"Which one of them do you want us to kill, Doctor? Your Friend..... or your lover? Your choice."
I was Practically gasping for air when this episode ended.
I think I loved this episode for the same reasons I loved 'The Empty Child'. It's probably because they both had humor, wit, romance, and marvelous Classic-series-worthy-cliffhangers!
I've discovered that David Tennent, slipping into the role of the Doctor, is seamless. He's one of those actors that can make you feel that he's been there forever, while only two Seasons in. To see someone so excited, so fond of the series, an actual fan playing the Doctor, hopping on board the TARDIS, so to speak, is truly a blessing to everyone. I've heard some say that he's to young, or not right for the role, but what actor can you really point to and say, 'He IS the doctor.'? The role, all the way back to Hartnell's era to present day, has been changing, growing, evolving, and is it really fair to judge someone for a role that doesn't have much of a criteria? Now looking at this episode, He's practically playing a whole new character here- and he pulls it off marvelously!
First of all, a credit to Louise Page (bless her soul) for the absolutely brilliant Costumes! Who, I ask you, did not squeal with delight when Martha came in in her adorable little maid outfit? Or when we saw Joan's (Jessica Hynes) Gorgeous Titanic era Dance-Dress? Well, maybe people with very little taste, but I sure noticed them.
Mr.Smith, right off the bat, was a very likable character, one with whom the audience immediately connected with, a man who had flaws, yet was a hero. Even though he wasn't the Timelord we'd come to love and know, he was an admirable person, obviously kind and gentle. His falling in love with Joan was something that could be seen a mile off, but you still sympathized with both him, and Martha, and of course, Joan.
It was touching when Martha rushed to the TARDIS after seeing the Doctor kissing Joan, and re-watched the recording the Doctor had left for her, and being frustrated with The Doctor for not mentioning what to do if he started to fall in love. Obviously it hadn't occurred to him at the time, because he hadn't been human then.
In this episode, to me, Martha stands out stronger in performance than the Doctor's character did.
I tended to sympathize with Martha more often than with the Doctor in this episode, because for the moment she WAS the Doctor, taking his place, making the decisions, taking control, coping with being a house servant, dealing with being taunted about her color, befriending people she probably would never see again, watching her friend fall in love with someone else, and in general, surviving. Martha is truly outstandingly amazing here.
I also find Joan's character very interesting, too. She's kind to maid Martha up to a point. She knows that Martha knows something, and treats her with the dignity she deserves, while still acknowledging that Martha's only a servant. I have a feeling I'm going to feel very sorry for Joan in the next episode, according to the trailer for next week.
Oh, and the baddies! My, what a lot! Is this Doctor Who, or the Wizard of Oz? No, really, loved the scarecrows! And, Oooo, "We are the family of blood!"! Harry Lloyd (Baines) is truly terrifying here, along with "Mother of Mine" Rebekah Staton, and The Sinister Little Girl...Creepy! Perfect! Not quite as scary as 'The Empty Child', but I'm sure Steven Moffat will follow through faithfully in 'Blink'.
Just one more mention of an outstanding actor's performance in this episode is Thomas Sangster, or 'Tim Latimer'. In the scene where he opens the watch and a bit of the Doctor goes into his deep, pooling eyes, to me at least, he seemed to become the Doctor right then and there. Amazing job, Tom!
To wrap this review up, I just want to say how pleased I was with this episode. This season just hadn't been impressing me, and the episodes just seemed kinda stale- I had hoped things were looking up when I saw 42, and guess what? I was right. This might not only be the best episode in the season so far, but the whole new series. It felt like a classic Who in plot, style and design. It was touching, warm, and just plain funny.
"Would you like some tea? I could put some gravy in the pot, or a nice bit of mutton? Or sardines and jam, how bout that?"
I found it very hard to criticize this episode, I just hope the 2nd half, 'The Family of Blood' will live up to it.
Brilliant. Just brilliant.