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192a – "The Sontaran Stratagem" Doctor Who episode A Sontaran introduces himself to the Doctor as General Staal, "the undefeated". Cast Doctor David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) Companions Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) Others Christopher Ryan – General Staal Rupert Holliday-Evans – Colonel Mace Dan Starkey – Commander Skorr Ryan Sampson – Luke Rattigan Bernard Cribbins – Wilfred Mott Jacqueline King – Sylvia Noble Eleanor Matsuura – Jo Nakashima Christian Cooke – Ross Jenkins Clive Standen – Private Harris Wesley Theobald – Private Gray Ruari Mears – Clone Production Writer Helen Raynor Director Douglas Mackinnon Script editor Nikki Smith Producer Susie Liggat Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies Julie Gardner Phil Collinson Production code 4.4 Series Series 4 Length 1st of 2-part story, 45 minutes Originally broadcast 26 April 2008 Chronology ← Preceded by Followed by → "Planet of the Ood" "The Poison Sky" "The Sontaran Stratagem" is the fourth episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 26 April 2008. The episode and its following, "The Poison Sky" was written by Helen Raynor, who previously wrote "Daleks in Manhattan" / "Evolution of the Daleks" in the third series. "The Sontaran Stratagem" features the first appearance of the alien Sontarans to the series since the 1985 Colin Baker story The Two Doctors, as well as former companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), last seen in "Last of the Time Lords". The episode takes place on present-day Earth, where Martha and UNIT summon the Doctor (David Tennant) for assistance concerning ATMOS (Atmospheric Omission System), a revolutionary piece of green technology that are available in around 400 million cars worldwide, yet is later revealed to be part of a Sontaran plot to poison the atmosphere. The episode was viewed by 7.06 million viewers after original broadcast on BBC One, with an Appreciation Index of "87". Contents 1 Plot 2 Production 2.1 Conception 2.2 Writing 2.3 Filming 2.4 Cast notes 3 Broadcast and reception 3.1 Broadcast and ratings 3.2 Critical reception 4 References 5 External links 5.1 Reviews Plot Martha Jones calls the Doctor to ask for assistance during an investigation by UNIT. Minutes after the TARDIS materialises in contemporary Britain, Martha authorises the raid of an ATMOS factory. The Doctor introduces his companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) to Martha and UNIT; Donna instantly befriends Martha, but is concerned about UNIT's ethics and asks the Doctor why he is associated with them; the Doctor ambiguously replies he used to work for them in the late twentieth century. ATMOS is marketing a satellite navigation system developed by child prodigy Luke Rattigan (Ryan Sampson). The system also reduces carbon dioxide emissions to zero; UNIT requested the Doctor's help because the technology is not contemporary and potentially alien. UNIT are also concerned about fifty-two simultaneous deaths occurring spontaneously several days before the narrative. The Doctor travels to Rattigan's private school to investigate the system, and discovers that the episode's events are being influenced by the Sontarans. The Sontarans depicted in the episode are part of a battlegroup led by General Staal, "the undefeated" (Christopher Ryan). Instead of an instant invasion, they are tactically approaching an invasion with a combination of human clones, mind control, and ATMOS; Martha is captured by two of the controlled humans and cloned to provide a tactical advantage against UNIT. A subplot depicts Donna returning to her home to warn her mother Sylvia (Jacqueline King) and grandfather Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) about the Doctor, having been advised to do so by Martha. Concerned about the implications of telling the truth, Donna reneges from warning her mother. At the end of the episode, the Doctor investigates the ATMOS device attached to Donna's car and discovers a secondary function: the device can emit a poisonous gas. Wilfred attempts to take the car off the road, but is trapped when Staal activates all 400 million ATMOS devices installed in cars worldwide. The episode's cliffhanger depicts Donna shouting for help while the Doctor stares helplessly at a street full of cars emitting the gas, while on their ship orbiting the planet, the Sontarans prepare themselves for battle. Production The episode sees the return of Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones. Conception The episode features the return of the Sontarans, who last appeared in the 1985 serial The Two Doctors; a central appearance by UNIT; and Martha Jones, who had last appeared in "Last of the Time Lords" and made special guest appearances in the Torchwood episodes "Reset", "Dead Man Walking", and "A Day in the Death." The brief that executive producer Russell T Davies gave to writer Helen Raynor included the terms "Sontarans", "military", and "Martha's back".