Saturday, May 17, 2008

Doctor Who, "The Sontaran Stratagem": Companions collide

No "Battlestar Galactica" review until tonight at the earliest, as I haven't seen it yet. Quick spoilers for last night's "Doctor Who" coming up just as soon as I disable my GPS device...

Not a fan of this one, though some of that may be alleviated if part two justifies all this set-up. But "The Sontaran Stratagem" felt too busy, too cheesey (the Sontarans themselves are the first villains in a while to remind me that "Doctor Who" is meant as a kid's show), and too repetitive of other "Who" episodes. We already did the "corporation with a wonderful problem-solving product turns out to be an alien front" gag only a few weeks ago in "Partners in Crime," and the Donna/Martha meeting felt very reminiscent of Rose and Sarah Jane's encounter in season two, where The Doctor worries his new girl and his old one won't get along, and instead they bond over their various issues with him.

This is also the first episode of the season where I've watched the Sci Fi edit, so for all I know, there was some interesting stuff that got left on the cutting room floor, but this was a disappointment. Hopefully, next week's better.

(And speaking of which, I again ask you to respect the American air schedule; if you've seen the next few British episodes, don't discuss them in any way, or else I'll just delete the comments.)

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

And how many times have we seen the evil clone plot in this and other shows?

Jon88 said...

"Next week" = May 30. Sci Fi isn't using up new eps of DW or BSG on Memorial Day weekend.

Grunt said...

Yeah, not my favorite. This is not an episode that will prompt me to look at my TiVo, see the episode listed, and exclaim, "Oh, wonderous Doctor, what exciting thing have you gotten yourself into! I love this episode."

More likely it'll get deleted to make room for something else...quickly (and why can't I set the TiVo to only pick up specific episodes of things or even seasons. I would totally do a Buffy seasons 2, 3 and half 4 season pass with a couple of season six episodes thrown in to the mix. Do you have any idea how much time I spend deleting? 3, perhaps 5 seconds, each! But I digress)

Although I did like Donna showing her usefulness in this episode. Rose was wide-eyed and a perfect foil for the Doctor and a sponge for learning, Martha was a Doctor and therefore useful. I was concerned that Donna would end up being Rose 2.0. All of the ignorance, none of the usefulness, none of the learning. But Donna coming upp with going through the personel office was great and completely believable.

I also love the Doctor meeting Donna's Grandfather and knowing who he was, that was nicely done.

But as for the actual plot? Blech.

And as for the wunderkind...was he slightly reminicent of season 1 Adam? And was he trying to do an American accent? It sounded like it but some Irish kept slipping through.

Unknown said...

This ep's many many faults - old guy trapped in a car? seriously? -- were alleviated by (a) seeing the word "Sontaran" as an episode title (they were a favorite when I was a kid); (b) the handling of the Sontarans, which was respectful and fun (even if they seemed a bit chatty); (c) the four-star A++ sequence at the genius academy.

Seriously, those five minutes during which the Doctor gets giddy over gadgets, teleports to the Sontaran ship (I loved the ghastly "in tru der window" pun), explains the aliens and then racquetballs and runs... that's Tennant at his best. The contrast of the excited verbosity about the teleport band - people see a thing and they say, oh, wow, nice thing, etc. - to the decisive, choice "No one's said 'No' to you for a very long time, have they?" was tour de force, put-it-on-your-reel kind of stuff. That was everything I love about this Doctor in one easy sequence.

Poison gas onstar etc etc whatever.

Nicole said...

The genius kid's "American" accent was laughable and it does make me wonder why they couldn't have had him redub certain things. When he was first introduced I wasn't sure if he was English, Irish or American. I don't even know why he had to be American, unless the writers were switching up the usual "evil British guy" found in Hollywood movies.

As for the episode, I do love the grandpa, and find that the Martha Donna interaction was in fact the opposite of "School Reunion". Other than the Doctor being worried if they would hate each other, the women quickly took to one another without the possessive jealousy Rose exhibited toward the Doctor with Sarah Jane, and confirmed once again that neither of them are in "love" with the Doctor.

The plot itself was a bit meh, and the cliffhanger was lame, but the character interactions did save this a little bit. The Doctor's super geek moment with the genius was great, as well as Donna's fake out telling the Doctor she was going home and he assumed she was leaving.

Instead of waiting to end this in two weeks, I think this one would have benefited from having the 2 episodes aired back to back, because the momentum does build in the second part.

Anna said...

Yeah, this episode (and the second part) was written by Helen Raynor, who wrote last series's "Daleks in Manhattan" episodes. 'Nough said. Granted, this episode is not as terrible as those were, but I don't understand how she keeps writing these bad Doctor Who episodes, because I know she can write something good. She wrote one of my favorite Torchwood episodes of series two ("To The Last Man").

The one part of this episode that I loved, though, was when the Doctor thinks that Donna is leaving and he tells her exactly what she's meant to him. I think that's what his experiences with Martha have taught him. Because Rose always knew how he felt, but Martha didn't.

Mrglass said...

No "Battlestar Galactica" review until tonight at the earliest, as I haven't seen it yet.

Daaaamn... I look forward to your review of this action-packed episode. Especially curious to see if you can come up with a sillier second title than "Guess What’s Coming To Dinner"!

dark tyler said...

I was too busy screaming "BREAK THE DAMN WINDOW!!!" to my screen while the Doctor was looking all ominous in the midst of all the poisonous gas, to actually pay attention to anything else.

Although, I have to say that this is a much, much preferable season low compared to the previous Raynor effort. Can we just please skip to the Steven Moffat 2-parter? Please?

Nicole said...

It's damning with faint praise that this two parter is not as horrible as Daleks in Manhanttan, so really, they should get someone other than Helen Raynor for the next series, especially if they will be one off specials and not a full 13 episode run.

Steven Moffat and whoever did Human Nature... more of that please. (although the SM episode (s) haven't aired yet so I hope he lives up to his past efforts.)

I know it will never happen, but I would love to see what Ron Moore could do with Who. His Trek episodes were some of the best and I don't think he wrote a clunker over the 7 year run.

J said...

this is a much, much preferable season low

Careful, dOod. There's a lot of season left. Could be a lot of little old men and lot of poisonous, airtight compact convertibles to come.

Anna said...

Or, god forbid, pigmen. Or even, god forbid, daleks again. I am so sick of daleks.

whoever did Human Nature
Paul Cornell. Yes, he and Steven Moffat are amazing. They've written all of my top favorite episodes.

Anonymous said...

The big bad corporation plot line is indeed overused, but it's just part and parcel of the overall left wing rubric of the new series, along with the environmentalism, anti-gun, and other biases.

barefootjim said...

Ron Moore? Whatever happened to that guy anyway? After all of those great ST:NG & DS9 episodes, he just disappeared from the face of the Earth!

Also, by all means, anonymous (now see, there's someone who is prolific), let's start parsing Dr. Fracking Who for left-wing bias.