Doctor Who

Season 3 Episode 8

Human Nature (1)

7
Aired Saturday 8:00 PM May 26, 2007 on BBC America
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
500 votes
25

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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England, 1913. A schoolteacher called John Smith dreams of adventures in time and space.

The Doctor, along with Martha, heads to a boarding school, to hide out from an alien race, but realize that they are needed to save the world once more when unusual events including creepy scarecrows threaten their cover.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • great acting

    9.0
    Okay, these actors give Anne Reid (from "Smith and Jones") a run for her money.
  • Human Nature

    10
    Human Nature was a brilliant, awesome and very entertaining episode of Doctor Who. I really enjoyed watching because the story was well written and produced. This is definitely the type of episode that will be a fan favorite and it's kind of required at some point in the series, and now is perfect because Martha is a delight! I liked how the story unfolded and the flash backs were great as Martha spent some time in the TARDIS. It was great how she thought she was only talking to a machine not knowing that the TARDIS is so much more. The Family were interesting and it was fun watching them hunt for The Doctor. The Scarecrow soldiers were scary! I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Before I begin and upset everyone, I want to make it clear: I am a BIG Doctor Who fan and have been since the 70’s. David Tennant is fast becoming my favourite Doctor of all time.moreless

    6.9
    This episode disappointed and frankly frustrated me. I have never taken to any episode of any series where the plot includes the use of something that has apparently always been available, but never mentioned or considered in the past. I am of course talking about the “humanizer”. It reminded me of the Charmed episode when Prue used a truth spell. A spell she had never used in the past and is never used (to me recall) again.



    However, I can forgive the use of the humanizer. Let’s turn to the reason behind his decision to become human. He and Martha were fleeing from a group of aliens who the Doctor said, “…won’t stop”. It was soon revealed that “The Family” had a remaining life span of only three months; I think they would have stopped quite soon. So did he really need to become human? I think not. I am starting to like the Martha character, although her infatuation with the Doctor is becoming annoying. I really did not like the racism, albeit brief. I know it was realistic of the era, but the episode just did not need it.



    The episode ended on an excellent cliffhanger, leaving us hoping that the next episode will deliver a suitable ending.moreless
  • The Doctor is Human...

    6.1
    This Episode gave David Tennant the chance as an actor to show off a wider range of this acting skills without having to go through a tedious series of castings. Smith seemed suited to teaching, but at the same time he was every bit the Doctor we know and love. The role of Joan was rather underplayed the level of romance and attraction they were supposed to share did not convey the supposed depth of emotion they were assumed to have. The humans inhabited by members of the family were good, especially Bane, who managed to perfect a brilliant evil sneer , something that will keep him in the role of panto villain for many years to come if nothing else. The tale I found was not very enthralling for the kind of tale that was being weaved. There were considerable gaps in places, events could have been better established I think before throwing us off the deep end as was done here. I like it, more for the story beyond the episode rather than the ep itself.moreless
  • It was entirely not what I expected.

    10
    As someone who has only gotten on the Dr Who bandwagon since the series came to Sci Fi network, I am at a disadvantage to all the previous incarnations of the Doctor and all that have been written about him. This episode is entirely on it's own as a good look at what the Doctor can become in extreme instances. I watched it again this morning as I was falling asleep when it came on, but was pleasantly surprised by the whole feeling it gave me.

    Yes, good guy versus bad creatures, but a new way of looking at all of it made it memorable.moreless
Jessica Hynes

Jessica Hynes

Nurse Joan Redfern

Guest Star

Harry Lloyd

Harry Lloyd

Jeremy Baines

Guest Star

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Tim Latimer

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (8)

    • The newspaper Martha gives Mr. Smith at the beginning of the episode prints the date as "November 10th 1913," in the American style of putting the month first, as opposed to putting the day before the month.

    • John Smith states that his dreams occur in 'the year of our Lord 2007', which on first glance seems at odds with the show's timing: Rose, is played out on March 6th 2005, Aliens of London happened twelve months later, The Christmas Invasion occurred over the 2006 Christmas period with The Runaway Bride, the Christmas after that, which would mean that his time with Martha would have to be in 2008 at the earliest. Martha, however, is not a part of his documentation of his dreams (and need only be a part of one of his dreams, the latest one shown at the start of the episode), so the statement may reflect the timing of his dreams in the book.

