Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E04 – The Sontaran Strategem

In the fourth episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, Martha Jones calls the Doctor back to earth when she helps discover that a satellite navigation system installed in cars around the globe are starting to kill their owners. Then SHIT GETS SO REAL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

Guys. Guys. I really, really, really need to say this. And right now:

I FUCKING LOVE DOCTOR WHO. LIKE A LOT.

My reviews have teetered between fanboyish gushing and highly critical bouts of SHOUTY MANGER. But I haven’t come out to say, succinctly, that I am having the time of my life with this show. It’s not that I haven’t realized it until recently. I knew by the end of series one that I was going to really enjoy the show. The thing is…IT’S SO FUN. Yes, scripts can fall apart. Yes, the show tries really hard to go straight for “epic” every time and sometimes they miss the mark. But good lord, this is so fun. It’s like a science fiction party every day I watch the show. I think, for me, “The Sontaran Stratagem,” was just such a solid story that I couldn’t ignore the obvious: THIS IS AWESOME.

Actually, there’s something else that inspired this bit of focused joy. The show does do one thing right nearly every time: they spend a great deal of time making sure to develop the main cast to a point that the mere appearance of them in an episode is enough to send me into a tizzy. No one spoiled Martha’s re-appearance in the show for me. (Someone almost did, but my mods snatched the comment and beat it up behind the twisty slide after school. Hey, asshole: STOP POSTING ABOUT THE FUTURE. Yes, I am talking to you.) But seriously, think about that: just seeing Martha Jones (or Billie Piper, in the series premiere) made me go ABSOLUTELY WILD. And it’s because it only took me just thirteen episodes to feel like the character of Martha Jones was a real person and it was like seeing an old friend again.

This is what Doctor Who does very well. You may not like the main characters, which is fine, but good lord, they are so recognizable and whole. And I love it.

I never expected to see Martha Jones again, flat out. (Well, I also never thought I’d see Rose either, but THERE SHE WAS. Also: HOW HOW HOW.) In the brief time she’s been gone, she’s sided with UNIT and BECOME A DOCTOR. Which I knew!!! I knew about UNIT because of “The Three Doctors,” so I finally felt like I (somewhat) understood what the Doctor was talking about during this episode.

In a way, I feel like this story has some subtle parallels to “Gridlock,” though it’s at the opposite end of the spectrum. This time around, humans are actually trying to fix the carbon emissions and that’s what gets them in trouble. All of this is linked back to Luke Rattigan, a child genius responsible for developing the ATMOS system, who has kind of like the most perfect bone structure in his face and it’s really distracting? Right? It scares me.

The first obvious conflict, though, doesn’t involve ATMOS or the Sontarans returning to the show. I was eagerly concerned with the immediate problem: Martha Jones was going to find out that she’d been replaced. But you know, I should have given Donna some credit before I worried that she’d dislike Martha Jones. It was obvious that neither felt threatened by the other and Donna clearly respected what Martha had done for the Doctor. In fact, it was nice to see them take the piss out of the Doctor right in front of him. You know, I think that if the two of them had fought, it would have been unbearably distracting. Right? The thing is, I get the sense that both Martha and Donna are aware that there’s a lot more to worry about than getting huffy over the Doctor. You know, since FIFTY-TWO PEOPLE ALL DIED THE SAME WAY AT THE EXACT SAME MOMENT ALL OVER THE WORLD.

I knew that Rattigan couldn’t be behind this whole thing along, and that’s when I was introduced to a classic Who villain I’d not seen before: Sontarans. I have no idea what their history is on the show, but I like them already. They’re a species of clones built for war, with fantastically proper speech and a dislike for being dishonored. In short, there’s not a villain like them on the entire show. Their sincerity is almost…adorable? Plus, as Ross Jenkins said, they look like giant baked potatoes! It’s so cute!

What the Sontaran do is not as cute, though. Props to writer Helen Raymor, who wrote last series’s not-so-great Dalek episodes, for keeping me guessing right up to the cliffhanger at the end. I’m still unsure how the clone in the green goo, the poisonous gas, the cars, and the Sontarans are all tied together. It wasn’t even until Martha Jones’s clone rose from the goo that I understood how the two soldiers were “transformed” by the Sontarans. But what’s their master plan? How are they going to conquer earth in this manner? And OH MY GOD Martha nooooooooo YOU CAN’T BE A CLONE oh god please don’t let her die.

Actually, backing up a bit, I really liked the conversation Martha and Donna had about the dangers of traveling with the Doctor. I don’t know if that is this series’s story arc. If it’s not, them I’m really being fooled so far. But Martha being turned into a clone is indicative of this theme brought up in every episode. Martha warns Donna that getting involved with the Doctor ends with someone getting harmed, and ironically, by the end of this episode, she’s the one who ends up trapped and harmed. But she does inspire Donna to take a moment to get away from the Doctor to see her family for a few hours. (The Doctor’s goodbye speech to Donna was SO SAD and I totally was in the same place he was and then OH WAIT, SHE’S NOT LEAVING PERMANENTLY. Oh. OH OK I WAS REALLY WORRIED, GUYS.

Donna heads back to her home and we get to see Wilfred Mott again and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. I’m glad he’s just as excited as Donna is about her traveling with the Doctor. It’s great because he’s so open-minded while still being concerned with her welfare. That’s why it’s all the more heart-breaking at the end of this episode that he’s the one who gets trapped in the car filling with that mysterious gas that comes from the ATMOS device.

I’m worried at this point. I love Donna as the Doctor’s companion. She’s quickly becoming my favorite companion at this point. I love the chemistry she has with the Doctor. But with Martha’s last words to her being a warning about the collateral damage of the Doctor’s actions, I have to wonder: if her grandfather dies in front of her, is she going to stop traveling with the Doctor? I wouldn’t blame her, for the record, but she can’t ignore that Martha was right.

HOW IS THIS GOING TO BE FIXED. I DON’T GET IT

THOUGHTS

  • I love listening to the Sontarans talk. Again, probably not the effect they’d want, but they are SO ADORABLE TO ME.
  • “Do you know what you are? A great big outer space dunce.” LOVE YOU FOREVER, DONNA.
  • “Aw, that’s not a very good nickname. What if you do get defeated? Staal the Not-Quite-So-Undefeated-Anymore-But-Nevermind?”
  • “That is just so cool!” “Is the temperature significant?” “No…that’s…that’s just a phrase.” LOL’N ALL OVER.
  • I’m kind of terrified by drowning so no, thank you, I will not watch that cold open again. Just no.
  • TOM MILLIGAN! I forgot that he’s still alive since time got reversed. AMAZING.
  • “He is too skinny for words. You give him a hug, you get a paper cut!”
  • Intruder window!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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263 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E04 – The Sontaran Strategem

  1. Openattheclose says:

    “Drives me around the bend.” OMG I love you Ross.
    “In tru da window.” NEVER STOP DOCTOR. But maybe quote someone besides Henry Van Statton. And keep making fun of Rattigan please.

    This episode always makes me think of Michael Scott’s experience with a GPS.

    Doctor, you are a dumbo, but I understand your feelings towards Donna perfectly. How awesome was the meeting between Donna and Martha? And then, the reunion with Wilf.

    Speaking of WILF!

    Get him out of that car right now, Doctor!

    I have no idea if these gifs will work, but here’s hoping!

  2. Spugsy says:

    I actually really enjoyed the episode, definitely a writing improvement on the Daleks in Manhattan!

  3. kaybee42 says:

    Guys. Guys. I really, really, really need to say this. And right now:

    I FUCKING LOVE MARK WATCHES DOCTOR WHO. LIKE A LOT.

    My comments have teetered between fangirlish gushing and highly critical bouts of SHOUTY WOMANGER. But I haven’t come out to say, succinctly, that I am having the time of my life with this blog. It’s not that I haven’t realized it until recently. I knew by the end of the first Philosophers Stone review that I was going to really enjoy this. The thing is…IT’S SO FUN.

  4. Merrick says:

    Trivia: The early 70s seasons in which the Doctor lived on Earth and worked for UNIT for budget reasons had issues with not being able to make up their mind about whether they took place in the present or the not-too-distant-future, sometimes seeming to go back and forth on this within an episode. Hence the Doctor's "back in the seventies, or was it the eighties?" line.

    • bookling says:

      Oh! I never got that, not having seen classic Who. That's funny!

    • LittleCaity says:

      Gotta love how the series acknowledges that things were ROYALLY MESSED UP BACK THEN, amirite? Then again, the amount of interferin' the Doctor gets up to, along with the whole, yanno, TIME WAR… we're lucky the timeline makes any sense at all.

      I love UNIT. Oh, Sergeant Benton~ <3

  5. THE Nessa says:

    I don't really understand why people still try and spoil you. It's not that hard to NOT spoil. See? I just did it. One whole comment and not a single spoiler!

    • NB2000 says:

      It's not like there's a whole blog specifically to talk about spoilery things they could use instead…

      oh wait.

    • pica_scribit says:

      But I want to tell Mark all about the episode where the Doctor does the thing with the stuff and people die!

    • Kraznit says:

      Oh man, the next episode is so great when UNIT and the Sontarans solve their problems with a line-dancing conest, and the Doctor and Donna and Martha all get married to each other and live in a castle made of clouds. I can't wait for Mark to be surprised about that.

  6. Albion19 says:

    I love the Sontaran, like little baby jacket potatoes aww.

    Tom/Martha = love.

    lol when Wilf recognised the Doctor and vice-versa.

    YAY at your Who love!!! πŸ˜€

  7. Danielle says:

    Wilf and Donna ILU FOREVER.

  8. PeterRabid says:

    Again, probably not the effect they’d want, but they are SO ADORABLE TO ME.

    <img src="http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/052/4/5/The_Sontaran_Stratagem_by_Spune.jpg"/&gt;
    SONTARANS! I love those potato-heads. I didn’t really care for them as villains until I saw some of their Classic serials. Now I can safely say they are bad-asses.

    UNIT! “I used to work for them back in the 70s. Or was it the 80s?” Ah, the old UNIT Dating Controversy. Well played, Raynor, well played. Only thing missing is the Brig and Bessie. I don’t care that they already did the bring back Bessie bit in ‘Battlefield’ (haha, alliteration!), I’d call that a missed opportunity. Ten needs a turn with that lovely yellow roadster!

    MARTHA! Being a bad-ass!

    DONNA! You can have all the salutes you want, super-temp!

    WILF! I love how he tries to be protective for a moment, then completely gives up within seconds. And Doctor, break the freaking window!

    Essentially, I love everything about this episode. EXCEPT YOU, LUKE RATTIGAN. EXCEPT YOU.

    • Stephen_M says:

      Yeah, not the biggest cliffhanger ever that one… To quote K9: "he is in a CAR! With fragile earth glass windows! And you have shoes on! This is not tricky!" okay, so it's not the exact quote, sue me.

      And oh how I wish the brig had been brought back for this episode. I don't care if he IS retired, still the biggest badass normal in the Whoniverse.

    • PeterRabid says:

      Speaking of UNIT, here's something that has little to do with the topic at hand, but is SO VERY AWESOME.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LBzspwOxBg

      Starring John Levine (AKA Sergeant Benton), a Cyberman, and a Dalek at last weekend's Gallifrey One convention.

  9. Jenny_M says:

    Rattigan is what I picture every time someone brings up Nice Guys on the Internet. Which is funny, because he's not even Nice.

    Um, in other news, I think I own Donna's blue velvet blazer and that makes me happy.

  10. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    I like this one as well. But I like everything, more or less.

    Random backstage snippet: it took Catherine Tate a while to work out there were people in the Sontaran suits.

    As for classic series appearances, the ones to watch are The Time Warrior and The Sontaran Experiment. The earlier ones are scarier, I think, because the latex technology of the time made their faces less expressive. The general set-up is pretty similar when it comes to their way of speaking, as the were created by Robert Holmes (who wrote The Caves of Androzani) who always had an ear for a good line.

    • jackiep says:

      Apparently, David Tennant decided to wind Catherine Tate up about the Sontarans and roped inenough of the crew to convince her that they were just remote controlled robot things with actors projecting their voices via microphones. Seems he managed to pull that one off for some considerable time.

      There's always a great visual gag with the Sontarans that they have these dome-shaped helmets and when they take the helmets off, their heads are the same shape!

      The way that Donna keeps mispronouncing "Sontarans" is actuallly how the author originally thought it should be pronounced, but the Antipodean actor who played the first one to speak on screen had his own pronunciation and that's the one which caught on.

    • flootzavut says:

      I'd forgotten that little factoid, lol, gotta love Catherine πŸ˜€

  11. arctic_hare says:

    I am so happy you're enjoying this show so much, Mark. <3 Even when we disagree about an episode, it is wonderful to see you having so much fun here. Never change. And people who spoil suck, STOP DOING THAT, PEOPLE.

    I don't have a lot to say about this episode, because I just plain don't remember a lot of it and don't have it on hand for rewatching. I don't hate it or anything, they're not the worst episodes ever, etc. they just weren't all that memorable for me aside from a few things. I don't even know why. I'll depart from my usual review style and do this in a list-like fashion.

    – Luke Rattigan annoys the hell out of me. Warmongering little shit.

    – Yay, Martha! ILU, Martha. I also love how she and Donna hit it off and got along well and we didn't go the route of School Reunion's cringeworthy Sarah Jane/Rose interactions.

    – ROSS JENKINS, YOU WIN AT LIFE FOREVER. <3 <3 <3 (One of the ways to my heart is through puns, apparently.)

    – Tom Milligan, eh? Martha, your taste has improved. I approve.

    – I love how Donna fucks with the Doctor with the "going home" thing.

