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Doctor Who 4.04 The Sontaran Stratagem

Less a review, more a series of disjointed paragraphs.

Can't complain too much about this one. Nothing spectacular, but a decent first half of the early-season two-parter. It might even be the best of them so far (the others being The Slitheen One, The Alt-Cyberman one and the Daleks one - something of a pattern here.)

Grammar pedantry FTW! Conditional tense indeed. Go Doctor. And geeking around a science lab. And a collection of really bad puns and bad jokes, which I have immediately blanked from my memory, but I recall there being at least one painful one. (Ah, "intruda window".)

When I was watching The Daleks recently (the One serial), Ian shouted "My legs! I can't move my legs!", to which I immediately went "Ooh, Rocky Horror reference!" (Dr Scott: "My vheels! I can't move my vheels!") and then "..Or the other way round, yes. Or a coincidence." And then we got it again tonight, more or less - "My legs! I can't feel my legs!" Could be a reference, could just be what you say when you can't feel your legs. I dunno.

Martha still kicks ass, and is working...with? around? against? UNIT - hurray. Not sure about the hair, but I like the uniform. And she's mildly embarrassed about her crush on the Doctor, and she warns Donna about what could happen to her family. And by the end of the episode, it's happening. To be fair, it's happening to everyone, but Donna's seeing it happen to her grandfather. I thought he was a bit twee in the first episode, but he was good here.

I know they needed a nice cliffhanger for them all, but how hard is it to SMASH A CAR WINDOW, godammit? Ten-year-olds round here manage it all the time. And I can't imagine Donna will be happy if Wilfred dies while Ten hangs about in the street looking worriedly at approaching gases.

There was even some subtlety in there from Raynor - they managed for once to SHOW the parallels between the Donna/Martha and the Rose/Sarah-Jane meetings, instead of having the Doctor TELL us about it at great length. Rose and Sarah-Jane were the two needy and possessive ones, they need the Doctor to make their lives feel complete. (I don't think Companion SJ was, but in School Reunion, she'd spent her whole life pining for him.) So when they met, there was tension and possessiveness and jealousy, and when they did bond it was by excluding him. Martha and Donna both know they can survive without him, and do it well. Neither of them sees him as a soulmate or a saviour, so despite his fears, it's all much more relaxed. But yeah, I'm impressed by the way Raynor managed to evoke Rose without actually mentioning her - it's a subtle way of keeping the arc going. (She didn't learn that on Torchwood, I'm sure.)

I haven't had any exposure to the Sontarans, and they didn't make that much impression on me. Short Judoon types who really didn't deserve the overly dramatic music that crescendoed every time one of them took off his helmet. They were nicely snitty, though.

I keep being distracted by re-used props and sets. It must be really obvious, because I don't usually notice this stuff. But look! Was that the corridor from Doomsday and about a dozen other eps? Was that the corridor in the police station in Torchwood? That was definitely a bit of the Cyberconverter they had Martha strapped to. Maybe the aliens share technology, who knows?

Can't really judge the whole of the plot until next week, I suppose. I haven't really got much of a sense of the plot yet. Did they tell us what the Sontarans are up to? I can't remember, already. Which is a bad sign, but whether for the show or my memory I'm not sure.



( 12 comments — Comment )
Apr. 26th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
I agree with you overall.
But they REALLY wasted the arrival of the Martha clone.

You don't just have the bad guy say 'Oh it's a clone of you', damn it. You leave it vague. You MILK the tension. And when you reveal that they're cloning her, you do it by SHOWING the clone coming out of the bubbly green liquid LOOKING EVIL. No sense of the dramatic whatsoever.
Apr. 27th, 2008 09:48 am (UTC)
Yes, true! I think they were hoping the fact she was naked and dripping in oily stuff would distract people.
Apr. 27th, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
Worked for me.
Apr. 26th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Raynor was a lot better here than Daleks in Manhattan.

Back when the Judoon appeared I though they were 33% Kraal, 33% Sontaran and 34% Vogon ;)

The problem with the original Sontarans in at least one of their series was that they were voiced by Roy Skelton and sounded exactly like Zippy from Rainbow. Although this time having the chief Sontaran sound exactly like Mike TheCoolPerson from The Young Ones made me chuckle, when I realised who the voice was! (Actually Chris Ryan is just the right height for the role).

This was all over the place though wasn't it? - comedy, big stompy UNIT romp, space opera, family saga, two companions meeting? All felt a bit rushed. Ep. 5 is going to have to move fast and work hard.

Two things I didn't like about it -- Kid Genius (never a good thing) and Donna Becomes Drab - it's as if someone said "Look, Martha's in her mid-20s, she's hot, she works with UNIT, she does the runaround stuff, she knows Weird Alien Stuff, and she's comfortably middle class - so we'll make the other companion look like a 40 year old frump from deepest suburbia". Presumably if Donna, Martha and Rose all appear together Rose will have to be in a kinky St Trinian's outfit sucking a lollipop to emphasise that she is the young cute one? Still, Donna shines through as a more interesting character than Martha.
Apr. 27th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
It did feel a bit all over the place, yeah. We'll see if they manage to pull it together in the second half.

I didn't notice the Donna Becomes Drab until you mentioned it - it's not a good sign. But the Kid Genius annoyed me purely because I couldn't figure out what his accent was meant to be.
Apr. 27th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)
I can't remember his voice well enough, but he was definitely some brand of Nerdy Jewish Kid. :)
May. 17th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
Did anyone else spot Rose just for a moment appear on the screen (mouthing 'no) just as the TARDIS went out of control when Donna was on there alone?

Apr. 26th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
I didn't see it but I DO hope that he corrected it to "conditional mood" if someone said "conditional tense".
Apr. 27th, 2008 09:42 am (UTC)
He actually said "conditional clause".

Also, "ATMOS System" would more correctly be called a pleonasm than a tautology. So American kid wasn't quite that smart...
Apr. 27th, 2008 09:51 am (UTC)
Ha! Honestly, my theoretical grammar is awful. But I've just been and looked up conditional and subjunctive moods and am...not entirely enlightened, I have to say, but I'm working on it.

But yes, not a tautology, either. So heh.
Apr. 27th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
Weeeell tautology isn't wrong, per se. Pleonasm's just more correct.
Apr. 27th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
Apart from the non breaking of glass, what got me was, straight away, as soon as he spoke..thats Chris Ryan..Mike from the Young Ones is an alien!
( 12 comments — Comment )


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