I have never been a Martha fan. She kind of reminds me of that girl/boy in stories where the the main character has just gotten out of really important relationship and that girl/boy wants the main character to turn around and love them straight away:
“Come on, love me. They’re gone but I’m right here!”
Like in The Shakespeare Code. That was not that long after Ten lost Rose. So when Ten and Martha are in that room together, sharing that bed, Martha’s excited. But as soon as Ten says “Rose would know”, Martha gets into a huff. I mean, what do you expect, Martha? Rose was such a huge part of Ten’s world, she can’t just be forgotten. And she can never, ever be replaced.
(I am secretly hoping that Rose and River and Ten and Eleven will one day end up in a room together. I know Eleven’s time has passed, but Ten came back! So maybe for the next anniversary? Even though both of the Doctors have now regenerated, River’s consciousness is trapped in the Library, and Rose is in a parallel world with Metacrisis Ten, I want to know how that meeting would go down. Rose could be looking at River going “So this is my replacement”, and River could be looking at Rose feeling superior ’cause she’s older and actually married The Doctor. River never felt threatened by Clara, remember? And Ten and Eleven could just be looking at each other like….”oh dear God”. Or it could be like Rose and Sarah-Jane, sharing their embarrassing stories about the Doctor, then Ten and Eleven walk into the room and the women point at the Time Lords and burst out laughing. I don’t know how it would happen, I just want it to happen.)
The best thing about Wishing Well was the way that Baxendale captured the Martha and the Doctor relationship. There’s nothing romantic in it, on the Doctor’s part. We don’t see him lead Martha on at all. We see him running around, being breathtakingly clever, saving everyone and we have Martha watching him with that smile everyone has: the smile of watching someone you absolutely adore while they’re not watching.
“So, Martha,” said Angela. “What would your wish be? If the well actually worked.”
Martha shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know, really…”
“Come on, don’t be shy. Out with it.”
“I can’t say. It might not come true if I told you.” Martha’s gaze settled on the Doctor’s profile once again, and Angela nodded wisely to herself. Noticing, Martha laughed shyly and sat up straighter.
But I think that Baxendale had a bit of a crush on Freema Agyeman. Whenever a young guy came into contact with Martha in Wishing Well, they basically undressed her with their eyes, showed off, and flirted. I mean, she is a beautiful woman, but it didn’t really happen that often in the show. Shakespeare fell pretty hard for her, and I think there were a few lingering gazes here and there, but men weren’t obsessed with her.
And then there was the part where Baxendale described Martha’s gaze as “man-dazzling”. That just screams fantasy crush, doesn’t it? I mean, when Tennant says “Oh, yes”, “Well”, or “Allons-y” I get a little melty, but if I were to write a David Tennant story, I wouldn’t describe his voice as melt-inducing. Sometimes you have to curb your inner fangirl or boy in order to do your characters justice.
Then again, Baxendale could have just been taking pity on Martha and giving her the male attention she so desperately wanted. Just not from the right man. Or Time Lord, as the case may be.
I really enjoyed this story. It was so quintessentially Who. There’s this big alien thing and it’s destroying everything in sight, killing people and whatever else evil alien beings do for fun, but the ordeal can mend bridges that otherwise wouldn’t have been mended. Angela Hook and the resident millionaire of Creighton Mere (where all of this took place), Henry Gaskin, had been at odds for twenty years after the death of Angela’s husband. No, he didn’t kill him. But the whole thing with the Doctor and his adversary managed to bring those two people together and help them to deal with their grief together, instead of doing it alone.
As with most of the Who books that I’ve read, the language is simplistic, with a heavy reliance on adverbs, but I think this is so that the plot can speak for itself. Doctor Who is plot-driven. There’s no need to linguistically play up the drama of a situation when the bare facts do that job so well. I love my fancy words, but they really weren’t needed here. So why complain about something that would have gotten in the way of the story?
I’ve seen reviews of this book where they complain about the storyline. And I have five words for those people. Five of my favourite words:
It doesn’t work and it’ll just drive you mad.
It occurs to me that I haven’t really spoken about the plot at all. This is incredibly bad form for a book review. So I’ll give you an overview: Martha and the Doctor end up on Earth during Martha’s time for some scones and cream. As they tour the quaint English village, meeting some friendly villagers along the way, they come to a well. A wishing well, as the case may be. Charming to look at, but something about the well makes the Doctor nervous. Uh oh …. Could it have anything to do with the treasure rumoured to be buried deep within the well’s depths?