blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Doctor Who (2005) s04e04 – The Sontaran Stratagem

Based on the teaser—which spoils Freema Agyeman’s return—I wasn’t looking forward to The Sontaran Stratagem. Mind you, I also didn’t know the Sontaran were a return alien race from the original series so maybe if I was a Sontaran fan….

They’re all right, though they’re functionally really similar to the rhino guys without being adorable. Quite the opposite.

Though they’re affable-looking enough. The episode makes a big deal out of them being strange-looking but they’re not, not for “Doctor Who” London where there are at least annual alien invasions.

The episode also does the first “Doctor Who” revival companion-team-up. There was the episode where Elisabeth Sladen guested but she was a companion on the original series. Agyeman and Catherine Tate have a proper team-up, which—much to David Tennant’s chagrin—doesn’t involve them mooning or cat-fighting over him.

This reunion is a little while after last season’s finale with Agyeman and this season’s Christmas special, which introduces Bernard Cribbins as Tate’s grandfather (though he’s not introduced in that capacity in his first appearance). Although it hasn’t been long, Agyeman’s gotten engaged to the dude she was after from the alternate future and also started working for UNIT, which is basically the SHIELD for “Doctor Who,” including the helicarrier. They’ve apparently been around since the old series but didn’t get involved with any of the alien attacks until fourth season of the new show.

Rupert Holliday-Evans is the UNIT boss. He’s pretty good. Christopher Ryan is the main Sontaran. He’s fine. Ryan Sampson plays a Mark Zuckerberg analogue who sells out humanity to the aliens; he’s not bad.

The episode’s a solid team-up between current and previous companions, with some nice moments for Agyeman and Tennant, and the danger plot—Sampson’s globally ubiquitous car GPS plugin is a weapon—is exciting.

Though Jacqueline King continues the show’s trend of obnoxious companion moms. And Cribbins is best in small doses; the show overuses him.

And it’s great to have Agyeman around.

I was worried as writer Helen Raynor and producer Susie Liggat—who only produces Raynor episodes—didn’t turn in a particularly good two-parter last time but this time… solid. Solid two-parter.

Though the cliffhanger’s a little less world-shattering than usual.

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