Shiny Shelf

Doctor Who: Smith and Jones

By Mark Clapham on 03 April 2007

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

To have lost both of your original leads by the third season of a series may be considered careless, but on balance it doesn’t seem to have done ‘Doctor Who’ any real harm.

Following the Catherine-Tate-starring Christmas special ‘The Runaway Bride’, ‘Smith and Jones’ is the first regular episode of the current ‘Doctor Who’ without Billie Piper as Rose. Rose Tyler has been the audience’s guide through this revival, and a tough act to follow. Thankfully, Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones is neither a Rose clone nor a disturbingly radical departure for the series, and is introduced in an endearing and painless manner.

As with ‘Rose’ two years ago, and indeed the first episodes of ‘Torchwood’ and ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ last year, we’re yet again introduced to the ‘Doctor Who’ universe through the eyes of a contemporary female character. However, this being the third season of an established show, the transition is nowhere near as prolonged – Martha is already astutely aware of the alien invasions going on all around her, in spite of official denials, and rather than going through a gradual introduction to the Doctor’s world in no time at all she’s been relocated, along with the entire hospital she works in, to the moon. On the lunar surface the Doctor and Martha team up to deal with a rogue vampire and a platoon of bureaucratic space rhinos.

The wrong character, casting or just introductory episode for Martha could have been disasterous for a series which has already switched leading man in recent memory, but thankfully Martha is an appealing creation, Freema Agyeman is charming in the role and writer Russell T Davies and director Charles Palmer pull out all the stops to provide a confident, exciting and inventive introduction, switching seamlessly from domestic chitter chatter to reverse rain and the aforementioned space rhinos without hesitation or faltering. The plot ties together, there’s some great dialogue and all the cast are on top form. This could have been the point where ‘Doctor Who’ faltered or started to repeat itself, but instead it feels like a clean slate – same Doctor, but a new companion and family. In the highly unlikely event that you’re the sort of person who reads Shiny Shelf but has somehow managed to not be watching the series already, take note: this is an excellent jumping on point.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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