“Real proper aliens”
On the flip side, season openers of Doctor Who can sometimes gain a sense of auspiciousness, especially when they introduce a new Doctor, companion or showrunner. Though it only faces one of those obstacles, Smith And Jones sets things off right with a captivating story hook that retains the show’s friendliness and campy, imaginative qualities. DW season premieres are often flashy, ambitious affairs. In this case, young and ambitious doctor Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) teams up with the Doctor very organically against a threat that’s just big and serious enough to have some weight. (This is a great initiation for Martha, a practical and decisive heroine who isn’t merely reduced to “action girl” stereotypes.)
The quick pace of the episode is due to a common DW trope of the invasion story mold, wherein our travelers are impeded or trapped by a threat and have to figure out their circumstances and strategy on the fly. Since the Doctor doesn’t necessarily go looking for trouble, the show goes to this well quite a bit. Much like in a crime procedural, he has to deduce clues and make peace during these sieges, while trying to reduce civilian casualties as the situation begins to resolve. Compared to other premieres that struggle under all the character exposition or setting up of long plot arcs, Smith and Jones is elegant, entertaining and refreshingly standalone.