May 17, 2008

Season Four Saturdays: The Poison Sky

(As always, this is spoiler free. If you're looking for spoilers, you won't find them here. Now, go away, before we taunt you a second time)

And with this two-parter, Helen Raynor redeems herself slightly for last year's Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks two-parter.

It was, in many ways, a good attempt to try to show another aspect of a classic Doctor Who monster - however, the episode's logical consistencies, the rather broad portrayals. ("I didn't know he liked musical theater" anyone?), and its reuse of themes from throughout the new series made it fall flatter than week-old soda.

Like I said last week, I cannot be objective about UNIT stories - even ones I don't like have something about them that I can appreciate. However, despite some rather clunky storytelling choices in the episode, it is quite a fulfilling end to a two-parter...maybe the best ending since first season's The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.

Ok, that's pushing it, but there are several really cool things about this episode. I'm going to bullet point them here, because it would be close to impossible to discuss them without ruining the episode:
  • Thankfully, an obligatory reference to Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart, which serves to reinforce the point that...this ain't your father's UNIT. Quite frankly, I would love to see more General Mace/10th Doctor stories...but that's just me.
  • A blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment that is confirmed in the end credits.
  • Some moments with both Donna and Martha that might seem like foreshadowing...but not in the way that you might expect. They were really good character moments.
  • The big Sontaran/UNIT battle - hooo, boy, was I jonesing on this. I so wished that 1970s Who had these production values...and this level of scriptwriting.
  • One of the key themes this season seems to be choices...and the Doctor seems to be gradually placed into making uncomfortable, uncharacteristic ones. Although there is a last-minute, almost obvious switch, it' would be good to see the Doctor come dangerously close to a bad decision.
  • I hate evil boy geniuses. Can we not use that plot device ever again?
  • The twist re: the Sontaran's "strategem" - it makes sense logically, but somehow, there's something in the way that it's revealed that seems hackneyed.
Personally, I'm looking forward to Dorian's take on this two-parter; like me, he's a Who fan who doesn't get obnoxious about it. (Or, in my case, "less obnoxious than most"). Fortunately, the series is going at a good clip - three excellent episodes and two fair-to-middling with no obvious clunkers (like, say, "The Long Game". Or "Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel". Or "Gridlock").

Next week, "The Doctor's Daughter". I hear it's going to crack the Internet in half.

No comments: