The Poison Sky (2008)

The first Sontaran story of the new series, with Wilfred choking to death in his car it was going to be interesting to see how the Doctor was going to get Wilfred out of it. The main problem with the new series two-parters is that very often the second part is not as good as the first. This story corrects that. Helen Raynor made a mistake with her Dalek two-parter the year before but has managed to keep her eye on the end and has written a story that is quite good.

Not only does the Doctor have to deal with the Sontarans but he has no TARDIS and also the cloned Martha. The story does think of the long time fan with a brief mention about Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (who was stranded in Peru) and then the mention of the Rutans who the Sontarans have been in a war with for an astonishing 50,000 years. The Sontaran’s are accused of cowardice which is the ultimate no-no. They plan to change the atmosphere of Earth so that they can breed billions of Sontarans.

If I had to pick this story up for something it would be for the cloned Martha. Unfortunately Freema Agyeman can’t do evil. I just can’t take her seriously when she was playing the evil Martha. The ending is quite abrupt, after an emotional scene with the Doctor, Donna and Martha before the door slams shut and the TARDIS takes flight effectively creating another cliffhanger to the next episode. On the whole, the story is quite good. I think that the re-design of the Sontarans is very good and Christopher Ryan is good as General Staal. They look muscular but it doesn’t look like padding which is a problem that dogged the previous designs. The masks that they have to wear are very impressive though the “they look like baked potatos” comment was obvious and had to be said. It’s obvious that they could afford to do masks for every Sontaran extra (like they couldn’t with the Judoon) but I think in retrospect that was a wise move because it made them to look more like soldiers.

Everyone in this story did a great job. David Tennant is on usual good form as is Catherine Tate who is showing how far the character of Donna has come since The Runaway Bride. It’s good how Donna and Martha didn’t bicker when they first met. Bernard Cribbins’ casting in this series is one of the best decisions of the RTD era. Cribbins gives a warm and friendly feel to proceedings when he is on screen. Ryan Sampson is a lot better in this second part as Luke Rattigan, he slowly starts to realise just what a monumental cock-up he’s made and puts it right at the end when he sacrifices himself and blows up the Sontarans battleship.

The Poison Sky is a great end to this two part story with a great script and some lovely directing. There was another blink and you’ll miss it appearance of Rose Tyler. Yet again I was hoping that something more would be revealed but congrats to RTD for not giving in an revealing too much.

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