Doctor Who

Season 3 Episode 2

The Shakespeare Code

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Apr 07, 2007 on BBC America

Episode Fan Reviews (36)

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out of 10
540 votes
  • This sucked

    Any time the new shows have real historical figures they seem to suck more than the regular shows. I don't remember too many of the real Dr Who episodes having real characters, other than Doc Holiday in a First Doctor episode. But this one, and the Dickens episode, seemed even worse than the run-of-the-mill updated Dr Who.
  • Without exaggerating, this was one of the worst episodes of anything I have ever seen ever.

    This episode was carried out with such reckless abandon and dangerous incompitence that I'm surprised the lack of mental energy in the creative team didn't cause the space time continuum to rip open and suck the entire BBC Wales operation into the Rift. Now I know there are the die hard Who fans that will disagree with a number of the points I'm about to raise and let me just say first off I'm not a Who-hater. There was a lot to love about the first 2 series and I regularly watch, and will continue to watch, this show. However, having said that, the writers need to seriously take their pens out of their asses and start writing these episodes in something other than their own faeces if I'm going to be able to watch any future episodes with out knawing my own arm off in frustration.

    Okay, here is the list of the various, and numerous, point through which this episode failed miserably.

    1) Tennant:
    I say this as my own personal opinion and with full understanding that millions of teenage girls everywhere will probably disagree, but I loathe Tennant when he attempts to play to cooky over-exaggerated Doctor. The 'Back to the Future' reference in this episode was quite apt seeing as I always get the feeling that Tennant is continuously trying to mimick the genius of Christopher Lloyd as Doc. Brown but always falling a good few cents short. I wouldn't mind that kind of character, but Tennant just bobs around and over-emphasises and shouts and sings the "Ghost-busters" theme and in general looks like a moron. Normally I can just bottle it up and tolerate it but this episode, especially the nonsense with his 2nd heart starting, found him slightly more insufferable than usual.

    2) Magic:
    This is a sci-fi show, and yet this episode didn't even attempt to explore any sci-fi ideas. Indeed I wouldn't be surprised if this episode had actually been written by, and not just featuring, people in the middle ages because science on the whole was left to one very neglected side. Just because they called a voodoo doll and "DNA conversion module", that still doesn't account for that whole "power of words" nonsense or the Carrionites ultimate plan to returning Earth to the time of magic. Again, I would have been willing to accept the whole witches motif, just so long as there was a scientific explanation behind it. But no, they rode on brooms and saw the Doctor through a cauldron and got sucked into a crystal ball. We were all suppose to just not ask any questions.

    3) The Shakespeare quotation jokes:
    We've all seen Blackadder: Black and Forth and the jokes about the Doctor using quotes and then Shakespeare saying "oooh, I'll have that" were just obvious and cliched. The meeting with the bard offered so many other cool possibilities and yet the writers here chose the most simple and unimaginative one.

    4) The sexual tension:
    Since when were companions allowed to fall in love with the Doctor? That whole idea, which floated around heaps last series and ruined Rose for me, just pisses me off. It's such an easy way to try and get ratings and fill airspace with the same old cheesy nonsense. He's got two hearts and he's a giant wang (see point 1) and yet every girl falls in love with him instantly. To Martha Jones I say this: you're in Elizabethan England with a time travelling alien, get some perspective! To the writers I say this: Go back to university and complete your creative writing course you hacks!

    5) Costumes:
    For someone so concerned about preserving the Space Tim continuum (such as in "Father's Day") the Doctor seems surprisingly unwilling to get out of his futuristic clothes. Indeed the clothes, which would have instantly drawn attention to everyone, went completely unnoticed accept by a fleeting remark by William Shakespeare. Well I guess red leather was all the rage in Elizabethan fashion.

    6) "Author! Author! Author!":
    William Shakespeare is a playwright, not an author.

    7) The ending:
    Come on Shakespeare, you're the wordsmith, only you can use your literary power to send the evil witches back into their evil crystal ball!!! What is this, Disney? Am I six years old? And thanks for comparing Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling. Possibly the most childish and disrespectable ending in history.

    This episode was saved from a complete 0.0 rating by only a few compitent factors, namely Freema Agyeman, whose is doing pretty well at acting around the mine-field of idiocy and cliche that was this script even better than poor Billie Piper, the score which as ever was first class, and the special effects. Other than that, I would compare this episode to a tall glass of warm, recently expelled bile, but even stomach lining deserves more respect than that.
  • Voodoo=Voodumb

    Who doesn't like a good story about witchcraft? Sort of difficult to mix it up with SciFi, and this episode was an example of what doesn't work when combining the two. An example of doing it right? An episode called Catspaw from the original Star Trek series.

    This outing with the Doctor was disjointed, senseless, unimaginative and boring. Found myself zoning out on much of it, which is what whoever wrote it must've done while developing the story.

    Can't count it against the new Companion or the Doctor though, I still think they're well cast for the roles -- this was just a terrible story.

    In my opinion, they need more episodes along the lines of The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit (2-parter from season 2) a high point for the series. This definitely wasn't it.
  • Terrible, Terrible, Terrible!

