One of the key factors that has enabled Doctor Who to survive since 1963 is the fact that the whole cast can change every few years and yet it still remains at heart the same show. Last year’s transition from Chris Eccleston to David Tennant showed that this is still as true now as it was in the 1970s, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in wondering how Russell T Davies and co would deal with the introduction of a new companion. Billie Piper made such a huge contribution to the revived show’s success that any new actor would have to be really good.
In the Christmas episode, we saw the Doctor just after he’d been parted from Rose, which wouldn’t have been the best time for him to meet a new companion, but at least he learned that he could get along with someone else. It seems some time has passed, and the Doctor might just be on the lookout for someone to share his adventures. That someone who will stop him when he’s going too far. Someone human…
Martha Smith is a medical student who seems to be the peacemaker in her family. On her way to work, she takes calls from her sister, her mother, her brother and her father. Her mother doesn’t want her father bringing his young blonde girlfriend to her brother’s birthday party, and it seems Martha’s the one to sort it out. She’s so engrossed in the calls, that she hardly notices the strange man who steps in front of her and removes his tie…
When she sees the same man, who says his name is John Smith, in a bed in the hospital she’s working in, Martha is confused. She’s even more confused when her stethoscope appears to be telling her that he has two hearts.
But there’s hardly time for that. The senior doctor drags Martha and the other students off on their round. But something strange is going on – Martha’s sister calls her and tells her that there’s an isolated rain cloud over the hospital. And the rain is going up. Then the hospital is violently shaken. When the shaking stops, the hospital is standing on the Moon. Not surprisingly, most people in the hospital are a bit upset about that, and panic ensues. But Martha seems much calmer – she wants to know what’s going on, so it’s no surprise that the Doctor decides to drag her along with him. She’s clearly got her wits about her – she knows there’s no air on the moon, and wonders how long everyone will be able to breathe. The Doctor demonstrates that there’s some kind of force field surrounding the hospital, which is holding in the air. But it won’t last long…
At that point, three huge spaceships land and a horde of leather-clad figures march out. The Doctor identifies them as Judoon – brutal cops for hire. The Judoon enter the hospital and remove their helmets, revealing rhino-like heads. They start to scan everyone – they’re looking for a non-human, which isn’t good news for the Doctor.
Lots of the usual fun follows – the inevitable running down corridors, insane technological technobabble, a barking mad murderous plasmavore (the alien the Judoon are really after), and some nice sonic screwdriver gags. More seriously, we learn that Martha had a cousin who died in Canary Wharf.
The Doctor and Martha manage to survive long enough to make sure the Judoon find their quarry and return the hospital to its normal location. Outside, as everyone tries to work out what happened, Martha sees the Doctor leave in the Tardis.
Later, there’s a row at the party. As her family argue around her, Martha sees the Doctor standing at the entrance to an alleyway. She follows and finds him standing by the Tardis. He proves that it can travel in time by popping back for that bit of fun with the tie, then offers to take Martha on “just one trip”, to thank her for saving his life, and for helping him. And off they go…
A nice start to the new series, and a good introduction to a new companion. RTD and co have carefully created a new companion who’s very different from Rose. She’s better educated and more logical compared to the more instinctive and compassionate Rose. She’s older. She’s black rather than blonde. But she shares that certain something – a fire within that all the Doctor’s best companions have had. It looks like things will be interesting for them both…
It seems that each series will have some kind of running theme, with clues or hints being dropped in. In 2005, it was the Bad Wolf references, and last year it was, of course, Torchwood. This year, I think we need to watch out for Mr Saxon. Whoever he might eventually turn out to be, he was mentioned in a radio interview, and there was a “Vote Saxon” poster in the alleyway…
And as someone pointed out in a forum somewhere “Mister Saxon” is an interesting anagram. As it’s already been made quite clear that The Master is returning, I don’t think I’m giving anything away by spelling it out:
Mister Saxon = Master No. Six.
The Master has been played by five previous actors:
- Roger Delgado in the early 70s when Jon Pertwee was the Doctor
- Peter Pratt, who played a beautifully decaying Master in The Deadly Assassin when Tom Baker was the Doctor
- Geoffrey Beevers, who appeared in The Keeper of Traken, before stealing a body and becoming:
- Anthony Ainley, who appeared at intervals for the remainder of the classic series
- Eric Roberts, who appeared in the Paul McGann TV movie
(OK, if we’re being picky, Gordon Tipple also appeared for a second or two in the TV movie. In some cuts, anyway)
So it seems we’re in for a lot of thrills and a lot of fun . Excellent stuff.
 Forgetting for the moment that slight pause between 1989 and 2005
 With that slight false dawn in 1996
 An alias that the Third Doctor sometimes used in the early 70s
 Look, if you want the whole story, you’ll have to watch it, OK?
 Which deals with any questions about the remarkable resemblance, etc, etc
 Freema Agyeman was spotted as the ideal actor for Martha after her earlier appearance
 Can’t quite recall where…