David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 6 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all. We’re going to work our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, as our blogging points. Just for fun!
The Doctor – David Tennant
Martha Jones – Freema Agyeman
Shakespeare – Dean Lennox Kelly
So, Martha’s first adventure and we get Shakespeare! There’s a lot to like about this episode. Ten is clearly enjoying himself on this one, and Martha does well for her first time travelling, don’t you think? Asking the important questions for us not in TV-land and getting timey-wimey explanations in return.
Yes I like that Martha has a very down to earth and practical approach to time travel, and while she has just as much sense of wonder as Rose, there’s a bit more of – I don’t know, is it snobbish to say she feels more intellectual in how she takes in history? Less giggling, more cynical nodding.
I don’t think it’s snobbish – true, maybe, but just another way to identify the differences between the companions I guess. Martha is better educated and a little more worldly than Rose, so showing Martha reacting quite differently to how we saw Rose reacting is reasonable.
I also think it’s important that Martha raises the race question early, and that the Doctor answers it – it’s a little glib for him to suggest she just walk around like she own the place, because he’s speaking from white male privilege, but at the same time it is important to note that there were people of colour (if not as many as now) in British history, and it’s only a century of whitewashed movies and television that makes us think otherwise. Important that the race issue is addressed in the time travel stories, because pretending Martha isn’t black would be bizarre. I rather like her “not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed” line because, let’s face it, the Doctor probably WOULDN’T think about that sort of thing.
That’s something I did wonder about, wouldn’t Martha have stood out a little more than she did, not only because of her colour but because of what she was wearing? I would have thought both would have excited more reaction than they did. I’m quite happy to admit to be speaking from a lack of knowledge here, but I would have thought that London circa Shakespeare’s time would be pretty homogeneous so I’d love to be pointed to some sources that talk about the history we don’t see usually see in movies and TV, and perhaps our readers would like to as well (this is something I also wondered when watching the one episode of Merlin I’ve managed to catch)?
I believe that there were certainly more faces of colour around in England in historical times than we are led to expect from 100 years of very whitewashed TV. Not common perhaps – but not especially extraordinary. I assume Shakespeare had to have met at least one black person in his life because, Othello. I did think it was cute that they framed Martha as Shakespeare’s ‘dark lady,’ one of the figures he wrote so many sonnets to.