    • Smith's journal clearly has the Latin phrase Maius intra qua extra written on one page. This translates to 'what is inside is greater than what is outside', which is a reference to the TARDIS, but is also the school's motto in the original book.

    • Joan makes the common mistake of thinking that Gallifrey is in Ireland when John Smith identifies it as his birthplace. The first character to do so was the intern in the 14th season episode of the original Doctor Who, The Hand of Fear, starring Tom Baker as The Doctor.

    • John Smith's skill with the cricket ball is reminiscent of that of the Fifth Doctor, best exemplified in "Black Orchid." The Doctor was last seen with a cricket ball in "Four to Doomsday."

    • When Latimer opens the watch, he has flashes of a Dalek, Cybermen, the Ood, the werewolf (from Tooth And Claw), the Sycorax leader, the Empress of the Racnoss and the mutated Lazarus monster (from The Lazarus Experiment).

    • In John Smith's 'Journal Of Impossible Things', there are drawings of- amongst other things- the inside of the TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver, a Dalek, the Moxx of Balhoon, K9, a clockwork droid, Rose, cybermen, the outside of the TARDIS itself, the Slitheen and several of the Doctor's previous incarnations - clearly seen are the Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors.

    • In the end credits, David Tennant is credited as 'The Doctor/Smith'.

  • QUOTES (25)

    • (Jenny, Baines and Mr. Clarke break into Mr. Smith's room)
      Baines: Mr. Smith? (no reply) No one home...
      Jenny: The maid was definitely hiding something. A secret around this Mr. Smith.
      Baines: We both scented him though, he was plain and simple human.
      Jenny: Maybe he knows something though. Where is he?
      (Jenny and Bains look through books on the bookshelf. Mr. Clarke holds up a poster about the dance)
      Mr. Clarke: I think this might help.
      Jenny: Well. That makes it easy son of mine. Because daughter of mine's already there.
      Baines: We've been invited to the dance.

    • (Jenny enters room)
      Martha: There you are! Come look what I've got. Mr. Paul didn't want his afternoon tea so cook said I could have it, and there's enough for two. (Jenny stands and stares) What're you standing there for? (Jenny takes a hard sniff) You alright?
      Jenny: (monotone, bland throughout) I must have a cold coming on.
      Martha: Problem is I keep thinking about them but I don't know what to do.
      Jenny: Thinking about who?
      Martha: Mr. Smith and Matron. 'Cause it's never gonna last, he's gonna leave in a few weeks.
      Jenny: Why?
      Martha: It's like his contract comes to an end, and she's going to be heartbroken.
      Jenny: Leave for where?
      Martha: All sorts of places. Oh I wish I could tell you Jenny, but it's complicated.
      Jenny: In what way?
      Martha: I just, can't.
      Jenny: It sounds so intersting, tell me, tell me now.
      (Martha grows suspicious - Jenny is still monotone, bland)
      Martha: Would you like some tea?
      Jenny: Yes thanks.
      Martha: I could put a nice bit of gravy in the pot, and some mutton, or sardines and jam, how about that?
      Jenny: I like the sound of that.
      Martha: Right. Hold on a tick...
      (Martha leaves building quietly and runs. Jenny realises too late, shoots out the window but misses)

    • Jenny: (crying) I don't understand. It's Mr. Clarke, isn't it? What have I done wrong?
      Mr. Clarke: Nothing at all. In fact, you're just what we need, girl.
      Baines: She works at the school. And whatever's happening seems to be centred around that establishment. The faintest of traces but they all lead back there.
      Jenny: It's Bains isn't it? This isn't very funny Sir (weeping).
      Baines: SHUT UP STOP TALKING CEASE AND DESIST THERE'S A GOOD GIRL!!! Mother of mine is dying to meet you. And here she is... (shows Jenny a glowing green sphere)
      Jenny: (still weeping) Stop mocking me Sir!
      Baines: NO! Mother of mine just needs a shape. We go through shapes so very fast. Yours is perfectly adequate, if a little grim. Mother of mine, embrace her!
      (a green cloud exits the sphere and enters Jenny).