[1][2] This episode continues the pattern of having monsters from the classic series return in the new one. Davies commented that the Sontarans were "always on his list" of villains to resurrect.[3] The time and location of the episode was deliberately chosen because every Sontaran story except for The Invasion of Time was set on Earth.[3] Writing Martha's departure allowed Davies to change the character's personality. In her reappearance, she is more mature and equal to the Doctor in comparison to falling in love in the third series.[1] Several aspects of her character were debated: in particular, her status and reaction to Donna. Raynor elected to emphasise Martha's medical career over her military career, and avoided a "handbags at dawn" scenario because she felt it would rehash Rose Tyler's (Billie Piper) initial opinion of Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) from the second series episode "School Reunion".[2] The episode is the first centric appearance of UNIT since the show's revival. Their name has changed from United Nations Intelligence Taskforce to Unified Intelligence Taskforce at the request of the United Nations, who cited the political climate and potential "brand confusion" as reasons for disassociation. The new acronym was coined by Davies after several meetings among the scriptwriters. The UNIT privates Gray and Wilson were specifically written as "alien fodder".[2][4] The episode refers to inconsistencies in dating UNIT stories when the Doctor is unsure whether he worked for UNIT in the 70s or 80s.[5] Raynor initially envisioned the poisonous gas would be emitted by factories, but changed it in later drafts to cars for several reasons: the episode would provide social commentary and the idea of an "evil satnav system" was "much more engageable" and "irresistible"; Davies thought the concept was "so very Doctor Who".[1][2][3] Because the series was produced out of order, the "ATMOS" subplot was seeded in the episode "Partners in Crime".[6] The "fifteenth broken moon" of the Medusa Cascade is also mentioned. The Medusa Cascade was previously mentioned in "Last of the Time Lords", "Partners in Crime", and in "The Fires of Pompeii". In the episode, a system installed in a UNIT jeep undramatically explodes; originally, Raynor wanted it to be a large explosion, but reduced the explosion to several sparks to reduce costs and to lampoon an action movie cliché.[2] The episode, like "Aliens of London" and "The Lazarus Experiment", properly introduces the lead companion's family. Unlike the Tyler or Jones families, both Sylvia Noble and Wilfred Mott had met the Doctor before (in "The Runaway Bride" and "Voyage of the Damned", respectively), providing Raynor with an additional subplot. Expository dialogue explains Mott's absence from "The Runaway Bride" as the character having Spanish flu. Wilfred's positive opinion of the Doctor is different to Sylvia, who "joined a long line of mothers that don't get the Doctor"; Davies had wanted a family member who trusted the Doctor since the show's revival.[1] Filming When interviewed on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Catherine Tate stated that she had been filming alongside ten actors playing Sontarans for two weeks before she realised that there were actors inside the Sontaran costumes. She had assumed the Sontarans "ran on electricity". It was not until an actor removed his helmet to reveal his real face that she realised her mistake. She stated she was "freaked out" by this and said she "nearly died".[7] The opening scene, which depicts the system driving reporter Jo Nakashima into the canal, was filmed at Cardiff's docks. The scene was the first time a car-cannon had been used since 2005, and was required to be completed in one shot. The car fired into the canal was removed immediately afterwards to clear the shipping route.