Many Doctor Who companions fly under the radar despite their greatness. Steven Taylor; pilot of the future. Liz Shaw; so good Ridley Scott named the heroine of Prometheus after her. Romana I; sexier, brainier and classier than her successor.
Yet when the general public or casual fan is asked to recite the names of the Doctor’s buddies the above named don’t come to mind. Is Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones one of these ‘vanilla’ companions?
Only eight years since her arrival, poor Martha already seemingly gets forgotten despite her many great qualities. Hardcore fandom treats her with disdain or irrelevance. But she doesn’t deserve it.
Martha gets dismissed for having little personality compared with Rose’s devotion, Donna’s spark and Amy’s sassiness. But watch her debut, ‘Smith & Jones’. “We’re on the bloody Moon!” Martha swears!
In ‘The Shakespeare Code’, Martha summons up JK Rowling to save the day and gives an amorous Bard the brush off when he tries to snog her. The Doctor couldn’t have defeated the Family of Blood without her determination and quick thinking.
She walks the Earth in ‘Last of the Time Lords’ and becomes a legend, and has the last laugh on the Master even when he taunts her as to how great Rose was. Martha Jones doesn’t need fairy dust to save the universe. She can blow up the Earth with a bit of plastic if she wants to.
Martha’s USP is her resourcefulness. She comes up with fast, practical, sensible solutions that lead the Doctor to say “oh, you’re good” on a regular basis. She’s also the one companion of recent times to walk away from the TARDIS of her own accord. Rose and Donna’s endings may have tragic, but only Martha is brave enough to realise she doesn’t need the Doctor forever and can do good on her own terms, using what she learned.
There are issues, of course. The male members of her family are poorly drawn, while the unrequited love story arc is misguided, as are the frequent unnecessary reminders of Rose. I accept that the Doctor’s companions were forgotten as soon as they left previously, but to have the Time Lord moping for the first half of 2007’s Season 3 whilst threatening to take Martha home every week overeggs Russell T Davies’s pudding.
Meanwhile, a small but vocal clutch of online Rose Tyler fanboys/girls unfairly slagged Martha off on a weekly basis purely for not being their heroine, wrongly skewing her reputation since, despite it not being Freema’s fault Billie had gone of her own choosing. And those that criticise Freema’s acting should watch the Law & Order: UK episode ‘Alesha’ and ask how she bagged second lead in the Sex and the City prequel series and a key role in Netflix’s new sci-fi series Sense8 before having a pop.
Following stints at both Torchwood and UNIT, we left Martha married to Mickey Smith and working as a freelance alien buster. Not bad going for a ‘vanilla’ companion.
What are you favourite memories of Martha Jones? Let us know below…