Audio Drama Review: The Oseidon Adventure

We’re back, with another Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama review! This week, we’re listening to The Oseidon Adventure, the conclusion to the Fourth Doctor Adventures, series one. Let’s get started!

Spoilers ahead for anyone who has not listened to this audio drama!

Oseidon Adventure 1

Immediately following the events of Trail of the White Worm, the Doctor and Leela watch as the white worm transforms into a spatial wormhole, and the Master calls his allies through.  Many tanks come through the wormhole, until the Master stops the rain, causing the procession to stop.  The tanks are occupied by Kraals of the Second Kraal Army—and they are led by Marshal Grinmal, who remembers how the Doctor destroyed the first army.  The Master offers the Doctor as a gift to the Kraals, who summon their deadly android servants.  The Doctor sends Leela away as the Androids take him down; she promises to return with allies and weapons.  The Master sends Spindleton in his own tank to recapture her.  Grinmal wants to take the Doctor back to their homeworld of Oseidon, but the Master wants to kill him now; the androids intervene and disarm the Master, taking away his staser; they then send the Doctor back through the wormhole to their chief scientist, Tyngworg.  Meanwhile, Spindleton loses Leela in the woods, and sends his helicopter to find her.  The Kraals bring the Master back to the house with Spindleton.  Grinmal negotiates with Spindleton, who wants to rule England when the Kraals conquer the rest of the world; Grinmal approves the plan, and imprisons the Master in the stables; he swears revenge.

Leela uses a horse from the stables to trample the androids guarding the Master. He tries to hypnotize her, but she slaps him, breaking the spell; she frees him, intending to make him fly the TARDIS to rescue the Doctor.  Meanwhile, Spindleton and Grinmal confer about strategy, and Spindleton wants them to attack the local village, Dark Peak, as an example to the surrounding country.  Spindleton wants to burn it, but Grinmal suggests a matter-dissolving bomb.  On Oseidon, the Doctor is restrained by Tyngworg; he jokes about having been strapped to that table before.  Tyngworg intends to drain off the Doctor’s knowledge with an analyzer device, as his predecessor once tried to do; it will take eight minutes.  Outside Spindleton’s house, Spindleton and Grinmal see Leela and the Master race by on one of Spindleton’s prize horses; Spindleton prevents Grinmal from shooting them, for fear of hurting the horse, assuming that the army will hem them in.  Grinmal dispatches the army toward Dark Peak.  Leela gets the Master to the TARDIS, but the Kraals are guarding it; therefore Leela takes Master and the horse through the wormhole to Oseidon.  Beholding the ruined landscape, the Master explains that the surface is radioactive; he suggests that the Doctor is in the nearest of the Kraals’ underground bunker.  Unknown to them, Tyngworg is monitoring the area, and overhears the plan.

The Master and Leela find the Doctor, who is disoriented and calls Leela “Tilly”; he explains about the transfer (or rather, copy) of his knowledge. Tyngworg is monitoring the cell as well, and hears the Doctor tell Leela that the Master will be dropping in on Tyngworg, and that therefore they should go there as well.  Moments later, the Master arrives, but Tyngworg is on his side; Tyngworg mentions that the Doctor in the cell is an android duplicate, which does not know it is a duplicate.  Tyngworg insists he is aware of events on Earth.  The Master tries to hypnotize him, but is unsuccessful, and finds that he himself is an android; Tyngworg is the real Master in disguise.  He sheds the disguise and destroys the duplicate.  The real Doctor is still on the table; he congratulates the Master on his success; however, the Master still intends to kill him.  First, however, he resumes Tyngworg’s voice and calls Grinmal for an update; Grinmal reports that Spindleton has delivered a slightly-eccentric ultimatum to the British government.  He also reveals that UNIT is approaching, and the Master orders him to detonate the bomb as soon as UNIT arrives, even if the ultimatum has not been answered.  When Grinmal objects, he activates an override code for the androids, ordering them to return to Dark Peak and activate the bomb.  The Doctor congratulates him again, but then says it may have been a mistake to leave him connected to the analyzer; his ongoing experiences are still being fed to the android duplicate, so that it knows everything now.  The android arrives to attack, but is shot down at once; but the Doctor is not deterred.  Instead, his duplicate had taken the opportunity to create a Tyngworg duplicate, which is even now ordering the androids to disarm the bomb and attack the Kraals.  The Master loses contact with Grinmal, but in retaliation, he orders an autodestruct of the android Tyngworg.  He then moves to attack the Doctor, but suddenly funds that again, he is an android—and as he ceases to function, the real Master has yet to be seen.  Leela rejoins the real Doctor at the behest of the duplicate—and the Doctor wonders where the real Master is, and what he is doing, as the Kraal invasion seems to be a distraction.

On Earth, UNIT is mopping up the Kraals and the androids, but they can’t find Spindleton, and astrange-colored blood trail leads into the woods. The duty officer at UNIT HQ hands the base over to the Master, and is killed for his trouble.  Spindleton and the Master infiltrate the Doctor’s old lab at UNIT, where Spindleton begins to rebel; however, the Master hypnotizes him and sends him out to join the guards.  On Oseidon, the Doctor and Leela create a new duplicate of the Master to interrogate.  The duplicate doesn’t believe he is an android, so the Doctor has him try (and fail) to hypnotize Leela; he lacks the psychic empathy field that real Time Lords possess, and therefore cannot do it.  Leela intends to melt him down, causing him to beg them to stop; the Doctor wants him to betray his original self, but he refuses.  The Doctor realizes that the wormhole is an integral part of the Master’s plan, but how?  He realizes the duplicates have the Master’s personality, but not his knowledge relevant to the current situation; therefore he looks at recently-deleted items in the Kraal computer.  He finds a file indicating that two types of harmless radiation, Z-radiation and O-radiation, can combine to create deadly ZO-radiation, which has the power of a billion neutron stars.  The Master duplicate realizes that the real Master wants this radiation to restart his regeneration cycle and become functionally immortal.  If he does so inside the wormhole, he will survive the process.  Oseidon is saturated with O-radiation; for the requisite Z-radiation, he turned to Earth, knowing that the Third Doctor once stashed a Z-radiation battery in UNIT HQ after failing to jump-start the TARDIS with it.  The android breaks free of its restraints, forcing the Doctor and Leela to run away.  The duplicate accesses the records to learn the real Master’s plan; but he finds a message from the real Master, who anticipated this possibility.  Accessing the deleted files activated a matter dissolution bomb under the lab, which will detonate in seconds.