    – I WANT A HUG FROM WILF, WHAT MUST I DO TO GET ONE? πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™

    – The ATMOS thing is rather distracting for me, as a video game geek, because I keep thinking of this (omg, most annoying boss fight in FFV, y/y? HATE).

    – Just not a fan of the Sontarans. They leave me cold. And also, like E.L.S.O.S. said on the spoiler blog, craving a baked potato. I DON'T EVEN HAVE ANY POTATOES IN THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW, LIFE IS SO HARD. FUCK YOU, SONTARANS.

    – NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOT WILF DON'T YOU DARE, SHOW YOU BETTER NOT D: D: D:

    • Amanda says:

      I am not the only one linking ATMOS and Final Fantasy, yay! Actually I was thinking the summon version from IX, as I haven't actually finished V yet. I got stuck, moved on to VI and haven't gone back to it since.

    • agrinningfool says:

      FELLOW FINAL FANTASY GEEK πŸ˜€ (except I barely qualified having only played 7-onward…)

      • arctic_hare says:

        All the high-fives! And psh, you totally qualify! I haven't really played the first three myself, so I can't toss out a rec for those, but I totally do recommend checking out the GBA versions of V and VI in particular (IV's not bad, just not my favorite), whether you have a DS/DS Lite or resort to… other… methods. *cough*

    • amandajane5 says:

      Hee! I always think of Atmos Fere – a balloon characters from one of the Oz books who carries Ozma away for a little while.

  12. flamingpie says:

    I already posted this over at the spoilers blog but I anticipate wider spread love just from the comments so far, so I figure I'll share it here. XD

    <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/bhsuv.png"&gt;

  13. Eric Johns says:

    I’m kind of terrified by drowning too*, so I fast-forwarded past that upon re-watching.

    Honestly, the Sontarans, UNIT, and Luke annoy me way too much for me to get past about ten minutes into this.

    *Long story short, it’s because I can’t swim, and someone who knew that tried to drown me.

  14. kohlrabi says:

    I'm watching along with you Mark and I have to agree, this show surpassed my expectations and I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

    ALSO WILF IS THE BEST EVER

  15. Hypatia_ says:

    I think my favorite part of this episode is when Jenkins and the Doctor escape the Jeep and dive for cover, ready for it to explode dramatically…and it just kind of pops with a few sparks. SUBVERTED. I love how the Doctor seems a bit disappointed. He does like splody things.

    I'm honestly not a big fan of the Sontarans, they're just a bit too silly for me. But that doesn't stop me enjoying this episode. Also, I want to smack Luke Rattigan upside the head. What a twit. I love the bit where the Doctor cuts him down to size by correcting his grammar. As something of a grammar nitpicker myself (though I don't call people out on it because I am neither the Doctor nor a schoolteacher), I am appreciative.

    WILF! "You're one of them aliens!" Oh Wilf, please come be my grandpa. But Donna's mother…urgh. I hate how she just cuts Donna down at every turn.

    I'm so glad you're enjoying Doctor Who, Mark. When you decided to watch it I was a little apprehensive, since it's one of my favorite things ever and I was going to be sad if you hated it. You're right, it's just so. much. fun. This is a lot of why I like it.

  16. Wookie_Monster says:

    I probably need to watch some Old Who stuff because based on just these episodes, I can't take the Sontarans seriously at all. The Daleks have about 100 times more character and they don't even have faces!
    The great thing about season 4, though: Even if I don't care much for the A plot, every episode has enough wonderful character moments to make it enjoyable.

  17. Anon says:

    Well done to Helen Raymor for not letting those overcritical assholes stop her writing for the show. Heaping scorn on writers does nothing productive. I didn't actually like her last two parter but this one is really good fun episode, although i felt sorry for the actor's in the Sontaram get up must have been really annoying.

    • flamingpie says:

      I like Helen Raynor a lot. She also wrote The Stone Rose which… is a bit confusing but is definitely one of the better Tenth Doctor novels.

      • Anon says:

        I've yet to read any of the novels, i am listening to Eight's audio plays which are quite good.

        • flamingpie says:

          Oh shit, actually, I don't think it was her that wrote it. They just happen to share the same last name. XD

          • maccyAkaMatthew says:

            Yes it was Jacqueline Rayner who wrote that. But Helen Raynor wrote a couple of episodes of Torchwood: Ghost Machine which is really solid and To the Last Man. which is wonderful. She's also Steven Moffat's favourite script editor.

            • flamingpie says:

              In other words people involved in Doctor Who need to stop having variations on the same surname. Moffat/Moffett, whole platoon of Bakers…

    • MowerOfLorn says:

      I've got to second this. Every writer has a couple off episodes, and its nice to see that she stuck to it and made a pretty good two-parter.

      • Anon says:

        Exactly, pretty much every one who writes for who ( i like that phrase) has the occasional bad day at the office.

        • arctic_hare says:

          Everyone who writes, PERIOD, has the occasional bad story. Even the best aren't awesome all the time.

        • maccyAkaMatthew says:

          Hilariously one of the people that had a go at her on Outpost Gallifrey said she was somehow sullying the memory of Terry Nation! Now, I love him to bits but there was someone who really could cobble together a load of old tat to make a Dalek story.

          Also, I hate to think what internet fandom would have put Robert Holmes through on the basis of The Space Pirates and The Krotons. Actually, they'd have probably crucified him over The Deadly Assassin as well.

          • Matt says:

            They did crucify him over The Deadly Assassin, but as it was contained to a couple of fanzines and a few letters to the BBC, the nerdrage didn't spread like it would have today.

            Actually if you dig around the Doctor Who archive on the BBC website, some of the stuff that got said about Patrick Troughton could have been cut & pasted from when Tennant took over.

      • maccyAkaMatthew says:

        And the thing is that anyone with even a passing interest in the practicalities of writing should be able to see that those two Dalek episodes are full of really great writing. It's just that they don't quite come together and, if you are sensitive to nonsensical resolutions, the ending can rather overshadow the good stuff that leads up to it. I still maintain it's a two or three rewrites away from greatness.

        And when it comes to judging her by her work, Russell was too ill to do any rewriting work on the script so she didn't benefit from the attention that other less experienced writers (James Moran this time around, for example) benefited from and for which Russell doesn't get an onscreen credit.

        Or, to put it another way, left entirely to Matt Jones, The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit would have had Slitheen in them and not Ood.

        • Anon says:

          That would have been a terrible idea, i can't imagine the Slitheen in The Impossible Planet. I guess it just goes to show what a couple of changes can do to take a so so episode into a great one. Satan and The Slitheen, that could never have ended well or did RTD add in Satan as well.

          • maccyAkaMatthew says:

            They'd more properly have been Raxacoricofallapatorians of a different family, I think. The idea was that they'd be in tunnels under the base, worshiping The Beast, I think. Some variation on Satan was always planned – although they didn't know if they'd find the money until the last minute (effectively the Mill did the CGI for free or very cheap as a training exercise for some of their staff).

