April 9, 2007

Doctor On the Rebound

When last we left our intrepid Time Lord, he had barely enough time to recover from losing his assistant - no, she didn't die, she just went to a parallel universe. In a very ironic way, both of them went back to their "former" lives - one with her family, the other with his travels. Of course, as traumatized as he was, he found a new companion pop up suddenly in his TARDIS...

...and so begins The Runaway Bride which is Russell T. Davies' 2006 Christmas special. Unfortunately, it's like getting a big lump of coal in your stocking. Catherine Tate...no, sorry, way too shrill. Every dumb cliche you would expect in this episode happens. Not much worth writing about. Better left forgotten.

However, Smith and Jones gets Series Three kicking into high gear. Thankfully, much of it is due to the introduction of Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, a med student who - quite frankly - steps up as an assertive, almost cheeky counterpoint to Tennant's Doctor. Just take this exchange:
Doctor:"(I'm a) Time Lord"
Martha: Nothing pompous about that...
In a way, she helps ground Tennant's performance...and this is an opening that simply crackles. She becomes attracted to the Doctor, but in a slightly different way - the viewer almost expects that she truly is attracted to his mind, rather than his looks. This episode has a much different tone, different pace than the first two series...and even though I expected the Sontarans, I like the concept of the Judoon (aka "police for hire"). Every time RTD strikes out, he comes back twice as hard. Now, if we could only have him put out consistently good scripts...

...like Gareth Roberts' Shakespeare Code. This episode reminds me of late Hinchcliffe/early Williams Who - witty, engaging, and providing plenty of in-jokes about Shakespeare. Mixing various ideas featured in Shakespeare's plays - and life - it's just a great, solid episode with a nice, twist ending. It's a clever idea that I'm sure has been used on Who before, but this is just...there's so much to love about this episode. The shout out to Dylan Thomas. The Doctor's review of the upcoming Harry Potter novel. The revelation about Shakespeare's "Dark Lady". This is, quite simply, a great episode. Almost City of Death level great. I loved this episode.

Hopefully, this is only the beginning.

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