Outside, Leela recovers the horse, and uses it to get them back through the wormhole to Earth. There they meet Captain Clarke, who is acting commander of UNIT while the Brigadier is away on business in Canada; the Doctor has him contact HQ, but he gets no response.  The Doctor realizes the Master must already be there, trying to steal the battery.  The Doctor persuades Clarke to order the convoy back to HQ; he takes Leela to recover the TARDIS and get there ahead of the soldiers.  He insists that if the Master has already succeeded, Clarke will meet him on the way back to the wormhole; the battery plays havoc with TARDIS navigation systems, forcing the Master to transport it by road.  At the TARDIS, they encounter Grinmal, who alone survived the betrayal.  Leela subdues him.  However, the Doctor hears a helicopter, and realizes that the Master is sending the battery through the wormhole in that manner.  As anyone aboard will die in the detonation, the Master can’t be there; and they only have until he arrives to recover the battery and seal the wormhole.  Grinmal realizes his world is about to be destroyed, and volunteers to help stop the Master; he takes Leela and goes to recover the battery, while the Doctor wants to find out how to seal the wormhole.  Meanwhile, Spindleton has arrived on Oseidon with one of his men and the battery; they set up in the mock village of Devesham that the Kraals use as a training center.

Using the TARDIS, the Doctor intercepts the Master, who admits to the plan. The Doctor tricks him into admitting that a temporal pulse will close the wormhole, as executable by any TARDIS.  However, the Doctor reveals that the ZO radiation cannot be controlled; he suggests that this Master as well is a duplicate, and that the real Master is waiting in orbit.  The Master draws a staser, and decides to kill the Doctor at once.  On Oseidon, Leela and Grinmal kill Spindleton’s man, and intends to recover the battery, but Spindleton reveals that it is very unstable, and will trigger if he falls on it.  He reveals his goal in the plan; the Master promised him a rebuilt country, filled with android duplicates which will obey him.  Spindleton shoots Grinmal.

The Doctor demands proof that this Master is genuine before he dies; he suggests that the real Master intentionally withheld knowledge about the uncontrollable nature of the radiation. The Master insists he is real because he can sense a Time Lord in the vicinity (a function of the psychic empathy field), whereas the Doctor doesn’t sense one.  The Doctor admits defeat.  The Master contacts Spindleton and reasserts his control over him; Leela sees this and attacks Spindleton, dragging him away from the battery.  The Master tells the Doctor he will activate the battery by remote; and he forces the Doctor toward the wormhole.  However, the android from the exploding lab comes through the wormhole, having escaped the blast with only some damage; the real Master fires on him, but staser blasts can’t hurt an android, and the duplicate captures him, leaving the remote with the Doctor.  The duplicate drags the real Master into his TARDIS, intending to force him to repair him and give him control of the TARDIS, as he now considers his android self to be the superior version of the Master.  The Doctor bids them goodbye, and takes his own TARDIS to Oseidon’s Devesham.  He finds Leela and Spindleton, and plans to take Spindleton to UNIT custody; but Spindleton intends to stay here, finding this mock village preferable to the real England.  He sends them away, but asks them to take the horse home and set it free; though it’s a magnificent horse, history reports that it was a famous stolen horse, and therefore they can’t return it to its original owners.  They depart in the TARDIS with the horse.

Oseidon Adventure 2

After a rocky start, the first series of Fourth Doctor Adventures ends strong in this story. We pick up immediately after the events of the previous entry, Trail of the White Worm, with the titular worm having transformed into a wormhole to the planet Oseidon, home of the mutated and militaristic Kraals. In typical Master fashion, what follows is a series of twists. The Kraals are known for one thing in particular; they create fantastic android duplicates which have not only the form of their victims, but also the personality. Therefore, once this story begins, it will be a long time before you know who is real and who isn’t. I won’t spoil it; but for once the twists are perfectly deployed. Once again we see the mock village of Devesham as deployed in The Android Invasion; and this time it ends up with a permanent human resident at the end (although, if he is not also an android, he may not last very long—a point that isn’t really addressed when the Doctor leaves him there).

This is a UNIT story, and as such it is hard to get a firm date. The promotional material indicates it takes place in 1979, but with the difficulty in dating UNIT stories near the end of the Brigadier’s tenure (due to contradictory statements within the classic series—the infamous “UNIT dating controversy”), it may actually have to be as early as 1975. UNIT HQ is mostly unchanged, with the Doctor’s things still in the lab. The Brigadier is still around, but is not seen here, being on assignment in Canada. The Master seen here is again the Geoffrey Beevers incarnation as seen up to The Keeper of Traken, indicating this story predates that serial, but comes after Dust Breeding. He’s at his best here, playing several conflicting versions of himself; with disguises and stasers and plots within plots, this is a story that harks back to the Master stories of the Fourth Doctor era very well, and even somewhat to the Third Doctor era.

Leela gets a better treatment here than in some of the earlier stories. I don’t mean to harp on the same point all the time, regarding the Doctor’s poor treatment of her; it’s just that it continues to be relevant! Here, however, there’s none of that for once (she does get called “Savage”, but by the Master this time, and his opinion hardly counts). She’s quite a force in this story: rescuing the Master, navigating the wormhole, freeing the Doctor, taking out the Kraal leader Grinmal, and then allying with Grinmal to recover the Z-battery, the story’s macguffin. She began the series weakly, but ends very strong, and I couldn’t approve more.

There’s one new bit of technobabble here, which adds to the lore of the series a bit: Time Lords possess a psychic empathy field, by which they recognize each other when close together, and by which the Master is able to easily mesmerize others. It’s been handwaved a bit in the past, but here it’s an integral part of the story.

References are mostly back to The Android Invasion, and I’ve covered most of them. The Doctor does refer to meeting the Master last on Gallifrey (The Deadly Assassin); and the Master’s TARDIS is in the form of a grandfather clock, which it will still be as of The Keeper of Traken.

Overall: Great story, with little to complain about. If Series Two is this good, we have something to look forward to.

Oseidon Adventure 3

Next time: I’m debating between Series Two, with the Fourth Doctor and Romana I (played by Mary Tamm before her untimely death), and another range. We’ll find out next week. See you there!

All audio dramas featured in this series may be purchased from Big Finish Productions; this story’s purchase page is linked below.  This and many other selections may also be found on Spotify and Google Play.