            Because they'd budgeted for new Slitheen costumes anyway, RTD decided to invent a new race who could be controlled by the Beast and came up with the Ood.

            • Anon says:

              Well done you for writing out Raxacoricofallapatorians, i used copy and paste. The alternate version of The Impossible Planet/Satan pit sounds like it would have been a pretty poor episode, i'm glad they didn't go for it. Does make you wonder how Daleks in Manhattan would have turned out if RTD hadn't been sick, because there were some good ideas in there.

    • Minish says:

      Helen is in no way a bad writer. Writing a bad episode does not mean your writing is bad.

    • jennywildcat says:

      Well said! I love Helen Raynor for the fact that she came back and did these two episodes even after all the crap certain "fans" threw her way. I actually didn't have a problem with the Dalek two-parter and I didn't realize there was an issue with it until I entered the online fandom (Tread lightly, all ye who enter here). She's one of the Doctor Who people I'd love to meet and thank her for her fantastic writing.

  18. kytten says:

    This wasn't my favourite. In fact I felt it was teh weakest episode of this series so far. After watching it I was a ittle- deflated? Which is weird, because DONNA! and WILF! and RATTIGAN! (who is the best greasy little shit in this show) and MARTHA! and UNIT! I felt like it should be excellent, but somehow, not.

    In short, I was disappointed and I couldn't tell you why, but something jsut felt- flat.

    Oh, and to the person who is spoiling- If you are a troll feel free to ignore me, as I want you to go away and wish you could get your entertainment in a more wholesome, helpful way rather than indulging your lack of self-esteem and desperate need to be noticed on other people; but if you are simply an eager, overexcited fan, we have a spoiler blog for just these occasions when you need to squee in a safe environment. http://markspoils.blogspot.com

  19. FlameRaven says:

    I love these comments and seeing everyone's reactions to the episodes. Reminds me of my first forays into Doctor Who fandom, but with 100% less negativity.

    This isn't my favorite set of episodes in Season 4, but it is awesome to see Martha again. πŸ˜€ YOU GO, MARTHA. I love that she called up the Doctor and was pretty much like "Whatever you were doing is not important, get over here now."

    Question: does information from/about Torchwood count as spoilers? There's are occasional throwaway lines in that show about Doctor Who– nothing huge about future plot, just a bit of trivia, but if you're going to watch that series I don't want to spoil anything.

    • flamingpie says:

      well, no matter what, some events Torchwood is going to end up being spoiled by mentions in Who eventually, so… I don't really know where I was going with this.

      • FlameRaven says:

        Yeah, I know, they spoil each other a bit. Not as much as I would have expected, though.

        Anyway, there's just a mention in Torchwood of how Martha got the UNIT job, and I thought it would be fun to share, since I'm currently obsessed. I…. may have marathoned the entire first season in two days last weekend. >_>;;;;

        If it is spoilery though then I won't post it!

  20. doesntsparkle says:

    "Words are the weapons of women folks."

    Screw you, General Star.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Argh, such a dick! Not to go too OT, but my state's motto is "Fatti maschii, parole femine," or manly deeds, womanly words, and I HATE it. Even in elementary school, our teachers would mention it as an embarrassment. It's like that line is written to tick me off.

      • kytten says:

        Really? They couldn't just change it to 'strong deeds, gentle words?' which is what I assume they mean?

        What SHITS.

        • monkeybutter says:

          That's what they chose to translate it as in the 90s because it's less offensive, but it makes the male = strong, female = gentle connection. I still hate it. I'd be okay with them changing it to just that English translation and losing the maschii and femine from the seal.

          Honestly, though, looking at how fucked up the rest of the country is, I'm thankful one of my biggest complaints is a quasi-official sexist motto.

      • doesntsparkle says:

        Sorry about your state motto. It's almost quaint.

        As much as that line annoyed me, I appreciate that the show explores that idea, considering that talking is pretty much the Doctor's most powerful weapon.

        • monkeybutter says:

          Haha, yeah, not really a tragedy. I can just combine it with the flag and the state sport (jousting) and pretend I live in a Renaissance Fair.

          Definitely agree on that point, though. Especially since he's much better when he's talking things out and not, say, burning everything.

      • Matt says:

        What is it about the word "manly" that when applied to a noun, it makes the subject seem [i]less[/i] masculine?

    • Starsea28 says:

      And that's why the pen is mightier than the sword. XD

  21. Randomcheeses says:

    Ross Jenkins: this episode's Absurdly Attractive Side Character

  22. monkeybutter says:

    Yay, it is really fun! And I think your take-it-as-it-comes, fun approach to the reviews makes watching Doctor Who even better.

    I really like that Sontaran sounds like OnStar, even though they obviously predate it. It's totally a sign that OnStar is an evil alien conspiracy.

    I looooove that Dr Martha Jones is back and was kicking ass at the beginning of the episode! The scene with her meeting Donna is the best thing ever. Agh, I'm grinning so hard trying to write this. Awesome episode, totally makes up for the Daleks.

  23. Spugsy says:

    Oh wow old sontarans are kinda creepier, but in sparkly jumpsuits?!

    <img src="http://www.sliceofscifi.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/sontaran.jpg"&gt;

  24. buyn says:

    I use the phrase Intruder Window at least once a week. I'd use it everyday, but everyone looks at me funny for using it. Oh well.

  25. Inseriousity. says:

    "In short, there’s not a villain like them on the entire show."

    YOU HEIGHT BIGOT. lolol

    I like this episode but Luke's accent annoys me. I'm not American but is it actually any good? (sorry if this has been mentioned)

    • Anon says:

      I'm pretty sure its not intended to be an American accent, its just his.

    • kaybee42 says:

      woah. was he meant to be American? #beingbritishfail I never even realised…

    • Donald G says:

      It's grating to my ears, but it sounds like he tried to base it on Bobby Kennedy with a touch of young Richard Dreyfus sped-up. The American accents come in for a lot of stick, but the ones in the current series are light years ahead of the attempts we used to get in the classic series. (See: "The Chase", "The War Machines", "The Tomb of the Cybermen", "The War Games", "The Ambassadors of Death", "The Claws of Axos" and "Terror of the Zygons" for some frightening attempts at American accents. You may never complain about the accents in "Daleks in Manhattan" again.)

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      LAS;DKFLJAS;DLKFJAS;DLFKLFJKASDF OH SHIT. I DIDN'T REALIZE I SAID IN SHORT.

      lolaskdjf
      lol
      lol
      lol

  26. Hotaru-hime says:

    MARTHA/TOM THE PEDIATRICIAN OTP FOREVER BABY.
    I love the way the Doctor behaves towards Rattigan, because Rattigan thinks he's so clever and the Doctor just appears and goes "Yeah, what? Clever? No. Not really. Nice try."
    HOW ADORABLE IS WILF?! I want him to be a companion SO BAD.

