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The Doctor's new Rose blossoms

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2007-04-02 Times p19.jpg


Doctor Who BBC One, Saturday ★★★★☆

It's almost Easter, we hadn't seen the Doctor since Christmas and, you know, you can't help worrying. Last time we saw him, the iron seemed to have entered his soul. On Christmas Day, he emptied the entire River Thames down the pit where the Racnoss empress, an insect with the face of Sarah Parish, was incubating her babies. Donna, his companion for the day, told him to stop, but on he went. We Ancients compared the infanticide with The Genesis of the Daleks (1975), where the Doctor refused to exterminate the Daleks at birth. David Tennant is a likeable Doctor Who, but, then, Keifer Sutherland is a likeable Jack Bauer and on 24, of late, Bauer has become America's torturer-in-chief. We don't want any character development in that direction.

The Doctor was so down at Christmas that he refused to share turkey with Donna's folks. Donna, who goodness knows had reason enough for bitterness, what with her fiance revealed as a poisoner and dead, diagnosed the problem. With Rose gone, he needed a new companion. "To stop you," as she put it. Happily, Saturday's third-season opener allowed us to stop worrying.

He is on to something good with his new cohort, Martha Jones. She is many things Billie Piper's Rose was not: educated, black, middle-class and clear-skinned among them. They are clearly going to be the best of friends and, if we're lucky, only that. Martha, it is true, fancies him in his "tight suit", but the writer Russell T. Davies seems to have got the sexual tension out of the way in the first episode with two major kisses (one, technically, a "genetic transfer", the other a medicinal kiss of life).

As Martha, Freema Agyeman hit the ground running, which was fortunate since there was much running to be done, mostly down NHS corridors. The London hospital in which she worked had been sucked up and relocated on the Moon, a primary care reorganisation too far, you'll agree. The Moon was being used as some kind of Guantanamo Bay for the Judoon, intergalactic policemen with the faces of rhinos activity there has been. The policemen with the faces of rhinos (pigs would have been too obvious). The Judoon were firm but fair. Hit them over the head and they would vaporise you, but for a wrongful arrest you got a compensation form to complete. With the Doctor and Martha's help, they got their man in the end, or rather an alien woman, Mrs Florence Finnegan, wanted for murdering an irritating princess in another galaxy.

It was all accomplished with great energy and at a frantically entertaining pace. It looks wonderful. I think, though, that Davies knows he is entering a zone of diminishing returns by setting so many stories in present-day Britain: both of the last two episodes have contained references to the unlikely amount of alien activity there has been. The humour also worries me. I liked the compensation gag but the Doctor shaking the radiation out of his trousers was as stupid as the bicycle pump he needs to get the Tardis going.

For these misjudgments I blame Davies's age. He was initiated to Doctor Who between 1970 and 1974 between the ages of 7 and 11. These were the dark years of Jon Pertwee's reign where, for budget reasons, the Tardis never left Earth and the scripts compensated with silliness. Had he grown to maturity under Tom Baker we would be now watching the perfect, rather than nearly perfect, revival.

Caption: Doctor David Tennant with his new assistant Freema Agyeman

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  • APA 6th ed.: Billen, Andrew (2007-04-02). The Doctor's new Rose blossoms. The Times p. 19.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Billen, Andrew. "The Doctor's new Rose blossoms." The Times [add city] 2007-04-02, 19. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Billen, Andrew. "The Doctor's new Rose blossoms." The Times, edition, sec., 2007-04-02
  • Turabian: Billen, Andrew. "The Doctor's new Rose blossoms." The Times, 2007-04-02, section, 19 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Doctor's new Rose blossoms | url= | work=The Times | pages=19 | date=2007-04-02 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=16 April 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Doctor's new Rose blossoms | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=16 April 2024}}</ref>