The Oseidon Adventure

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Audio Drama Review: Energy of the Daleks

We’re back, with another Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama review! This week, we’re listening to Energy of the Daleks, the fourth entry in series one of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. This audio drama was written and directed by Big Finish producer Nicholas Briggs, and stars Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. Let’s get started!

Spoilers ahead for anyone who has not listened to this audio drama!

Energy of the Daleks 1

An astronaut named Damien Stephens is about to make a spacewalk from his shuttle to a base on the moon—but his vitals are not right. Nevertheless he plunges ahead.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor and Leela are preparing to land in 21st-century London.  Leela has dressed for the occasion, at the Doctor’s direction, but the TARDIS’s sensors indicate something is not right about their destination.  The Doctor lands them in the year 2025; for once they are noticed immediately, but the first observer they encounter is surprisingly nonplussed.  The man indicates that a protest is about to take place, however, intriguing the Doctor, who takes Leela to watch.  Aboard the moonbase, Stephens arrives and meets crew members Lydia Harding and Kevin Winston, who have made some minor adjustments to the control systems.  Stephens is noticeably tired, and asks for his quarters to rest before the system’s test run.  As he sleeps, he hears strange, mechanized voices in his head. Lydia and Kevin discuss Stephens’ strange behavior, and Lydia persuades Kevin to illegally access the security camera in Stephens’ quarters so they can monitor his health.  They find him thrashing and mumbling in his sleep—“I must obey!”.  The system mysteriously shuts off.  Stephens finds himself transported back to his office in GlobeSphere Corporation’s headquarters, where he is confronted by Daleks.  Shortly afterward, Lydia finds Stephens in his quarters, refreshed and ready to begin the test.

The Doctor and Leela find the protest, which includes thousands of people, all of whom are protesting the treachery of “Globesphere”, the GlobeSphere Corporation. The sight of a large holographic screen makes the Doctor realizes he has landed in the wrong time again; he was aiming for 2015, but has brought them to 2025.  He locates an access terminal for the holographic internet; it doesn’t recognize him at first, but he uses his sonic screwdriver to gain access.  He researches GlobeSphere, and learns that the date is 30 January 2025.  The Earth, it seems, is in the grip of an energy crisis—but GlobeSphere, under Damien Stephens’ leadership, intends to solve it.  The Doctor is distracted by an announcement from the protest—one Jack Coulson is about to take the stage.  Coulson’s speech takes place in front of the National Gallery, which now has a huge energy receiver on its roof.  Coulson’s speech is primarily economic, decrying the increased prices that are projected to accompany the transition to GlobeSphere’s new energy source, and the shortages that will result in the meantime, which may cause many deaths.  Just before the crowd can become a mob, a private security force arrives to disperse the crowd, and the crowd turns to conflict, forcing the Doctor and Leela to separate.  Leela is arrested by one of the security officers, whom she finds she is unable to hurt despite her best efforts.  The Doctor, meanwhile, locates Coulson and shows him an energy reading coming from the National Gallery; he escorts Coulson away from the scene.

Leela is taken for processing, but she is unable to answer her captor’s questions, and finds that he behaves as though drugged. The man uses soundwaves to temporarily incapacitate her.  A security scan reveals that she is a time traveler; and the men—the Robomen, to be precise—report it to the Daleks.  She is taken before the Daleks, who use a cerebral probe on her to gain more information.  They question her about her time travel and history; but she is mostly able to resist at first.  However, she is unable to avoid revealing that she is with the Doctor.  Meanwhile, the Doctor talks with Coulson about his history with Stephens; they used to be partners, until Stephens abruptly went off on his own to found GlobeSphere.  Stephens’ advancements are brilliant, but perhaps too brilliant; in their past, Coulson was the intelligent one, while Stephens was the radical.  Further, Stephens gave up his radicalism when he founded GlobeSphere.  A news dispatch reveals that the protest has been dispersed.  The Doctor decides to infiltrate GlobeSphere in search of Leela and the source of the anomalous readings.  He gets Coulson inside the National Gallery via a WWII-era evacuation tunnel.  He determines the energy readings are anomalously high for this era; and Coulson tells him the first test of the system is expected to start at any time.  At the same time, the Daleks detect their entry, and conclude the Doctor is on the scene.

The test of the energy transmission system commences. On Earth, the Doctor hears the Daleks announce his presence to their troops in the building, and he realizes the energy readings are consistent with a Dalek timeship.  On the moon, Kevin realizes the energy levels are far too high, much higher than anticipated; but Stephens assures them it is according to plan.  Kevin and Lydia are not convinced; and suddenly a transmission comes through.  The Daleks congratulate Stephens on doing well, and announce the beginning of the destruction of the human race.

Coulson is shocked to learn a little of the alien origins of the Daleks; but there is no time to discuss it. The Doctor and Coulson witness the Robomen guards, and the Doctor concludes that the timeship is small, with perhaps half a dozen Daleks.  He realizes, as well, that Leela must have been interrogated, and will be inside the timeship.  Coulson has little choice but to go with him; but first, the Doctor borrows Coulson’s “little TV” (a smartphone or datapad, presumably).  Inside the timeship, the Daleks release Leela from her bonds.  She insults them, and insists that the Doctor will defeat them; but they decide to have her robotized.  They have the Robomen place her in the robotizing unit for conversion. She is at first able to resist the control wave, but the Robomen increase the power accordingly.

On the moon, the test ends, and Lydia and Kevin question Stephens about the high energy levels; at that level, and worldwide, they would be a hundred times the amount of energy needed by humanity. However, Stephens has set the controls to maximum, and started the countdown.  In the National Gallery, the Doctor encounters some Robomen, and uses the television device to overload the microwave control signal, disabling them.  He and Coulson disguise themselves in the Robomen uniforms and make their way to the chamber where Leela is imprisoned, encountering more Robomen along the way; it seems Leela is causing trouble with the robotizing process.  The Doctor again uses the TV device to disrupt the control wave, and frees Leela from the machine, introducing her to Jack.  He discovers a Janis thorn in the back of a dead Roboman; the Doctor scolds Leela for using them, but not harshly, as the Robomen are mostly dead already.    The Doctor searches for the energy source, and finds it is close by, about a hundred yards away.  However, a Dalek enters the room and catches them; the Doctor, Leela, and Jack get the Dalek into the robotizing unit and activate the machine at full power.  The Dalek becomes briefly compliant under the effect of the machine, and the Doctor interrogates it.  It reveals the Daleks are there to use the solar energy—focused from the moon—to destroy humanity.  It reveals a teleport (transmat unit) nearby, connecting to the moonbase.  The machine overloads and explodes, disabling the Dalek.

