With “Smith and Jones”, “Doctor Who” was back with a bang! A better season opener than either of its two predecessors, I only wish an episode as strong as this had heralded the programme’s return a couple of years back. It got the balance right between domestic and universal. Martha’s family problems were only allowed to top and tail the episode not dominate the entire proceedings. What happened in-between highlighted the triviality of those everyday concerns.
The problem, of course, is that Martha’s family follows Rose’s, which on paper makes it sound like a new family has moved into the square, umm… street, sorry TARDIS! If Rose’s family hadn’t preceded Martha’s I wouldn’t be focusing on it now because, despite Martha’s Dad’s airhead bimbo of a girlfriend, her family weren’t overwhelming for the viewer even if they were for each other!
Russell wrote Roy Marsden out too quickly for my liking, also, which is another trait of new “Who”. Every year this happens with only a short amount of airtime given to quality guests such as Richard Wilson and Don Warrington. Good actors obviously don’t come cheap so I suspect they’re hired for a short space of time in order to lay claim to having had them on the show! Anyway, Roy had the best line, at least the one that made me laugh-out-loud, albeit lifted from “Fawlty Towers”, as he walked away from patient “John Smith” recommending a full psychiatric review!!
Anne Reid was the main guest of the episode and she clearly relished her role. She was more memorable in this than “The Curse of Fenric” although I’m not for one minute saying that “Smith and Jones” is better than my favourite McCoy serial. And Freema was terrific. For my money, miles better than Rose because she is playing an intellectually, not emotionally, more intelligent character and hopefully won’t be prone to bouts of tears every few minutes.
I hope the audience picked up on all the clues. The Doctor’s passing reference to once having had a brother. Now, I wonder who that could be?!! That could be the red herring that RTD has slipped in to put the fan forums into meltdown, never to be mentioned again, or might conceivably be connected to the posters in the alleyways urging us to vote Saxon! As I’m sure everyone knows by now, a certain actor from “Life on Mars” has been cast to play the villainous black-suited Mr Saxon in the final two episodes. Now, again, I wonder who Saxon could really be?!!
I really hope the rest of the season is as strong as the first episode and doesn’t let up like it did after the black hole story last year. Even so, I couldn’t help thinking “Smith and Jones” would’ve made an even better four-parter with the cliff-hangers coming where Florence is revealed to be more than just a little old lady, where the marvellous Judoon march inexorably towards Martha, the audience in the knowledge she contains Time Lord DNA, and finally, and very traditionally, where the Doctor is believed dead. However, “Doctor Who” seems very much back on his/its feet, with or without trainers!!!