New Who: The Story Thus Far – Series 3 (Xmas, Episodes 1-7)
John Hussey continues his series analysing the revival, this time with Series 3.
- Catch up on the 1st article looking at Series 1 (episodes 1-6)
- Catch up on the 2nd article looking at Series 1 (episodes 7-13)
- Catch up on the 3rd article looking at Series 2 (Specials, Episodes 1-4)
- Catch up on the 4th article looking at Series 2 (Episodes 5-13)
‘The Runaway Bride’
Continuing after the cliff-hanger of ‘Army of Ghosts/Doomsday’ where we were left with Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), i.e. the titular bride, mysteriously transported onboard the TARDIS. The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) was left gobsmacked by the entire event and tried his best to figure out was going on. Unfortunately for him he received a loud-mouthed and demanding bride who wished the “Martian” to take her to the church. This story began a trend for following Christmas specials where the Doctor would receive a one-off companion. It wasn’t until ‘A Christmas Carol’ that the Doctor had companions from the previous series accompanying him.
The Pilot Fish made their last return within ‘The Runaway Bride’ who were now mere robotic slaves to the Empress of the Racnoss (Sarah Parish). The spider-like creature had Lance Bennett (Don Gilet), Donna’s fiancé, implant Donna with Huon particles in order to awaken her sleeping children at the centre of the Earth. Lance was revealed to be a villain and merely went along with the wedding idea to secure Donna within the Empress’ plans, leaving Donna momentarily devastated by this revelation.
The Tenth Doctor was also met with lost love due to the recent departure of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). Throughout ‘The Runaway Bride’ he showed a wounded nature and felt sensitive around mentioning her, a true sign that her loss was a damaging point within his long Time Lord life. Upon the farewell scene the Tenth Doctor offered Donna to join him in the TARDIS but she refused (though she would later return to be his companion in Series Four). She requested though that he should find someone to travel with as he needed someone to stop him (seen during the flooding scene where Donna told him to stop and leave – which would become an important plot-point in ‘Turn Left’). The episode brought about the introduction of Donna’s mother Sylvia Noble (Jacqueline King). Donna’s father Geoff Noble appeared within the episode but sadly Howard Attfield who played him died before the filming of Series Four and so couldn’t return to reprise his role. ‘The Runaway Bride’ also gave the first major reference to Harold Saxon, who ordered the execution of the Empress onboard her ship above London.
‘Smith and Jones’
‘Smith and Jones’ kicked off Series Three properly with the introduction of new companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). It was certainly the start to a new direction for both the new series and the Tenth Doctor’s era. We had a switch within capabilities from a street-wise Rose Tyler to a trainee doctor Martha Jones. During a routine training day at Martha’s workplace the entire hospital was beamed up to the Moon by the Judoon, a group of thuggish intergalactic police for hire. The villain served as Florence Finnegan (Anne Reid), a disguised Plasmavore, and her Slabs. The Plasmavore had committed the crimes of murdering the Child Princess of Padrivole Regency Nine and the Judoon sought out to find her amongst the humans inside the hospital. The Tenth Doctor tried desperately to find her first otherwise the Judoon would have executed the entire hospital for harbouring a criminal. I always thought it was clever of the Tenth Doctor sacrificing his blood to the Plasmavore in order to change her disguise from human to alien thus allowing the Judoon to find her. It was also during that same scene that Martha’s capabilities were put to the test as she revived the Time Lord through CPR.
Martha’s first encounter with the Tenth Doctor was rough and fast-paced to say the least (the best companion introduction within the Davies era in my opinion) and she certainly adapted well to the dangers around her (quicker in fact than Rose but it could have plenty to do with the circumstances of the events of Martha’s first adventure compared to Rose’s). The interesting element of Martha’s introduction was the fact the Tenth Doctor granted her passage onboard the TARDIS, after returning for her later on, as a form of reward for saving his life rather than a full straight-on deal of companionship like the majority of his previous companions. His sadness over Rose’s departure still lingered within his memory and hearts and like within ‘The Runaway Bride’ still had an affect over him. ‘Smith and Jones’ introduced us to new characters in the form of Martha’s family: Francine (Adjoa Andoh), Tish (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Clive (Trevor Laird) and Leo Jones (Reggie Yates). Finally there was more reference to Harold Saxon who would slowly seep in and become something of vital significance as his story arc unfolded.