The Doctor, Leela, and Coulson hide from the Daleks in Stephens’ office; the Doctor reveals that the transmat unit is in the office—specifically, built into Stephens’ chair. As the Daleks break in, the Doctor activates the unit, teleporting the three of them away.  They arrive on the moonbase, in Stephens’ bed; Stephens is also there, but unconscious.  The Doctor disables the transmat, preventing the Daleks from following.  However, before he can do anything else, Kevin and Lydia discover their presence and take them into custody. Lydia recognizes Jack, giving the Doctor an opportunity to explain; he accurately describes the current situation. On Earth, the Daleks take their ship and set course for the moon to exterminate the Doctor.  En route, they send a signal to reactivate Stephens.  As Stephens awakens, the Doctor reveals that Stephens is a high-functioning Roboman.  Stephens recognizes the Doctor, lending credence to the Doctor’s explanation; this makes Kevin hesitate at obeying Stephens’ order to kill the Doctor.  Jack tries to get through to Stephens, but is unsuccessful, and the man runs from the room to obey his Dalek orders.  As the others follow, Kevin gets a message from the control center of the base, stating that the Daleks have arrived—and moments later, the control center crew are exterminated.  Shaken, Kevin leads the Doctor and the others to the energy transfer controls, where Stephens is accelerating the process.  Kevin and Lydia evacuate the rest of the crew while the Doctor deals with Stephens.  Leela convinces the Doctor to let Jack talk to Stephens again, as she knows it is possible to resist the Robomen control wave.

Jack distracts Stephens while the Doctor examines the layout of the transfer system. Jack successfully breaks through to Stephens’ buried emotions, but he is unable as yet to stop him from his work.  Meanwhile the Daleks are advancing on the transfer control room.  The Doctor realizes that the system, when fully active, will put a force field around the Earth; but why?  Stephens manages to reveal the Dalek plan:  the overpowered energy source will counteract gravity, expelling the moon from orbit, and thus causing massive meteorological changes that will exterminate humanity.  The Daleks arrive at that moment, and confirm this; they state that the controls are locked, but the Doctor insists on trying to stop the plan anyway.  Meanwhile, Leela can hear the sound of the Dalek timeship nearby.  The Daleks can’t fire on the Doctor, for fear of destroying the controls.  Stephens tells the Doctor to access the power grid of the directional controls, and the Daleks immediately exterminate them.  They threaten to kill Leela to get the Doctor to stop, and he is forced to do so.  The countdown reaches zero, and the transfer begins.  Exultant, the Daleks explain that they came back in time to ensure the extinction of humanity before their many future battles with the Daleks.  The Doctor orders his friends to cover their ears, and he activates the same sonic wave he used on the Robomen, disrupting the Daleks’ concentration and impairing their vision.  The Daleks retreat, still confident they have won.  The Doctor reveals that yes, the beam will still fire.

As the Daleks prepare to leave, they discover that the beam has been redirected at the timeship’s power source. The ship explodes, destroying the Daleks and damaging the base.  The Doctor tells the others what he has done, and credits Stephens with the final clue that allowed him to redirect the beam.  Jack mourns Stephens’ death, and the Doctor admits that he does not know if Stephens could have survived had he not been exterminated.  He reflects that there is a lesson to be learned from Stephens’ desire for a shortcut to the future.  He sets to repairing the transmat for return to Earth.

Energy of the Daleks 2

It’s that time again: the Daleks make their first appearance in the Fourth Doctor Adventures! It’s not a bad Dalek story, either, serving as Leela’s first encounter with them. It’s very much in the classic mold; there’s no universe-sized threat here, but the destruction of Earth is at stake. The moonbase seen here—operated by energy research company GlobeSphere Corporation—is suggestive of the titular facility from the Second Doctor serial The Moonbase, but it can’t be the same, as that serial’s base was established in or around the year 2050, some 25 years after this story. Still, it indicates that the world’s space programs are well underway, and humanity is taking its first tentative steps outward from Earth.

We don’t delve very deeply into the science at stake here. The energy source being channeled to Earth is suggested to be solar, reflected by and collected on the moon; but it begs the question of why the moon is needed—wouldn’t it be more efficient to collect sunlight directly on Earth? Nor is the plan to negate the Earth’s gravity well explained—in fact, it hardly gets a breath’s mention in the dialogue. There’s no time to worry about it, however, because this story moves at what passes for breakneck speed in the Fourth Doctor era—the entire story, with the exception of GlobeSphere CEO and lead scientist Damien Stephens’ arrival and nap at the moonbase, probably covers no more than two or three hours.

The Robomen, first seen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth (and again in The Mutant Phase), appear here. We learn that they are controlled by a microwave carrier wave, and that this can be disrupted by certain sonic frequencies; as well, it can be resisted by a strong mind, with mixed results. We get a glimpse of the process by which humans are converted into Robomen, but it is interrupted before completion. Robomen have appeared in different forms in various stories; this story is the chronologically earliest appearance, but it’s not the earliest development of the technique, as the Daleks here are from an unspecified point in the future. Unlike the Dalek Invasion of Earth Robomen, the ones seen here can visibly pass for normal humans in a crowd, leading me to suspect that they are the later and more advanced version seen in the audio dramas The Human Factor and Project Infinity (which I have not yet covered). If this is the case, it would place these Daleks as originating after the year 4162, as noted in The Human Factor. Interestingly, Davros and Skaro get no mention here (a first for the Fourth Doctor’s adventures with the Daleks); you can interpret that as you may wish with regard to the Daleks.

Although it’s not the first story of the series, this is the first recorded; and as such it’s Tom Baker’s first appearance for Big Finish, as he does not routinely appear in the Main Range. He’s clearly enjoying himself, and his performance here is similar to the BBC Audio Fourth Doctor Adventures (Hornet’s Nest, Demon Quest, Serpent Crest), which were recorded around the same time (2009-late 2011). As well, this is a better story for Leela, and the usual air of condescension between the two characters is greatly toned down. Susan Jameson doesn’t get a lot of dialogue here—Leela’s part is more minimal than in some of the other entries in the series—but she carries it well, getting at least a few good, humorous lines:

Coulson: Are you as barking mad as the Doctor?

Leela: I do not “bark.”

Coulson: …Oh. Right, then.

The supporting actors are good here, especially Mark Benton in the role of protest leader Jack Coulson. There’s an appearance by Dan Starkey, who is better known as the Sontaran Strax; here he plays a Roboman and also moonbase crewmember Kevin Winston.

