A Time Lord for all seasons and reasons
Doctor Who: Smith and Jones 7.30pm, ABC
AS someone who ran scared from the living room when the first Doctor Who, William Hartnell, emerged from a dusty blue telephone box back in another time zone, it’s gratifying to have the world’s longest running science fiction drama still scare the bejesus out of you.
That it can do so while appealing to a new generation of fans is due in large measure to a rethinking of the show in its most recent incarnation, where technology, fast- paced action and tight scripts have made it essential family entertainment.
Christopher Eccleston, the first of the new breed, made an excellent Doctor Who, even if he didn’t think so, but his successor David Tennant, is no less compelling as the eccentric and unpredictable Time Lord.
This new series gets started following the loss of Tennant’s sidekick Rose ( Billie Piper). In her place comes Martha Jones ( Freema Agyeman), a 23- year- old medical student in a London hospital who, along with the building, the entire staff and the patients, is transported to the moon by unknown aliens.
The Doctor, posing as patient Mr Smith, is there investigating the presence in the hospital of plasma coils ( you’ll have to watch it). He quickly teams with the eager Jones to establish why a mercenary police force called the Judoon, who have rhinoceros- like heads, have brought them to another planet.
A force field allows the pair enough air to go about solving the riddle, which involves a sweet old patient called Florence Finnegan ( Anne Reid), who is in fact a much more dangerous Plasmavore, a bloodsucking alien on the run from the Judoon. That outline doesn’t describe even one- tenth of the action and witty dialogue crammed into this 45 minutes.
Jones is concerned about getting home to her brother’s birthday party, but it’s clear from her interest in the Doctor that she’s not going to be going home for long.
Her lack of fear in the face of interplanetary travel and Plasmavore slave creatures called Slabs suggests she’s in the show for the long haul. Or perhaps it’s just that working in the British health service prepares you for anything.
Tennant jabbers incessantly, sometimes so quickly you miss some of the witticisms, but his strange mannerisms and seemingly illogical actions add weight and humour to the crafted plot- lines.
Newcomer Agyeman is promising, too, as the curious and confident Jones. There’s even the suggestion of romance when the Doctor kisses her passionately halfway into the action. It’s not for real, though. It was only a genetic transfer, the good Doctor tells her as he tries to entice her into the TARDIS. Time Lords, eh?
Fly me to the moon: The Doctor ( David Tennant) and Jones ( Freema Agyeman)