03 – Series Three – David Tennant

The Runaway Bride

This is where we first meet Donna Noble, who is on her way to her wedding when everything goes wrong. I think the chemistry between David Tennant and Catherine Tate is fantastic. I am not convinced about the re-use of the robot Santas, even if it is explained away as “re-programmed”. Though Donna seems like a bit of a dim bulb here, later on that will change. In fact, you see a bit of her intelligence in the ending, when she notes that The Doctor needs someone to stop him.. The car chase scene is an instant classic. But this episode is memorable for the characters more than the plot, which is a bit on the cheesy side. Note that Saxon is referred to here, and Torchwood gets referenced as well.


Smith and Jones

The Doctor checks himself into a hospital, where a young medical student (Martha Jones) gets the surprise of her life when she puts a stethoscope to his chest and hears two hearts beating. And the Doctor, as he usually does, calls himself “John Smith”. He got this name from Jamie in The Wheel In Space, and has used it ever since. He’ll use it again later in the series in Human Nature and Family of Blood, for instance, and used it last series for School Reunion. The hospital is then teleported somehow to the Moon, but with a force field that keep the atmosphere in. Then an alien race called the Judoon land, and they seem to be law enforcement of some kind, and they are looking for an alien. And there is one here, a kind of vampire that sucks out people’s blood with a straw. She makes the mistake of sucking out some of the Doctor’s blood, which of course is itself alien, and gets caught. And that young medical student becomes the new companion. If she looks familiar, it is because the actress played someone else in Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, and there she died. To tie up that loose end, that other person is now “Martha’s cousin”.


The Shakespeare Code

This is a story about the power of words. Literally. The Doctor takes Martha back to the Globe Theatre to see Shakespeare’s play Love’s Labours Lost. But something seems odd, and the Doctor investigates as people start dying. They meet a young Shakespeare, and find he is being compelled to add something to his new play, Love’s Labours Won. It turns out there are three witches (shades of Macbeth!), but the Doctor realizes they are of an alien race, the Carrionites. The words Shakespeare is compelled to add will unlock the portal between dimensions and free the rest of their race. The play is perfomred with those words, and the portal begins to open, but the Doctor tells Shakespeare he needs to add some additional words to close the portal. He starts to compse some added lines, but gets stuck until Martha yells “Expelliarmus!”, which of course is from Harry Potter. So you see the plot is not anything to take too seriously. But the story arc for this season is coming into view, and it is one of Martha falling for the Doctor, but he does not in any way reciprocate. This will build through the series.



The Doctor and Martha go to New Earth, but it is different this time. New Earth is where humanity went after the Earth was destroyed (The End of the World), and where the Doctor and Rose went in New Earth and met up with Cassandra again. But now it looks bad. Humanity seems stuck in a perpetual traffic jam under the city, and Martha is kidnapped by a couple who want to get in the high speed lane which requires three people. They promise to drop her off when they are done. But this is easier said than done. In the depths are the Macra, last seen in The Macra Terror with Patrick Troughton’s doctor. The Macra are giant crab-like beings, and they want to catch and eat the people in the high speed lane. The Face of Boe makes a re-appearance, telling the Doctor that he is not alone, though the doctor does not believe him because the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. Or so he thinks. A great final scene has Martha pull out a chair and demand some answers from this mysterious Doctor. And the Face of Boe finally dies.


Daleks in Manhattan

This is part one of a two-parter, and takes place as the Empire State Building is being constructed during the Great Depression. There is a Hooverville encampment of unemployed men located in Central Park, and men have been mysteriously disappearing, so the Doctor investigates. They encounter part-human, part-pig creatures, and discover that behind it all are the Daleks. They are using some of the humans to create these part-pig slaves, and use them to capture others who are used in unspecified “experiments.” It turns out the experiments involve creating Dalek-Human hybrids by some kind of DNA fusion, and the leader of this group of Daleks has made himself the first such hybrid.


Evolution of the Daleks

Given the extreme racial superiority complex of the Daleks, it should be no surprise that this plan runs into snags. The now-part-human leader begins to show emotions, and the other Daleks don’t trust him any longer. They first want to kill the Doctor, but end up killing their leader instead. Then the body count just piles up as Daleks and their human slaves turn on each other, and finally the last remaining Dalek escapes.


The Lazarus Experiment

Lazarus is the surname of Dr. Richard Lazarus, who has found a way to turn back the clock. He enters his device as an old man, then emerges a few minutes later as a young Mark Gatiss. It turns out the change to his DNA that made him young is unstable, and is trying to turn him into something else, a scorpion-like creature with a human face. And he needs to absorb the life force of others periodically to keep alive. This story is where several plot points for the season are inserted. First is the reference to Harry Saxon, the British Prime Minister. That will continue through the season. The second is the family issues involving Martha’s family. Her parents have been told that Martha is in danger because the Doctor is a bad, dangerous man. And the person telling them this is the Prime Minister, Harry Saxon! So they start assisting the authorities to try and get Martha away from the Doctor.



This is a great action episode, and the 42 describes the actual elapsed time of 42 minutes in which this adventure takes place. The TARDIS materializes on a space ship that is in trouble after receiving a distress signal. It was obtaining hydrogen by pulling it from a star, but now things are breaking down, people are dying, and they will fall into the star in exactly 42 minutes unless something changes. Obstacles just keep coming up, people appear to be possessed by some kind of monster, and Martha’s parents have put a recording tap on their phone line to help Harry Saxon fight the Doctor. Of course, you know that 42 is also the answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This is not just a coincidence. Douglas Adams was also a writer for Doctor Who back in the Tom Baker era.