[1] Scenes at the Rattigan Academy were filmed at Margam Country Park, Port Talbot.[8] Despite the Sontaran's clone culture being asserted in the classic series, "The Sontaran Strategem" is the first episode to actually depict the cloning process. Originally, all of the factory workers were to be clones, but Raynor reduced it to only Martha to solve continuity problems with the second part. The template clone was portrayed by Ruari Mears, who wore a prosthetic mask which took longer to apply than any mask he had worn.[2] The scenes involving the cloning tank were filmed in a Welsh shampoo factory and reused a prop from "The Fires of Pompeii" as the tank which contained the clone. Davies and Agyeman enjoyed scenes set in the cloning room; Agyeman enjoyed playing an "evil companion", who she and Davies felt made the real Martha "warmer", and Davies thought Privates Gray and Harris discovering the tank in a darkened room was "classic Doctor Who".[1] Cast notes Eleanor Matsuura later voiced Dana Tanaka in "Shadows of the Vashta Nerada". Ryan Sampson later played Brother Patrick in the audio play The Book of Kells and Thane in The Elite. Rupert Holliday-Evans later appeared in the Fourth Doctor audio drama Demon Quest. Broadcast and reception The Sontaran Stratagem is about as deliciously old-fashioned as new Who gets. It makes my fan boy sense tingle and makes me grin like an idiot. The Doctor, working with UNIT again, alongside two great companions, and taking on a faithfully realised monster from the classic series. Mark Wright[9] Broadcast and ratings "The Sontaran Strategem" was the most watched programme in its timeslot, with 7.06 million viewers. The episode was the second most-watched programme of the day, beaten by Britain's Got Talent, and was the seventeenth most watched programme of the week. The episode's Appreciation Index was 87 (considered "Excellent"), the highest figure recorded on its airdate.[10][11][12] Critical reception Mark Wright of The Stage overall commented the episode as "about as deliciously old-fashioned as new Who gets," stating the script was "a deftly simple premise that makes you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself," and that Tate's character moved away from the caricature from "The Runaway Bride". Wright also praised Agyeman's "effortlessly" portraying Martha and her evil cloned counterpart. A fan of the Sontarans, Wright reacted positively to their return and redesign.[9] Ben Rawson-Jones of Digital Spy rated the episode four stars out of five. Rawson-Jones felt the narrative was very well plotted and paced, and felt Helen Raynor's writing of the episode improved from "Daleks in Manhattan". Rawson-Jones also praised the reintroductions of UNIT, Martha, Donna's family and Sontarans, the interaction between Donna and Martha, and Christopher Ryan's portrayal as Staal, but felt Skorr's voice was "distinctly lacklustre." The episode's direction by Douglas Mackinnon also received criticism, particularly the scenes in the clone room. In the end, Rawson-Jones felt that the first part's effectiveness lies on how much the viewers wish to tune in to see "The Poison Sky".[13] Matt Wales of IGN rated the episode a "good" 7.9 out of 10, stating that despite the episode's premise, it came "perilously close to greatness," and praised Raynor's "crackling script which graciously walked the tightrope between balls-out farce and affectionate sci-fi pastiche". Wales noted that Tennant and Tate "relished" the perpetual swings from "square-jawed serious" to "faintly sadistic subversion," to mess with audience expectations. Ryan's portrayal as Staal was again praised, but felt Agyeman still displayed "the charisma and range of a dead fish, despite Martha's transformation from lovesick sap to Ripley-esque super soldier." Wales sums up that the episode "did pretty much everything a two-part opener should – swiftly shifting the pieces into place for next week's inevitably bombastic showdown."