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New Who 4.5, The Poison Sky

It certainly had some great moments, and definitely wasn't as bad as the second part of Helen Raynor's series 3 two-parter - but I'm slightly unconvinced by this one overall.

Those great moments include:
  • The Doctor keeping a selection of hammers under the TARDIS console for judicious in-flight application.
  • Some nice cross-refs to Classic and New Who - especially the tantalising mention of the Brig.
  • Donna's Mum proving to have some nous to her after all by smashing the car window.
  • The Doctor's emotional farewell speech coming across as a lot less hokey after the scene in which Donna undermined its equivalent in the previous episode.
  • And, though I don't actually want her to come back, the brief flash of Rose shouting for the Doctor on the TARDIS screen, which Donna didn't even notice in all the panic about the Sontarans, was a nice way of keeping that thread going.

But, on the other hand, I'd have liked to see more character-development on the part of Colonel Mace and Luke Rattigan (other than his rather implausible turn-around at the end), and although Ross's death allowed the Doctor to make an important point about the value of individual lives, he had so much potential as a recurring character! Even Martha's face-off with her clone seemed - lacklustre. If I couldn't have strong characterisation, I'd have liked something a bit more innovative or surprising from the plot. As it was, it seemed kind of generic - a space-filler, with nothing particularly challenging or thought-provoking that I could see.

On the whole, not actually bad... just not particularly outstanding.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Cross-refs were lovely, but I don't know whether these were inserted by Raynor or Davies. Or even Tennant.

My only beef with the flash of Rose is that Piper got listed in the credits above Cribbins.
May. 4th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
Did she? I didn't notice that. Even if she'd been the main focus of the episode, I'm still pretty sure Cribbins would have outshone her for screen-presence. But I suppose it's all down to who has the most powerful agent, isn't it.
May. 4th, 2008 10:03 am (UTC)
Martha's face-off with her clone seemed - lacklustre.

The whole Martha-clone thing underlined how much of a favour they would have done themselves HAD THEY CAST AN ACTOR IN THE ROLE OF MARTHA IN THE FIRST PLACE. It's a real test of an actor (cf how awesomely SMG and Eliza Dushku did in the Buffy/Faith body-swap episodes) and Freema Agyema did not acquit herself well. (Though she did get the worst lines throughout both episodes, too, to be fair.)
May. 4th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah - when you bring in the comparison with Faith / Buffy, it really shows up what was missing here. Evil!Martha should have been completely blow-you-away awesome - but actually, it was all kind of low key, wasn't it?
May. 5th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
I didn't think Rattigan's actions at the end were that much of a turnaround. I saw it not so much as him wanting to save the doctor as him wanting to kill the sontarans. He'd been willing to help wipe out all of earth's population because they were mean to him. The sonataran's told him that they were going to use him and his friend's for target practice and that they'd just used him totally. If that isn't asking for his murderous wrath I don't know what is. And he may have found it easier killing aliens than killing people face to face, partly also because it was a last "stick it" to the people of earth by saying "you all mocked me and made me feel like an outcaste but I save the earth so f--- you all".

I did think they would do more with him but I certainly didn't see what he did as being that out of sorts.

And as for Ross, I agree. I had actually thought they had just wounded him (the hit looked like it was shoulder) but I guess lasers kill you wherever they hit you.

Teasers for the next episode filled me with a whole load of "WTF?" and "awesome!" and "I hope this is good and not a big pile of pants".
May. 5th, 2008 09:45 am (UTC)
Yes, I see what you're saying about Ross - it was definitely revenge against the Sontarans as much as philanthropic self-sacrifice. But it just all happened a bit too quickly, and was actually rendered rather trite by the fact that the Doctor had just told him to do 'something clever' with his life. I'd have preferred it if he hadn't needed that explicit prompt from the Doctor, and had found his own epiphany for himself.

Next week - I'm afraid I have very little faith that it will be anything other than pants. :-(
May. 5th, 2008 10:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, I gess Rattigan could have been done better if they'd done it more like "Screw you, doctor" rather than in a saving him sense.

And I have to say I am partly looking forward to next week because the girl looks quite hot. I know. I'm a bad man. :)
May. 5th, 2008 09:33 am (UTC)
Yes, the trailer made me think very much of my reaction to Buffy saying in a similar position, 'Well, she is my SISTER' (or was that her mother? Oh well, the depradations of age on the memory). And the nicest of the little in-jokes I thought was the Dr asking Col Mace on donning his gas mask 'Are you my mummy?', connecting back to An Empty Child in season 1 - a whole set of images so unsettling and unpleasant (Gothic, one might be tempted to suggest) I was surprised on checking back that the writer wasn't Mark Gatiss.
May. 5th, 2008 09:48 am (UTC)
It's interesting that those little in-jokes, and specifically ones which undercut what had been very serious moments in earlier episodes, are becoming quite a feature of the current series. On the whole, I think it's a good thing - a sign of a series at ease with itself. But I've also seen it slip into self-parody with other similar programmes. Which probably means it is just the right time for a reduced version of the series next year.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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