Donna: 'He's too skinny for words. You give him a hug... you get a paper cut.'
triple whammy of returning fixtures tonight, with the Sontarans,
UNIT, and the ever lovely Miss Jones. 'Daleks in Manhattan' and 'Evolution of the Daleks' were two of my least favourite episodes of season three, but this felt like a redemption of sorts for Helen Raynor. The Sontarans haven't been in an episode of Doctor Who since 1985's 'The Two Doctors'. How well did they fare in a modern context? Pretty well, I'd say.
Sontarans were fun and, unlike the Slitheen and the Daleks, I was
actually pleased to see their return. True, at times they were a little
comic book—it's obviously hard to sympathise with a race of
aliens obsessed with destruction and the glory of war—but the same
could be said for most Doctor Who villains. They're a belligerent
bunch, with motivations frequently hard to understand and often contrary to logic. In the
case of the Sontarans, it must have been a breakdown in logic that
caused them to forget to include a probic vent cover on their armour. There's nothing glorious about being defeated by a squash ball.
At first, I didn't recognise Christopher Ryan as
General Staal—his prosthetic head hid his features too well—but his voice was unmistakeable. This isn't Ryan's first time on Doctor Who—it's not even his first time in a rubber mask—he played Lord Kiv in
the 1986 episode 'Mindwarp'. We also got to see just how short the Sontarans really are. Very short indeed. Which makes General Staal the ideal part for Ryan, who's only five feet tall.
meeting of companions went a lot smoother than in 'School Reunion'. Donna's clearly cut from a very different cloth than
Rose, Sarah Jane or Martha. She has no romantic feelings for the Doctor, so the Doctor's fears of a cat fight erupting turned out to be
embarrassingly unfounded. Still, at least we got a laugh out of it.
Donna and Martha actually got on pretty well. Donna likes the Doctor, just not in 'that' way, which has been refreshing this season, as the
semi-romantic sub-plots were starting to feel jaded.
But, Martha—a soldier? I'm
not sure whether it was Freema's dodgy acting abilities, or
whether a bad-ass persona just doesn't jibe with Martha's softness, but her tough chick act was painful to watch at times. Physically,
there's no hardness to Martha. Freema undoubtedly did her
best, but Martha will always be sweet. Evil clone Martha was even less convincing. Like Noel Clarke before her, Freema's acting chops
just aren't up to the job of pulling off a tough guy.
It's always a joy to see
Wilfred. He's the real heart of Donna's family and I love him in any
scene. It's obvious that he loves Donna, and the feeling's clearly
reciprocated. Wilfred's the kind of Grandpa we all wish we had, and Bernard Cribbins is perfect in this role. Which is more than can be said for
Donna's Mum, who's quickly becoming a real irritation. Do Companion's mums always have to be so whingey? I liked Jackie, because despite her incessant
carping, you knew that she had Rose's best interests at heart.
Martha's mum, Francine, I can't seem to warm to, and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to feel anything but loathing for
Sylvia. Maybe they'll both end up having hidden depths?
—The Doctor's 'In-tru-da window' joke was the same gag cracked by American megalomaniac Henry Van Statten in the first season episode, 'Dalek'.
—The 'Sontar-ha' chant was new. At least, I don't recall hearing it before.
—In first season episode 'Aliens of London', the ninth Doctor stated that UNIT were good people. Why the change of heart?
General Staal: "General Staal of the ninth Sontaran battle fleet. Staal the Undefeated!"
Doctor: "Oh, that's no good. What if you get defeated? Staal the not quite so undefeated any more but never mind?"
Ross: "He looks like a potato. A baked potato. A talking baked potato."
Doctor: "Now, Ross. Don't be rude. You look like a pink weasel to him."
"ATMOS means more people driving, more cars, more petrol, end result:
the oil's gonna run out faster than ever. The ATMOS system could make
Luke: "Yeah, well, that's a tautology. You can't
say 'ATMOS System', 'cause it stands for Atmospheric Emission System. So
you're saying 'Atmospheric Emission System System'. Do you see, Mr