‘The Shakespeare Code’
Martha’s first journey (or reward trip as it was meant to be) in the TARDIS took her to Shakespearean England. ‘The Shakespeare Code’ took the new series tradition of using both historical figures and mythological creatures and incorporated a tale where William Shakespeare (Dean Lennox Kelly) met Witches. The magical narrative was well constructed and brought one of the most famous writers to life in style who aided the Tenth Doctor wonderfully in his adventure. His intelligence was more than enough to keep the Time Lord on his toes as he constantly read him like a play. The story played upon a lost play written by William called ‘Love Labours Won’ in which the Witch-like Carrionites Lilith (Christina Cole), Mother Doomfinger (Amanda Lawrence) and Bloodtide (Linda Clarke) tried to use his brilliant words to release their sisters from imprisonment (just as they had used his traumatised words whilst grieving over his son’s death to free themselves). It is of course William’s words that sent them all back in the end. The interesting element of ‘The Shakespeare Code’ was the developing of Martha’s character and of course her love interest with the Tenth Doctor. She was clearly shown to have feelings towards him but he was oblivious to this and once again rebuffed her by speaking about Rose, who he was still grieving over. Last but not least, the revealing of Queen Elizabeth I (Angela Pleasence) having a unknown grudge against the Tenth Doctor (which would eventually be revealed in ‘The Day of the Doctor’).
‘Gridlock’ gave us the conclusion of the ‘New Earth Trilogy’ which started back in Series One with ‘The End of the World’ and continued in Series Two with ‘New Earth’. We had the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) encounter the end of the Earth and then the Tenth Doctor encountering New Earth and its new ideas of continuing life upon the ways of ye old Earth. This time the story took an even more dark turn of events with the idea of drug abuse and addiction causing the end of life. The mood drugs were an interesting idea that really displayed humanities stupidity when it came to curiosity and ways of making life that bit more easier. This left the lower areas of New New York in never ending endurance of hell as the Motorway caused them to drive round and round and round in a never ending cycle all in the vein hope of achieving their salvation of a better life up top.
The story was good at playing with the idea of a new companion having the realisation that they don’t quite know who the Doctor is and that they followed him into the TARDIS on a whim and they find themselves in peril at the hands of a complete stranger. The story also brought about a unique idea of the Tenth Doctor lying about his homeland Gallifrey in an attempt to make himself happy and still believe in his lost home. The result later caused him to admit to Martha the truth and that Gallifrey, his people the Time Lords along with all of his family and friends are no longer around. It was truly an emotional scene to watch and still is to this very day. The sadness the Time Lord bore after the Time War was just heartbreaking and Series Three played on this a lot. The only disappointing factor was the under-usage of the Macra, who made their one and only appearance in ‘The Macra Terror’. Their appearance was almost unnecessary and it was a shame these Classic creatures weren’t used for a better reprise story. Finally ‘Gridlock’ brought about the end of the Face of Boe (voiced by Struan Rodger) after he sacrificed himself to save the people of the Under-city. This brought about him finally revealing his great secret to the Tenth Doctor: you are not alone. This message would become very important later on in ‘Utopia’ where all hell broke loose.
‘Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks’
The idea of the Daleks being at the end of their ropes and finding ways of survival after the Last Great Time War was a massive story-plot within the Russell T Davies era. In ‘Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks’ this was explored to the peak as the Cult of Skaro found themselves in an ignorant point in time where technology wasn’t advanced and they were left to make the ultimate choice in survival. Dalek Sec’s descent into humanity was an amazing idea which had never really been done before (apart from within ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ when some Daleks were infected with the Human Factor) and really created some devastating pieces of conflict that ended with one of the most horrific endings for the Daleks. Dalek Sec came to the conclusion that their ways of living would bring their extinction and so decided to alter that by any means necessary.