  27. psycicflower says:

    Martha!
    <img src="http://i55.tinypic.com/2dm8bkl.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    Wilf!
    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/bhc7wp.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    Hello Ross Jenkins.
    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/2ntvbbs.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    I love the fact that while the Doctor expects Martha and Donna to fight but they instantly respect each other and get along great. I do like Martha warning Donna that traveling with the Doctor can effect her family. I think it's something that a lot of companions can forget about. I love how when the Doctor thinks that Donna's leaving and pulls out his wonders of space manipulation and Donna just undercuts the whole thing with what an idiot he is.
    I also have to give fair dues to Martha for criticising the Doctor for being a bit high and mighty about UNIT. Firstly, he did get her the job, and secondly, the exact same point Harriet Jones made, the Doctor comes and goes as he pleases, there's no guarantee he'll always be there. It also has the same element of judging past companions, just like he did with Jack during 'Sound of Drums', that I'm not overly keen on.
    There's more I want to say but I think it's better in the context of both episodes.

    ‘But I trust him with my life.’ ‘Hold up, I thought that was my job. ‘You still come first.’ PLEASE BE OKAY WILF!

    Happy to see that you've completely embraced the Doctor Who love. ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

    • __Jen__ says:

      Totally agreed on the Martha/Donna bit and Martha's criticism of the Doctor. He really needed to hear that again.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      >Happy to see that you've completely embraced the Doctor Who love. ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

      Does anybody else want to burst into that song from Oliver?…

      …Just me then. OK.

    • monkeybutter says:

      All the thumbs up for the last bit!

    • pica_scribit says:

      I want a whole episode that's just Wilf and the Doctor giving people hugs. And I want to be in it.

    • hassibah says:

      Yeah, deep down I think Martha always realized she was getting the shit end of the stick in season 3, but it's so awesome and gratifying to see her being totally independent and sticking up for herself now.

  28. kaleidoscoptics says:

    So the best thing about this episode?

    <img src="http://www.burlesoncountytx.com/images/atmos%20energy.jpg"&gt;

    Shit just got real.

    Really, though, I love the difference between Martha meeting Donna here and the School Reunion episode where Rose meets Sarah Jane. Donna's automatically cheerful and friendly and "Oh, I've heard so much about you!" Finally learn something, huh, Ten? :p

    ;__; Wiilf.

  29. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mark Watches β€˜Doctor Who’: S04E04 – The Sontaran Strategem | -- Topsy.com

  30. jackiep says:

    There's lots to love here. The Doctor totally taking the kid down a peg or two (but hey, Doctor pick on somebody your own size). The marvellously anti-climactic fizzle when he and Ross thought that the ATMOS in the jeep was about to explode and hurled themselves to the ground.

    Donna working out what's unusual about the staff at the ATMOS plant far faster than the military types.

    The Doctor expecting another cat-fight (like Rose and Sarah-Jane) getting baffled by Martha and Donna hitting it off straight away. The Doctor going into his full "sorry you're leaving me" speech before realising that Donna just wants a quick trip home to catch up with her family.

    Thought frankly isn't Wilf a bit peripheral for a cliffhanger? Honestly, nice though he is, surely they can just leave him in the car? Just tell Donna that he had a good innings and let him snuff it?

  31. Fusionman29 says:

    A. According to Staal, the Sontarans were not allowed to take part in the Last Great Time War. Weird I wonder why?

    B. The Doctor said he worked with UNIT some time in the 1970s, “or was it the 80s?”: A reference to the UNIT dating controversy. I’ll explain later if you need to.

    C. This episode marks the first television appearance of the Sontarans in 23 years. Their last regular series appearance was in The Two Doctors. They had also previously appeared in several non-canonical or questionably canonical productions, including “A Fix with Sontarans” in 1985 and the early-1990s independent production Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans.

    D. Helen Raynor wrote this episode. Her Series 3 episodes Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks both occupied fourth and fifth episode in the series. This two part episode also occupies episode four and five.

    E. On the Sontaran ship and in almost every shot you will see what looks like an Xbox 360 power indicator complete with the quarter circle lines and a dot in the center the only major difference is that it is purple rather than green.

    F. UNIT has now been rebranded as the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, having previously been known as the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. This followed a request by the United Nations shortly after the series returned to TV in 2005.

    G. The cloning vat in this story is in fact the fountain from DW: The Fires of Pompeii, simply redressed.

    H. During the Sontaran Transporters activation the Master’s drumming can be heard. OH SHITTTTT.

    So did I miss anything?

  32. flootzavut says:

    Intruder window is just brilliant.

    And I LOVE the Doc's goodbye speech, especially watching it again knowing he got the wrong end of the stick it is SO FUNNY!

    Wilf is the best, forevah!

  33. nyssaoftraken74 says:

    I'm always wary of posting too much for part 1 of a two-parter, so I'll keep this…short.

    First of all, I love the Sontarans. Especially in their New Who guise. Having good flesh-and-blood monsters makes a nice change from emotionless robotic/cybernetic killers. Even though they are clones, they're still, somehow, individuals. Individual-ish, anyway. It's such a `temperature significant` idea that they take their helmets off AND OMG THE HEAD IS THE SAME SHAPE!!

    In their first ever appearance in 1973, the Doctor describes them as `nasty, brutish and short` and RTD decided to take the `short` concept to new…er…heights, and I entirely agree with this decision. It makes for a welcome change from monsters towering over the heroes, and to make that really work, it's no use just making them small-ish. Also, the blue armour is a welcome relief from villians in black.

    So, all in all, then, for me this is a triumph of design, and one I can really…look up to.

    I'm sorry for all these height puns – I really ought to try to be the bigger person – but I make them for a reason. Because I think it's amazing that when the Sontrarans do their `Sontar-ha!` war-chant and Rattigan joins in, that little twat just looks so small!

  34. echinodermata says:

    <img src="http://img257.imageshack.us/img257/7573/tumblrl83q2uyt6l1qax6x6.gif"&gt;
    MARTHA JONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Martha and Donna making nice! Such a nice change given past episodes. And I love Martha working for UNIT. And I love Donna asking for a salute. And her being a super temp with her investigative skills figuring out something up with the workers, because she knows that sick days can reveal all manner of sins.

    And then Martha warns Donna to be careful. Seriously, every new companion needs someone to tell them this (even though Donna knew since Runaway Bride that it wasn't gonna be all fun and games). And then she tells the Doctor she's leaving, AND HE GETS ALL STUPID ABOUT IT AND I LOVE THE MISCOMMUNICATION. I have so much love for Donna's and Ten's interactions.

    <img src="http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/5052/tumblrlgobx33x3l1qb8o02.gif"&gt;

    And the Doctor, correcting people's grammar. Crotchety old man right there.

    And I love seeing Wilf again. (Although why must it always be the female relatives of companions that are the annoying ones?) And lol, Donna was The Little General.

    Then ooh, Martha gets cloned. And the cars go deathly, and the world is getting covered in gas. Shit's getting real.

