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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “Smith & Jones”

(Don’t miss the introduction to my Doctor Who drooling…)

(previous: Episode 0: “The Runaway Bride”)

I was totally prepared to hate Martha Jones. I wanted to hate Martha, for Rose’s sake. But I can’t hate her. She’s too cool.

Martha is, unlike Donna, more than worthy of the privilege of traveling with the Doctor. She’s ripped from the planet Earth without so much as a by-your-leave, facing what looks like certain death from suffocation if not execution by space rhinos, but does she panic? She does not. She’s scared, but she’s able to think logically. She doesn’t hesitate to yank a space-rhino-alien-detector thingie from one of the rhinos and use it — appropriately, which means she’s been rational enough to actually observe how the detector thingie is operated — when the moment calls for it.
And she’s still able, amidst all this, to appreciate the desolate beauty of the moon.

This, surely, is a woman after the Doctor’s own hearts.

But oh, how distressing must it be, then, to be her and hear that same intriguing, handsome alien tell her it means, honestly, absolutely nothing when he kisses her?

I’ll say it again, and I will, I promise you, be saying it yet more in the future: Damn you, Russell Davies. Damn you and the TARDIS you rode in on.

Davies is gonna continue to torment us this whole season: this much is obvious. Not only will the Doctor’s pining for Rose gonna be ongoing and hearts-rending, but Martha will be pining for the Doctor and, I’m sure, seeing her affection going completely unrequited. This whole season is gonna be torture. Sweet, exquisite torture, but torture nonetheless.

I think it’s a kind of self-abasement on Davies’ part, actually, because he’s as big as Doctor Who geek as we all are, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he’s as much in love with the Doctor as I am, as lots of us are. But of course the Doctor is as much fictional to Davies as he is to us, and could be Davies is completely able to acknowledge how pitiable it is to be a reasonable adult in love with a figment of our collective imaginations.

Not that I don’t put it past him to indulge in a little wishful thinking, however. I mean, come on: sucking off the Doctor? Sure, it involves a granny space vampire with a straw here, but still, the metaphor is too delicious for my dirty mind to deny. Tee-hee. I love Russell Davies.

And not just because he manages to get the Doctor to joke about leather fetishes — though again: tee-hee! — but because he jams so many layers of drama and subterfuge and consequence into every single episode of this show without making them feel overloaded. The old show never really felt like it was much a part of the real world, but Davies has been developing the idea of “alien presence on Earth” as a metaphor for urban terrorism in the 21st century since the show’s inception, and here it suddenly snaps into overt focus. When the Doctor asks Martha what she thinks about how her hospital got to the moon, she is able to accept the obvious explanation: aliens, right? “A few years ago that would’ve sounded mad,” she admits, but what with all the alien spaceships over the skies of London lately, not to mention incursions by Daleks and Cybermen, well, this is the new normal, isn’t it? Better get used to car bombs– er, killer extraterrestial robots. The Doctor and Martha talk about the battle of Canary Wharf like New Yorkers talk about 9/11, and like how I’m sure Londoners talk about the 7/7 bombings.

The growing acceptance on Earth of the reality that Earthlings are not alone in the universe may be why the Doctor seems so remarkably unconcerned with the TARDIS being seen as anything other than a police call box, which was rarely the case in the old show. That high-speed TARDIS/car chase in “Runaway Bride”? Whoa: I’m not sure the Time Lords would have stood for something so blatant as that. But the Time Lords are gone, aren’t they? It’s only the Doctor left — even his brother is gone. Brother? (Damn you again, Davies.) I’m tempted to say that if the Doctor isn’t careful, he’s gonna turn into a real companion slut, asking every girl he meets to come travel with him — watching “Bride” and this episode back to back really makes the Doctor look pathetic. But he really is dreadfully alone, isn’t he?

Mostly, though, what I love the most about this episode — except for the sucking-off-the-Doctor bit; I’m never gonna fail to find that highly amusing — is how Davies again refuses to give in to black-and-white. The Judoon really aren’t so bad, even if their adherence to “procedure” makes them seem so at first, and the granny alien bloodsucker really is quite a menace. Perhaps hunting her down did put many more sentient beings at risk than might have been strictly necessary — and perhaps the Judoon fail to understand the civilized concept of “you break it, you bought it” — but hey, they did put the hospital back in the end, didn’t they? There probably would have been a helluva lot of paperwork to do afterward if they hadn’t.

Random thoughts on “Smith & Jones”:

• Is that Russell Davies outside the hospital talking on his cell phone as Martha goes in early in the episode?

• Hey, there’s that coat rack from the old TARDIS, tucked in a corner… which the Doctor doesn’t use, he just throws his coat anywhere.

• Emmeline Pankhurst, suffragette, stole the Doctor’s laser spanner? Hee.

• I love how Martha refuses to buy this nonsense of the Doctor’s name, or lack thereof. Of course, she doesn’t get the answer she wants, but at least she called him on it.

What I said about Tennant being a wonderfully physical actor: Expelling the radiation through his sneaker was great. But the Doctor always was good at playing the buffoon when it was convenient for him to do so.

• High-tech Judoon scanner thingie + low-tech Sharpie to the hand = Russell Davies continues to be delightfully clever

• The granny alien vampire keeps her straw in a little granny purse. Hilarious.

• Didja notice the several references to “Mr. Saxon” in this episode? Pay attention to those…

(next: Episode 2: “The Shakespeare Code”)


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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