    • John Smith: Then almost every night, hmm, this is going to sound silly...
      Joan: Tell me.
      John Smith: I dream quite often that, that I have two hearts.
      Joan: Well then I can be the judge of that. Let's find out.
      (Joan takes a stethoscope and listens to both sides of Mr. Smith's chest)
      Joan: I can confirm the diagnosis: just one heart.

    • Bains: We asked for SILENCE!!! Now then, we have a few questions for Mr. Smith.
      Lucy Cartwright: No. Better than that. The teacher, he's the Doctor. I heard them talking.
      Baines: You took human form!
      John Smith: Of course I'm human, I was born human as were you Bains, and Jenny and Mr. Clarke. What is going on; this is madness!
      Bains: Ooo, and a human brain too, simple, thick and dull.
      Jenny: But he's no good like this.
      Mr. Clarke: We need a Timelord.
      Bains: Easily done. (raises gun at Mr. Smith) Change back.
      John Smith: I don't know what you're talking about...
      Bains: CHANGE BACK!!!
      John Smith: I literally do not know...
      (Jenny grabs Martha and points gun to her head)
      Martha: GET OFF ME!!!
      Jenny: She's your friend, isn't she? Doesn't this scare you enough to change back!?!
      John Smith: I don't know what you mean!
      Jenny: Wait a minute. The maid told me about Smith and the Matron. That woman there!
      (Mr. Clarke grabs Joan and points a gun at her head)
      Mr. Clarke: Let's have you!
      Baines: Have you enjoyed it, Doctor? Being human. Has it taught you wonderful things? Are you better, richer, wiser? Then let's see you answer this. Which one of them do you want us to kill? Maid or Matron? Your friend or your lover? Your choice!

    • Doorman: Spare us a penny
      Baines: I didn't spare you.
      (Shoots and vapourises the doorman)

    • Joan: You best warn me in advance, can you actually dance?
      John Smith: I'm not certain.

    • Bains: But I don't understand, who are you?
      Male Voice: We are the family, far more important.
      Female Voice: Who are you, little thing?
      Bains: My name's Bains, Jeremy Bains. Please can I go.
      Female Voice: I'm so sorry Bains, Jeremy Bains, but I don't think you can ever leave.
      Jeremy Baines: Who are you, why can't I see you?
      Male Voice: Why would you want to see us?
      Bains: I... I want to know what you look like.
      Female Voice: Oh, that's easily answered, because very soon we will look so familiar...
      (Bains screams)

    • Martha: He's different from any other man you've ever met, right?
      Joan: Yes.
      Martha: And sometimes he says these strange things, like people and places you've never heard of, yeah? But it's deeper than that. Sometimes when you look in his eyes, you know, you just know that there's something else in there. Something hidden, right behind the eyes, something hidden away, hidden in the dark.
      Joan: I don't know what you mean.
      Martha: Yes, you do. (pause) I don't mean to be rude, but the awful thing is it doesn't even matter what you think, but you're nice and you're lucky and I just wanted to say sorry for what I'm about to do.

    • Doorman: Staff entrance, I think, miss!
      Martha: (walking straight past him) Yeah, well… think again, mate.

    • Martha: Doctor, we're hiding from aliens and they've got Jenny and they've… possessed her or copied her or something and you've got to tell me, where's the watch?
      John Smith: Oh, I see. (to Joan) Cultural differences. (to Martha) It must be so confusing for you. Martha, this (indicated book) is what we call a story.
      Martha: Oh, you complete… This (indicates John) is not you. This is 1913.
      John Smith: Good. This is 1913.
      Martha: I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, but I've got to snap you out of this.
      (Martha slaps John hard across the face)
      Joan: Martha!
      Martha: WAKE UP! You're coming back to the TARDIS with me!
      John Smith: How dare… How dare you! I'm not going anywhere with an insane servant! Martha, you are dismissed! You will leave these premises immediately. Now get out!

    • (After seeing the Doctor and Joan together, Martha goes back to the TARDIS and listens to the recording again)
      Martha: What about the stuff you didn't tell me? What about women? I know you didn't think of that. What the hell am I supposed to do then?
      The Doctor: (on the recording) Thank you.
      Martha: You had to, didn't you? You had to go and fall in love with a human... and it wasn't me.

