As The Doctor and Martha travel for the first time together in the TARDIS, they land unexpectedly in 1599 Tudor London, where the world is under threat from the evil Carronites, and only history's most notorious playwright William Shakespeare can help to save the world Written by
This episode originally aired a few months before the release of the final Harry Potter novel, making the J. K. Rowling references and the Doctor's line "Wait until you read Book 7." particularly memorable at the time. See more »
The architecture of Bedlam is about 100 years out of date. See more »
"The Shakespeare Code" marks the lovely Martha Jones' first trip in the TARDIS. Rather than a trip to a space station or a faraway planet, the Doctor and his companion go back to Shakesperean England where they meet the bard himself. Dean Lennox Kelly plays Shakespeare like a Tudor rock star, including high-kicks and Noel Gallagher-like comments to the audience. Kelly's performance is excellent and his Shakespeare is a very likable fellow.
The beautiful Christina ("Hex") Cole plays the youngest of three "witches" who set out to destroy earth. Cole is always watchable and she does a great job here. The pre-titles intro will have many older male viewers grinning at the suggestion of naughty goings-on with Ms. Cole. Meanwhile, kids will run for cover behind their nearest settee as the considerable "fright factor" is introduced.
This episode is truly impressive in the visual effects department. Filmed partly in the re-built Globe theatre and on location, there's a real sense of scale. Everything is lit beautifully and the effects are gorgeous to look at. The CGI-produced Carrionites are a great design, reminding me a little of the terrifying Reapers from Eccleston's "Father's Day".
The script is superb and will have schoolchildren throughout the land rummaging through Shakespeare plays for a reference to a Sycorax. Here's a clue...they should start with "The Tempest". Thankfully, the episode doesn't try sticking to continuity with previous stories where the Doctor's meetings with Shakespeare have been mentioned. This would have simply made things messy and unnecessarily confusing.
Despite its strengths, there are one or two areas where the episode didn't gel as well as it could have done. Perhaps I'm being unsympathetic but I'm growing a little tired of the Doctor's references to Rose. Hopefully, these will soon become a thing of the past. Also, Tennant can be just a tad annoying at times. Having said this, he's a great Doctor and every incarnation of the Time Lord has had the ability to be a little annoying in certain situations.
Overall, an enjoyable episode and a strong 8 out of 10. This is big-budget television and proper family entertainment.
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