The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky
Helen Raynor gets asked back to write another two-part adventure, this time with the responsibility of bringing back both UNIT and the Sontarans. Throw Martha into the mix too, a teenage brainiac, oh and a second Martha, and you have… a bit of a mess really.
I’m not sure what this story is. Is it trying to pay homage to the classic series? At points it feels like it is. It’s certainly better than Raynor’s first Doctor Who tale, but it still fails to hit the mark in my opinion. It begins at the end of ‘Planet of the Ood’ when the Doctor gets a call from Martha, who says ‘I’m bringing you back to Earth’. It’s a dreadful DREADFUL line. Martha is written differently, rather like she was in ‘Last of the Time Lords’, in this one. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t seem to be in Martha’s character, she’s just not believable.
The Sontarans are rather good. We have Christopher Ryan who appeared as Kiv in ‘Mindwarp’ as their leader Starl, and he is fantastic, the makeup and mask work is also superb. Dan Starkey takes the role of Commander Skorr and makes a great Sontaran, but all the other Sontarans (and we see more than we have every seen before) are helmeted. So we just see two potato heads.
There is some nice moments with Donna’s mother and her grandfather, Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbens) when Donna goes back to see them. In contrast to Martha’s and Rose’s first absences, Donna’s mother has hardly noticed she’s been away.
It’s the plot and the resolution the principally lets the story down, along with Martha and her double, which I mostly put down to the writing, although I think we see that Freema Ageymann is not as versatile as she needs to be too. The Sontarans are using a device connected to half the world’s cars to convert the atmosphere so they can turn Earth into a cloning planet. They have a device which stops guns, which is good for them I guess as they appear to go down pretty easily when shot.
Then the Doctor finds a device which sets the gassy clouds alight without burning anything else thus destroying the Sontarans plans. Then Luke Rattigen (played by Ryan Samson, an American boy genius and a VERY annoying character) manages to rig the transmat so that he switches places with the Doctor in the Sontaran space ship and presses the destruct button. Meh, sorry but meh. That’s all I can say to those plot points. Add the doppelganger of Martha, it seems like a plot written for a different alien race and then adapted to try and fit in for Sontarans. Poorly.
The Doctor’s Daughter
Woah. Wham bam that’s the quickest moving start to a story ever. The Doctor, Donna and Martha are whisked away to a far off planet. The TARDIS has detected the Doctor’s DNA there or something, the explanation is retconned into the end of the episode and makes no sense at all. Anyways the TARDIS speeds to this planet, where the Doctor and co. bump into some humans, a sample is taken from the Doctor and a sort of clone warrior is grown in 2.1 seconds flat, and the Doctor’s daughter is born.
The humans are fighting the Hath, a sort of fish race with a bottle of liquid attached to their mouths. They looked pretty good I thought. We have a runaround 45-minute episode where the humans and Hath all try to get to the ‘source’ first which they think is a weapon. They have apparently forgotten why they came to the planet in the first place, and appear to have been locked in war for years. Turns out it was only seven days. The source is in fact a terra forming device.
Anyways. There is a focus on killing and the fact that the Doctor never would. Which is quite nice I guess. Catherine Tate is great as Donna, who is proving an excellent foil for Tennant, and as the Doctor’s daughter Jenny, Georgia Moffat (daughter of Peter Davison) couldn’t have been more perfectly cast. And they brought her back to life at the end too just for the hell of it.
Martha, on the other hand, is surplus to requirements and as she leaves at the end of the tale I have no idea why they put her in this one. She does have her own storyline but it all could have easily been covered with a bit of plot-restructuring. The sets are underground tunnels, so sort of stock-standard I guess, but they are pretty good. The plot makes no rightly sense at all, despite the war and how quickly they can grow new generations of humans. So it’s another mixed bag. Donna works well with Doctor as I said, and with Jenny. That’s the highlight and here we can really see that the decision to bring Catherine Tate back as the companion was in fact an inspired choice.
The Unicorn and the Wasp
|Fenella Woolgar as Agatha Christie.|
The Doctor and Donna go back in time and find themselves at a party with Agatha Christie, and very quickly embroiled in a murder mystery! That was probably not that of a twist, right? This story is enormous fun and one I completely enjoyed. It sees some great guest appearances from Christopher Benjamin in his third Doctor Who tale, his last being ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’. Felicity Kendall also guest stars meaning the principle two characters from ‘The Good Life’ have now appeared in Doctor Who. It would be fair to say this was the more successful of the two appearances (Richard Briers appeared in ‘Paradise Towers’).
There’s not a lot to say. It was an awful lot of fun from start to finish, and includes a very funny and brilliant played scene by David Tennant and Catherine Tate when the Doctor has been poisoned and he’s trying to flush the poison out. The confrontation scene when the truth is revealed has a lovely lot of twists to it and is superbly played by all this was a wonderful ensemble piece. Especially well played was Agatha Christie herself, Fenella Woolgar.
|The Doctor fights the poison - best scene of the episode!|
Well done to Gareth Roberts who wrote this one, the idea of a wasp morphing into a human may seem a bit silly, but quite frankly the odd dose of silly does no-one any harm at all.