Doctor Who: Smith and Jones

Series three starts with a thunderclap, a disappearing hospital and a very familiar feeling.

Primary Cast and Crew

David Tennant as the Doctor
Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones
Anne Reid as Florence Finnegan
Roy Marsden as Mr Stoker
Paul Kasey as the Judoon Captain
Nicholas Briggs provided the Judoon voices

Written by Russell T. Davies

Directed by Charles Palmer

Originally aired on the 31st of March 2007 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis

A large London hospital is unexpectedly transported to the surface of the moon complete with staff, patients and the Doctor. Before they have time to come to terms with this remarkable occurrance, the hospital is invaded by a team of mercenary police looking for an alien.

High Points

  • “I’ve got my straw…” Anne Reid’s performance was superb.

Low Points

  • I know I criticised the lack of knowledge of past alien events exhibited by Donna in the Christmas episode last year, but now I find that everyone remembers everything is rather jarring. It’s not like Doctor Who, somehow. Humans aren’t supposed to remember these things very well. Once more I invoke the Seventh Doctor’s comment about the human capacity for self-delusion when questioning Ace about the Yeti in the Underground – which, of course, she doesn’t remember.
  • Another companion who’s young, female, reasonably attractive and prounounces ‘mother’ with a double v in the middle. This is starting to get familiar.
  • Why bother with the whole X-ray absorbtion thing? It felt like time-filling, or new gratuitous alien ability demonstration.

The Scores

Not an enormously original episode. I kept thinking back to previous episodes of this revival of Doctor Who. Massive alien crisis happens on Earth. One plucky young woman steps up to help. Sound familiar? Three out of six.

The effects were generally good. Exactly what we saw last series, in fact. Four out of six.

A disappointing story with echoes of the original Ninth Doctor story. Acquisition of a new companion is always going to have some sort of commonality to it, but they managed it slightly better in the old days. The plasmavore plot was nice, but the Doctor’s solution was pretty unimaginative although undeniably rather brave. Four out of six.

We know David Tennant can act and he did the best he could have done with this script, I think. Freema Agyeman I remain undecided on, as I’m not sure what was here and what was awful dialogue. Anne Reid’s performance, however, was an absolute triumph. Five out of six.

I’m afraid to say that my chief emotional response was irritation that the Judoon turned out to be rather dull and apparently barely sentient. There were some funny bits as well. Three out of six.

Production-wise, it certainly looks like the interior of an NHS hospital in England, which is great. I really doubt they filmed the exterior scenes in London though. It just doesn’t look much like the capital, there most certainly is not a large hospital right next to the London Eye, and the police weren’t wearing Metropolitan Police uniforms. I know that last point is a nitpick most people wouldn’t notice or care about, but if they continue to have difficulty making it look like they’re filming in London, possibly the most well-known city in the UK, why not set the story somewhere else? Four out of six.

Overall my misgivings about series three after the disappointing Christmas episode have so far been fulfilled, although things weren’t quite as dire as my worst nightmares might have suggested. While this episode is entertaining to watch, it doesn’t leave me very enthusiastic about next week. Especially not after seeing the trailer. Four out of six.

Smith and Jones (oh dear, even the title is a bad joke) receives a total of twenty-seven out of forty-two.

17 replies on “Doctor Who: Smith and Jones”

  1. joe__gee says:

    I thought it was OK …
    I thought it was no worse than the first episode with Rose, way back when. I’m willing to give it the benefit of a doubt, although once again they go "there" with the romance thing. Genetic transfer … Right.

    Davies seems to have read a manual somewhere that tells him how to characterize assistants. They must:

    1. Have family strife / disagreements between parent(s) and / or assistant.
    2. Have a significant other, so the Doctor can woo them away with his superior, um, eccentric alien manliness?
    3. Have no more attachment to that significant other than they might have to a lesser pet, say a goldfish, so they can conveniently forget about said S.O. as soon as they see the Doctor.
    4. As the reviewer pointed out, say "mother" with a "v".
    5. Be able to wear tight clothing in an attractive manner.
    6. Have a cell phone grafted to their head.

    Mix it all together and you have the assistant de l’an. You know, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicky_Pollard Vicky Pollard would have filled the bill, except for number five.

    Alien Rhino: "Where is the non-human?"

    Vicky: "Yah but, no but, yah but, no but, yah but, no but, yah but, no but, yah but, shut up! Stop looking at me evils!"