    The first 2 seasons were wonderful.
    The first 2 episodes of season three are rubbish.
    I can't believe that it could get this bad.
    And as a life long fan, I feel that I may need to glue my crossed fingers together for luck that things improve.
    But what needs improving?
    I have read reviews that Shakespeare wasn't well performed. I would disagree. I thought all the acting was fine.
    I found the Witches to be annoying, and very sterotypical. And out of place for this program. The story was disjointed and boring. I recorded this program, and kept pausing during it to escape it.
    If it had been any other program I wouldn't have bothered.
    This season has been done and dusted and is in the can. I hope what they have got improves.
  • Witches? bad acting shakespear? magic with little or no explantion (or one that made sense) The third season is begining to worry me

    As reward for helping him on the moon with the juddon,
    the doctor takes martha to the globe theatre in 1599.
    They meet shakespear who is infatuated with martha and attempts to woo her.
    We discover his great lost play "loves labours won"
    is to be shown tomorrow night.
    And anyone who gets in the way ends up dead ,killed by voodoo witches?.
    The globe it seems is built to harness the power of words
    and amplfy there effect.When shakespears play (with new ending)is performed in the globe it will allow the other witches to escape from thier prison dimension and unleash hell on earth.
    Can the doctor save the day?
    Well it would be a pretty short season if he failed.

    i didnt really like this episode
    the shakespear guy wasnt very likable
    the adoration the doctor has for shakespear
    is clear
    but having never believed that he was a genius
    it just seemed silly.
    the carping on about the specail way he had with words
    was just boring.
    The young witch (the bird from sky one's HEX)
    she was okay but the teaser, where she speaks directly to the camera was embarrassing.
    The explanation to the carrionites powers seemed confused
    and not very well defined.
    On the plus side however
    i loved all the un pc stuff
    about his "african" assistant.
    and her reaction to it.
    The death scenes were quite good
    and the ending was quite dramatic with swarming carrionites
    and shakespear ranting about harry potter spells

    The final verdict is another okay episode
    with some flaws
    Must try harder
  • With Martha's first trip, she and the Doctor meet the man himself, William Shakesphere just aliens known as the Carrionites try to bring their whole species out of the deep darkness they were banished to by planning to use William as their puppet.

    With this episode, we see a pattern appearing with the trips the doctor takes his companions on. only with martha and later donna, it's reversed; rose got to go to the future with both his ninth and current incanations, while martha got 1599 and Donna, Volcano Day in Pompeii. The writers seemed to have based the carrionites off the three witches from William's play, but are named Bloodtide, Doomfinger, and Lilith. To those pondering why Lilith can take true human apperance at times, while her 'mothers' can't, maybe she's only half carrionte; their speices devour thier male mates, so its a posiblity.
    If anyone else didn;t notice this, but what's up with the 'witches' always speaking in rhyme? i know its how the sceince works along with the shape of the globe, but it gets annoying after awhile. According to the Doctor at the end of the episode when he gie Will his signature 'neckbrace' he's given him 10% of his material, while he seems to have royal ticked Liz 1 off in his personal future since she ordered his beheading after just seeing him. The Doctor one again says 'What? What!? WHAT!?"
  • call me a cynic, but it wasn't that brilliant

    Stepping back in time is always a problem, you have to try and do your best to make the setting believable, that's where a lot of shows fall flat on their face. Doctor who has done well in this area a lot of times before in making its audience believe in the setting, the classic serial (sadly lost to the archieves) marco polo for example, which despite the fact it was made in 1964, I can tell from the recon was well set and believable for the setting of about 1100 or something. Here we meet Shakespeare, sorry but am I the only one who thought that the language and the way this episode played out with settings and stuff was a little unrealistic? I mean we can't know what it was like back in the 1500's but I didn't really seem to believe it as much as some other episodes of doctor who that I've seen. And I know this will probably be disagreed with, but the way Shakespeare was portrayed seemed a hell of a lot different to how he's usually portrayed (Martha was right, different to portraits)
    Anyway, off that because that would basically be what I'd go on about for the whole review. Onto the subject at hand. This episode, I will probably be disagreed with about, is trying to be like the unquiet dead. Just look at it, period set, zombies - witches, Dickens - Shakespeare, aliens crossing over - witches crossing over. However where unnquiet dead excelled in period set horror, the unbelievability of this episode put me off the idea of period set who.
    Anyway, off the faults, onto the things it does right beginning with Christina Cole. I was really impressed with her performance, despite the fact that the whole plot could've been thought about a little better she did amazingly well and I would love to see her more often on TV in the future. The scripting wasn't bad, though the account of language having changed over the years did add to what I mentioned earlier. Plot, didn't hold together so well but I liked what there was when we got to the point. This episode had good points and bad points, but I did get up from my sofa feeling a strange sense of disappointment. Anyway, that's me out for this review. Trailer for gridlock was awesome, looking forward to it.
  • A bit worrying

    Alternately amusing, exciting, and embarrasing. The effects are pretty impressive, and David Tennant and Freema are both great, although the Doctor's character is beginning to get a bit samey and predictable. And the humour, and the Doctor-Martha bed scene are very good. However, the witches are nothing short of embarrasing, and they are most unconvincing as dangerous villains. Christina Cole, who was brilliant in Hex does a good job with her poor dialogue.
    But I can't help thinking this could've been a lot better.
  • ...if you know what I mean by "special".

    I had great expectations for the Shakespeare episode and perhaps that's why I didn't like it too much.

    It had the potential to have the best dialogues in series 3 - and I hope it doesn't. Nothing surprising, nothing "brilliant". The witches and the monsters were just tacky.
    There sure was some idea behind the whole plot, but it seems like they lost it along the way, inbetween all the voodoo dolls and steaming kettles.

    I wonder if every episode now is going to have a moment about the Doctor having two hearts, come on, we already know that and, yes, obviously, so does "dr" Martha.

    Still, it's my favourite show. It's cool to see how Martha's already developed some expectations (rather than feelings) towards the Doctor - and how he's dissapointing her totally unaware of that. Exactly in his few-hundred-y-o-child style.
  • Over shadowed by last 2 seasons meet the famous , Cliche witches and a similarity to a DWM comic strip let down what was a great emotional journey for martha and the doctor.

    yes, shakespeare would b an excellent travelling companian
    yes,martha and the Dr scenes were exquisite and heart breakingly funny

    now the rest was meh!

