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Friday, May 16, 2008
Doctor Who: The Sontaran Stratagem
The first two-part story of the first season, Helen Raynor's The Sontaran Stratagem feels a lot like a throwback to earlier eras of Doctor Who story-telling. There's a lot of nostalgia on display in this story. We have the return of an old enemy, we have the return of U.N.I.T. (now with a less United Nations annoying name), and we have the return of last season's companion, Martha Jones. We even have a plot-line, evil GPS devices of potentially alien origin and a super-genius with fascistic tendencies collaborating with aliens, that is highly reminiscent of the Jon Pertwee era of the show. We also have a rather too long flashback to this season's previous stories. Thematically, it works with this story, as the story as a whole functions as a kind of dividing line between the earlier episodes, the "meet Donna Noble" period of the season, and the later, more meta-plot heavy episodes. The look back grounds us in where we've been, so that we have a fresh slate going into the remaining episodes. It's also nice, for a variety of reasons, to see Freema Ageyeman return as Martha, even if it's only for a limited engagement. The new series of Who has often been criticized for its focus on "domestic" scenes, rather than grand space opera, but it's a change in the format that has worked for the better, I feel, as it means that there are consequences for traveling with the Doctor, not just for the companion but for their families and for the rest of their lives, a notion that the original series only rarely dabbled in. It's also rather a nice touch here that Martha and Donna get on, as one of the most tedious aspects of the prior "new companion meets old companion" story, School Reunion was the childish jealousy both Rose and Sarah Jane indulged in.
Threads to Watch For ATMOS pays off Other than that, slow week for meta-plot