  35. Oh this ep brought such fangirly joy for me. I mean first we have Donna and Martha meeting up and they got along (which was a switch from when Rose and Sarah Jane met up) and then Wilf who is personally my favorite family companion member next to Jackie.
    On the other hand, this ep has made me seriously suspicious of GPS/OnStar and so on. Never installing any of those in my car now. Not that I was really going to in the first place as I can't afford them.
    Favorite Quote: "Donna Noble, since you didn't ask. I'll have that salute now."

  36. Caroline says:

    (Well, I also never thought I’d see Rose either, but THERE SHE WAS. Also: HOW HOW HOW.)

    Well… I could tell you, but then your fans would hunt me down, throw me in the trunk, make my death as painful as possible before finally dumping my body in the desert to be disposed of by coyotes and/or sand worms.

    So I will just say this.

    You are not prepared.

  37. THE Nessa says:

    You saying "It's electric" makes me want to sing the Electric Slide.

    IT'S ELECTRIC. BOOGIE WOOGIE WOOGIE

  38. Angie says:

    I just love seeing people getting excited about something and finding something new to love. Mark, your delight is so contagious.

    How cool is it that The Doctor is teaching Donna how to fly the TARDIS? So cool.

    And Atmos. See, this sort of thing is why I don't trust technology. I don't like completely automatic locks or windows. If something goes wrong – and it WILL go wrong – I want to have manual control over whatever I can. I don't have GPS or fancy electronics in my car.

    It's been quite a while since I watched this episode, and I still was like "Oh hell yeah, Martha Jones is BACK." And I love how Donna just cuts through all the crap and gets to the heart of the matter. While The Doctor and Doctor Martha are talking science, she's out rooting through the files, and finds something interesting right away, something probably nobody else would have noticed or found important. Super-Temp!

    Donna wins the entire galaxy, toying with The Doctor. I totally teared up when The Doctor was babbling.

    I love how excited The Doctor gets about Science! and things. And most of all – I love how HE GETS ALL GRAMMAR POLICE ON THAT PRETENTIOUS, HOMICIDAL LITTLE PRICK. Conditional clause ftw.

    Wilf is absolutely one of my very favorite people in the Whoniverse.

    • agrinningfool says:

      I am so with you on the control aspect.. technology is great.. but it's starting to get a little.. controlling.

  39. Beth says:

    [youtube Jw0HlB54CIw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw0HlB54CIw youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw0HlB54CIw
    Even meaner? You mean it?
    Worse than the widows and orphans you drowned?
    You're the best of the worst around
    Oh, Rattigan
    Oh, Rattigan
    The rest fall behind
    To Rattigan
    To Rattigan
    The world's greatest criminal mind!!!

    *Ahem. Sorry, I got distracted.

  40. __Jen__ says:

    <img src="http://i51.tinypic.com/2q2o7lc.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/33wr0wj.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="http://i53.tinypic.com/317ccud.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="http://i54.tinypic.com/4t1z4x.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/v3ddm1.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="http://i51.tinypic.com/eiw42h.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  41. Jerssica says:

    Ok, it is possible that no one will appreciate this, but I must share it with the world. My nickname for Wilf (who I ADORE) is Grandpa Sondheim. Mostly because when my roommates were watching before I started, I was like "who is this adorable Grandpa version of Stephen Sondheim?!"

    Also, I LOVE this episode and I love that you love Doctor Who so much Mark! YAAAY!

  42. _thirty2flavors says:

    they spend a great deal of time making sure to develop the main cast to a point that the mere appearance of them in an episode is enough to send me into a tizzy

    YES THIS FOREVER. I wasn't sure about Donna when I first started watching series 4, so seeing Martha again was EVERYTHING WONDERFUL IN THE WORLD, as was seeing Rose for a split-second in Partners in Crime. (And now that I love Donna it is EVERYTHING WONDERFUL TIMES TWO.) That's what I love so much about Doctor Who, especially under RTD; I was constantly surprised by the fact that I had such a strong connection to all of these characters. I JUST WANT TO HAVE A SLUMBER PARTY WITH ALL OF THEM AND WE CAN PAINT OUR TOENAILS AND STUFF.

  43. jennywildcat says:

    Mark, your fanboy gushing brings such joy and delight to my heart. Please, gush all you want πŸ™‚

    As per usual, I will keep my comments to the first part of this two-parter short and spoiler-free:

    – I call the Sontarans "Mr. Potato Head from Hell" (even though they are quite cute – but don't let them hear me say that).

    – I'll admit, my heart nearly stopped when Donna was sounding like she wanted to go home – but she just wanted to nip home for a quick visit. *phew*

    – MAAAAAARTHAAAAAA!!!! YAY!!!!! Super-Temp!Donna – EVEN MORE YAY!!! Super-Awesome-Lovable Grandpa Wilf – MORE YAY THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!!!

  44. virtual_monster says:

    First, I can't express how happy it makes me to see Mark reacting to Doctor Who the way I do, and a lot of others do judging from the other comments.

    Second, I feel a need to shout Yay! Sontarans! and generally act like an overexcited small child. Again. I love the Sontarans and have done ever since my then four year old mind was utterly blown away by watching the first one in the show, in the Time Warrior take off his helmet and – as has been said already – find it exactly the same shape!

    I mean, it's a fairly cheap visual joke but I love it.

    Sontarans were created by the legendary Robert Holmes (author of the Caves of Androzani) who decided that rather than submitting a normal story outline to the script ediitor, who in 1974 was Terrance Dicks, he would instead submit a field report from 'Field Marshal Hol Mes' to 'Terran Cedicks'. You just have to admire that kind of humurous disregard for the usual procedure. It's brilliant.

    This episode was of course written by Helen Raynor, showing that last season's Dalek two-parter was not the defining limit of her ability and that she can indeed write a good script. Well, hurrah!

    My only real quibble with the script is the 'words are the weapons of womenfolk' line, or something very similar. Sontarans are a cloned race. They're essentially asexual. Where on earth did they develop this mysogenistic bent? Commander Skorr's line about the female having a weak thorax is, on the other hand, a call back to a line in one of the classic serials., so at least that has a reason behind it.

    • virtual_monster says:

      Oh and another thing… take a moment to admire the absolute fearlessness of Ruari Mears, the man playing the featureless clone. FIRST they dress him up in a skintight latex costume including a headpiece that covers his eyes, nose and ears, so that he is blind and almost deaf and can only breathe through his mouth and THEN he lies down, submerged in a tank of liquid, while wearing said mask.

      I'd be having screaming nightmares after that. A ssuming they had found a team of wild horses to drag me near the mountain of sedatives it'd take to get me to cooperate. He however apparently takes it all in his stride.

      I am in awe of such people.

      Also, I can't spell 'misogynist' apparently. Except now.

    • anobium says:

      Another fun thing about the original Sontarans: Because of the thing about them being clones, all the Sontarans in the first two Sontaran stories were played by the same actor, Kevin Lindsay.

