So far, Russell T has taken producers prerogative, and written the opening story of each season, and this year was no different. I have to say that New Earth, last years effort was a bit of a stinker, so I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to get, what with a new companion to introduce.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. We were introduced to Martha Jones and her entire family within the first few minutes, and then a brief and slightly peculiar encounter with the Doctor, who takes off his tie and disappears. Martha gets even more bemused when after she gets to work as a trainee medical Doctor, when following encounters with strange motorcycle couriers, and a static electric shock, the Doctor turns up again as one of her patients, but claims never to have left the hospital.
Then things start getting really weird. The hospital gets hit by a very strange, and very local thunderstorm, where the rain is going up, and suddenly the building shakes violently, and they find themselves on the moon, with the building being invaded by rhino-like aliens, the Judoon, who the Doctor describes as intergalactic police officers. Martha quickly realises that the Doctor knows a lot about what is going on, and the two team up.
All in all it was a great opening episode. The plot was pretty good too in that the monsters, the Judoon were in a way the good guys – the main baddie actually being a little old lady with a drinking straw! Seriously, expect young children to be terrified of people with drinking straws for a while after this! David Tennant has definitely found his feet in the role of the Doctor with a nice mix of seriousness and bizarre moments, for example after a massive dose of radiation, he shakes it down into his left shoe, which he then throws into a bin. Martha at this point says that she thinks he’s mad. The Doctor agrees, and takes off his other shoe to match!
There are a couple of minor, but probably significant references during the episode. Firstly there are some references to ‘Saxon’, including ‘Vote Saxon’ posters similar to those seen in Torchwood. Secondly, when in the hospital, the Doctor is asked whether he has a brother, and replies â€œNot any moreâ€?. The Doctor has also taken to name dropping again – claiming he had a laser spanner that was stolen by Emmeline Pankhurst, and talking about meeting Benjamin Franklin. In a moment reminiscent of Peter Davison in The Visitation, the Doctor has a moment of sadness when his trusty sonic screwdriver is destroyed. Unlike the fifth Doctor though, by the end of the episode he has a replacement.
There is also a nice little epilogue – as Martha doesn’t just leap into the TARDIS after the hospital is returned to Earth. Instead, he appears later that evening after Martha has attended a party for her brother. After her enthusiasm at her visit to the moon, the Doctor has come to offer her a trip as a thank you for her help. Martha says that she doesn’t have time, and doesn’t believe the Doctor when he says that he has a time machine. The Doctor proves it’s time travelling abilities by going back to that morning and returning with he tie removed – the strange meeting on the street that so bemused Martha. She then asks the Doctor why he didn’t warn her when he went back, to which the Doctor replies that it is against the rules, ‘crossing into established events is strictly forbidden – except for cheap tricks’. After that she is questions the amount of room, plus the fact that his spaceship is apparently made of wood. The Doctor shows her in side, where she is as usual amazed at the size inside ‘It’s bigger on the inside’ she exclaims, ‘Really? I hadn’t noticed’ answers the Doctor. They then briefly discuss Rose, and how it is one trip only, and she isn’t a replacement for her, and then the Doctor sends them plunging through time to a meeting with Shakespeare next week.
All in all, a great start to the new series, and the trailer for The Shakespeare Code next week looks great.