I really enjoyed that. It was a fun romp of a series opener, introducing us to a promising new companion, showing us how the Doctor is faring without Rose, portraying an impressive new alien species, at the same time as telling a ripping yarn to usher in the third series of the revival. Martha, I thought, made a very positive start to her time as the Doctor’s companion. I liked her: she was intelligent, intuitive, resourceful and brave, not to mention pretty—all the traits that make for an ideal Doctor Who companion. Like Rose in Rose, she emphatically proved what an extraordinary person she was in her opening episode, particularly in the way she gave her last breaths to save the Doctor’s life, and, indirectly, the lives of everyone in the hospital. I always liked Martha best of the Tenth Doctor’s companions. She seemed to me the most agreeable and the companion I’d most like to be friends with, which is perhaps why I warm to her, even from this one opening episode, more than I do to Rose and Donna. I don’t even mind the family baggage she’s portrayed as carrying—she wants to travel with the Doctor to escape the complications and frustrations of her ordinary life, which is as it should be.
The Doctor put in an entertaining performance. He seemed a lot more manic and, in Martha’s words, “completely mad”, than he was in Series 2, bouncing around the place and generally giving the impression that he’d escaped from a mental institute before he’d completed his treatment. Perhaps being separated from Rose and travelling around on his own has made him a bit stir-crazy? Nevertheless, I’m not criticising—it was an amusing and enjoyable performance by Tennant, who brought out the eccentric side of the Doctor’s character, a trait I feel doesn’t come out enough in the Tenth Doctor. He even seemed to be consciously channelling Tom Baker at times, for example:
Martha: “You’re completely mad.”
Doctor: “You’re right. I look daft with one shoe.”
*The Doctor throws his other shoe away*
Doctor: “Barefoot on the moon!”
The plot was nothing necessarily special, but it was played out onscreen well. Anne Reid made for a menacing, camp villain in the form of a dear old lady who sucked people’s blood out with a plastic straw. I can’t say that was the best villain Doctor Who has ever come up with, and, to be sure, she didn’t seem that intimidating a threat in this episode, but she was enjoyable to watch nonetheless. The Judoon were an interesting new alien species, a rough band of intergalactic police-rhinos who employed questionable methods in carrying out their duties but who insisted on compensating Martha for her full body scan. They’re a lot more like our police than we realise at first.
In sum, a fun, promising start to Series 3, with a great new companion and a Doctor on form.