      (Okay, that only works out to three Sontarans all together, because they cheated and kept the Sontaran Hordes offstage – but it's still nice that they made the effort.)

  45. ooohlivia says:

    The Sontaron look like the lovechild of a potato and a rhinoceros, haha

  46. Karen says:

    I had a super busy day today, so not only am I late to the party, I didn’t even have time to get pictures to go alone with my comments. I’m sure you’ll survive.

    Anyway, this two parter isn’t my FAVORITE EPISODE EVER, but I do enjoy these episodes. Mostly because Luke Rattigan is such a hilarious brat. I kind of love him. But of course there is only one true supervillain named Rattigan (1000 meaningless points to anybody who knows what I’m talking about!). I like that he’s not evil, exactly. Just a socially awkward genius with big plans.

    Also how can you not laugh at the conversation between the Doctor and Luke. Two socially awkward geniuses in one room. It was sure to bring the giggles. They’re so endearing/obnoxious when they’re correcting each other’s grammar, sniping at each other about saying ATMOS system and conditional clauses.

    The other great thing about this episode is the return of Martha Jones! I think that the reunion between Martha and the Doctor is super sweet, but I’m not sure how I feel about soldier!Martha. I mean, I get that they wanted to show that Martha had moved on from the Doctor, and that’s why they have her being engaged to Tom Mulligan because that really is an easy and short hand way to show that Martha is over the Doctor. But at the same time I kind of wish that Martha could have just been fine with being awesome on her own for a while. Not that it’s bad to have romantic relationships. That doesn’t make a female character weak at all. It’s just that after all the drama with her crush on the Doctor, I think it would have been nice to see her on her own and happy about it.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the Doctor is like ~fire~ stuff. Idk. I do get why Martha is concerned for Donna’s family because hers definitely went through a lot due to her relationship with the Doctor. But at the same time… idk. The Doctor being like fire stuff just never rings completely true to me for some reason. I guess I just think it makes him sound more… scary or something than he really is. Hm. Idk. I’ll have to think about it some more.

    Speaking of Martha, how creepy is that faceless pre-clone thing that the Sontarans later turn into clone!Martha? FACELESS THINGS ARE UPSETTING TO ME.

    Donna is pretty wonderful in this episode too, starting with her flying the Tardis in the beginning. And then she’s sweet to Martha. I just absolutely love her in this episode, calling out Unit for behaving like Guantanamo Bay and saying “I’ll have a salute”. BE MORE AWESOME DONNA. I DARE YOU. And I love Donna’s reunion with Wilf. Wilf is the best.

    That scene where the Doctor briefly thinks that Donna is leaving him for good is so sad! The Doctor He has so much emotional damage, and I guess he’s just used to companions leaving him like that. Although it was kind of mean of Donna to let him keep going on when she knew full well she wasn’t leaving for good. But that part where the Doctor said, “You saved my life in so many ways.”? AWWWWWW….

    Plotwise, I do like the idea of evil GPS systems. It reminds me a bit of the evil Blue Tooth devices from series 2. Idk. I just think that it’s interesting when you have something that is gaining in popularity today be used for eeeevil on sci-fi shows. Adds a nice healthy bit of paranoia to my life.

    I am glad that they brought UNIT back to the new series, but I AM SO SAD THAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE BRIG. I LOVE THE BRIG. The Brig is one of my favorite Classic Who characters.

    Phew. This was a lot less organized than I usually am, but it’s 11 PM and I just got in like 45 minutes ago and I’m ready to fall into bed, so c’est la vie.

  47. FlameRaven says:

    Ah, it is! This is what I get for not rewatching the episodes along with Mark, but, well, time constraints.

    If they reference it in this episode than I don't feel bad posting the dialogue from Torchwood.

  48. Nikki says:

    The Time Warrior was the very first Old Who serial I ever saw. And while I wasn't used to the pacing so it seemed to really drag for me and get pretty boring at parts, my attention was always caught whenever Linx the Sontaran came on screen. I just loved him! And I have loved the Sontarans ever since! One of my favorite Who villains. So I was quite happy to see them back in New Who!

    Honestly, for me, the thrill and enjoyment out of this episode was from seeing Martha and the Sontarans again. The plot itself wasn't anything special to me.

  49. Guesty McGee says:

    Yay for gratuitous Michael Palin reference! πŸ˜€

  50. Starsea28 says:

    Comment seems to have disappeared. πŸ™

    I love Martha and Tom together. I love Martha and Donna immediately bonding and then making fun of the Doctor and putting him on the defensive.

    The Doctor’s goodbye speech to Donna was SO SAD and I totally was in the same place he was and then OH WAIT, SHE’S NOT LEAVING PERMANENTLY. Oh. OH OK I WAS REALLY WORRIED, GUYS.

    Haha, I wasn't. Another opportunity for Donna to undercut the Doctor! He goes into his lyrical speech about all those worlds out there and then the anvil hits him.

    "You're… you're just going for a visit, aren't you?"
    "You dumbo."
    "And then you're coming back?"
    "D'you know what you are? Great big outer-space DUNCE."
    "Yeah."

    I will never get tired of Donna telling the Doctor he's an idiot and the Doctor AGREEING with her. Never stop being awesome, Donna Noble.

  51. Minish says:

    Mmmmm Ross Jenkins mmmmm

    …Sorry, did anything else happen this episode?

  52. Bobcat says:

    I really, REALLY love this two-parter.

    Lots of people go on about "ooh it is well average," "ooh it is not an EVENT FINALE." But it's WONDERFUL.

    The Sontarans are brilliant, for starters. I love that they're not this superintelligent formidable superspecies of ultimate terror who are the scourge of the universe. They're just belligerent and fearless. Gloriously unsubtle but all the more menacing for it. Funny, interesting, and quite formidable as opponents. (SO many good lines where they just don't "get" human lexicon. Love how direct and literal they are. They have no sense of nuance whatsoever. Fantastic.)

    But the entire two-parter is just… it's intense, it's interesting, it's exciting, the characters are wonderful, the cliffhanger is genuinely terrifying (Wiiiiiilf!!!), but it's a brilliant romp. Honestly, my favourite example of the "light two-parter" format. Better than Aliens of London, better than Rise of the Cybermen, light-years better than Daleks in Manhattan. It's exciting, pacey, but ultimately fun Doctor Who at its finest, in a big long story which has room to breathe but never gets boring. Wonderful, wonderful two-parter.

    Plus, gets a couple of extra points 'cause "Stratagem" spelt backwards is "Megatarts."

  53. peacockdawson says:

    I always thought the sontarans looked like chins with faces on them. Y'know, where you flip your head over and stick on some googly eyes?

  54. sabra_n says:

    "The Sontaran Strategem" is a wee bit of a letdown after the first three episodes of this season, but that's pretty much par for the course for the season's first two-parter, and this is worlds better than the excerable Dalek nonsense from last year. So yay Helen Raynor for doing much better the second time around.