Continuity references: Leela is still carrying and occasionally using Janis thorns (The Face of Evil, et al); here she uses them ineffectively on the Robomen, whom the Doctor states are nearly dead anyway. She mentions her previous visit to London (The Talons of Weng-Chiang), and refers to the police as “Blue Guards” (many stories, but beginning in Talons). The Daleks refer to various human defeats of the Daleks in the future, which may include The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Daleks’ Master Plan, and many others, though it’s not specified. 2025 in London is a busy time for the Doctor, as he will reappear there in his seventh incarnation in Project: Destiny, and again in Black and White.

Overall, my impression of this story is that it’s very believable. I read in another summary that it seems Nicholas Briggs intended to evoke the Baker era, “with union protests, energy crises and general civil unrest”. That may well be, but in a similar fashion, it’s fitting for today’s world as we approach 2025—less than a decade away as I write this! We have a renewed focus on solar energy, research being made into wireless energy transfer, talk in recent years (here in America, at least) about returning to the moon, an internet that is on the verge of adapting to holographic technology, portable devices that can serve as televisions (among many other functions), and widespread protest movements. It’s not so farfetched to imagine this world arriving soon, sans Daleks and Time Lords of course. But there’s hope to be had, both in the real world and in this story, and the Doctor, as always, embraces that fact. This story doesn’t try to play the fear angle for the Daleks, instead focusing on the threat angle; and it works. The result is a good story, and possibly the highlight of the series (two-part finale pending).

Energy of the Daleks 3

Next time: We’ll get to the aforementioned two-part finale—and revisit another old foe—in Trail of the White Worm! See you there.

All audio dramas featured in this series may be purchased from Big Finish Productions.  This story’s purchase page is linked below.  This and many other selections may also be found on Spotify and Google Play.

Energy of the Daleks

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Donna, Meet Martha: New Series Rewatch, Series Four, Part Two

We’re back, with our new Doctor Who rewatch! Today we’re continuing Series Four, with three more episodes: The two-part The Sontaran Stratagem and The Poison Sky, and The Doctor’s Daughter. Let’s get started!

Spoilers ahead for anyone who has not seen these episodes!

sontaran-stratagem-1

In *The Sontaran Stratagem*, journalist Jo Nakashima is thrown out of Rattigan Academy after trying to expose the danger of the ATMOS system.  She leaves a message for Colonel Mace of UNIT about it.  Luke Rattigan recommends her death to his unseen allies.  The ATMOS system takes over her car and drives her into the river, killing her.

The Doctor is teaching Donna the basics of flying the TARDIS, when a call comes in on Martha’s old phone.  Martha is calling, summoning the Doctor back to Earth.  She takes the Doctor and Donna to join a UNIT raid on the ATMOS factory, led by Colonel Mace, and tells him about a string of ATMOS-related deaths.  ATMOS is ostensibly an emissions-reduction system, but it with 800 million cars on Earth, that’s a lot of coverage if it should be weaponized.  Meanwhile, in the depths of the factory, two soldiers encounter some zombie-like workers outside a sort of biolab, inside which is a sarcophagus-like machine.  Inside the machine is a green solution…and an incomplete, human-like creature. The soldiers are intercepted by General Staal of the Tenth Sontaran Battlefleet, “Staal the Undefeated”, who disables their weapons by using a cordolane signal to expand the copper jackets on the ammunition.  Staal then captures them for “processing”.  When they emerge, they are under Staal’s control.  Staal transmats back to his ship.

The Doctor determines that ATMOS does work as advertised.  Martha chastises the Doctor for his belligerent attitude toward UNIT—“You can come and go, but some of us have to stay.”  Donna discovers that the factory has never had a sick day, which is conspicuous at best.  The Doctor inquires about ATMOS’s creator, Luke Rattigan.  Martha counsels Donna to keep in touch with her family, and tells her about the things her own family suffered while she traveled with the Doctor.  Donna opts to go visit her family while the Doctor checks out Rattigan Academy.  Martha examines captured workers, and finds them to have strange vital signs and to be under some kind of compulsion.  However, en route to tell Colonel Mace, she is picked up by the two enslaved soldiers.  They take her to the biolab for processing.  Donna meets up with her grandfather and tells him where she’s been, but he cautions her not to tell her mother.  She tells her mother that she’s been travelling.

The Doctor is dismayed to see that ATMOS is also in UNIT’s jeeps.  With UNIT soldier Ross Jenkins, he meets with Luke Rattigan at the Academy, with whom there is instant tension; he intentional provokes Rattigan, who isn’t used to being contradicted.  He points out that a piece of “art” in the building is actually a teleport pod; and he teleports himself to the Sontaran ship.  Staal follows him to Earth, and is stunned at the Doctor’s knowledge of the Sontarans.  The Doctor uses a ball to hit Staal’s probic vent, temporarily disabling him, and uses the opportunity to escape with Ross; he temporarily disables the teleport as well, but Staal quickly fixes it, and takes Rattigan to the ship.  He declares them to be on a war footing.  Rattigan learns for the first time that the Sontarans are clones.  He reveals that the devices are in about 400 million cars on Earth, more than enough.  Staal sends his lieutenant, Commander Skorr “the Bloodbringer”, to Earth to start the final process.  On Earth, Skorr oversees the creation of a clone of Martha in the biolab, which will be attached to her mind via a headset so that it can mimic her.  Meanwhile Staal realizes that he is facing the Doctor; he has never gotten over the fact that the Sontarans were not allowed to fight in the Time War, so he will relish the Doctor’s death.  He activates the ATMOS in the Doctor’s jeep, and the vehicle takes control of itself; it is deadlocked, trapping the Doctor and Ross inside, and drives toward the river to drown them.  The Doctor uses a reverse psychology trick to disable it and escape; Staal believes it works, and assumes the Doctor is dead.  The Doctor goes to recover Donna, and Ross calls for a vehicle without ATMOS; the Doctor properly meets Wilfred for the first time, and meets Sylvia again.  The Doctor calls Martha, but unknowingly gets the clone, and warns her about the Sontarans; she hides the warning from Colonel Mace.  The Doctor tries to disable ATMOS on Donna’s car, and finds the system has secrets; it contains a converter that expels poison gas.  When the converter system trips the alarm on the Sontaran ship, Staal realizes the Doctor is alive, and sends his troops into battle.  Donna realizes that all the ATMOS systems on Earth are enough to poison the atmosphere.  Wilfred becomes trapped in the car, as all the ATMOS units activate at once.