    • (John has drawn Joan)
      Joan: You've made me far too beautiful.
      John Smith: That's how I see you.
      Joan: Widows aren't supposed to be beautiful. I think the world would rather we stopped. Is that fair, that we stop?
      John Smith: That's not fair at all.
      (They kiss)

    • Joan: I found myself as part of that school, watching boys learn how to kill.
      John Smith: Don't you think discipline is good for them?
      Joan: Does it have to be such military discipline? I mean, if there's another war those boys won't find it so amusing.
      John Smith: Well, Great Britain is at peace, long may it reign.
      Joan: In your journal, in one of your stories, you wrote about next year, 1914.
      John Smith: It was just a dream.
      Joan: All those images of mud and wire. You told of a shadow, a shadow falling across the entire world.
      John Smith: Well, then we can be thankful it's not true. I'll admit, mankind doesn't need warfare and bloodshed to prove itself. Everyday life can provide honour and valour.

    • John Smith: (to Latimer) Keeping your head low avoids the mockery of your classmates, but no man should hide himself, don't you think?

    • (The Doctor leaves Martha a recorded message in the TARDIS)
      The Doctor: Is this working? Martha, before I change, here's a list of instructions for when I'm human. One: Don't let me hurt anyone. We can't have that, but you know what humans are like. Two: don't worry about the TARDIS. I'll put it on emergency powers so they can't detect it. Just let it hide away. Four… no, wait a minute, three: no getting involved in big historical events. Four: you. Don't let me abandon you. And five…
      Martha: (fast-forwarding the Doctor's instructions) But there was a meteor, a shooting star. What am I supposed to do then?
      The Doctor: And twenty-three: if anything goes wrong, if they find us, Martha, then you know what to do. Open the watch. Everything I am is kept safe in there. Now, I've put a perception filter on it so the human me won't think anything of it. To him, it's just a watch, but don't open it unless you have to. Cause once it's open, then the Family will be able to find me. It's all down to you, Martha. Your choice. Oh, and thank you.
      (the recording finishes)
      Martha: I wish you'd come back.

    • The Doctor: Never thought I'd use this. All the times I've wondered.
      Martha: What does it do?
      The Doctor: Chameleon arch. Rewrites my biology. Literally changes every single cell in my body. I've set it to human. Now, the TARDIS will take care of everything. Invent a life story for me, find me a setting and integrate me. Can't do the same for you, you'll just have to improvise. I should have just enough residual awareness to let you in.
      Martha: But hold on, if you're going to rewrite every single cell… isn't it going to hurt?
      The Doctor: Oh yeah, it hurts.

    • (Martha and Jenny are drinking outside the pub)
      Martha: Ooo, it's freezing out here, why can't we have a drink inside the pub?
      Jenny: Now, don't be ridiculous. You do get these notions. It's all very well, those suffragettes, but that's London, that's miles away.
      Martha: But don't you just want to scream sometimes, having to bow and scrape and behave? Don't you just want to tell them?
      Jenny: I dunno. Things must be different in your country.

    • Joan: Who is he?
      Martha: I'm sorry?
      Joan: It's like he's left the kettle on. Like… he knows he has something to get back to, but he can't remember what.
      Martha: That's just him.
      Joan: You arrived with him, didn't you? He found you employment here at the school, isn't that right?
      Martha: I used to work for the family. He just sort of… inherited me.
      Joan: Well, I'd be careful. If you don't mind my saying, you sometimes seem a little familiar with him. Best remember your position.

    • (Joan is looking through John Smith's 'Journal Of Impossible Things' and comes across a sketch of Rose)
      Joan: Quite an eye for the pretty girls.
      John Smith: Oh, no, no. She's just an invention. This character. Rose, I call her. Rose. She seems to disappear later on. (Joan finds a picture of the TARDIS) Oh, that's the box. The blue box. It's always there. Like a … magic carpet. This funny little box that transports me to faraway places.
      Joan: Like a doorway?
      John Smith: Yes. I sometimes think how magical life would be if stories like this were true.
      Joan: If only...