    A recent DWM cartoon script had Robert Greene, Wills most vocal critic being used by evil aliens siphoning his hatred as a weapon. A plot with depth, shakespeare cod, a wet fish. sorry but still entertaining but a little hollow. The main problem was the witches, they had no depth,just cackling hags with no agenda just being bad.

    On a plus point David Tenants best performance and Martha will make us all say Rose who soon. Style over substance Could have an excellent 2 parter to allow the witches more depth
  • This could have been one of the all-time great Doctor Who stories, but two specific elements were allowed to ruin the illusion, making it merely "very entertaining" (and yes, I know most TV barely even aspires to THAT level!).

    Let us start with the praise: the cinematography and stuntwork in particular is spectacular. I mean even given how good the last two seasons have been, this story just looks GORGEOUS. Sure, it helps when you get to use the actual Globe Theatre, but I'm referring to everything seen on-screen. Even the matte shots are just stunningly good. If the rest of the season can keep up this visual level, my eyes my explode from sheer delight.

    I thought David Tennant really nailed the part right on the head in this one. He was by turns funny and dramatic, serious and whimsical, callous and empathetic, fanboy and hitman, human and alien. Whereas he got a little silly in bits of Smith and Jones, he was just spot-on here.

    Freema was a nice change and handled many of her scenes very well, and I look forward to more from her -- but it's still too soon to judge exactly how she's going to work out. Very promising, and RTD wasn't lying when he said she wouldn't be "Rose Lite," but you know I'm almost ready for another male companion on board ... how about someone significantly older?

    I should mention that I met Gareth Roberts through the Manopticon crew many years ago and we hit it off very well back then, though we haven't kept in touch -- so feel free to take my review of his script with a grain of salt if you like, but I mostly loved it, particularly the dialogue. There was perhaps a bit more expository dialogue than most of these stories get, but there was more back-continuity to refer to. This could be worrisome -- the new series of Doctor Who has spent more of its time looking forward than back, and I want that to continue because it seems to help the mass appeal -- but if they're only going to be so referential only once in a while I certainly won't mind.

    The two things I do take exception with were the stylised performances of the Witches/Carrionites, and the Master of the Revels. Having been unimpressed with director Charles Palmer's direction of Smith & Jones, I'm inclined to blame him more than anyone else for the simply dreadful campiness of the witches. I'll come back to the Master (no not THAT Master) later.

    I understand what they were trying to do -- make the witches very much like the stereotypes we all know from childhood of what witches were like -- but it was laid on as thick as Tammy Faye Bakker's makeup, allowing no room for further exaggeration in history. Even small children would find their cackling, rhyming, Monty-Python- Pepperpots voices grating and unbelievable and completely over the top. Was the second unit directory Mary Whitehouse herself? I ask because nobody else could take the menace out of those creatures and render them comically ineffective quite like that harpy do-gooder. The scene in which Doomfinger hysterically confronts the Doctor and company when they visit Peter Street is one of the biggest mismatches of acting since Ralph Richardson had to act alongside Andie MacDowell. "Fan quality" doesn't even begin to describe how bad the Carrionites were on screen. "Porn acting" might just cover it.

    The other problem with this story has to do with the dramatically shorter 45-minute format. Important characters, such as The Master of the Revels, are reduced to "pop on and die." This is not the first time this has happened, but it's the most obvious -- I was left scratching my head as to how Martha knew the Master's name was Mr Lynley (answer, after reviewing the episode again -- oops! continuity error ahoy!). Furthermore, what purpose does Mr Lynley serve (other than "expendable extra")? Why is he so set against Shakespeare? What's up with the permits -- and script approval?? These are just some of the things neither Roberts nor Davies bother to answer because there's simply NO TIME to delve into the character, but what they forget is that this also means there's no time for us to CARE about him or his death. He's a prop used almost solely to show off the "death by drowning on dry land" trick. It's unfair to the performer and in service to the story that he gets such short shrift.

    I can live with the Doctor's rather feeble explanation of "magic." I can stand discovering that Jor-El's "Phantom Zone" is full of big- nosed old biddies who use words for physics (hey, I bought into "bloc transfer computation," didn't I?). I can even deal with a bisexual Shakespeare and gratuitous -- and I do mean GRATUITOUS -- Harry Potter references. It's just a shame that I have to.

    When you've got such a marvelous story, such wonderful actors, such beautiful dialogue, such gorgeous location and model work and so rich a backdrop, you should linger just a bit more over it. Think of how much better The Shakespeare Code would have been as a two-parter: we could have fleshed out Lillith, her suitor, Lynley, the King's Men actors, even Queen Elisabeth! And before you complain that I must be one of those old-school fuddy-duddies who thinks everything should be a six-parter at least, I should point out that this is only the second time in this new series that I've wished for a one-part story to be a two-parter (the other was "Rose," which desperately needed more "there" there).

    Overall, The Shakespeare Code is solid entertainment with only minor annoyances to those of us who take it seriously, and I'm sure it will do well in the season poll for its looks, cast and style. To me, sadly, it's tantilizingly close to perfect, but just ruined by ham and cheese -- oddly enough, not on the stage!
  • Another trip back in time to meet a famous writer. This time it's Shakespeare...

    I couldn't help feeling that this episode was very similar to the first Season's "The Unquiet Dead" and Season 2's "Tooth and Claw" and that there is a bit of a pattern devloping there. Nonetheless I thought this was a good solid story.

