Posted 27 July 2008 in Doctor Who by Catriona
Aha! This time I have prepared myself in advance, and am sitting here a good ten minutes before the episode actually starts, watching extended sports coverage on ABC News.
Seriously, when did it come about that the sports bulletin started at quarter past the hour? There must be more actual news in the world than can be included in a fifteen-minute bulletin.
Eh, c’est la vie: that’s Australia’s sports madness for you, I suppose.
See, now they’re claiming the All Blacks are rubbish because they’ve just lost two games in a week. Two games versus South Africa and Australia, I might add: two equally strong sporting countries. Oh, well: I’ve never cared for Union, so I’m not that fussed.
What does this have to do with Doctor Who? Absolutely nothing!
Why am I writing about it instead of saving my energy? No idea!
Aha! (Again.) The news has finished—though it lasted long enough for me to add another post, blogging addict that I am—and we’re heading towards Doctor Who and the Sontarans.
Watching an ad. for Foreign Correspondent has reminded me—well, Nick reminded me—that Tiananmen Square occurred in 1989. Damn! When did I get old?
And here we are! An attractive female journalist being thrown out of Rattigan Academy by a group of cultists in red tracksuits.
NICK: Newspaper journalists in the Doctor Who universe are remarkably stupid. And UNIT is supposed to be a secret organisation.
He’s tough to please, that one.
But, really, if she’s investigating deaths associated with ATMOS Systems (wait for that joke!), why the hell does she have ATMOS activated in her car? Daft girl.
She still doesn’t deserve to drive straight into the canal. That’s my fourth least-favourite death.
Ah, Donna driving the TARDIS! I love the relationship between her and the Doctor.
(Hang on, “her and the Doctor”? Yes, “her” is the objective pronoun as well as the possessive, isn’t it? Oh, never mind.)
Woo hoo! Who’s ringing? Can only be . . . Martha!
Yay, Martha! I love you, Martha!
Ooh, Nick tells me that the director of this episode also directed Jekyll. I really enjoyed Jekyll.
DONNA: She’s engaged, you prawn.
I love that line! And I love the way Donna is completely free of any kind of jealousy or discomfort around the other companions. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again—it’s my favourite part of her character.
UNIT! Ah, UNIT! You were such a huge part of my childhood. But where’s Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart? And Yates? (The prat.) And Benson? I love you, Benson!
Nick tells me the uniforms are all wrong. And that they’re wearing their berets in such a way as to cause their sergeant majors to give them at least a thousand push-ups each.
Homeworld Security? That’s a frightening term.
The bit where Donna demands—and gets—a salute makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
Martha checked the biopsies? Aren’t biopsies pre-mortem? I think she means autopsies.
I admit, ATMOS sounds too good to be true. Fits into every car? Reduces CO2 emissions to zero? Twenty quids’ worth of shopping vouchers if you introduce a friend? Sign me up! Ah, but then I’d meet my fourth least-favourite death, wouldn’t I? A dilemma!
NICK: Ah! It’s Sergeant Cannon Fodder and Corporal Dead Meat.
On the other hand, these two are tossers. I don’t think they deserve their (spoiler!) fate, but they are tossers.
Okay, giant, creepy, alien vat. I have some advice for you, UNIT chappies: do not attempt to open it. Seriously. Even Corporal Dead Meat agrees with me, Sergeant Cannon Fodder.
Their gauntlets are kind of cool, though, with the padded back pieces.
Ah, green goo. No . . . Ah! Thing leaping out of the goo! Ew, and the creepy pieces of flesh over the mouth. Oh, that’s just wrong.
Nick thinks these two are inconsistently written, veering between scientific curiosity and angling for promotion.
SONTARAN: Words are the weapons of womenfolk!
ME: Yeah, well . . . . pffft!
NICK: I’m not sure that Sontarans even have womenfolk. They are clones, after all.
So it was just random misogyny. That makes it worse.
Woo hoo! Mike, from The Young Ones. As a Sontaran. I have lived my entire life waiting for this moment. Sort of.
The Doctor can be a hypocrite. He’s not always insisted that people carrying guns stand ten feet away from him at all times.
Ah! The first time that Donna uses her actual skills to help people. She’s right: the fact that the factory workers have no sick days—that is weird.
Oh, I don’t trust a child genius. They’re all . . . creepy. On television, anyway.
The Doctor wants to go to a hothouse for geniuses? Because he gets lonely? You arrogant man. Though I do love you.