    And yes, thank Betsy for the lack of stupid, pointless catfighting over the Doctor when Martha and Donna met. I don't want to give the show points for refraining from being awful, but some pretty bad standards were set in the last couple of seasons, so it was a relief when the two companions did the sensible thing and started mocking the Doctor instead.

    Rattigan is a horrid little Adam 2.0, and I don't really have much more to say about him than that. The fact that no one is breaking the stupid window makes the cliffhanger kind of facepalmy. And with the way he's always heard of but never seen, Tom is coming off as a bit of a "NO REALLY I AM OVER YOU DOCTOR" beard for Martha, who deserves better. But…really, the whole thing can coast on Doctor/Donna love. I just love watching those two together, period.

    I love that the Doctor got called on his holier-than-thou initial attitude towards UNIT, and that the organization was depicted as a mix of decent and awful people, just like most massive organizations tend to be. I love that Ten is giving Donna TARDIS driving lessons, and that she demanded a salute because she refuses to be the Doctor's accessory. Catherine Tate makes this series, seriously.

    • Bobcat says:

      Have you ever tried smashing a car window? Tough wee buggers. Two layers of glass with a layer of plastic sandwiched in between – windscreens are quite well reinforced.

      You'd need some kind of weapon to get it open. You can't just punch a hole in it, any more than the woman who drowned at the beginning could've escaped by smashing her car windows open. Nothing wrong with the cliffhanger in my book.

      • Bobcat says:

        (Doesn't hurt that Wilf's a serious contender for the award of "loveliest bloke ever," and seeing him in even the faintest sliver of danger is enough to make me cack myself.)

        • arctic_hare says:

          Yeah, this cliffhanger made me freak out more than most of the other ones, just because Wilf in danger is so much OMG DO NOT WANT EVER for me.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        This. If I remember correctly, the side windows have less reinforcement than the windscreen, but it would still take a lot of force to break either one.

        I've heard that throwing the ceramic part of a spark plug works, but you'd have to know about that, and you'd have to actually have one with you and be able to throw it very, very hard.

        In one of the episodes of Mythbusters that actually has direct real-world relevance, they tested myths about escaping a car that's going underwater. Pretty much the only methods of breaking the car window that worked were two different hammers (one spring-loaded, if I remember correctly) that were specifically designed for breaking car windows. Which, again, really only works if you actually have one with you.

        • kristinc says:

          "Pretty much the only methods of breaking the car window that worked were two different hammers (one spring-loaded, if I remember correctly) that were specifically designed for breaking car windows."

          Late comment is 44 weeks late, but since this pertains to real-world safety: not true. After watching that Mythbusters episode I started making sure there was a good-sized screwdriver in the glove box because that will work too. You can't do it with your fist or your foot or a key, but an item of reasonable striking mass will punch a hole in the window and get you out.

          So in the time they spent dithering around the car, someone could have grabbed a fist-sized rock from a garden or something and gotten Wilf out. Of course, they were panicking, so it's still fairly realistic that they might not have thought that clearly.

      • sabra_n says:

        But they aren't even trying – the Doctor tries the screwdriver (understandable), and then Donna just…tugs on the car handle. And tugs. And tugs. And keeps tugging, even though it clearly isn't doing anything, all to service an extended cliffhanger sequence.

    • Skuggestalt says:

      This is the first time I've posted a comment here, and I hate that THIS is what it's about. I'm acctually crying right now ;_;

      R.I.P Brig

  55. Mauve_Avenger says:

    It looks like everything else I wanted to say has already been said, so instead I'll just say this:

    "I’m kind of terrified by drowning so no, thank you, I will not watch that cold open again. Just no."

    The drowned woman's surname is similar to (though I think more common than) my mom's family name.

    When I was watching, the video just happened to skip a little both times her name was mentioned, so I legitimately thought that I'd heard my family's name and then saw the person who shares that name get trapped in a car in the river.

    <img src="http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m593/the_mauve_avenger/tumblr_le84b8Bpdv1qaf7eh.gif"&gt;

  56. fakehepburn says:

    YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

  57. Bilbo-sama says:

    For some odd reason I don't remember Martha meeting Donna very well. I should fix that sometime.

    Speaking of UNIT: According to Twitter ( #RIPBrig ), Nicholas Courtney aka The Brigadier died today. D:

    • flamingpie says:

      I just posted about this in a comment thread. sad, sad day. :'(
      http://io9.com/#!5767742

    • Cinthya says:

      Whenever I see/hear the Brigadier's name I will always remember when David was asked who he fanboyed over. He said that before he was on the TV show, he did some audio dramas and Nicholas Courtney was on one of them. He said that the first time he met him he couldn't help but think "Its the BRIGADIER!"

    • BBQ Platypus says:

      That's very sad news. I'm gutted to hear it. The world's a poorer place without him.

    • kytten says:

      NO! Not brigadier Alistair Gordon Leftbridge-Stewart! He is my favourite side character ever! Tht will make me sad all day. πŸ™

  58. trash_addict says:

    Sontarans….not my favourite.

    But, hey, Martha! Congratulations on getting engaged to a really hot dude.

    <img src="http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lgoyhopm4k1qcwmn8o1_500.gif&quot; alt=""/>

  59. Caraaaa says:

    I love the bit where Donna made the Doctor think she was really leaving. I really love it. I was laughing so hard when I saw it and then I rewinded my dvd and watched again.

    Donna Noble appreciation 'life.

  60. Sierra says:

    Ack, this two-parter has a couple of pretty awesome lines but I can't remember which episode they actually happen in. I really need to get this season on DVD.

  61. hassibah says:

    "I know he is too skinny, hug him and you'll get a papercut"
    ILU Donna and the random shit you say. Also the "you've got a box and they've got a Ferrari" line

    Yeah so I've been MIA glued to the news and my schoolwork in the last while, but I'm stoked people like this episode. The fun ones never seem to get the same amount of love as the serious ones but I love them all the same. The Sontarans are tied with the Daleks as my favourite aliens, I don't know if they were this funny in classic who but so far I am in love, they are basically stuffy British potatoheads!

    Plus THERE IS MARTHA. I could tell last season Helen Raynor could pull off some good stuff if she wanted to and I'm glad that this time it worked out for her because really, those other two eps really aren't as bad as people make them out to be. Hopefully I'll get to catch up with my rewatch today so I'll be able to comment on the next ep properly.

  62. Starsea28 says:

    But it's okay, nobody would notice, right? ;P

  63. ScarecrowCeno says:

    I love the Sontarans and they're so perfect here. Love their "chant" at the cliffhanger as they work themselves up. Rattigan is a great character… he's an annoying little git but he's written so well as one. This is such an entertaining and action packed storyline, so much happens… and Wilf!

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  66. Noybusiness says:

    "It wasn’t even until Martha Jones’s clone rose from the goo that I understood how the two soldiers were “transformed” by the Sontarans"

    Actually, the soldiers were hypnotized, not cloned.

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