    I think the relationship between Martha and the Doctor is developing nicely, but I really hope that the direction of Martha is different to Rose, as I alway felt Rose and the Doctor had an odd and uncomfortable relationship from the viewer's perspective.

    Some of the references were a bit naff, and Shakespeare's constant comments on using the Doctors words was a little contradictory to the fact he was meant to be a genius and also a little repeditive.

    I liked the witches and the basis for their power. I wasn't 100% convinced by the Doctor's explanation of their power but I liked the idea, being a bit of a Harry Potter fan myself.

    Overall, not too bad. Not as thrilling as "Tooth and Claw" but still interesting.
  • Good episode, but not my favorite.

    This is Martha's first trip in the TARDIS. Martha and the Doctor go to London, in 1599. They visit the newly-opened Globe Theatre and see the Shakespeare's play "Love's Labour's Lost" and meet Shakespeare. He gets impressed with Martha.

    Shakespeare is writing the play "Love's Labour's Won" (the lost play). Meanwhile, three Carrionites witches want to interfere on the final lines of the play by placing a code to open the portal for the Carrionites who want to destroy Earth.

    By the end of the episode, Shakespeare reveals he knows the Doctor isn't from Earth and Martha is from the future.

    It's visible the Doctor still misses Rose.
  • Shall i compare thee to a summer's day? tho art more lovely and more temperate... Shakespeare like a rock legend, Martha's first trip and the Doctor having his usual rollicking good time in the face of Danger.

    They stop off in 1599 to see a show, Love's Labou's Lost to be more exact, and though the Doctor was going to take Martha home they decide to stay and find out the mystery of the play Loves Labour's Won. Which SHakespeare says they will show the next day, but has been lost from history.

    The Doctor: When you go home you can tell everyone you’ve seen Shakespeare.
    Martha: Then I can get sectioned. Witches which are word power aliens who love the number 14. 14 sides to the Globe, 14 lines in a sonnet, all about 14.

    Young man at the beggining, The Master of the Revel's, A Landlady and more. The witches want to call everyone they've lost to earth and recreate their world of blood and pain.

    I adored some of the continuous Shakespeare jokes, worth it for them if nothing else. The witches were a bit tacky but the effects were fantastic, the view of london at the beggining you can see a wee horse galloping on the right down the street.

    Felt really bad for Martha though and the Doctor constantly harping on about Rose, and how she'd of known what to say and do. For that alone i found the episode annoying and it downgraded it a fair bit. Well down Freema though, shaping up as a damn fine companion, let's see how she gets to stick with him!

    Overall comment:
    Worth a Watch, good historical realism, funny, better than the ghosts in Season 1 and far better than the Werewolves of Season 2.
    The Doctor doeslike to upset his Queens of England though :).
  • 1599.William Shakespeare , The globe theatre , some ugly as heck witches and a new sense of reality for Martha and The doctor?

    As always a cleverly plotted story with references brought up in past episodes ;Will the writers ever faulter?

    Martha experienced her first time travel and got more than she bargained for when she met William shakespeare the genius himself.The whole dialogue that began the episode was well written with her intrigue into her affect on the future,general interest or a way to show her differences to Rose..?Whom by the way i think the Doctor is getting some closure on, still nowhere over her and there's no chance he'll forget her because like he said her name just makes him want to fight...

    Wooh those witches were darn ugly,talk about good make-up artists!Their whole dialogue just seemed so realistic and those vodoo dolls were just creepy.Once again the complete staff don't fail to give a good story aswell as some well scripted character's that many have been waiting to see.

    The entrance of the Queen made me lauf and the fact the doctor has done something to disgruntle her has left me intrigued a possible future episode..? I sure hope so.

    Awesome as ever.
  • It was definitely better than I was expecting it to be.

    I must admit, I wasn't expecting much of this episode. But I was pleasantly surprised. They handled the setting well, and as always, very imaginative. The thing I had a problem with is the Martha/Doctor dynamic which, to me, still seems very forced. Of course, I think the Doctor and Rose were amazing together, so I'm biased. But something about it didn't sit well with me.

    Still, classic one liners and the Doctor was on top form, with amazing characterisation as always. I think that once the dynamic between the two main characters has settled in. we're going to have a good series.
  • The Doctor and Martha meet William Shakespeare,but more importatnly have to save the world from ending.

    In this episode The Doctor and Martha travel to Elizabethian/Shakespearing times.Its Martha's first full trip abroad the tardis with the doctor.The Doctor meets enemies called the Carionites in other words witches as they are known by people,they attempt to take over the world "into the old ways of blood and magic".But first they have to get past the Doctor.But Lilith manages to get a DNA Replication of the Doctor,but she makes a mistake and little does she know that the Doctor is not dead,and he's a fighter.But by the time the Doctor and Martha are awake ,its too late to save the world or is it.
    Shakespeare is there to save the day by using words that flow,rime and continue,in order to reverse the spell.The Carionites are defeated and traped or all iternity.
    This episode is great or very good not the best but good,its not the driving episode of the siries,but it keeps things good.Its farely adventureous,and Dean Lennox Kelly who plays shaspeare has played his role perfectly well,not trying too hard but playing at well as he can,and the Doctor Who team have made sure of that.And the writer of the episode Gareth Roberts has produced fine work wich the actors have potrayed well and the setting or enviroment around it perfect enough t go with it.
  • The Doctor and Martha visit Shakespearean London and get to meet the man himself.

    I selected the classification 'silly' here in a good way. 'Silly' as in 'fun' because I felt it was a fun episode and a great episode for a new companion and first-time timetraveller.

    The episode was not too scary for Martha, it was exciting and dangerous, thrilling perhaps, but not life-threatening in an immediate confrontational way, except for the whole end-of-humanity plot, which seemed more theoretical than actual.

