s capable of a lot more, I reckon. It definitely won’t be the last we see of Martha, which is what we’re here for.
Next time, we’re going into series 4, and that’s a fun ride!