Doctor Who series 4 episode 4 review: The Sontaran Strategem

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Anyway, Martha’s now on the UNIT staff, and no longer in love with the Doctor, thank heavens. Much was then made of how she was working from the inside, and basically how bleedin’ clever she was. So much so that when two strangers escorted her to a meeting down the end of a long corridor with faltering lights lining it, she never batted an eyelid. Sigh. Has she ever watched any science fiction or horror movie, well, ever…?

It wasn’t the only moment that lacked logic, in an otherwise decent if unspectacular story from Helen Raynor (she who penned the terrible Dalek two-parter Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution Of The Daleks, the lowlight of season three). Great though it is to have Bernard Cribbins back in the show (and it really is), and fun though it is to have a bit of dialogue that hints at his legacy in the show, surely it didn’t take Einstein to realise that a brick would break the glass window of a car? Bluntly, if I was stuck in a car with a satnav system pumping gas in my face, and found the door wasn’t working, I’d like to think I’d at least attempt to kick the window out before I smack my hand against it in a dramatic way. It might not win me a BAFTA or anything, but I can live with that.

In all, this was a mixed bag of an episode. The reverence to the Who legacy was much appreciated, and the cloned Martha Jones that popped up is a welcome ingredient for part two of the story (and proved more interesting than the real Martha Jones, as it happens). On the other hand, much of it felt meandering, and the exchanges between Martha, the Doctor and Donna (who was sent home for most of the episode) all felt a bit forced. The satnav control mechanism seems a retread of the Archangel mobile phone network of last year, and there wasn’t much in the way of real momentum or excitement. Hopefully too they’ll do something with the child genius in the following episode, too, because in this one he just seemed to be a plot fix rather than any kind of interesting character.

It does set the scene for next week, though, which looks to be where all the budget has been spent. And if it’s the time where the Sontarans do get to finally kick ass – as it looks like they do – then we’re booking our seat on the sofa now. Just get Bernard to knock that window out, though…?

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