    I loved the one-liners, the Shakespeare and Harry Potter references, the wit and the nerve of getting someone to meet Shakespeare, flirt with him (while he seemed to flirt with the Doctor) and then tell him his breath smells.

    It was definitely more fantasy than SciFi. The "power of the word" (Terry Brooks) and the "power of names" (LeGuin) has been done before, but they still managed to pull it off.
  • This season of Doctor Who feels like the first season all over again. That's a good thing.

    This season of Doctor Who feels like the first season all over again. That's a good thing. It has the adrenaline rush, adventure feel to it again. The second season was really moody and depressing. It was almost a chore to watch.

    Shakespeare Code is one of those episodes that people will talk about for sometime. It was just so damned good. From the story, to the in-jokes, to the dialog, to the CGI and everything else... this has to be my favorite this season. That's hard to say especially since I loved everything that I've seen this season.

    I think Martha Jones is going to be an excellent companion.
  • The Doctor and Rose arrive in Elizabethan Britain, and meet the main man himself, William Shakespeare!

    First off, i thought 'Oh great, Shakespeare', not the most exciting man in the world... right? WRONG! I absolutely adored this episode, from start to finish, especially when the man himself came on. Who knew shakespeare was so good looking? Lol. Favourite parts have to be whenever the Doctor was quoting his future plays, or someone elses. I sat there and just laughed (my mum had to point out which play they were from, but i managed to get a few). All over, it was all rather dramatic this episode ;) of RTD's slightly tamer villians, but i must admit, i still found them entralling. Using not only voodoo, but the power of the spoken word to cast fear into the hearts of man and release their pals from the dark realms. Especially liked the man drowning on dry land, lovely touch, hehe. Paniced slightly when the Doctor collapsed, was okay though when i realised he had two hearts XD Bit slow there. Anyway, also liked the end scene when shakespeare is defeating the carriernites, i chuckled so much, have to love that bit :D 'Expelliarmus!' (God love J.k. ^^ Heard multiple references throughout that episode. 'Read book seven, made me cry' awwww, bless the Doctor)
  • So much better than that rubbish last week.

    Last week episode was a tad dull, silly and Freema Agyeman acting as Martha was very wooden and did not help her win me over Rose. Felt last week was a bit of a let down.
    However it has been completely reversed this week.
    I found this episode amazing. From the Next Time preview from "Smith and Jones" I felt that this week would also not be good but I found this exciting and humurous.
    Martha is much quicker on the uptake than Rose and Freema's portrayal this week was much better than last week and seemed much less wooden. I love the quotes that she came out with.
    "You can tell people you met Shakespeare" Martha: "And then I can get sectioned."
    Also loved the many Harry Potter references though considering it is set in 2008 Martha would have read the book by now!
    An amazing episode and hoping to catch the next one unless football destroys it!
  • The Power Of Words Written by Gareth Roberts Directed by Charles Palmer

    The Doctor: “What did you see?”
    Martha: “A witch”.

    After proving to be quite the helping hand when her entire place of employment was transported to the moon last week, Martha Jones was entitled to one trip in the TARDIS as a way of The Doctor expressing gratitude but at the same time, Martha wasn’t given the choice of where she could go.

    Seeing as it’s taken quite a bit to wrap her head around the fact that the TARDIS does time as well as space, The Doctor decides to be a bit spontaneous and go where he hasn’t taken other companions before – 1599 London! Hey, more power to him as history lessons on this programme are rarely tedious.

    Of course this episode opens in 1599 so we already knew where The Doctor and Martha were going even before they actually got there given that a foolish young man attempts to woo the very beautiful Lilith and when he’s suggestive about having his way with her, it’ll be the last thing he’ll ever do.

    If a sweet old dear could prove to be a bloodsucking creature of menace in “Smith And Jones”, then Lilith retains the nastiness when her victim soon realises her home is decorated in witch paraphernalia and before the poor sap can get the hell out of there, he’s killed within second by Lilith (who can turn on the ugly when she wants to) and her witchy pals Mother Doomfinger and Mother Bloodtide. It’s a brilliant way of opening up the episode as Martha and The Doctor step out of the TARDIS and are quick to marvel of the delights of being in such a creative era. Again, it takes Martha a bit to note that the TARDIS does go back in time and while it’s not a tedious thing, I do hope it’s not going to be an ongoing one as well.

    When Rose got her first date with The Doctor, she was in a space station seeing the earth obliterated and almost got killed a glorified trampoline, so as much as I loved “The End Of The World”, Martha’s a lucky girl when her and The Doctor deduce that they are near the Globe Theatre which contains one Mr William Shakespeare and like moths to a flame, the two of them.

    With a pretty so-so version of Love Labour’s Lost being shown, there’s some amusement with Martha worrying about her ethnicity being a problem for her, only for her delight in getting the crowd more excited by her use of the word “Author” than the actual performance itself. Well I found her more amusing than the performance but surely I’m not entirely alone with this.

    Moments like this can ground the series into a sense of reality but overall they are fun and as a newbie Doctor Who fan, I get while it might be worrying writing a new companion’s reactions to certain things, there’s also that element of fun within it as well and a lot of the stuff we get with Martha in this episode is fun.
    Spotting Lilith in more regal clothing, the main man himself, William Shakespeare finally makes his entrance and it’s certainly not the kind that we’ve long seen in countless movies, the most noteworthy being Shakespeare In Love (probably the best one as well). But is it me or does Lilith not seem the kind enthusiastic for night time humour?

    The casting of Shakespeare is an inspired with former Shameless actor Dean Lennox Kelly getting the coveted role and just as Russell had promised, the Shakespeare we get here is a bit more spiky, jaded and flirtatious by terms. Not quite as the Gallagher brothers of Oasis as anticipated but not entirely PC either.

