Jessica Hynes

Doctor Who (2005) s03e09 – The Family of Blood

So I thought this episode—wrapping up a two-parter about the Doctor (David Tennant) turning himself into a human so as to avoid some aliens who are hunting him and losing himself in early 1900s England—wasn’t going to get any worse after Tennant, having regained his memory and alien… superpowers (sure, okay), asks his human love interest, Jessica Hynes, who he no longer can feel the same way about, if she’d like to join him on the TARDIS.

In order to have this moment, the episode needs to ignore the following. First, Hynes is an early 20th century racist White woman who has been overtly racist to Freema Agyeman. We don’t get to see Tennant and Agyeman reunite, not really, even though she’s spent two episodes catering to his similarly racist White 20th century man when he didn’t have his memory back and had to keep him (and his lady) alive while he was ready to surrender the secrets of the universe to the bad guys. The human Tennant. Because he was a dipstick.

Second, Hynes has already rejected him in his alien capacity. Not just because Tennant no longer loves her—it was a fairly chemistry-absent love in the first place—but also because we’ve done the “the Doctor’s a violent, cruel guy” actually reveal in this episode. The Doctor is willing to do the violence so others don’t have to… which even figures in with the pre-WWI boys school militarization thing—macho imperial British jingoism in 2007—there’s a lot wrong with this episode and the previous one, it’s just not worth going through all the things. Even if they are fascinatingly dated for their time period.

Third, there’s no impression Tennant has checked with Agyeman about Hynes joining them. Like. Two episodes about Tennant being apathetic to the companion and he’s just as apathetic as before. Even though he remembers everything from the human phase, including Agyeman confessing her love. So he’s intentionally cruel.

But fourth, it doesn’t matter because the episode manages to get worse with the Saving Private Ryan postscript.

It’s a big episode full of bad ideas. Agyeman ends up as dissed a companion as Billie Piper and, even more striking, Tennant’s stopped being enough of a draw on his own.

Doctor Who (2005) s03e08 – Human Nature

I didn’t have a great feeling when I saw Paul Cornell with the writing credit but I forced myself to be hopeful. Plus, Charlie Palmer directing, surely it would be all right. What’s the worst Cornell would do, another overly melodramatic time waster… And, yes, he does do another overly melodramatic time waster only this time he does it while taking away the Doctor and replacing him with a human.

Still David Tennant, which you’d think would make it okay, but strangely… David Tennant playing an early twentieth century racist, sexist, elitist, warmongering British school teacher isn’t as amusing as watching Tennant play the Doctor. Especially not when Freema Agyeman, a Black woman living in a more racist, sexist, and elitist time now too, has all her memories and it’s her job to babysit Tennant until they can go back to their day jobs.

The episode opens with an intentionally confusing sequence—which, frankly, was the ice skates on the Bat boots and is when you toss the script—but we gradually find out Tennant is hiding himself as a human, lost in time, trying to avoid these aliens who are after him. Agyeman’s job is to look after him until the short-lived aliens die off.

It’s all very humane.

Timelorde.

Anyway.

What no one counted on was Tennant falling in love with school nurse Jessica Hynes.

I’m not sure how it played in 2007, but Tennant going back in time as a White man and falling for a White woman who then proceeds to be overtly racist to Agyeman, leading to Tennant backing up Hynes… I mean, there are optics to it. Especially since Agyeman—who, let’s not forget, started this season as a doctor herself—is reduced to mooning over Tennant to fellow maid Rebekah Staton.

Some trivia—Cornell based the teleplay on his Dr. Who novel of the same title (which started as fan fiction so score Paul Cornell, I guess). Also of note is a new producer, Susie Liggat.

Unfortunately, neither Liggat’s producing or Cornell’s writing are very impressive but… at least there seem to be some obvious reasons it’s not good. In addition to it being a rip of the fireplace episode from last season just double-sized.

And Hynes being a chemistry vacuum.

The worst part is it’s a two-parter because it can’t even just be over.

Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright)

So, people told me Shaun of the Dead was good, but they kept describing it as something akin to Hot Fuzz and whatnot. It’s not a spoof of a zombie movie though. It’s a zombie movie with a couple losers discovering their skill sets make them good at surviving a zombie holocaust, if not excelling at it.

Actually, it’d be kind of easy to describe Shaun of the Dead as Clerks with zombies. Maybe too easy? I’m not sure. Wright’s a far better director than Kevin Smith, creating this intense atmosphere the audience can feel while the characters are a little too dull to figure out what’s going on. Where the film hits gold is making Simon Pegg both a bit of a twit and also a character for the audience to identify with. He’s actually the only male character in the film who doesn’t have a serious defect (Nick Frost is a drunken loser, Peter Serafinowicz is a yuppie jerk, Dylan Moran is an ass, Bill Nighy is a jerk) and so it’s not really surprising how Lucy Davis occasionally gives him the bedroom eyes. It’s not mentioned (Kate Ashfield plays Pegg’s love interest to far less effect, but it might be because Ashfield’s character is just written as the annoyed girlfriend… much like, you know, Clerks).

The film’s hilarious from the start and keeps a nice air of unpredictably about it. Zombie films feature this ragtag cast of characters, thrown together, but not Shaun. It’s far more… realistic.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Edgar Wright; written by Simon Pegg and Wright; director of photography, David M. Dunlap; edited by Chris Dickens; music by Dan Mudford and Pete Woodhead; production designer, Marcus Rowland; produced by Nina Park; released by Focus Features.

Starring Simon Pegg (Shaun), Kate Ashfield (Liz), Nick Frost (Ed), Lucy Davis (Dianne), Dylan Moran (David), Peter Serafinowicz (Pete), Bill Nighy (Philip), Jessica Hynes (Yvonne) and Penelope Wilton (Barbara).


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