Saturday, April 20, 2013

Doctor Who-Human Nature

                           In a 1913 British boys military school,a headmaster named John Smith has been having strange dreams about travelling through time and space. Of course his "maid" Martha Jones in fact knows a great deal about what has happened. She and the doctor were being pursued through time by an alien race calling themselves The Family. In order to escape their knowledge of him as a time lord,he has used a special device in order to alter every cell in his body to become a human being-the only source of memory being a special "infinity" watch he has entrusted Martha to use at the proper time. Meanwhile Smith has become rather smitten with the school nurse Joan Redfern,who has shown an interest in the doctors illustrated short fiction stories which, Martha comes to realize are actually shadows of his life as the doctor. Very soon things become more concerning to them however.

                            One of the boys in the school,a Tim Latimer has shown a strange psychic insight into future events. When another of his classmates a Jeremy Baines enters into the woods one evening as part of a prank, he falls upon The Family's ship. Of course this ship was seen briefly by Martha as well. Soon enough he and two other people in town have their bodies overtaken by members of the this group of aliens. One of the maids is also taken by the anthropomorphic scarecrows that have overtaken two of the other snatched bodies already and she herself is overtaken in the same manner. When she presses Martha for information on the doctor,Martha runs to John Smith to try to jog his memory-of which he of course has next to nothing. Unbeknownst to them,Latimer has inadvertently taken possession of the watch. And all this just in time for The Family to overhear Martha revealing the doctor's identity as a waltz he and Joan are attending.
                       This particular episode, with a twist of irony, gave David Tennant a chance to play a character other then the doctor. Even though,of course that is who he is supposed to be in the context of the story. This concept of playing a half character is a challenge Tennant takes with gusto and succeeds on every account. Meanwhile Martha being weary of the sexism,classicism and bigotry leveled at her as a maid in 1913  elects to try to bring the doctors memory back somehow-even as she and the psychic Latimer not only are aware of the alien threat but the forthcoming event of World War I.  Joan Redfern is a very sympathetic character. Her conscience is on similarly high moral ground as the doctors,even when she has to wonder who he is. Interestingly enough its Martha's romantic attraction to the doctor that is more the motivating factor in her helping the doctor rediscover who he is rather than merely his instructions and the threat The Family clearly pose.
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