Wednesday 23 August 2017

Story 179 - Smith and Jones

In which medical student Martha Jones is making her way to work at the Royal Hope Hospital, on the banks of the Thames in central London. It is her younger brother Leo's birthday today, and older sister Tish rings to warn that their father, Clive, will be bringing his girlfriend to the celebrations, to the chagrin of mum Francine. Martha often acts as mediator, and suggests that Clive and his new partner, Annalise, could leave before Francine arrives. A man in a long brown coat suddenly walks up to her and gives her his tie. She is surprised, later, to see the same man in bed in the hospital when consultant Mr Stoker takes the students on his rounds. Mr Smith has not left the hospital since admitting himself the day before. Tish calls again, to warn her sister of a strange storm brewing above the hospital. The rain seems to be pouring upwards into the sky. The building is shaken, and everyone looks outside to see that they are no longer in London. The entire hospital has been transported to the surface of the Moon...

The man from the ward appears, now dressed in a blue suit, and he introduces himself to Martha as the Doctor. He has taken a shine to her as he is impressed with the way she is handling the situation, asking all the right questions whilst everyone else is panicking. He explains that he had discovered alien technology hidden around the building - H2O Scoops - and had admitted himself in order to investigate. Another patient, an old lady named Florence Finnegan, goes to Stoker's office along with two men who are dressed in black bikers leathers, their faces concealed under helmets. They hold Stoker down whilst Florence sucks his blood through a straw. Martha finds him dead soon after, his body totally drained of blood. A number of massive cylindrical spaceships arrive, and an army of black clad figures march across the lunar surface towards the building. The Doctor recognises them as Judoon - brutal alien police officers. He surmises that they have come to arrest someone in the building, and it was they who moved the hospital off of the Earth as they had no jurisdiction on the planet. The Judoon leader removes his helmet, to reveal rhinoceros-like features. The aliens begin to scan the patients and staff, marking those checked with an "X" on the back of their hand. The Doctor worries that if they are looking for an alien then they might think he is the criminal. Martha is more concerned that the air will run out soon. The biker figures are recognised by the Doctor as Slabs, animated figures made from solid leather, and presumably employed by the alien criminal. They chase him and Martha, and he uses an X-Ray machine to destroy one of them.

Martha works out that Florence is the person whom the Judoon are searching for. She drank Stoker's blood in order to assimilate it, so that she would appear human to the Judoon scans. She is a Plasmavore, responsible for murdering an alien child princess. She starts to sabotage an MMR machine, so that it will create a devastating pulse of electro-magnetic energy. This will kill everyone on the Moon except herself, hidden behind a shield. It will also wipe out all human and animal life on the surface of Earth facing the Moon. The Doctor allows himself to be captured by Florence and her remaining Slab servant, and she starts to consume his blood. Martha and the Judoon arrive, and the medical student urges the aliens to scan Florence again. The old woman is shocked to find that she now registers as alien. The Judoon destroy the Slab, and then incinerate the Plasmavore. Their work done, they head back to their spaceships and leave, with the oxygen running dangerously low. Martha uses CPR to revive the Doctor, and he is able to stop the MMR machine from overloading. As the air finally runs out, the Judoon transport the hospital back to Earth.
That evening, Martha leaves the pub where her family is celebrating and sees the Doctor standing nearby. He shows her the TARDIS. Not believing it can travel in time, the Doctor goes back to that morning - returning moments later without his tie. He agrees to take Martha on one journey.