    In fact the lack of political correctness is addressed with Shakespeare telling his audience to shut before announcing that there will be a sequel to Love Labour’s Lost that will be called Love Labour’s Won. Yeah, you heard me, a sequel to a play that in 21st Century culture does have a sequel.

    As obviously suspected, Lilith was there casting her magic on Shakespeare and forcing him to announce the sequel as part of her own chain of events involving her and devious pals and when the Master of Revels refuses to actually permit Shakespeare’s sequel, Lilith pulls her first real impressive piece of witchcraft by having the poor man drown on dry land. It’s a pretty creepy moment and totally inspired like the majority of this script but you have to wonder what Lilith and her pals are so desperate that they need the Bard himself to help them? With the stunts they’ve pulled so far, you’d think any nefarious scheme of them wouldn’t need any outside assistance.

    When everyone is asleep and Shakespeare is clearly suffering from writer’s block, Lilith is quick to sneak into his room and use a puppet to help him get back on track but when a would conquest interrupts, Lilith literally frightens the poor girl to death and after joking about there being no such thing as witchcraft, even The Doctor has to admit the existence of witches, which is essentially what Lilith, Doomfinger and Bloodtide are. Vampires last week, witches this week, the show is ruddy well spoiling us and we’re not even halfway through proceedings yet.

    With all these encounters, it didn’t take The Doctor long to figure out that Shakespeare is being targeted and also that there’s something a miss with the Globe theatre but in her second week of genius, it’s Martha who comes up with the answers in regards to connection of the number 14, who includes the numbers of sides in the Globe and the number of lines in a sonnet.

    The story gets another speed up when The Doctor, Martha and Shakespeare visit the latter’s architect friend Peter Streed in Bedlam, a nut house of sorts, where Martha’s disgusts of the cruelty inflicted on the patients is a nice way of asserting her own doctor qualifications and humanity. Heck, even the usually detected Doctor is pretty appalled at the way some of the patients are whipped for random amusement.

    Shakespeare’s reaction to his friend being institutionalised is very interesting because although he understood why his pal going on about witches pestering him got him sectioned, I never got the impression that Shakespeare disbelieved him. Actually thinking about it, not very much actually shocks Shakespeare in the way that the Gelth shocked Dickens, a werewolf shocked Queen Victoria and being pursued by Clockwork Droids shocked Madame Du Pompadour.

    There’s a nice throwback to “The Girl In The Fireplace” when it looks like The Doctor is using psychic abilities to get Peter to explain his encounter only for Lilith to send Doomfinger into dispatching Peter in a spooky enough manner. A theme for this episode could be simple tings causing such damage. One of them is the power of words; another is a touch from these witches. You could ask Peter if he wasn’t dead.

    However while Martha does a screaming session that worthy of past companions, The Doctor quickly figures out that these witch like creatures are called Carronites and just by saying their name can somewhat weaken them. It’s great that for creatures that can cause damage by getting Shakespeare to write certain words, damage can also be inflicted onto them with just the mention of their name.

    It would be on the other hand, way too easy if one word could permanently grind these bints to a halt so it makes sense that The Doctor mentioning Carronite to Lilith wouldn’t have as much effect. Casting former Hex actress Christina Cole is another masterstroke as she proves that with the right role, she can deliver and as nasty determined Lilith, she rarely drops the ball so to speak.

    Not only does Lilith revel in The Doctor’s failed attempt of slowing her down but she actually enjoys flirting with her newfound enemy while explaining her plan to get Shakespeare to recite the words to release the rest of her species from a crystal ball. Well like many creatures, the Carronites were a banished race due to their love of destruction so it makes sense that Lilith would go to all this trouble for a reason as major as this.

    The banter between Cole and David Tennant is played to delicious perfection and isn’t great that Lilith trying to use The Doctor’s pain of losing Rose against him, only eggs him on into fighting. As for Martha, she spent this encounter mostly unconscious save for a good moment when The Doctor needs her starting his heart again, which more or less gets played for laughs and reminds Martha that while he may look human, The Doctor is still an alien.

    As for the major plan of stopping the Carronites, well it’s mostly touch and go as Shakespeare’s pals put on his not so thrilling sequel and Shakespeare’s attempts of stopping are intervened by Doomfinger that just makes him woozy. Seeing as the Carronites knew that Shakespeare had been in cahoots with The Doctor and Martha, wouldn’t it just have made sense to snatch him and keep him away from proceedings? Historically they can’t kill him but they could keep him away as he didn’t stay knocked out long enough in order to not pose a threat.

    Which at the end, Shakespeare did by reversing the Carronites spell as halfway through Lilith’s race being released from their crystal prison, Shakespeare found the words to ensnare them all including Lilith and her mates during one of the series most gorgeous pieces of special effects as well might I add. The ensnaring feels a bit simplistic but it doesn’t diminish the overall quality of the episode.

    As for Martha, it’s been quite an intriguing second episode for her. Freema mostly got to play on her comic timing rather than her dramatics this week and still proves her consistency and overall worth as a companion. A part of me wonders if Martha really knows what she’s getting herself into and what her expectations of The Doctor are.

    With Shakespeare, it was wall to wall flirting between the two of them. He acknowledged her colour, her clothing, intelligence and sense of authority and flirted with her to no end and if his breath wasn’t so stinky he might have gotten a snog from Martha too.

    However with The Doctor, while there is one moment where her intelligence impresses him enough to vocally approve of her, it seems that Martha’s got a case of old fashioned unrequited love and she wasn’t particularly thrilled when upon sharing a bed with him, a certain Rose got brought up into the conversation. Also it seems that before Queen Elizabeth had guards chasing them, it might be down to Shakespeare’s words that Martha’s trip with The Doctor will transcend more than one date.

    Also in “The Shakespeare Code”

    I’ve noticed that this episode along with the other history ones – “The Unquiet Dead”, “Tooth And Claw” and “The Girl In The Fireplace” all have openers that don’t feature The Doctor. I wonder if it’s coincidental or deliberate.

    Martha: “When are we?”
    The Doctor: “Somewhere before the invention of toilets”.

    The Doctor: “When you go home you can tell everyone you’ve seen Shakespeare”
    Martha: “Then I could get sectioned”.

    Nice moment with Martha mentioning the butterfly effect in the way that she and The Doctor’s presence in 1599 could have future consequences. It’s something that The Doctor doesn’t always consider.

    The Doctor (re Lindley): “Leave it to me, I’m a doctor”
    Martha: “So am I, near enough”.

    Shakespeare: “How can a man so young have eyes so old?”
    The Doctor: “I do a lot of reading”.

    Shakespeare called Martha an Ethiop girl, Queen Of Afric, a Suave, Black amour and Dark Lady. Yet Martha was able to cut him to size regarding his breath.

    The Doctor: “Come on, we can all have a good flirt later”
    Shakespeare: “Is that a promise Doctor?”

    Lilith: “Doom The Doctor, doom his hide”.

    How come Lilith was able to glamour herself and Doomfinger and Bloodtide weren’t able to?

    Doomfinger (re The Doctor): “He knows us, he speaks our name”
    Lilith: “Then he will know death”.

    The episode title is a clear spoof of The Da Vinci, which both Russell T Davies and episode writer Gareth Roberts have expressed a hatred for.

    Shakespeare: “Wait a minute, that one’s mine”
    The Doctor: “Oh just shift”.

    The Doctor: “I take it we’re expected?”
    Lilith: “Oh I think death has been waiting for you a long time”.

    This is the second episode into this season where humanity and death have been mentioned in quite a manner. The former looks sets to be an ongoing theme.

    Shakespeare: “I hit my head”
    The Doctor: “Yeah don’t rub it, you’ll go bald”.

    Shakespeare: “Your effect is very special indeed”
    Martha: “It’s not your best line”.

    Chronology: Well aside from 1599 London, I would wager a few minutes passed between the end of “Smith And Jones” and the start of this episode.

    Written by the same guy responsible for the TARDISODES, “Attack of The Graske” and The Sarah Jane Adventures pilot “Invasion Of The Bane”, Gareth Roberts provides a delicious script with all the right ingredients to make for a delirious episode. The slow establishing of The Doctor and Martha’s teaming up comes along nicely and the guest cast are superb.
  • What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

    This was one of my favourite episodes of new Doctor Who. I am a big reader, and a fan of Shakespeare plays and I loved the word play thoughtout this episode. I enjoyed spotting Shakespearean references, and often chuckled while my 11 year old looked at me askance in that tolerant way she reserves for when I am thinking of something 'old'.

    Dean Lennox Kelly was a charming Shakespeare and in true Russell T. Davies fashion (but not new when discussing Shakespeare), bisexuality was hinted at.

    I liked that in the Doctor Who universe witches became an alien life-force, but have been integrated into our mythology, and became an influence for Shakespeare.

    The use of naming something to derive control over it is another old theme (we all know Rumplestiltskin) and it was interesting that Lilith could not name the Doctor, and that her own name has been associated with demonology and witchcraft for many centuries.

    However, given the emphasis on naming it was interesting the famous Shakespeare quotation:

    "What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;"

    was not referenced, given that it's saying that it doesn't matter what something is called, its essence remains the same. And of course, in this case, the significance of 'rose' is not lost either.

    And of course the shout-out to modern witchcraft interpretation (Harry Potter) and time travel (Back to the Future) did not go unnoticed.

    I could explore the nuances in this episode for pages; suffice to say, it is one of my favourites.
  • The Doctor and Martha visit Elizibethen England and must once again save lives.

    I'm going to be honest, I wasn't expecting much of this episode. They've dealt with the kind of thing in "the unquiet dead", "the empty child/the doctor dances" and "tooth and claw" and in my opinion they've all been pretty bad. This one not only excedes the limit it almost makes me want to completely rethink my opinion on the above episodes.The Doctor has dealt with strange goings on before but the only episode I know of that's dealt woth aliens that actlike witch creatures and become them, when they did it with the gelf it was disapointing. Also it is one of very few that have a female villan. The only one that has is "the idiots lantern" I can't wait to find out how the doctor angered the queen.
    Overall: Better than others of this genre but NOT the best.
  • the doctor and martha travel to the year 1599 where they meet shakesphere and must deal with the evil carronites.

    season 3 maintains it's high quality going into the second episode. The doctor and rose land near the glode theater where they mmet shakesphere. however the doctor soon unicovers a plot by 3 aliens masquerading as witches. who ant to destroy all life on earth and return the universe to the old ways of magic. apparently they we're banished by someone along time ago. we don't know who, but that dosen't detract from a great episode. hopefully this quality wil continue into the rest of the season. The new companio continues to impress me as she did last week and is a worthy replacement for rose.
  • Yes, but this time we'll have SEXY Shakespeare!!

    Two episodes in and let the Freema love continue, I say. Yes, the doctor was a little dismissive of her - he's still missing Rose but she'll be ok - I think our girl can hold her own. And OK, for the purists - Elizabethan English was quite different from Modern English. That's a given. As with other shows/movies, we're asked to suspend believe and not get that picky. (As a fall-back, doesn't the TARDIS handle that mess.)

