The Infinite Today kicks off a new year of Short Trips, reuniting the redoubtable Jo Jones (née Grant) with the Eleventh Doctor.
The tale begins with Jo en route to Mexico, but waking to find herself landing back at Gatwick Airport. Baffled and doubting, she boards another flight, full of worryingly familiar crew and passengers; falling asleep, she suffers the same fate again. Fearing she is trapped in some sort of time loop, Jo is relieved to find a familiar face waiting to meet her in the terminal building.
Writer Sharon Bidwell has created a charming character piece, well-informed by where we last met Jo on-screen. Just as the recent Dark Universe fed off The Sarah Jane Adventures tale Death of the Doctor, so too does this story with its presentation of the mature, environmental campaigner Jo – as heard in recent audio outings like The Legacy of Time and Torchwood‘s The Green Life.
Indeed, Jo is such a vivid character that a good quarter of the story easily slips past before the Doctor appears. When he does, there are some great moments as he pushes her buttons to get a reaction. The daftness as he explores the delights of airport food are all too easy to visualise too.
While there is an alien threat at play here, it is not truly what this tale is about. The focus is far more on friendship and this Doctor’s habit of keeping an eye on former companions.
Under the direction of Nicholas Briggs, the irrepressible Katy Manning performs the tale with gusto. Crucially, she captures enough of Matt Smith’s idiosyncratic manner to make the moments between them sparkle too.
In short, this diverting temporal conundrum allows us another helping of the delightful interaction between Jo and the Eleventh Doctor. Now come on Mr Chibnall, with the current show’s keen environmental message, surely it is time for Jo to meet the Thirteenth Doctor too?