Martha has had a worse run than most companions—though that doesn’t justify the cliche she’s just brought out about the Doctor being like fire. That’s a little weak.
And here are Cannon Fodder and Dead Meat, back but under Sontaran control.
Jenkins: he’s a pretty boy. And he seems sweet. I hope he doesn’t die at any point.
I love this exchange between the Doctor and Donna, when she’s explaining that she’s going home and he’s talking about all the planets they could have travelled to—none of which we ever see them going to. And she just lets him keep nattering—ah, I do love you, Donna. He is a great, big, outer-space dumbo.
Nick tells me there’s some anxiety about Polish migrant workers in the U. K., but he’s not sure whether this is critique or just playing up to it. I’ve not come across that anxiety.
(No, no! Martha, don’t go with Dead Meat and Cannon Fodder, you fool!)
I remember there was a lot of anxiety about Polish refugees during World War Two, but that was for an entirely different reason.
It’s only episode four— we really don’t need these Donna flashbacks. I don’t think they work, per se. We know what she’s gone through—but the way she breaks down when she sees her grandfather breaks my heart.
He’s so wonderful, the grandfather. But I never knew my biological grandfathers, and the man I called Granddad (my lovely neighbour) from the age of four died late last year, so maybe I’m biased. (Last time I saw Granddad, before he died, he said, “Well, you got fat, didn’t you?” I love you too, Granddad.)
The fact that Donna confesses to her grandfather but not to her mother—that’s a nice piece of character development.
Ah, so Jenkins is called Ross. I still hope he doesn’t die.
Ah, here’s the child genius. I missed a lot of this last time, because I geeked out and had to leave the room to grab my computer. Embarrassing? Not at all.
RATTIGAN: If only that [moving to another planet] was possible.
DOCTOR: If only that were possible. Conditional clause.
First response: Hee!
Second response: Actually, that’s not a function of a conditional clause, is it? It’s using the plural because it’s the subjunctive mood, isn’t it?
Third response: Oh, just watch the programme.
SONTARAN: We have an intruder!
DOCTOR: How did he get in? Intruder window?
Also, back five minutes, I agree with the Doctor—we don’t call Ross a grunt. We love Ross. He’s pretty.
DOCTOR: Now, Ross, don’t be rude: you look like a pink weasel to him.
Tennant is lovely in this episode, completely manic.
Is it part of the standard Sontaran mythos (wait, those two clones don’t look anything alike, which kind of undercuts Rattigan’s question about how they tell each other apart) that the valve on the back of their heads is there to force them to face their enemies in battle? I don’t remember that.
Back to poor old Martha, who’s now facing a Sontaran whose nickname is “The Blood-Bringer.” That’s sort of creepy, but not as creepy as the thing in the ooze.
Nick points out that the Sontaran ship is a lovely piece of CGI—and he’s right. But Nick’s a CGI junkie, and I’m not.
Ooh, Martha clone. And Freema Agyeman in goo, which I’m sure pleased those fanboys with a certain kink.
Hang on, ATMOS in the jeep. Doctor and lovely Ross, you might want to jump out of there at some point. Ooh, the Doctor’s clever. He’s just like James T. Kirk—who talked how many computers to death while he was captain of the Enterprise? Six or seven?
NICK: ATMOS must have a Kirk circuit.
We really are soul mates!
I think the point where the Doctor turns up on Donna’s doorstep and says, “You won’t believe the day I’ve had” is adorable—they do rely on each other, in a way that isn’t creepily co-dependent.
No! Don’t talk to Martha! She’s a creepy clone, now!
The fact that they called Donna “The Little General” when she was younger—I wonder if that’s why I like her? My family always used to say that I was destined to end up the dictator of a small, South American country.
(They do love me. I think.)
And now the Doctor’s set off ATMOS. That was a daft thing to do.
Don’t get in the car, Donna’s grandfather! That’s a stupid thing to do!
I actually find this endpoint rather frightening—we live on a main road, and the fumes are bad enough without ATMOS.
(On another note, I was devastated when Martha turned up only to be taken out of play halfway through the episode. That’s not what I anticipated.)
Ha! Sontaran haka! Lovely.
NICK: You’re a strange boy, Luke.
And that’s the episode. The first two-parter of the season—and appropriately followed by an advertisement for “The Cars That Ate China.”
Next week: Nuclear attack against a spaceship lingering just outside our atmosphere? Really? Is that a good idea?
Oh, well: we’ll see.