Human Nature

A fantastic two-parter story which is adapted from a novel of the same name by the author Paul Cornell, though there are some differences between this TV story and the novel. In this story, the Doctor is being pursued by The Family of Blood, who want to take his life force for themselves and thus live forever. Otherwise they are going to die. To escape them the Doctor somehow puts all of his Time Lord bits into a pocket watch, becomes a human with no memory of his previous life, and becomes John Smith, a school teacher in pre-WWI England. He gives Martha instructions on what to do, that she must trust him. But this mysterious Family of Blood arrives anyway, and starts taking over the bodies of some people there and looking for the Doctor.

There are many good story threads in this two-parter. One is about training boys to be soldiers, and of course we know WWI was a horrible meat-grinder that killed an entire generation. Another thread is about the Doctor being a human (hence the title), and falling in love with a nurse at the school. And the final thread is about how Martha is continually faced with problems due to her race, sex, and class.


The Family of Blood

Now the wrap-up. The Aliens are starting to attack to try and drive out the Doctor, but of course “John Smith” doesn’t know he is the Doctor. Martha is trying to snap him out of it, but “John Smith” has absorbed all of the prejudices of a person of this time, so listening to the “ravings” of a colored servant girl is simply not going to happen. And the pocket watch with all of his Time Lord bits has been taken by a student who seems to have some strange powers himself. The young man eventually brings the watch to John Smith, who is persuaded to open it up, and thus becomes the Doctor again. He has a vision of the future he could have had with the nurse, and the children they would have had. And as John Smith he claimed his parents were named Sidney and Verity, which is a shout-out to Sidney Newman and Verity Lambert, who are in fact the parents of the show Doctor Who. The Doctor defeats the family, and gives them the eternal life they wanted (somehow), but in a way that punishes them.

This two-parter is widely considered to be one of the best stories of Doctor Who.


Another fantastic episode. It shares a factor with last season’s Love & Monsters, in that the Doctor and Martha are scarcely seen in the episode except for a few brief scenes. This meant that they could be working on other episodes. And it introduced The Weeping Angels, a recurring enemy in the series after this. This story was written by Stephen Moffat, who would go on to be the next show runner after Russell T. Davies, and it was based on a short story he wrote for the Doctor Who Annual in 2006. The Angels look like statues whenever anyone is looking at them, but they can move when not observed, and can send people back in time. This is where we first learn about time being a “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey” sort of thing. The Doctor has been sent back to 1969, but without his TARDIS, which is still in 2007, and is trying to make sure he can get his TARDIS back with the help of Sally Sparrow. The title is his warning to her: “Don’t blink!” The whole episode involves the problems with time travel.



This is really the first part of a three-part story arc, which will happen again. It ends with a “To Be Continued”, so it is pretty clear. And it marks the return of Captain Jack Harkness. Derek Jacobi is the biggest guest star around here for a while, and the plot twist at the end is fantastic. Jacobi alone is worth the trip because he is so good. The setting is the very far future when a remnant of humanity is trying to survive while the universe is dying. And Torchwood does get tied into this in a few ways as well. Among the tie-ins is that Captain Jack cannot die, a result of what Rose did as the Bad Wolf in The Parting of Ways, and confirmed at the beginning of the Torchwood series. This is a lot of fun.


The Sound of Drums

What is better than a sonic screwdriver? A laser screwdriver, of course. And The Master has one. John Simm in his portrayal of The Master is hitting the note of extreme madness, which is a twist on the character. The Master was originally portrayed by Roger Delgado opposite Jon Pertwee in the third series of Doctor Who, but when he died in 1973 the role was passed on to others. Obviously, since The Master is another Time Lord he can regenerate as easily as The Doctor can. Delgado’s Master was an evil version of Pertwee’s Doctor, and the malevolence and lust for power were there from the beginning. But the heavy display of madness by Simm is a new thing. Still, the swashbuckling energy he shows is a counterpart to the same thing by Tennant. One thing you will note is that this has been building throughout the Russell T. Davies years, since we have seen Saxon posters in previous episodes of Doctor Who and of Torchwood, and this season there has been an ongoing thread, such as in Lazarus, where Saxon is explicitly a character, and in 42, where the phone lines are monitored with the consent of Martha’s mother. Saxon has been working on her to make her believe that The Doctor is a dangerous character and that her daughter may be in great trouble.


Last of the Time Lords

The ending here is a bit of religious metaphor. Martha is in the role of John the Baptist. People have heard of her, but she tells them there is another, greater person called the Doctor who has saved them all many times even if they don’t know it. The Doctor has in the meantime been humiliated and turned into a CGI-generated muppet. The Master seems invincible but just as he is ready to launch the multitude of missiles to start a universal war, the counter-stroke comes in form of, essentially, prayer. And the Master even calls it prayer, so I am not seeing anything that isn’t in plain sight. Throughout these last two episodes, as the Doctor is being humiliated, the Master keeps asking him “What do you have to say?”, and the Doctor keeps replying “You know what I have to say.” In the end, the “prayers” of the multitude bring about the “Resurrection” of The Doctor, and we finally find out what the Doctor had to say to the Master: “I forgive you.”

Martha’s family do well here, and her Mom in particular does some fine acting. But Martha herself completes an arc not quite like any other companion. She grows immensely in the course of the season, and when she decides in the end not to continue with The Doctor, it is a sign of her growth and maturity. And we get a surprise at the very end when we discover who “The Face of Boe” really is.


The Infinite Quest

This is an animated story that ran as a serial in the program Totally Doctor Who,and features the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones. It appears that you can buy it on Amazon as a DVD, but I haven’t bothered to do so.


Review of Martha Jones

Martha leaves at the end, but does come back in the next season in a cameo role. I thought she was a great companion, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of her, but the actress Freema Agyeman landed a role on another show, Law & Order: UK. She also appeared in the spin-off series Torchwood.

Review of the Series

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