Lurky McLurklurk (ionlylurkhere) wrote,
Lurky McLurklurk
ionlylurkhere

Oo-ee-oo

I was disappointed by the handling of a returning element in this one.

(But it wasn't Martha.)

(Or UNIT.)


Well, it certainly looks like they're carrying on the new series tradition of the unpromising initial two-parter, doesn't it? Like Helen Raynor's previous entry in that catalogue, it was very much a grab bag of very disparate elements{1}. Unlike last year's effort, none of the disparate elements were to do with '30s New York which, while not unexpected, does make it less fun. Between Martha's evil double, a whole bunch of really very '90s stuff about atmospheric pollution and catalytic converters{2}, Evil!Satnav for something-familiar-made-dangerous points, the fascist academy for child geniuses, and the obligatory return to Donna's family, there was barely room for bringing back UNIT and the Sontarans.

Ah, yes, right. Let's take those in turn.

UNIT{3}: I am actually going to give them a pass here, mostly. If you buy into the idea that nuWho has a more compressed storytelling style etc.{4} then really there's not that much difference between the Doctor/UNIT relationship here and in Three's era (beyond the rather facile way everything's tied very specifically to guns in particular, and the completely OTT Gitmo reference from Donna -- nothing in their treatment of the factory is all that terrible; she must have seen Fragments somehow). The reason I think it's OK is that the whole thing is portrayed as the Doctor oversimplifying rather than "ultimate moral arbiter man says NO!"{5} -- I loved that Colonel Mace went from saluting and "I've read all your files" to giving as good as he got within minutes, and the Doctor and Jenkins had a great little double act which went a long way to deflating the overall tenor of things.

The Sontarans: I've never really liked the Sontarans much, or at least I've always thought they didn't much live up to their potential. In theory they should be absolutely kickass -- an unstoppable force of genius strategists (they did invade Gallifrey cunningly using a client species etc.) but beyond The Time Warrior they've always seemed a bit rubbish. So they were ripe for an actual proper updating, but they've had the worst attempt at same we've seen so far (even the Cybusmen did a good job on the body horror side of things). Now, some parts of the Sontarans' portrayal here I really liked -- the military honour stuff in the characterisation (loved that they feel like they missed out on the Time War, and note that they think of the Doctor as the general during it, further giving the lie to his anti-gun rhetoric), the ship design and the way the little ships recall Linx's -- but others I really, really didn't. They look the worst they have ever looked here, and I'm including the stupidly tall guys in 2Docs. And they were far too chatty generally, and some of them were just talking in completely normal human voices. And the less said about that "Sontar-HAH" vaguely haka-like stuff the better. (Your catchphrase for the playground is pastede on yay.)

See how I've barely mentioned Martha so far? Haven't I been good?

...

OMG!squeee etc. etc.{6} It was great to see her again. Donna's great and all, but now that Martha's back I realise I haven't fallen for her in the same way. Dr Jones truly is awesome. I was very pleased that the two of them bonded nicely, rather than having the jealousy stuff that some of the trailers seemed to be trying to play up the possibility of. And she's truly kicking arse in UNIT. Absolutely fantastic. And Freema seems to really be enjoying doing the evil-double routine as well{7}. Though I shall be highly upset if the Doctor doesn't see through it instantly, on the grounds of them knowing each other so well.

And her theme! That really made me grin. I'm not a huge fan of Murray Gold's soundtracks, but the way he ties them together over all the episodes does work really well, it gets in to your brain on a subconscious level (at least it does for me).

Doubleplusungood on the Tom front, though, just because that was all far too pat at the end of LotTL (I won't mind if they complicate it by showing us his reaction to finding out about the year that never was, but they never will).

ETA: Everyone seems to have liked it better than me. Which makes me happy for Helen Raynor, at least. I shall have to try not letting my expectations get in the way when I watch it again, 'cos I think they were quite a lot.

{1} Given what we're occasionally told about the way RTD dishes out assignments, how much is he the one responsible for this. The spectre of JNT's shopping lists seems to be rearing its head; appropriately so, given the last time we saw the Sontarans was the Two Doctors.
{2} Part of the reason that felt particularly shoehorned in to me was the way it reminded me of how some of the new GCSE Science syllabuses, for all their good points, try to squeeze in the environmental side of things that the government has mandated must be there. In OCR Gateway you're quite merrily hopping through the big Ecology/Evolution/etc. biology module when you have to take two lessons off to do acid rain (chemistry) and global warming (chemistry/physics) on the flimsy excuse that they're "consequences of human overpopulation".
{3} Odds on Mad Larry complaining about his dating controversy joke from Inty being stolen?
{4} Some people aren't inclined to cut the new series that much slack any more, but I still am.
{5} TRAILER SPOILER ALERT! Though from the look of the trailer, I'm guessing we're going to get one of those "the script takes sides" things and the Sontarans want
the nukes launched, so the Doctor is completely right to be telling them not to.
{6} If you want the full effect, imagine the horrible monstrosities of HTML like <blink> and <marquee> which I did actually type, but then deleted again.
{7} Dollars to doughnuts, Certain People are already going on about it being an inbuilt excuse to be wooden, but fie on them.
Tags: doctor who, ep reaction
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