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Picking up in *The Poison Sky*, UNIT seals off and clears the factory and the command center, while Donna uses an axe to break open the car.  Sylvia tries to get Donna to stay with them, but Wilf encourages her to leave with the Doctor, which she does, using an elderly UNIT car that is ATMOS-free.  The Doctor gives Donna a TARDIS key of her own, and sends her to the TARDIS.  Meanwhile the Martha clone taps into NATO’s defensive systems to obtain strategic data for the Sontarans; while on the ship, Luke Rattigan is overcome with excitement at the onset of war.  Just before the Doctor arrives at the command center, the clone gives Mace the Doctor’s tip about the Sontarans, so as not to arouse any suspicion.  The Doctor arrives and warns Mace not to attack directly.  The Sontarans teleport the TARDIS aboard their ship.  Rattigan returns to Earth to rally his own “troops” at the Academy; Donna, spying from the TARDIS door, overhears the Sontarans commenting that Luke is acting according to plan.  Meanwhile, the Doctor—with the Martha clone in tow—searches for the TARDIS, and finds it missing.  He begins to suspect that something is amiss with Martha; he lies to her and tells her that Donna has gone home.  At the Academy, Rattigan unveils the truth to his students—that all their work has been for the purpose of starting a colony on another world after the Sontaran conquest—but against his expectations, they are horrified rather than thrilled.  He begins to have a breakdown, and pulls a gun on them; but they walk out on him, calling him “sick”.

UNIT locates the Sontaran ship, and plans a strike, but the Doctor warns them off.  He commandeers the communication system and contacts the ship, contacting Donna in the TARDIS as well; Donna briefly sees Rose on the viewer before switching to the Doctor.  He accuses Staal of cowardice for their plan, and deduces that the war with the Rutan Host is not going well.  Staal counters by revealing the TARDIS.  The Doctor drops hints for Donna to pay attention, and to call him from the TARDIS; he tells the Sontarans he can control the TARDIS remotely, causing them to end the communication and move the TARDIS out of the war room.  As the news broadcasts the scale of the tragedy, Donna calls her mother and Wilfred, who have sealed all the windows.  Again Sylvia lectures her, and again Wilfred encourages her; she defends the Doctor’s actions.

The Doctor gets an analysis of the gas from the clone Martha.  UNIT intends to launch nuclear missiles at the Sontaran ship despite the Doctor’s warnings; the Sontarans have anticipated it, and negate the launch codes.  The Doctor knows the missiles wouldn’t hurt the ship, and asks the clone why the Sontarans would stop the launch in that case; she denies knowledge.  Skorr’s squadron moves in toward the command center, and Mace orders his troops (led by Ross) to fire; they are quickly killed.  Finally Mace orders a retreat, though too late to save many of the troops.  The Sontarans take the factory.  As the gas concentration rises, Rattigan returns to the ship; Staal admits he never intended to save the students, and would have killed them—he admits to using Rattigan.  As the Sontarans move to kill Rattigan, he teleports back to Earth, and breaks down completely.  The Sontarans close off the teleport links to Earth.

Mace still intends to fight back somehow.  The Doctor calls Donna, and persuades her to reopen the teleport link.  At his direction, she takes down the guard outside by striking his probic vent.  After a close call with the Sontarans, she locates the link.  Mace introduces bullets without copper jackets, which will fire despite the cordolane signal; and he calls in the Valiant to use its massive engine turbines to dispel the gas over the area.  The Valiant fires on the factory; and UNIT ground troops pour in with the new ammunition, successfully pushing back the Sontarans.  The Doctor takes the Martha clone with him to find what the Sontarans are hiding; he infiltrates the basement, and finds the biolab.  Inside he finds the unconscious real Martha, and the clone pulls a gun on him; she admits to stopping the nuclear launch, but the Doctor says that serves his purpose as well.  He admits that he had known all along that she was a fake; and he pulls the plug connecting her to the real Martha, causing the clone to die slowly.  Donna calls him, and he tells her how to reactivate the link.  Meanwhile Martha interrogates the dying clone about the purpose of the gas; she describes the gas, and the Doctor realizes the gas is clone feed.  The Sontarans intend to turn the Earth into a giant cloning facility for new Sontarans.  Before the clone dies, it commends Martha on her life; Martha recovers her engagement ring from the clone’s body.  The Sontarans find Donna, but just as they fire on her, the Doctor teleports her to him; and he teleports the TARDIS back to the alley from which it was stolen.  He then teleports himself, Donna, and Martha to the Academy; Luke pulls a gun on him, but the Doctor snatches it away.  He deadlocks the teleports open.

The Sontarans know the plan is nearly complete, and the world is nearly ready.  The gas begins to seep into Donna’s house despite her family’s efforts.  Meanwhile, the Doctor tells Martha, Donna and Rattigan that the gas is flammable, which is why the Sontarans stopped the missiles.  He constructs an atmospheric converter from Rattigan’s equipment, and launches it as a rocket; the resulting fireball spreads around the world, burning off the gas in rapid fashion.  In retaliation, the Sontarans prepare for a standard invasion.  The Doctor takes the converter and recalibrates it for Sontaran air, then prepares to teleport to the ship; he will kill the Sontarans if they don’t surrender, but he expects not to survive.  He offers the Sontarans the choice, but they decline to leave.  In the last seconds of the standoff, Rattigan—seeking revenge for the Sontaran betrayal—teleports himself up and the Doctor down; and he presses the button, destroying the Sontaran ship.

Donna visits her family again; and Wilfred secretly encourages her to continue traveling with the Doctor, but to return when she can.  At the TARDIS, the Doctor and Donna say goodbye to Martha; but before Martha can leave, the door slams and the TARDIS takes off violently, under its own control, destination unknown; and his severed hand in its jar begins to bubble.

