One of the more comforting aspects of nu-Who, let alone the larger panoply of Doctor Who is that after 11+ years and 9 series is that comparisons from one production era or even one series to another are not only inevitable to part of the fan fabric. One wrinkle since 2005 is that it is almost as easy to compare ‘companion eras’ as it is Doctor eras. As such the foundations laid down during the ‘Rose’ era are both important and rightly well-remembered.
But of course that’s not to say that there weren’t problems during those two formative years. Whilst the overt chumminess that Rose and the Tennant Doctor had was significant on its own merits, there was an underlying smugness (where Tooth and Claw is a prime example) which could grate just as well.
All of which is prelude to discuss the most ‘undervalued’ companion of the modern era, Martha Jones. The opinion here at THT Omniversal is that Series 3 was the high water mark of all of nu-Who to date, what with the run of stories from Human Nature, The Family of Blood, Blink, and Utopia as a centerpiece of terrific storytelling, it can be a little too easy to forget Martha between the deep impression Rose had and the successful reclamation of Donna. Also, the feeling here is that at one and done (more or less) Martha didn’t overstay her welcome like it could be argued Amy and Clara did.
All of which brings you, yes you, Tour faithful to this installment of Modern Recap-itulation. Smith and Jones had the unenviable task of moving Doctor Who from Rose, and as such there are many easy comparisons to Rose as an introductory vehicle. The companion family is larger and more affluent but definitely places Martha as the unselfish practical one amidst their dysfunction. She maintains a cool head, even on the ‘bloody Moon.’ She’s also intellectually curious and necessarily dismissive of Tennant’s eccentricities, which are thankfully shown in sharper relief here than while Rose was around.
Smith and Jones is where the Tennant Doctor comes into his own. Just as Jon Pertwee was a slightly different Doctor for each of his three companions, Tennant is also.
Modern Recap-itulation having taken one step forward, now takes three steps back …. next time.