After combining itself with Mr Diagoras (Eric Loren) Dalek Sec became a Human-Dalek Hybrid (which in my eyes was one of the most chilling cliff-hangers of Doctor Who). This brought about its alliance with the Tenth Doctor and its ideas of making a new Dalek Empire that was more like humanity, without evil intentions, a mind of cruelty and hatred along with emotions to show feelings of love and affection. The Cult of Skaro turned against their leader and attempted to turn humanity into pure Daleks with an invasion of Manhattan imminent. The Tenth Doctor foiled their plans by interfering with the gene-splice causing the Human-Daleks to have Time Lord DNA as well as Dalek. Due to them being failures the newly appointed leader Dalek Caan ordered their destruction which resulted in a battle between different Dalek species.
The end result was the obliteration of Dalek Thay and Jast, bringing about the end of the great Cult of Skaro in the bleakest way possible. Their strive for survival and their insanity to ibide by their logistics of supremacy brought about their downfall. Dalek Sec, along with the Human-Daleks, was of course killed by its once loyal soldiers after it tried protecting the Tenth Doctor. Dalek Caan was left the only survivor of the Cult of Skaro and the Dalek race, escaping once again through the means of Emergency Temporal Shift. ‘Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks’ is a brilliant story in my eyes due to its dark themes and the share hatred between the Time Lord and his enemy and the end result showcases their never ending struggle and how far both sides will go to gain their victory.
‘The Lazarus Experiment’
The Tenth Doctor reinforced the idea that Martha was merely travelling with him as a means of reward for saving his life in ‘Smith and Jones’ which accidentally escalated slightly. This was a harsh reality and made Martha’s story that bit more tragic. She was the companion who wasn’t truly noticed in some respects. ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ brought the plot back to modern-day Earth, after Martha had four episodes on the trot away from home (double the amount Rose got in Series One before returning home), and slammed the Tenth Doctor and Martha into a deadly situation of scientific ambition going terribly wrong. Mark Gatiss came in front of the camera for Series Three and played one last part within the Russell T Davies era by playing Professor Lazarus, a misled scientist whose ambitions of living forever got the better of him and transformed into a rampaging beast. This was a fundamental element within human nature played out brilliantly within this story. ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ reintroduced Martha’s family and added them into the heart of the Doctor’s lifestyle for the first time with Leo being injured while Tish helped out the Time Lord. Francine on the other became distressed towards the Tenth Doctor due to a message sent to her by Harold Saxon explaining the deadly dangers his life holds on those around him. Martha in the end more than proved her worth and pointed out that she was good enough to become a true companion for the Time Lord. Martha’s days of earning one more trip in the TARDIS was over.
‘42’ placed the Tenth Doctor into a sticky situation when the title basically signified the bulk of the story: the Time Lord has but 42 minutes to prevent certain disaster. Trapped on a spaceship colliding with a Sun the heat truly rose as time, for once, wasn’t in favour of the Time Lord. ‘42’ played well with the idea of possession with a difference, i.e. the possessor in question being a living Sun rather than an organic creature of flesh and blood. This in turn came about due to humanities stupidity and lack of thinking. They carved out the soul of the Sun without a second thought, causing it to scream out in pain and act out its vengeance by dragging the entire crew into its burning heart. A rare occasion occurred with the Tenth Doctor committing the ultimate sacrifice by exiting the ship’s hull in order to re-magnetise Martha’s escape-pod which was ejected from the ship by one of the possessed crewmates, which caused him to suffer the pains of the Sun’s extreme heat in the process. The Tenth Doctor was briefly taken over and caused to feel the meaning of fear which was a dire moment that left us worried for his survival and emotions. The most interesting part of the episode was the continuing development of the mysterious Harold Saxon who had his agents, led by Miss Dexter (Elize du Toit), use Francine to spy on Martha and her activities with the Tenth Doctor. The plot certainly thickened and started to lead us towards the dark revelations of the finale.
My Verdict so far
- ‘The Runaway Bride’ – 10/10
- ‘Smith and Jones’ – 9/10
- ‘The Shakespeare Code’ – 10/10
- ‘Gridlock’ – 9/10
- ‘Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks’ – 10/10
- ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ – 10/10
- ‘42’ – 9/10
Join us for part 2 tomorrow, looking at the remainder of the Series 3.