Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Sontaran Stratagem"


There were a couple of big returns this week. Which one you liked the most depends on how geeky you. I, for one, was happier to see Freema Agyeman reprise role as Martha Jones. After her adventures with Capt. Jack and his merry bunch, Martha has become a full fledged doctor with a great deal of clout with UNIT. It is great to see her as a strong character rather than the love struck companion she was last season. Of course, she still winds up being captured and used as a pawn, but what companion has not had that problem? At least some intelligence was used in getting her in the predicament.

Secondly, the Sontarans have returned. They have not appeared in Doctor who since 1985’s “The two Doctors” with Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and the time displaced Second Doctor played by the later Peter Troughton. I have seen two of the Doctor’s past adventures against the Sontarans over the years, but have little nostalgia for them. I will concede some longtime Whovians might be more excited to see the armed baked potato heads return in all their glory.

“The Sontaran Stratagem” suffers from what many first parts of two part episode suffer. It is all set up with no payoff until the next episode. I cannot even say the cliffhanger hooked me anywhere near as much as past two parters. To be fair, I will not judge the story too harshly until I see it in whole.

A company has been producing devices that eliminate all carbon emissions on cars. They have become required for all cars now. ATMOS, as it is called, attracts the attention of UNIT, particularly when 52 people are killed simultaneous across the planet by a toxic gas released from ATMOS. The device was invented by a boy genius who, for whatever reason, has thrown his lot in with the Sontarans in a bid to reshape the Earth. Another part of their plan is to clone Martha to hamstring UNIT.

At least, I guess that was the plan. The Sontarans have released the gas in 400 million cars, which will presumably kill around that many people for a purpose that is not quite clear yet. Altering the atmosphere, I suppose. The Doctor said more than once UNIT was no match for the Sontarans, so why would they need Martha? But the best question is why would a boy genius help aliens destroy his home planet? I hope there is a huge payoff here.

One good bit here was Donna. I am actually starting to like Catherine Tate. I would have never thought it possible. She is much less submissive to the doctor than just about any companion I can recall without without coming off as obnoxious as her past scetch characters are famous for acting. I am pleasantly surprised she has pulled that off. I could have done without that small exchange in which she is going to visit her family, but the doctor mistakes it for her leaving permanently. It was not really funny or necessary.

Rating: ** (out of 5)Baked potato heads, indeed.

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