    Still, even with its flaws the episode is so much better than the first few episodes of Torchwood (I gave up after the writers had exhausted most of the possible gender and species sex combinations.)

    I’ll continue watching, and pray some day for another DW/LB crossover. :)

    -Joe

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: I thought it was OK …
      Vicky Pollard should have been in it. It would have been amusing for a bit, and then the Judoon would have killed her, which would have been serious cause for celebration.

      As for the companion manual, I agree. Martha and Rose are far too similar for my liking.

      • Chillum says:

        Re: I thought it was OK …

        As for the companion manual, I agree. Martha and Rose are far too similar for my liking.

        I dunno… Martha doesn’t seem quite as thick as Rose, which has to be a good thing. And her mouth isn’t as scarily wide.

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: I thought it was OK …

      I thought it was no worse than the first episode with Rose, way back when. I’m willing to give it the benefit of a doubt, although once again they go "there" with the romance thing. Genetic transfer … Right.

      Davies seems to have read a manual somewhere that tells him how to characterize assistants. They must:

      1. Have family strife / disagreements between parent(s) and / or assistant.
      2. Have a significant other, so the Doctor can woo them away with his superior, um, eccentric alien manliness?
      3. Have no more attachment to that significant other than they might have to a lesser pet, say a goldfish, so they can conveniently forget about said S.O. as soon as they see the Doctor.
      4. As the reviewer pointed out, say "mother" with a "v".
      5. Be able to wear tight clothing in an attractive manner.
      6. Have a cell phone grafted to their head.

      Mix it all together and you have the assistant de l’an. You know, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicky_Pollard Vicky Pollard would have filled the bill, except for number five.

      Alien Rhino: "Where is the non-human?"

      Vicky: "Yah but, no but, yah but, no but, yah but, no but, yah but, no but, yah but, shut up! Stop looking at me evils!"

      Still, even with its flaws the episode is so much better than the first few episodes of Torchwood (I gave up after the writers had exhausted most of the possible gender and species sex combinations.)

      I’ll continue watching, and pray some day for another DW/LB crossover. :)

      -Joe

      I must have missed it. Who was her S.O.? I don’t remember seeing him at all.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: I thought it was OK …

        I must have missed it. Who was her S.O.? I don’t remember seeing him at all.

        You are absolutely right. For some reason I thought it was the fellow in the first five minutes. That was her brother. That’s what I get for watching this at 2 AM.

        She’s SO-less. So she’s a pushover for the Doctor. :)

        -Joe

    • Dingdongalistic says:

      Re: I thought it was OK …

      1. Have family strife / disagreements between parent(s) and / or assistant.
      2. Have a significant other, so the Doctor can woo them away with his superior, um, eccentric alien manliness?
      3. Have no more attachment to that significant other than they might have to a lesser pet, say a goldfish, so they can conveniently forget about said S.O. as soon as they see the Doctor.
      4. As the reviewer pointed out, say "mother" with a "v".
      5. Be able to wear tight clothing in an attractive manner.
      6. Have a cell phone grafted to their head.

      In what way does Martha fit this set of specifics?

      • MrChris says:

        Re: I thought it was OK …

        1. Have family strife / disagreements between parent(s) and / or assistant.
        2. Have a significant other, so the Doctor can woo them away with his superior, um, eccentric alien manliness?
        3. Have no more attachment to that significant other than they might have to a lesser pet, say a goldfish, so they can conveniently forget about said S.O. as soon as they see the Doctor.
        4. As the reviewer pointed out, say "mother" with a "v".
        5. Be able to wear tight clothing in an attractive manner.
        6. Have a cell phone grafted to their head.

        In what way does Martha fit this set of specifics?

        1, 4 & 5 at least.

  2. J_W_W says:

    Sometimes its refreshing….
    just to watch a fairly calm, episodic sci-fi show. Its enjoyable to see the Doctor back and see the new companion. I think she’s got some promise.

    It was just kind of nice to watch a show with just a little less angst than some "other" shows have shown lately ;-)

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: Sometimes its refreshing….

      just to watch a fairly calm, episodic sci-fi show. Its enjoyable to see the Doctor back and see the new companion. I think she’s got some promise.

      It was just kind of nice to watch a show with just a little less angst than some "other" shows have shown lately ;-)

      This was on the light side of angst-o-meter, wasn’t it? :)

      I liked the Judoon ships. Next week’s episode looks like some classic Doctor. Medieval sets, black magic, a famous historical figure, and the Doctor in the middle of it. Excellent. :)

      -Joe

      • vanyel says:

        Re: Sometimes its refreshing….