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I was very critical of The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky in first watch (and even in my last rewatch a year or so ago); but it’s grown on me. The Sontarans are becoming one of my favorite villainous races. Although it’s usually a problem if a villain or species (or any character really) is one-dimensional, in the Sontarans it’s different, because it’s a design feature of their race. Their warlike nature, coupled with their singlemindedness about it, means that they can challenge the villain tropes head-on, even in dialogue; there are scenes here where General Staal does exactly that, telling the Doctor that he won’t glibly reveal his plan, and won’t hesitate to shoot while the Doctor talks—all common villain clichés. He follows through with it, as well. When he betrays Luke Rattigan, it’s only a great revelation to Luke; to the Sontarans, it’s just business as usual, and of course a warrior would do that. The Sontarans here behave a little differently from their classic series counterparts, but not much; and the costumes have improved over the years, such that I like this version better. This is Dan Starkey’s first appearance as a Sontaran, here playing second-in-command Skorr; he will later reprise the performance as Strax, of the Paternoster Gang, in addition to playing various Big Finish roles. While Strax is comical in a fish-out-of-water sense, Skorr is dead serious; Starkey plays both roles equally well. In a nod to the classic series, Staal’s actor, Christopher Ryan, previously played Lord Kiv in Mindwarp, and will later return in The Pandorica Opens.

The selling point of all three of the episodes we’re reviewing today is the return of Martha Jones. Here, she spends most of her time out of action while connected to her clone; but in general, she’s doing well, having joined UNIT and graduated on an accelerated program. She’s pulled in two directions, between the Doctor and UNIT, as his perspective on soldiers has changed because of the Time War. In the end, she turns down the opportunity to travel again, but isn’t given the chance to leave, as the TARDIS takes off with her aboard, under its own control. We see Donna’s family again, and get a good look at the tension in the household; Sylvia constantly tries to get Donna to stay (does ANY NuWho companion ever have a good mother? They’re all either harpies or dead, I think), while Wilfred encourages her to go on with the Doctor. He’s an incredibly sympathetic character, and we begin to see why he’s such a popular companion, even though his turn hasn’t happened yet. This is UNIT’s first proper NuWho appearance, not counting the aborted view of it in The Sound of Drums; it’s on good footing, but hasn’t settled into a consistent cast yet—that will come later. We do get confirmation that the Doctor is still technically on staff, however. Luke Rattigan is purely insane, the poster child for psychosis; but he does make a self-sacrifice in the end, although for vengeful reasons. He’s a sad character, and one wonders what the Doctor could have done with him if he had met him earlier in life.

My only real criticism is the science here. If the gases were worldwide and flammable, shouldn’t the fireball have consumed all the available oxygen? I could be wrong, but it seems untenable. As for the reason for the plan: The Sontarans want to use the planet as a cloning world. It isn’t stated why, but it’s possible they also lost a world, as the Adipose did—if so, it would make this part of the season arc. To that effect, we also get a glimpse of Rose Tyler, on the TARDIS viewer.

References: Sontaran mind control was first seen in The Time Warrior. Their sonic baton weapons were first seen in The Two Doctors. Sylvia references Donna’s wedding (The Runaway Bride), and Wilfred references Voyage of the Damned, when he previously met the Doctor. Martha met her fiancé Tom Milligan during Last of the Time Lords. The Valiant also last appeared in Last of the Time Lords. The Doctor makes an “Are you my mummy?” joke (The Doctor Dances). A building marked “Butler Institute” is visible in New York (a nice nod to the VNAS, Cat’s Cradle: Warhead).

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In The Doctor’s Daughter, the TARDIS lands in a cave on an unknown world.  The Doctor, Donna and Martha are immediately captured by a group of well-armed humans, who immediately “process” the Doctor; they force him to give a tissue sample, which is genetically extrapolated to create a female human clone of sorts, with memories and combat skills already implanted.  The process is nearly instantaneous; the Doctor declares the clone to be his daughter.  The clone is quickly provided with weapons, and a group of fishlike aliens called the Hath attack and kidnap Martha before anyone else can be processed.  The clone activates explosives to seal the tunnel, cutting them off from Martha and the TARDIS.  The one surviving soldier, with the clone, takes the Doctor and Donna to meet his leader, General Cobb.  Meanwhile Martha patches up the one surviving Hath, whose language she does not speak, but who seems to understand her.  Other Hath arrive as she resets the survivor’s shoulder; they take her to their command center.

Donna calls the clone “Jenny”, for “Generated Anomaly”; she adopts the name.  The soldier tells them they are on the planet Messaline.  Cobb explains about the war as he knows it; it has been going on for many generations, and both sides use the cloning technology to maintain their ranks and breed new generations.  The colony was supposed to be harmonious between the colonists, but relations broke down; everything is underground because the surface is inhospitable. A map shows the entire city, including the Hath side; the Doctor wants to use it to find Martha.  Cobb says they are searching for the Source, which is the source of creation in their world; whoever finds it will control the world’s destiny.  The Doctor unlocks another layer of the map, with more tunnels; the Hath computer terminal gets the upgrade as well, and both sides decide to move for the source.  Cobb intends to destroy the Hath, and orders the soldier, Klein, to lock up the Doctor and Martha, and Jenny as well.  Donna sees numbers on several walls, and debates their significance.  In the cell, Jenny argues that the Doctor is a soldier despite his objections, making him uncomfortable.  The Doctor upgrades Donna’s phone and calls Martha; Martha reports that the Hath are on the march as well as the humans.  Donna argues with the Doctor over Jenny; to prove her point, she demonstrates that Jenny has two hearts, and is therefore a Time Lord, though the Doctor tries to deny it, as he is offended by her identity as a soldier. He tells her about the Time War.

Martha and her Hath accomplice work with the map to find a shortcut to the Source, and she determines that she can cross the surface despite its dangerous environment.  She finds the surface more hostile than expected, but she and the Hath head out.  Meanwhile Jenny flirts with Klein to steal his gun, and forces him to let them out.  Disabling the next guard, they chase after the soldiers headed for the Source.  Cobb, following after, finds Klein in the cell, and brings up the rear to stop the Doctor.  Donna starts recording the numbers on the walls, and realizes they are counting down along the path.  She tells Jenny more about the Doctor and how he saves planets and lives.  They reach a laser defense grid; the Doctor shuts it down while Jenny holds off their pursuers, but it reactivates before she can get through.  She is forced to acrobatically vault through it, leaving her gun behind.  On the surface, Martha’s Hath is killed saving her from a pool of mud.

