The Shakespeare code (2007)

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This episode was first broadcast on 7 April 2007. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: boy and girl end up in bed, but nothing happens. There's also Shakespeare and three witches.

In this episode Martha is still flirting with the Doctor, but he doesn't seem to be that into her anymore. Shakespeare is flirting with Martha, but she isn't that into him because his breath stinks. Oy.

Actually, 'The Shakespeare code' is a great little episode, never intended to be taken too seriously, but entertaining from beginning to end. It's got a clever script (the interaction between Shakespeare and the Doctor stands out, and having Shakespeare see through the psychic paper and knowing exactly what the Doctor and Martha are is a nice touch), a great incidental score and fantastic visuals of Elizabethan England.

One of the best things about this episode is the tenth Doctor's obvious affection for Shakespeare. This shows us something about the character that we hadn't seen before, and it gives David Tennant something new to explore in his performance.

This episode does reveal two of the biggest problems with the entire 2007 season: the character of Martha and her relationship with the Doctor.

Let me put it this way. After 'The runaway bride', we knew several things about Donna Noble's inner life. We knew that, beneath all the anger, she was compassionate, down to earth and moral. How did we know these things? The script and Catherine Tate's performance showed them to us. Now, after two episodes, what do we know about Martha Jones? She's beautiful, outgoing, smart, she's a medical student, she's got a family that belongs in a sitcom and she's apparently in love with the Doctor. Almost all of these things are superficial. Since we know next to nothing about what goes on in Martha's head the one thing that we do know about her inner life, her infatuation with the Doctor, seems to come out of nowhere and fails to convince.

The other problem is that what we seem to have here is another Doctor-companion pairing that doesn't quite seem to work. With the ninth Doctor and Rose we got a troubled introvert and an extravert in a dead-end life, who both had something to offer that the other needed. That worked. The tenth Doctor and Rose were two extraverts knowing that all their troubles would be kept at bay as long as they were together, and they would be together forever, right? That didn't quite work, though it did provide some tension since we all knew the relationship couldn't last. The tenth Doctor and Donna were two damaged people, who saw in each other the chance to become better persons. That was interesting. In the current pairing, the tenth Doctor isn't dark enough to be the ninth Doctor to Martha's Rose, and she isn't dissatisfied enough to be his Rose Tyler or mature enough to be his Donna Noble.

My verdict:


Forgettable but fun.

More about Doctor Who

An introduction:
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More Doctor Who with David Tennant:
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Episode guides:
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