        This was on the light side of angst-o-meter, wasn’t it? :) I liked the Judoon ships

        Although I understand some of the complaints, I rather liked the episode. I liked the Judoon ships, the transplant to the moon was brilliant, they actually discussed and properly handled the air issue, the plasmavore was great, it wasn’t completely predictable, and despite my misgivings after the preview after Runaway Bride, I really liked Martha. Rose has too much angst and baggage: Martha is gung-ho. A little too much to be really believable admittedly, but she’s so fun I can overlook that.

        I did think that the solution to the MRI overload was rather anti-climatic, but loved the bits with the sonic screwdriver, and the way the Doctor got the Judoon looking in the right place was brilliant (I’m not sure about "brave" when you’re immortal though) and the "oh yeah, two hearts" was a great line.

        Anyway, thumbs up from me…

        • Eldhrin says:

          Re: Sometimes its refreshing….
          The Doctor isn’t immortal. He has a finite number of regenerations, and regenerating is not a particularly pleasant process.

          Unless they went and changed the limit as well. At the moment according to the original series explanation he has three left.

          • alex.shultz says:

            Re: Sometimes its refreshing….

            The Doctor isn’t immortal. He has a finite number of regenerations, and regenerating is not a particularly pleasant process.

            Unless they went and changed the limit as well. At the moment according to the original series explanation he has three left.

            At the beginning of "Destiny of the Daleks" Romana did several regenerations in a row – she would leave the room and come back in regenerated – like she was just trying on new bodies until she found one that the Doctor liked. Maybe we won’t be seeing Romana in the new series because she used up all her regenerations trying to find a pleasing body for the Doctor.

            • TomSwiss says:

              Re: Sometimes its refreshing….

              Romana did several regenerations in a row – she would leave the room and come back in regenerated – like she was just trying on new bodies

              We’ve seen that the current Doctor had enough "plasticity" in his body immediately after regeneration to regrow a lost hand. Perhaps when regeneration occurs normally (many of the Doctor’s have been difficult) the Time Lord or Lady can mold his or her appearance somewhat immediately after.

              (I am, of course, retconning like crazy here.)

              (Also it’s been suggested that the Hartnell/Troughton and Troughton/Pertwee transitions were not the same sort of "regenerations" as we later saw the Doctor undergo; the first was referred to as a "renewal", the second a "change of appearence" at the time. If plot demands it those could be retconned to give the Doctor a few more regenerations.)

  3. Trekkie says:

    The Tie
    I found the Tie bit funny. All in All was happy that BT Airlines got me the episode before it aired on Sci-Fi. I’ve seen better companion intros though. Would be nice if they’d go for two or three characters again like with Peter Davison.

  4. MrChris says:

    Hospital
    > there most certainly is not a large hospital right next to the London Eye

    St Thomas’s? Looks about right to me.
    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=london+eye&layer=&ie=UTF8&z=14&om=1
    Right there, underneath ‘A’.

  5. TheScarf says:

    Judoon
    With the helmet on, a Judoon look like a Sontaran, from the promo’s I was expecting Sontarans. I’m sad.

    I really, really hope they get better writing. This Dr and the last Dr are pretty much the same, ditto for the companions. Silly things like using a soda straw to suck blood out of people (not even cut to a point) ‘solid leather’ alien henchment/robots, the whole shoe thing, pointless destruction of a sonic screwdriver, obigatory inuendo and dysfunctional family. I can tell who wrote it without having to even check and that isn’t meant as a compliment.

    Someone please convince the BBC that this needs to be a seriours SF/drama series for families. Stop insulting our intelligence with dumb things and expect a few gee-whiz plot elements and special effects to keep us coming back. The Dr Who fans of the 80’s are adults now.

  6. Dingdongalistic says:

    Review feedback.
    I must say that if you approach the review using a series of categories you’re likely to feel disappointed. You can’t just view things as a bunch of ingredients and rate each one, it’s far more fluid, flexible and subtle than that. There’s the problem of the execution of the material, how it complements other material, and so forth. TO expect Smith and Jones to look great as a list of ingredients would be perhaps unflattering, as many of the elements are hardly original. but as a whole it works quite well, because of a good execution, good acting, and a good script. It’s not just ingredients that matter, but, to use an old cooking analogy, the cooking itself.

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