Smith and Jones was written by Russell T Davies, and was first broadcast on Saturday 31st March, 2007. It is the first episode of Series 3. It introduces Freema Agyeman as new companion Martha Jones. She had impressed the production team when chosen to play the short-lived character of Adeola in the previous series' finale. The similarity is covered in the script as Martha tells the Doctor that her cousin was killed at Canary Wharf.
As with Rose, she has a family, who will come to greater prominence as the season progresses.
Francine is played by Adjoa Andoh, who had featured in the previous series opener under Cat Nun prosthetics as Sister Jatt. Trevor Laird is Clive. He is the latest actor to bridge the Classic and New eras of the programme, having appeared as Frax in the Mindwarp section of Trial of a Time Lord. Tish is Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who has gone on to great things, and Leo is Reggie Yates, better known as a presenter and DJ.
The notion of a building being transplanted onto the Moon was one Davies had thought of for a while. Looking for a reason to justify why this would happen led him to think of it being taken out of Earth's jurisdiction - which led onto the aliens being policemen. Davies liked the idea of aliens having animal-heads on humanoid bodies, and so came up with the rhinoceros-like Judoon.

The other new alien is the Plasmavore Florence, played by Anne Reid - another returnee from the Classic era. She was Nurse Crane in The Curse of Fenric. Having a blood-drinking foe led to the consultant getting the name of B Stoker, after Dracula's author. He is played by Roy Marsden.
The principal Judoon - the only one seen without its helmet - is regular monster artiste Paul Casey, and they are voiced by Nick Briggs.
The title refers to the fact that the Doctor uses the alias Smith - first given to him by Jamie in The Wheel In Space. Smith and Jones are regarded as two of the most common English surnames, so much so that suspicions are aroused when used.

Story Arc: Posters are seen urging people to "Vote Saxon", and he is mentioned in dialogue as claiming that aliens exist.

Overall, a very strong season opener, which rattles along at quite a pace. Much better than Series 2's first episode. Freema impresses from the start. The Judoon make for an entertaining new monster. Two things not so great - Florence doesn't make for a very strong foe, and the business with the Doctor expelling radiation through his foot is embarrassingly infantile.
Things you might like to know:

  • A Royal Hope Hospital featured in an episode of Law & Order: UK, which starred Freema Agyeman, and was written by Chris Chibnall.
  • From the aerial shot of the missing hospital we can see that it is located where a real London hospital is situated - St Thomas', opposite the Houses of Parliament.
  • Davies intended Mr Stoker to refer to a character he had created for the series Children's Ward, but his colleagues assumed it was a Dracula reference and so added the "B" initial to his office door plate.
  • It's now customary for the Doctor to kiss his companion - though never in a romantic way. The Ninth sucked the Vortex out of Rose, whilst she kissed his Tenth incarnation whilst inhabited by Cassandra. Here the Doctor uses the kiss to plant his DNA on Martha to confuse the Judoon scans. However, it does lead her to think that he might fancy her - leading to a theme of unrequited love throughout the rest of the season.
  • There was a planned sequence involving a window cleaning cradle, but this was eventually used by Davies in the next series opener, Partners In Crime.
  • The Doctor loses his Sonic Screwdriver when he uses it to boost the X-Ray device. This is the first time this is seen to happen since he lost one in The Visitation.
  • Martha makes a comment about the Slabs coming from the planet Zovirax. This is a reference to a TV advert of the time for cold sore cream, where people afflicted would wear motorbike helmets with blacked out visors to hide their ailment.
  • When shown in Canada for the first time, this episode and the preceding Christmas Special - The Runaway Bride - were screened in the wrong order.
  • When shown on the Watch channel, the scene of the man who had attacked a Judoon being killed was cut.
  • The Doctor continues his fixation about hospitals having a little shop. The previous series opener - New Earth - had seen him bemoan the fact that the Sisters of Plenitude establishment didn't have one.
  • The Doctor implies that he once had a brother. "Not any more" he says.
  • The phrase "A Platoon.. of Judoon... on the Moon" was written by Davies as he knew David Tennant would be unable to pronounce it without giving away his real Scottish accent.

1 comment:

  1. I've been rewatching New Who as it's all currently available on the BBC iPlayer (currently, but not for much longer, free to the over 75s.) I'd forgotten just how good some of the RTD era episodes were. On the title, it's also a nod to ABC's "Alias Smith and Jones" which is another programme I fondly remember watching as a kid in the early 70s along with Jon Pertwee's doctor. A golden age of TV that was!