“The Poison Sky” – Review: Redux

Commander Skorr “This isn’t war. This is sport.”

The Poison Sky

The Poison Sky was the conclusion to yesterday’s cliffhanger although no-one was expecting the surprise of another one tagged on the end, which, upon original broadcast, had been only slightly spoiled by the BBC’s “One to Watch” trailer earlier in the day, more on that later though.  It hardly took a great mind to work out the best way to rescue poor Wilf from the car, in fact while the “great mind” was tinkering about under the car with his suddenly impotent sonic screwdriver, it was Sylvia, whose handy (and somewhat scary) burglar-detering axe was readily available for some windscreen smashing, and a short time later we were back in to the action finding out why the Sontaran’s wanted  to poison the sky in the first place.

The soon-to-be-deceased Ross returned to the scene with a London cab devoid of an Atmos device, to take Donna and the Doc back to the factory.  Of course, if Ross had been around when the car deadlocked Gramps inside then he’d have the window smashed within seconds… we like Ross, well “liked” at any rate.  He had potential to be a Seargeant Benton for the noughties in case of future Unified Intelligence Taskforce storylines but it was not be.  Although may be Colonel Mace and Captain Price will be back to develop their rather unnecessary romantic tryst.  Overall, UNIT salvaged some pride as they fought back against the Sontaran invaders thanks to their secret weapon on the returning HMS Valliant, it was good to see ‘em in action.

Elsewhere, Donna continued to grow into her role as a wünder-companion after being unknowingly transported off to the orbitting Sontaran ship in the hijacked TARDIS.  There was a slice of typical new-Who introspection with an emotional phone call back to the family before venturing into the clones’ ship, taking out a Sontaran guard (“Back of the neck”) and switching the teleporting back on in the nick of time.  Just before all this of course, there was a blink and you’ll miss it appearance of Rose silently calling for the Doctor on the TARDIS console.  This series’ arc is not really a subtle one like “Saxon”, or a crowbarred one like “Torchwood” or “BadWolf” but still seems to fit into the narrative in a much smoother yet more mysterious way.  It wouldn’t be the last time that all three of the most recent main companions appeared together (to a greater or lesser extent) in an episode, but even by the point of “The Poison Sky” I am already outing myself a Donna fan. Catherine Tate had made me swallow my negative words about the casting decision to bring back Donna and I was loving her performance and character. Just goes to show why I only talk about telly rather than having any clue as to how best to actually make it.

Christopher Ryan and Dan Starkey clearly relished their roles of first and second in command of the alien force and, as was mentioned in Doctor Who Confidential, it was a welcome change to have the main threat of the episode being able to deliver some great dialogue such as the frankly magnificent “They’re running like slimebait from a speelfox”.  Their betrayal of Luke Rattigan was hardly a surprise and even though the young lad’s blinkered megalomania came crashing down around his ears it was a nice touch for him, with nothing left to lose, to finally make the ultimate sacrifice to save the day.  I just wish that the Sontarans could be brought back again in a more menacing way.

And so to the end of the story.  Donna pops into the TARDIS’ console room as Martha is saying her goodbyes, only for the door to slam shut and the time maching to take flight all by itself with the Doc’s Hand-in-a-Jar bubbling away to itself.  Having Martha’s plea to “Take me home, right now!” previewed front and centre in the episode trailer meant that this was not the biggest surprise in world but it was a nice touch and echoed the old days where consecutive stories were knitted together in this fashion.  Coupled with the “Hello Dad” in the Next Time sequence, this set up “The Doctor’s Daughter” perfectly.  It’s just such a shame that the overnight viewing figures dropped below 6 million because of the far too early time-slot.

Highlight: “Back of the neck!”

Lowlight: Less than 6m viewers! The start of the slide?

Talking Point: Sontaran: A race to be feared or a race to be mocked?

Demon’s Run Rating: 14 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 3rd May 2008

Marathon Status: Getting close to half-century of reviews in this marathon

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