Doctor Who 3.1: Smith and Jones review

Review

Smith and JonesSmith and Jones review

Martha: You came up to me and took your tie off.
The Doctor: Really? What did I do that for?

Production Code: 3.1.
Doctor Who Season: S29 (Ep1).
Story Number: 179.

“Like so” indeed. It was as if Russell T. Davies had taken to heart people’s criticisms of last year’s season opener set in a hospital (New Earth), and said “You know what? I can write a better one than that… like so”…

New Earth was ok. The 2005 Season opener Rose was very good. Smith and Jones was excellent.

The plot was a bit of a mess in New Earth, although the rest of it was fun. Rose certainly accomplished what it set out to do, which was lay the foundation for the revival and introduce the characters for the 21st Century, but the plot was maybe less than satisfying. With Smith and Jones, Russell is spinning all the plates, as the plot crackles along excitingly, the characters are established for any new viewers, and the 2007 season is launched spectacularly.pics

Spearhead from Space continues to be a key text in the history of Doctor Who for Russell, as following on from Rose and The Christmas Invasion, he riffs on it here again, with another pajama-clad Doctor Who. The 1996 TV movie is recalled too, but in a good way (did anyone else detect a Frankenstein reference?) Russell T. continues to help me to see that fairly rubbish movie in a good light.pics

Transporting the hospital to the moon is a clever halfway house of grounding the action in some sort of relatable-to normality, while also supplying some sci-fi action. Russell is obviously a fan of Douglas Adam as the Judoon seem to be the police equivalent of Hitchhiker’s Vogons – the Earth just happens to be in the way, and they have similar bureaucratic methods.

The production design is great, with the animatronics of the Rhino Judoon a high point, along with the magical scenes of the Earth viewed from the moon.pics

Freema shines as Martha, delivering the potentially clunky line about her cousin movingly. She is more confident than Rose from the get-go, and it will be fascinating to watch how she reacts to the trip of a lifetime over the next few months.

Tennant continues to be a fantastic Doctor, (his amusing hopping about recalled Pudsey Cutaway)!pics

This is the first time that the Doctor’s saliva is a plot point I believe, as his kiss is meant to shake the Judoon out of their complacency when scanning Martha, in preparation for when they are re-scanning Florence. (Was that ALL it was? Or did he really think that was his last few moments? A goodbye kiss…)

Martha protests she ain’t interested near the close of the episode, but looks a bit crestfallen as the Doctor accepts this too readily…

There are echoes of the episode Rose in the manner of Freema joining. This time around, the Doctor physically illustrates his mentioning that it travels in time, in a cheeky nod to the programme’s history of having a (thankfully) ill-defined approach to the physics of time-travel.

“Like so.”pics

Rating: 4/5

Originally published on the Doctor Who Ratings Guide on 10 May 2007

2012 thoughts: The Judoon are a great addition to the monsters of the programme Doctor Who and it’s good to seem them appear in other tales in various media.
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(Smith and Jones on bbc.co.uk/programmes/)

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