Doctor Who and The Poison Sky
Posted by dailypop on May 23, 2008
Doctor Who- Series Four- Episode Five
The Poison Sky
The new series has a very poor record of decent two parters, doesn’t it? In fact, out of the 2-parters so far only The Doctor Dances/Empty Child and maybe The Rise of The Cybermen/Age of Steel are any good if I’m being generous. In the past the problem has been a superb set up with a lot of running around and shouting on the conclusion (as seen in The Family of Blood), but in this case the first episode was so poor that the story had nowhere to go but to the very shallow end of the pool.
There seems to be some major misunderstanding with the Sontarans as being clones. They are, in fact, all clones bred from the same genetic stock. Yet this story displays the Sontarans as masters of cloning technology full stop. In the back of my head a hope glimmered that this may be a nod to the shape-shifting enemy of the Sontarans, the Rutans… but I quelled my hopes since this series has shown again and again that it is just not that clever. No, the Sontarans simply clone people yet leave the host body alive for some reason and also clone all the personality aspects that could get in the way of their plans (like compassion or the inability to kill in cold blood) and none of the useful bits (like any personality traits that would convince anyone who really knew the original that the clone was genuine and not a knock-off).
Brilliant military tacticians, eh?
It’s because of this that their Martha clone can do nothing but hit a ‘No’ button on her palm pilot while UNIT struggles to launch a worldwide nuclear attack on the Sontaran base ship hovering in place. It’s so silly and demeaning an act that my eyes nearly rolled out of my skull. The fact that The Doctor later revealed that he allowed this masquerade to take place because he was desperate for a way to halt the nuclear attack hardly helps.
The ‘comedic’ moment referencing ‘The Empty Child’ where The Doctor dons a gas mask and asks the Brigadier ‘Are you my mummy?’ was so jaw-droppingly horrid that my wife turned to me asking if it really happened. This kind of sending up of the program is killing any hope of the series having even a sliver of dignity left.
The subplot involving the child geniuses rears its ugly head and was so poorly developed in the first part that I was left wondering who these terrible young actors were and what they were doing in the show. As if to show them all how it’s really done, Ryan Sampson as Luke Rattigan overacts the lot of them and spends the rest of the story in a kind of over-acting haze. It’s truly the most magnificent display of terrible acting I’ve ever seen. Well done.
We are treated to extreme close-ups of newscasters reporting doom for humanity for the fourth time in as many years and it is extremely obnoxious and not at all engaging as a narrative device. Someone needs to tell RTD that this looked dated the first time he did it in 2005, it looks down right embarrassing now.
The Sontarans are undone by a last-minute plot contrivance weapon that is thrown together so quickly that it becomes rapidly apparent that the program just does not care of you can follow it anymore. A weapon that ‘ignites the atmosphere’ strikes me as a dubious way to save the planet (wouldn’t it start a planet-wide fire that is never extinguished?) yet seems to work out just fine… somehow.
The entire exhaustive experience plays out with Martha cramming her way back into the TARDIS with some reference to being engaged to be married… but what the hell? Off to adventures!
A poorly constructed, over-acting beast of a story, this ranks up there with last years Dalek 2-parter amongst the worst that the program has to offer. If this is the direction that Russell T Davies wants to take the program, I’m very happy that his days are numbered.
With viewing figures taking a very noticeable dive this week at 5.9 million viewers, giving it a 32.5% share of the total television audience… I’m not the only one.
Doctor Who is taking a break (mid-story???) this week on Sci-Fi in the United States but will return next week May 30th.