    The witches and magic plot is a little close to the line. Let's not stretch "canon" too far, shall we. The Martha character is having a ball, flirting with ol' Will and despite the witchery, smells and spilled "fluids". Given the preview of next week's episode, will she continue to enjoy the ride?

    I'm hoping so.
  • To be or not to be....

    Brilliant episode, loved all the in jokes and the obvious ones!

    Okay so this week Martha can begin to dazzle and drag us out of our Rose bereavement (again). And well her teeth dazzled if that counts. She was maybe trying a little toooo hard to shine. Now its not that I am Rose biased, I will give anyone a fair chance....but her acting just seemed a bit false? Dont worry I will give her time!

    It is nice to see the Doctor infatuated by someone with a different, or dare I say, greater intellect than him. One annoying thing though, and it happens every week, where do they get their extras from? I know they are told to point and scream but surely the producers by now realise that all 300 people pointing and shouting looks a bit stupid? Last week the patients in the hospital were doing the same.

    I leave you with 'Expelliarmus!'
  • 'Upon this night, the work is done; A muse to pen 'Love's Labour's Won' (Spoilers)

    If things continue like this, Series 3 will become my favourite series. As if the stellar ‘Smith And Jones’ last week wasn’t treat enough, this week’s offering upped the ante even further. For his ‘thank-you-for-saving-my-life’ trip in the TARDIS, the Doctor has taken Martha back to London in 1599 for an evening at the Globe Theatre and to see William Shakespeare. He announces that his new play- Love’s Labour’s Won- will be premiered the following night. However, when the Master of Revels drowns on dry land and the innkeeper dies of fright, the Doctor and Martha believe something is not right. A witch-like race of aliens called the Carrionites is influencing Shakespeare and has implanted a code in his new play that will bring about the end of the world. The play’s the thing, indeed. Can Martha and the Doctor stop the world from ending in 1599? Silly question, I know. A witty, playful script- impeccably researched and crammed with lots of quotations- coupled with several fabulous performances makes this one of the best episodes since the series began, in my humble opinion.

    Freema goes from strength to strength in this episode, dealing with the flirtatious Shakespeare, standing her ground on the terrible conditions in Bedlam and even saving the Doctor again, she’s proving to be invaluable to the Time Lord. Her hurt when she was lying on the bed with the Doctor and he mentions Rose was nicely played. Similarly, Tennant is impressing even more as he’s taking the role in his stride. Two great guest performances too by Dean Lennox Kelly as Shakespeare and Christina Cole as the lead Carrionite Lilith. Kelly was strong and dignified as Shakespeare, his flirting with Martha was a treat. Similarly, Cole was seductive and quite brilliant as Lilith. The script crackled with quotes from and references to other Shakespeare plays- such as The Tempest, Macbeth, As You Like It, Hamlet and Henry V to name but a few- which were fun to spot on the second or third viewing. The quality of the location filming was excellent too, with some beautiful shots within the Globe Theatre (I went just after it opened and it is just wonderful inside there) and the dinginess and decay of Bedlam. There was a lovely little dig at the questions over Shakespeare’s sexuality with a lovely deadpan ‘fifty-seven academics just punched the air’ when he Bard flirted with the Doctor. Trust Russell T Davies! The CGI used for the final arrival of the Carrionites was pretty darn amazing too.

    There were a few things that could have been tweaked, though. Lilith’s compatriots, Mother Doomfinger and Mother Bloodtide, remained the stereotypical withered old crone whilst Lilith could transform into a beautiful young mother. Why could they not all change? I felt their performance went a little over-the-top on times, despite a genuinely chilling moment when Mother Doomfinger decides to stop the madman Peter Streete from talking. Also there were a few moments with the actors in the company, which got a bit too self-referential with sequels and the like; funny but a little unnecessary. I wasn’t too sure about the- obvious- references and parallels with Harry Potter and JK Rowling, with Shakespeare using a Potter term- ‘expelliarmus’- to finish off the Carrionites. I think that’s more a personal thing and these are only slight niggles which don’t overly detract from the general brilliance of the episode.

    I just hope and pray that the football doesn’t go into extra-time on Saturday. If they postpone Doctor Who because of that, I will not be happy- especially since the episode a) looks great and b) will impart the Face of Boe’s secret message to the Doctor. Can’t wait.
  • The Doctor brings Martha to the Globe Theatre to meet the great genius that is Shakespeare.

    There were a lot of things I liked about this episode. I liked the interaction and the banter between the characters- especially the fantastic Dean Lennox Kelly as William Shakespeare. I thought the plot was clever and someone had researched Shakespeare extremely well as there were loads of quick references in almost every scene. I liked the scene where the Doctor remembered Rose and how the witch knew that her name could hurt him. I also liked to allusion to his real name. What I didn't like was Martha's crush on the Doctor. It is starting to get annoying. As Shakespeare said, the Doctor will probably never kiss her. I want her to get over it as soon as possible. Otherwise it was a funny and exciting episode and I was not disappointed.
  • The Doctor and Martha meet Shakespeare but are interupted by what seems to be... witchcraft.

    I think i prefer this method of learning about Shakespeare to what we did in High School. This was a lot more fun. Especially with him flirting with Martha. Who knew he was a flirt?

    I loved the witches. The were completely like the old tales at that time. Scary, ugly, warty and casting spells. Who knew that magic was actually science in disguise? The special effects weren't so bad either, particually at the end.

    One thing that i didn't understand, why did the Doctor let Martha roam around in jeans? With everyother companion in that era, he's had the dress to that style. He didn't this time though...

    Anyway, the episode rocked!!! Good to see the Doctor back.
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