Donna wants the Doctor to take Jenny with him, and he grudgingly agrees, finally accepting that she is not just a soldier.  He is not happy, however, and explains to Donna that he was a father once before, but it ended badly.  On the surface, Martha at last reaches the temple of the Source—which is clearly a spaceship of some sort.  Meanwhile the Doctor and the others arrive there as well from inside, with the soldiers right behind them; the Doctor locks the soldiers out, and quickly realizes they are in a ship.  He sees that the Hath are cutting in from another door.  He finds the ship’s log, which explains the history of the colony; it ends with the splintering of the human and Hath factions.  Donna finds another number, this time electronic yet, and determines the numbers are the date, in an odd format; the Doctor recognizes it as the New Byzantine calendar.  The dates count outward from the ship with the expansion of the colony.  However, the earliest dates are only a week ago—the war has only been going on for seven days.  The “countless generations” Cobb cited are correct, but only by merit of the progenation machines, which need little time to produce a generation—up to twenty or more a day.  The colony isn’t in ruins; it is still waiting to be populated.

Martha meets up with them, but the troops on both sides are about to break in.  They smell flowers, and follow the scent; they find an arboretum of sorts—the ship’s biological cargo.  In the center they find the Source:  a third-generation terraforming device, with the power to transform the world.  The troops arrive at that moment, and the Doctor gets them to stop long enough to explain about the terraforming device.  It is for bringing life, not ending it.  The Doctor declares the war over, and smashes the device, releasing its terraforming powers.  The soldiers lay down their weapons, but Cobb can’t accept it, and shoots at the Doctor; Jenny takes the bullet, and dies in the Doctor’s arms.  He hopes she will regenerate, but there is no indication of it; and he is forced to let her go.  He angrily confronts Cobb, and draws a gun on him, but puts it down, and tells him that “I never would.”  He charges the soldiers to remember it, and make it the foundation of their society—a man who never would kill.

As the world transforms, they leave Jenny’s body in an empty church, where the colonists will give her a funeral.  The Doctor concludes that Jenny was the reason for the TARDIS bringing them there.  He leaves to take Martha home; Martha warns Donna that one day she too will choose to leave, though Donna denies it.  On the colony world, Jenny suddenly revives in a burst of regeneration energy, though she doesn’t change form; she steals the colony ship’s shuttle and leaves the planet to explore the universe and follow the Doctor’s example.

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The Doctor’s Daughter has proven to be one of the more controversial episodes of the revived series. Now that the Time War has been resolved for a few years, and Gallifrey’s fate is known, and the Time Lords have made multiple appearances, it’s difficult to grasp just how much stir the character of Jenny, the “Generated Anomaly”, created at the time. Was she a Time Lord (or Lady, as Donna points out—“What do you call a female Time Lord?”)? Could she, or did she, actually regenerate (given that she didn’t change form)? What happened to her afterward? Was this Russell T. Davies’ way of bringing the Time Lords back to the series—essentially by replacing them? Would we see Jenny again? Now, of course, we know that that wasn’t the plan, or at least that it didn’t work out that way; and although she has at least one appearance in the comics (The Choice, Endgame), Davies has since joked that she crashed into a moon and died immediately upon leaving the planet Messaline. Take that as you like; sources conflict on the matter.

I like stories that tinker with perspective, and this one does so in a unique way. As we near the end of the story, we find out that the scope of the story—in a temporal sense—is not at all what we were led to believe; and the net effect is that it somehow raises the horror level, rather than lowers it as one might have expected. The story also hints at—but never really addresses head-on—the question of what it means to be real; the Doctor challenges Jenny on whether she is a real person, and Donna defends her. The Doctor does it for his own reasons, but they aren’t good reasons; he thinks he’s doing it out of respect for the memory of his race (referring to the history and culture that Jenny lacks), but really I think he’s doing it because he’s become used to the idea that he’s the only one left. Throughout two incarnations, he has shaped his own identity around that point, and to take it away might leave him rudderless. To his credit, he does begin to come around near the end, and although calling her his daughter was essentially a throwaway line, he comes to take it very seriously. It’s all doubly interesting when we compare it to his reaction to the Master in Last of the Time Lords; there, he was willing to take on full, long-term responsibility for the Master, and was heartbroken at his death, all because it was another Time Lord—“You are not alone”. Here, he’s burned by that experience, and he WANTS to be alone with regard to other Time Lords, at least at first; but by the end, he’s just as heartbroken all over again. The first time he mourns; the second time, he very nearly snaps, drawing a gun—a gun! The Doctor, with a gun!—on the man who shot Jenny. He does pull back, but it’s a close call.

Two themes show up over and over this series. One is the rivalry between the Doctor and Donna. It’s a good-natured rivalry—unlike Clara Oswald some years later, Donna doesn’t want to BE the Doctor, she just wants to challenge his thinking. We saw it in The Fires of Pompeii, when Donna wanted to save everyone, or at least someone. It was less prominent in the other stories so far, but it shows up again in this story, with her conflict with the Doctor over Jenny. The other theme, I think, is that of “the man who never would”, as the Doctor describes himself. We saw it in Partners in Crime, where he tried desperately to save Matron Cofelia; in Planet of the Ood, when he refused to sacrifice the Ood for the humans; in The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, when he refused to fight back against the Sontarans in military fashion, and then hesitated to push the button at the end; and we see it here, spelled out when he spares General Cobb. I’d argue we’ve seen it at least as far back as the end of Last of the Time Lords. The real question is, how many shocks can a man like that take before he would? We’ll get the answer to that in the series finale, and in the specials at the end of this series.

References in this story: I’ve already mentioned how reminiscent Jenny’s death scene is of the Master’s (Last of the Time Lords). Martha tells Donna about the Doctor’s hand, and the events of The Christmas Invasion during which it was severed. The Doctor mentions having been a father before, which he has done in several stories both classic and new (The Tomb of the Cybermen, Delta and the Bannermen, Fear Her, The Empty Child, and any number of New Adventures novels, as they seem to favor reminiscing about Susan). Martha gets kidnapped on a semi-regular basis (Gridlock, The Sontaran Stratagem, The Choice although the latter involves many companions being kidnapped).

Overall: Not bad episodes, although the latter is perhaps still controversial. Jenny is an endearing character, and her actress is charming (and David Tennant must have thought so, as he married her). I should mention here, as I didn’t mention it before, that Georgia Moffett is also the daughter of Peter Davison, making her literally the Doctor’s daughter; there have been any number of jokes about that. The Sontaran Stratagem gave us Dan Starkey, if not his more famous character of Strax; and The Poison Sky is the first episode to feature Rose, Donna and Martha all in one episode (they previously managed it in separate parts of a two-parter, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday).

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Next time: We take a detour into history for The Unicorn and the Wasp, before meeting another character with a huge impact on the Doctor in Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead! See you there.

All episodes may be viewed on Dailymotion; links are below.

The Sontaran Stratagem

The Poison Sky

The Doctor’s Daughter

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