It’s just a normal day for medical student Martha Jones, at least until the hospital she works at gets transported to the moon! Amidst a flurry of panic and the arrival of the humanoid rhino ‘space police’ known as the Judoon, Martha manages to keep her cool and link up with ‘John Smith’, a patient claiming to be an alien time traveller. The Judoon are looking for a non-human amongst the hospital population, but it isn’t the Doctor- instead, it is another of the patients, who just happens to be a disguised plasmavore (space vampire). It falls to the newfound team of ‘Smith and Jones’ to track down the plasmavore, see her taken into custody, and foil her plan to use an enhanced MRI scanner to kill off half the world’s population- quite an introduction to aliens and time travel for the Doctor’s newest companion.
- Judoon: Brutish ‘space police’ for hire, they have no jurisdiction on Earth, but take little issue in transporting suspects to the neutral Moon with their “H2O scoop” (a process which seems to take several days to put in place, but which can be readily reversed). Although more intimidating than harmful to the law abiding, they will swiftly administer justice to perceived criminals- usually in the form of immediate execution. They possess scanners that enable them to detect a subject’s species.
- Plasmavore: Shape shifting blood feeders, they drain their victims of blood and assimilate it into their own bodies- in this way, they are able to pass as members of that species. The plasmavore seen here is wanted for murder, but she seems proud of her crimes.
- Slab: An artificial life-form made of solid leather, usually deployed in pairs.
Although there is a bit too much packed into this episode (a theme that I feel will become recurrent as the writers try to outdo themselves), this was generally more enjoyable than last year’s lacklustre efforts. Her family may be irritating, but Martha is instantly a more likable companion than Rose, and the fact that she can stay calm and think for herself is a big plus. Unfortunately, I expect we shall have to have the usual romantic vibes, which will be an annoyance unless they are a lot more understated Rose’s feelings were last year.
On a completely different note, I was sad to see the legendary sonic screwdriver get broken, but at least the Doctor got a new one from somewhere (where do they come from anyway?). He clearly needed to be without it to stop him shutting off the enhanced MRI machine easily, but it was amusing when he just unplugged it anyway.
Nitpickers’ Corner: Don’t enter if you’re going to complain about it just being Saturday evening entertainment
- Kudos to Martha for pointing out the air situation, but what about electricity and gravity? Everything should have weighed 1/6th of what it does on Earth, whilst the electrical equipment was no longer connected. Possible explanations include a backup generator in the basement, and the Judoon providing an artificial gravity field.
- How could an MRI scanner possibly be modified to produce such a ridiculously high magnetic field (about 50,000 times what you might expect to find in a lab). And why make it so high just to effect an escape- surely a smaller field that just killed everyone on the moon would be easier to implement.
- A hospital probably isn’t the best place for a plasmavore; sucking blood from ill patients would be inadvisable, and it is too easy to get tracked down. Why not just keep on the move whilst preying on random members of the populace?