    • Joan: Truth be told, when it's just you and me, I'd much rather you called me Nurse Redfern. Matron sounds rather… well, matronly.
      John Smith: Ah. Nurse Redfern it is, then.
      Joan: Though we've known each other all of two months, you could even say… Joan.
      John Smith: Joan?
      Joan: That's my name.
      John Smith: Well, obviously.

    • Jenny: (about John Smith) Head in the clouds, that one. Don't know why you're so sweet on him.
      Martha: He's just kind to me, that's all. Not everyone's that considerate what with me being…
      Jenny: A Londoner?

    • John Smith: It all took place in the future, in the year of Our Lord 2007.
      Martha: I can prove that wrong for you, sir. Here's the morning paper. It's Monday November 10th 1913, and you're completely human, sir. As human as they come.
      John Smith: That's me. Completely human.

    • John Smith: Sometimes I have these extraordinary dreams.
      Martha: What about, sir?
      John Smith: I dream I'm this… adventurer. This daredevil. A madman. The Doctor, I'm called, and, last night, I dreamt that you were there. As my… companion.
      Martha: Teacher and a housemaid, sir? That's impossible.

    • The Doctor: They're following us.
      Martha: How can they do that? You've got a time machine.
      The Doctor: Stolen technology. They've got a time agent's vortex manipulator. They can follow us wherever we go. Right across the universe. They're never going to stop. Unless… I'll have to do it. Martha, you trust me, don't you?
      Martha: Of course I do.
      The Doctor: Cause it all depends on you.
      Martha: What does? What am I supposed to do?
      The Doctor: Take this watch, cause my life depends on it.

  • NOTES (10)

    • John Smith's Journal Of Impossible Things was created by artist Kellyanne Walker (based on text provided by Paul Cornell). Her brief was to reflect the fact that Smith wasn't an excellent artist- and that these were images and thoughts from his dreams that he had rushed down on paper before he forgot them.

    • John Smith's parents are named Sidney and Verity. According to Russell T. Davies, these were added as a nod to two very important figures in Doctor Who history: Sidney Newman (the man who commissioned the original series) and Verity Lambert (one of the original producers).

    • Several scenes were filmed at St Fagan's Museum Of Welsh Life on the outskirts of Cardiff (which has a lot of 'period' architecture).

    • International Airdates:
      Turkey: December 19, 2010 on CNBC-e

    • Overnight viewing figures for this episode were 7.1 million, with a final viewing figure of 7.74 million.

    • This is not producer Susie Liggat's first production job within the Doctor Who story-line: in 2006, she produced the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Invasion of the Bane. Therefore, only she and John Nathan-Turner have produced episodes from two different programmes set in the Doctor Who universe.

    • "Human Nature" is the first episode on which Suzie Liggat is credited as producer. She is one of only two women to have produced the show, not counting Executive Producer Julie Gardner.

    • A visual clue that John Smith is really a different person to the Doctor is that for the first time David Tennant is not wearing his trademark plimsoll shoes.

    • The Family's possession of Lucy Cartwright is a nod to the character of Aphasia in the original novel, a shapeshifting Aubertide who likewise takes the form of a young girl with a balloon.

    • This two-parter story is based on Paul Cornell's orginal Virgin New Adventures Doctor Who novel of this same name, Human Nature.

  • ALLUSIONS (2)

    • Aitchison-Price's definitive account of Mafeking

      This is the title of the book Latimer is picking up from John Smith. The famous Siege of Mafeking lasted for 217 days from October 1899 to May 1900, and turned Robert Baden-Powell into a national hero. In September 1904, Lord Roberts unveiled an obelisk at Mafeking bearing the names of those who fell in defence of the town. In all, 212 people were killed during the siege, with over 600 wounded.

    • At the beginning, a boys' choir can be heard singing 'To Be A Pilgrim'. The only hymn known to have been written by John Bunyan (1628-1688), it first appeared in 1684 in the second part of Pilgrim's Progress. The lyrics were changed slightly by Percy Deamer for its inclusion in the 1906 English Hymnal, probably due to the original's inclusion of phrases such as 'hobgoblin' and 'foul fiend'. The British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) set the lyrics to the traditional Sussex melody 'Monk's Gate'.

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