Getting a new assistant is a lot like getting a new car. The temptation to compare with the older model is irresistible, you want to test out the limits of your new acquisition immediately, and both come with questionable leather features (I’m talking jackets, if anyone’s thinking Freema Agyeman has a rock-solid moisturising routine.)
Yes! Martha Jones is here, and who would have thought it, she’s actually quite good. The PR assault before airing seemed unintentionally focused on inferring she was ‘feisty’, what with all the PR shots of her smirking down the camera like she belonged in the new Hollyoaks titles. But not only has she managed to avoid acting as her press shot self, she’s also sidestepped the potential minefield of trying too hard to be Rose.
The first plot line was so gloriously full of twists and turns that, in retrospect, it can only really be summarised as whatserface out of Dinnerladies moving a hospital to the Moon so she could get back to her home world.
As a medical student taken with the hospital, Martha got stuck into cracking the puzzle of how they got there whilst treading the fine line of not befriending the proles (oh yes, Tyler, we knew your tricks), or falling into the ever-present risk of treating it as a Harry Potter-style Jolly Big Adventure.
She is bringing another terrible family in tow – hopefully her father can be pensioned off to another dimension soon – but as long as they’re kept on the sidelines, she’s a welcome addition to the Tardis.
The episode also threw up far superior monsters to previous first outing creatures. Evil cats? Yawn, we have them here on Earth. No, out-of-control rhino rozzers with giant 50s phallic spacecraft were good gung-ho fun (although you can fully imagine them being wheeled out as an easy solution to future intergalactic problems).
To chuck in leather helmeted automatons (“They’re from the planet Zovirax,” quipped Martha) and a little old lady with a drinking straw was just spoiling us. In short it was a cracking first episode, but there also many potential quibbles as to where this series might be going (I’ll be addressing them over the next couple of weeks).
Still, it’s a reassuring sign of longevity that for all the hype of this new series, it has barely been mentioned that there are none of the original cast from two short years ago. It doesn’t matter if you wear one assistant out; you can always just get a new speedy little runabout in a couple of years.