Well that was 45 minutes of stomping space rhino fun, wasn’t it? Well toned visual FX, the first really fearsome alien creatures of 21st century Doctor Who and a new companion into the mix, Series 3 launched with a lunar-tinged upwards rainstorm, rather than a bang.
I could sit and compare Smith and Jones to previous openers Rose and last season’s woeful New Earth. However it comes off so strongly in comparison that I won’t. The introduction to Martha Jones is much stronger than the introduction of Rose Tyler – but what of the differences between the characters? Is Doctor Who – or more importantly the viewers – ready for a brave Who world?
Regular readers will know that over the course of Series 2 I bemoaned the direction the relationship between the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler had taken. Strangely obsessive about each other, their cliquey behaviour was far worse than the Ninth Doctor-Rose-Captain Jack gang of Boom Town. A case in point would be the visit to Torchwood House and the mocking of the incumbent monarch. While many fans have defended their tone and actions in front of Queen Victoria, the point remains – how many of us would travel through time to take the piss out of historical figures?
"Oi Gandhi, try these – Nike Air, bound to be better than those awful flip flops you’re wearing!"
"Excuse me, Mr Churchill? Could you do an impersonation of Derrick Guyler saying ‘Oh Yes!’?"
It wouldn’t happen. So let’s hope for some maturity in Series 3, and less of the capriciousness. A good place to start in this hope would be the Jones family, a rag tag bunch of optimism and Hollyoaks. Mum is a neurotic mess, brothers and sisters complain to Martha about the pros and cons of the upcoming party and of course, Papa’s got a brand new bag, by the name of Annalise. It’s a car-crash of a mid life crisis and it is very, very familiar. Perhaps it’s time to leave these family-orientated storylines to real soaps, Russell, and avoid insulting otherwise intelligent viewers with these disgusting stereotypes?
Thankfully, the involvement of the Jones’ was at the fringes of an enjoyable yarn about a shapeshifting space vampire (the incomparable Anne Reid) who killed a princess being tracked by the seemingly unstoppable force of the Judoon. Impressive work on their spacecraft, I thought, I’m still unable to tell if they were models, CGI, or both. As for the name – galactic coppers dispensing justice in a slightly Judge Dredd manner – "Judoon" is a little too close to "Aridius" for my liking, but they are effective, imposing and I wouldn’t say no to a repeat performance from them.
So, what about the new element, Martha Jones? Well actress Freema Agyeman seems quite competent, but it’s a little difficult to see anything other than a different lady speaking Billie Piper’s lines at the moment – and while I wasn’t that taken by Donna, I was more than happy to see the back of Rose Tyler. I could postulate that Russell T Davies can only write three types of women – teenage girls, mothers and aliens posing as humans – but that might be a bit strong, and it’s early days yet for medical student Martha Jones.
An interesting facet of Martha’s character is her steadfast belief in the events of Army of Ghosts and some of the other very public invasions seen in Doctor Who since 2005. This all ties in nicely with the statements of politician Mr Saxon who receives at least two mentions in Smith and Jones, and is I daresay likely to pop up throughout Series 3.
If Mr Saxon is what we think he is, then that will present us with a very interesting adversary for the Tenth Doctor, who continued to be the "toned down" version we saw in The Runaway Bride. The casting for Series 3 seems to be of a generally higher standard than that of Series 2, and I reckon we’re going to get the best out of David Tennant at least once this year – why not start next week, opposite Dean Lennox Kelly’s William Shakespeare…?