Doctor Who: The Poison Sky

Doctor: 'Are you my Mummy?'

For all this season's faults, I couldn't take my eyes off Tennant tonight. His first season in charge was a patchy affair—the scripts alternated between brilliant and cack with tedious regularity—but at this juncture, he's in serious danger of toppling Tom Baker as my favourite Doctor. The dialogue was perfect, his delivery sublime. He totally inhabits the role now.

Initially, I thought the ATMOS storyline a little weak, but once the Doctor had uncovered the Sontaran's fiendish agenda, the story suddenly took on a life of its own. I'm not sure how setting fire to the atmosphere didn't frazzle the earth's surface and everyone on it, nor how it didn't burn up the oxygen, but seeing the sky aflame was undeniably spectacular. It provided The Mill with a welcome opportunity to stretch their visual effects muscles, and they delivered—so we can forgive the sheer unlikeliness of it all.

Thankfully, Donna's mum, Sylvia, softened her act tonight. It's been painful to watch her constant griping at Donna. She can't conceive for one moment that Donna could actually be a useful member of society—which makes it all the more frustrating that Donna can't tell her about her new life. Maybe then Sylvia could be proud of her daughter. In the end, at least she got to tell Donna how she felt—it's just a shame the world almost had to end for her to say it.

As per usual, the scenes between Wilfred and Donna stole the show. How can Wilfred deny Donna a life amongst the stars when he's spent his whole life staring out into space, dreaming the same dream? At least he can live vicariously through his granddaughter now. I really can't say enough good things about Cribbins. Despite Wilf being a relatively small role, the character's so perfectly drawn and acted, it feels as though we've known him forever. I'm stoked that he'll be returning for Tennant's last hurrah.

As seems to be the norm these days, UNIT taking control of the situation almost ended in the world exploding. People like Colonel Mace shouldn't be left in charge of the TV remote—I've never known a man exude less confidence. Unfortunately, people had to die before he started to respect the Doctor's authority. Poor Ross. Poor UNIT. Massacred because of having an idiot in charge. The Doctor was right, though—shame the Brigadier wasn't on hand. Now there was a man you could rely on.

And Luke finally got his comeuppance tonight. He's not been the most likeable of characters—narcissists rarely are, unless, of course, they're quick witted, funny and handsome. (Like Captain Jack.) I found it hard to get a firm handle on Luke. Did he kill the Sontarans as an act of redemption, or simply because he was pissed off at their betrayal? Whatever his reasons, he saved the Doctor's life, which led to a great closing scene, with Martha on the Doctor's arm and Donna slapping him. That was so Donna. Great writing. Great reactions. Average story.

Other Thoughts:

—The Rutan's were briefly referred to this episode. They were last mentioned in 'The Two Doctors'.

—The Doctor saying 'Are you my Mummy' was a reference to the season one episode 'The Empty Child'.

—Rose appears briefly on the TARDIS' screen. The scene, according to a later commentary, was a deleted scene from 'Midnight'. As such, this is the first episode to feature all three companions in the same episode.

Billie says...

And now after "technology is evil" and "pollution will kill us," we got "nuclear war is bad." No kidding. I've always had a problem with "it reaches 80% saturation and suddenly it's fatal" though, because it always sounds like technobabble. I mean, why not 79%, or 75%? What about if you're closer to it, or further away? And the solution didn't ring true for me. No matter what the machine did, wouldn't the atmosphere have caught fire and razed the planet? Did they just kill millions of birds? What about planes?

I thought Luke the teenage genius would be betrayed and killed by the Sonatarans, so his self-sacrificial heroic turn was a nice surprise. I guess the Doctor showed him what real genius and real heroism actually was. I also liked that "Martha" didn't fool the Doctor for a moment, because I wouldn't have believed it.

Sylvia is an utter pain who treats her daughter terribly, but I liked the way she just whacked the windshield with an axe and got Wilfred out of the car. As Paul said, the Donna/Wilfred scenes were something special, too. "Are you my mummy" was just hilarious. Loved the Doctor's hair standing up around the straps of the gas mask, too.

All in all, a good two-parter. Not great, but definitely better than some of the others. And I was pleased that Martha didn't get away so quickly. Although I would, of course, prefer Captain Jack.

Quotes:

Colonel: "My god, they're like trolls."
Doctor: "Yeah. Loving the diplomacy, mate."

Staal: "You impugn my honour, sir."
Doctor: "Yeah, I'm really glad you didn't say belittle, cos' then I'd have had a field day."

Staal: "The planet is going nuclear! I admire them; the bravery of idiots is bravery nonetheless!"

"Martha": "When did you know?"
Doctor: "About you? Right from the start. Reduced iris contraction, slight thinning of the hair follicles on the left temple, and frankly, you smell. You might as well have worn a T-shirt saying 'clone'. Although maybe not in front of Captain Jack."

Sontarans: "Sontar-ha! Sontar-ha! Sontar-ha!"
Luke: "Sontar, ha!"
---
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.

3 comments:

shawnlunn2002 said...

Meh, this one was repeated on BBC3 tonight. Not a favourite, I just felt this whole Sontaran story could've been dealt with in one episode.

Martha Clone wasn't convincing but am I glad that our Martha gets another adventure with the Doctor and Donna, even if she doesn't want it.

Luke's death didn't move me. I just didn't care for the character but I couldn't get enough of Wilfred and Sylvia had some good moments.

The Rose appearance was interesting. Little tacked on though.

Patryk said...

As soon i saw a gas mask being tossed the Doctor's way i thought "Are You my mummy?" so i was in stiches when the Doctor actually said it. This moment might make the entire episode worth it alone.

The burning sky effect was very nice but well it kinda shatters suspension of disbelief when you think about it too much... So i won't. But one question, they showed the Valiant. I wonder if it was below the fire-level ir did it burn?

Michael Colvin said...

I think that the Luke character would have been better in the hands of a slightly older mid-20s actor. Someone like a younger Justin Long. It didn't quite do it for me. But I am continuing to really love Donna. This two parter with her and Martha really show how much of a stronger actor/character she is over her, so kuddos to the writers for knowing the difference.

I have to admit that I saw Rose on screen and subconsciously tuned it out. So much was going on that I didn't realize its importance until reading the review.