Crash Start

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Nice. The new season opens without a pre-credit teaser, and straight into a slice of the new companion’s life. As before. Thankfully, we’re not woken by a honking alarm clock and Murray Gold’s acid gerbil ‘techno’ soundtrack, but by something a little more real, a little more urban – some hippedy-hop.

I like the opener; it introduces Martha’s family deftly and in a light-hearted way, and with its sudden appearance of the Doctor sets up a time travel gag that the kids will love looking out for later in the episode. But my god, RTD’s all about the cellphones, isn’t he?

So much of this story has been either publicised through advance images or, in the case of the Judoon, fierce fan rumour. Here we see the result and the bits missing – and it’s pretty much as you’d expect. Some lifting of Virgin Books moments (stranded on the moon in a hospital rather than Timewyrm: Revelationschurch, but still…); a bit of the absurd mingling in with the sinister (a blood-sucking alien – with a straw!); a plucky companion not screaming; a plucky Doctor verging on OTT and, in a movement surely to be repeated in playgrounds across the Commonwealth, shaking radiation out of his shoe – like you do; oh, and mention of Rose again. Sigh.

But as it goes, Smith and Jones is fun and a great improvement on the smug and irritating New Earth. Not only does this hospital have a gift shop, but it also has some wonderful alien foils – rhino Judge Dredds with marker pens (the name must surely be a portmanteau of ‘Judge’ and ‘Goon’). The Plasmavore story strand didn’t work so well for me – I wondered later whether the villain of the piece might have avoided detection more easily by just borrowing a whiteboard marker from the nursing station desk; and having endured the novelty of an MRI scan myself the threat of its magnetic field seemed a little… overstated. Still quite enjoyable though, and with some wonderful effects and shots – the best laser beams in the series yet, and the Judoon spaceship landing sequence was just lovely. With some strong CGI behind it Doctor Who has entered the age of the ‘landing strut’ sequence anew, but in a good way.

So then – a fun story, some minor scares for the kids, the new girl looks sensible and resourceful but is sufficiently Not Rose, and the Judoon came off a lot better than I’d anticipated.

And a mention of Mister Saxon too. Who’d have guessed?

PA

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