“THE LAZARUS EXPERIMENT” – Series 3, Episode 6, Story 183 – Written by Stephen Greenhorn; Directed by Richard Clark – The Doctor takes Martha Jones home and she gets pouty. He leaves and then comes back. They go out to a black-tie formal event where the guy who wrote THE IDIOT’S LANTERN and THE UNQUIET DEAD goes from being an old man to a young man to the Scorpion King. Or something. Martha’s mom slaps the Doctor’s face, but Martha’s sister digs him. Which sounds like a point in her favor, but she was about to snog the no-longer-old dude before he went all CGI on everyone, so she doesn’t exactly have a great radar for dudes. In the end, the Doctor lets Martha join him permanent-style. Because If You’re Going To Fly Through Space And Time, Why Not Take Martha Jones Along?
THE LAZARUS EXPERIMENT is another solid, quality episode of DOCTOR WHO. Certainly not an all-time classic or junker, LAZARUS is a good, solid 45 minutes of engaging pop entertainment.
LAZARUS is notable for being the first significant introduction of the Doctor to Martha’s family. Like with Jackie Tyler, Francine Jones is not a fan of the Doctor, but her dislike of the Doctor is much more aggressively fueled, befitting the difference in their respective personalities. Where Jackie was a sort of passive lump, active only in terms of gossipping and complaining, Mrs. Jones is a more active, professional sort of 21st century woman. Both are motivated by protecting their daughters, but there’s an edge to Mrs. Jones that Jackie never matched, perhaps because she’s split from her husband, whose now puttering around with a younger, dumber woman.
The episode starts with the Doctor dropping Martha off in her apartment and she’s none-too-pleased about her time in the TARDIS being over while the Doctor just sort of stands by not noticing (almost certainly purposely) her mood.
One of the story elements I really like about the Davies/Tennant collaboration is how the Doctor relates to his Companions. I like it because it’s a consistent theme. So many of Davies’ endings are unsatisfying, either because they seem to come out of nowhere or feel tacked on, that it’s nice to see this elongated arc play out over time that pays off in real endings. The initial reluctance of the Ninth Doctor to let Rose become involved in his life led to his regeneration moment of their shared fantasticness. The Tenth Doctor gets called out by Sarah Jane for never coming back, for continuing to go on while the Companions are left behind, completely disconnected from the wild life.
The Doctor gets plenty left behind, too, over the years. Companions grow tired of their time and want out, or they fall in love with someone and replace their emotional affection for the Doctor for an emotional and physical affection with another. Some of Jon Pertwee’s finest acting as the Doctor comes when Jo leaves him, and Tennant reminds me of Pertwee in THE GREEN DEATH. (Which is totally not reviewed yet, so don’t go looking for it. I don’t want you cheating with another site. Well, okay, you can cheat but don’t tell me about it. I’m fragile.)
So when Tennant’s Doctor just stands sort of dumbly aside without any real emotional mask, the blank expression almost allows you to see the gears moving behind his forehead as he comes to grips with how this is always going to happen. It’s always going to be gain a new Companion, lose an old one and with Martha it’s like he’s trying to find that balance. Originally, he told her he could have one trip, but that trip to the past (SHAKESPEARE CODE) turned into an additional trip to the future (GRIDLOCK), which turned into a trip to the States (DALEKS IN MANHATTAN/EVOLUTION OF THE DALEKS). We know he’s liked his time with Martha but he’s been unwilling to commit to her as his new Companion.
While he’s there Martha’s mum rings her up to tell Martha her sister is on the TV, where we see an old Doctor Lazarus (played by informing the world that he’s going to “change what it means to be human.” The Doctor pops in the TARDIS and takes off and then returns, asking Martha, “Did he just say he was going to change what it means to be human?”
They get all fancied up and go to the big Lazarus event, where Tish Jones is Lazarus’ PR chief. Lazarus gets in the machine and comes out a much younger man, then turns into a cheesy CGI monster and eats people. Then the running around starts. And the yelling. And the destruction.
When it’s all over, the Doctor asks Martha to be his one-and-only, permanent Companion in residence. Which makes Martha happy but not her mom, and you wouldn’t like her mom when she’s angry.
Heck, I don’t like her when she’s happy.*
*As a person, I don’t like her. As a character, she’s quality.