Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky - "I've got to give them a choice."

The Sontaran Stratagem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 4, Story 4 (Overall Series Story #196a) | Previous - Next | Index

Yeah you will.
Martha's back. And so are UNIT. We've already seen Rose, and will catch a glimpse of her again soon. The Sontarans are also back. And so are Wilf and Donna's mum. Yet, this manages to be less than the sum of its parts.

UNIT without a Lethbridge-Stewart, or a Sgt. Benton is not our UNIT, even with Martha Jones now attached. Pretty much everything about this one feels slow getting out of the gate. And, with a an annoying boy genius fronting the Sontarans, it never feels like we're going to really get to enjoy it.

Our reliance on cars, and the ecological nightmare that reliance entails, feels like a worthy topic for Doctor Who, but I'm not getting like a smart send-up vibe off this story. The boy genius's bravado and vulnerability feel like they are a potential thematic key, but to what lock? ATMOS as the corporate evil? We're getting a lot of corporate malfeasance with our DW these days, but one of the things I like to do when I watch with my kids is ask them questions about they're watching, so they're thinking about why the storyteller is telling this particular story? Watching this one with them, I'm stumped as to what question has a chance of bubbling up an interesting answer. Why this story, told this way?

I wish I knew.

Grasping at straws, I guess we could credit this one with some foresight and, with a Snowden-esque perspective, argue that this story advises skepticism about widely adopting a technology that can easily be used to track us and, potentially be used to control us. (Not that we haven't had enough of these sorts of warnings already.)

The Poison Sky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 4, Story 5 (Overall Series Story #196b) | Previous - Next | Index

The list of things I remember about this one after watching it just a few days ago:

  • The Doctor disarming Rattigan, 
  • Rattigan's final in-your-face "Sontar ... Ha!" 
  • Martha getting caught up in the sudden trip to next week's adventure, 
  • wishing for more Wilf, 
  • that quick flash of Rose on the monitor,
  • the mention of the Sontaran conflict with the Rutan,
  • groaning when Donna's mum gives the eco-friendly speech about all the people riding bikes, even though I'd feel the same way,
  • the Doctor saying, "I've got to give them a choice."

Not that it was terrible, and a few of those are piquant moments. But -- here we go again again, just as in the write-up of the first part, the pattern for talking about this one is: "there was that, but" --
it's the low point of Series 4. All things considered, at least it's not (same writer's) low point of last series, the Daleks Take Manhattan two-parter. (I know, I know. That's what it would have been called if it had Muppets in it though.)

Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia entry transcript
Sandifer post
Shabogan Graffiti
AV Club review
TV Tropes page

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