[14] Alan Stanley Bear of Airlock Alpha called "The Sontaran Strategem" an "exciting and nostalgic adventure," and that the episode lives up to the reputation of transforming a normal object, the car, to a "global killer." Bear praised the episode for Donna and Martha's introduction being opposite to Rose Tyler and Sarah Jane Smith's in "School Reunion", for providing a human element in the subplot where Donna visits her grandfather, and for the episode's cliffhanger. However, Bear was critical over the fact it took too long to "get to the point", as well as the bland Sontaran dialogue and the cliched simplicity of mind control, which Bear felt "reduced what could have been a fantastically intricate story piece into Saturday morning cartoon material."[15] John Beresford of TV Scoop thought the episode lived up to many of his expectations, with sharp dialogue and some humour, a well plotted story, and well paced overall with a "heap of action," despite the episode's slow start. Beresford also praised the reintroduction of UNIT from the "old, tired UNIT" to a "newly revamped and spiffy UNIT with lots of cool gadgets," the Doctor's meeting with Rattigan, calling the scene "an inspired piece of writing," and the episode's cliffhanger, calling it "the best yet." He also believed the ATMOS idea worked well also. The only weak spots for the episode Beresford believed were that the Sontarans appeared to have been softened slightly, stating that Staal would "shoot first and ask questions later."[16] References ^ a b c d e f "Send in the Clones". Doctor Who Confidential. BBC. BBC Three. 2008-04-26. No. 4, season 4. ^ a b c d e f Agyeman, Freema; Raynor, Helen; Mears, Ruari. (2008-04-26) (Podcast). The Sontaran Stratagem.  ^ a b c Arnopp, Jason; Spilsbury, Tom (April 2008). "Gallifrey Guardian: Series Four Episode 4/5: The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky: War on Earth!". Doctor Who Magazine (Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) 394: 12–13.  ^ Davies, Russell T (April 2008). "Calling UNIT!". SFX: 47.  ^ "The Sontaran Stratagem: Fact File". BBC. 2008-04-26. Retrieved 2008-04-26.  ^ Tennant, David; Tate, Catherine; Collinson, Phil. (2008-04-05) (Podcast; MP3). Partners In Crime. BBC.  ^ ""When Catherine Tate met the Sontarans" (UK only)".  Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, episode broadcast Friday 4th April 2008 ^ "Walesarts, Margam Country Park, Port Talbot". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30.  ^ a b Wright, Mark (2008-04-27). "Doctor Who 4.4: The Sontaran Stratagem". TV Today. The Stage. Retrieved 2010-03-04.  ^ "Sontaran Stratagem - Final Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-05-09.  ^ "Sontaran Stratagem - AI and Digital Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 2008-04-28. Retrieved 2008-05-09.  ^ "Sontaran Stratagem - Overnight Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 2008-04-27. Retrieved 2008-05-09.  ^ Rawson-Jones, Ben (2008-04-26). "S04E04: 'The Sontaran Stratagem'". Cult: Doctor Who - Review. Digital Spy. Retrieved 2010-03-04.  ^ Wales, Matt (2008-04-28). "Doctor Who: "The Sontaran Stratagem" UK Review". IGN UK. IGN. Retrieved 2010-03-04.  ^ Bear, Alan Stanley (2008-04-26). "Review: 'Doctor Who' - The Sontaran Stratagem". Airlock Alpha. Retrieved 2010-03-04.  ^ Beresford, John (2008-04-27). "TV Review: Doctor Who: The Sontaran Stratagem, BBC One, Saturday 26 April, 6.20pm". TC Scoop. Retrieved 2010-03-04.  External links Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Tenth Doctor The Sontaran Stratagem on TARDIS Index File, an external wiki "The Sontaran Stratagem" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage "The Sontaran Stratagem" / "The Poison Sky" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel) "The Sontaran Stratagem" / "The Poison Sky" at the Doctor Who Reference Guide "The Sontaran Stratagem" at the Internet Movie Database Reviews "The Sontaran Stratagem" / "The Poison Sky" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide v · d · eDoctor Who: UNIT television stories Second Doctor The Invasion Third Doctor Spearhead from Space • Doctor Who and the Silurians • The Ambassadors of Death • Inferno • Terror of the Autons • The Mind of Evil • The Claws of Axos • The Dæmons • Day of the Daleks • The Time Monster • The Three Doctors • The Green Death • Invasion of the Dinosaurs • Planet of the Spiders Fourth Doctor Robot • Terror of the Zygons • The Android Invasion • The Seeds of Doom Seventh Doctor Battlefield Tenth Doctor "The Christmas Invasion" • "The Sontaran Stratagem" / "The Poison Sky" • "Turn Left" • "Planet of the Dead" Minor appearances Colony in Space • The Mutants • The Time Warrior • The Five Doctors • "Aliens of London" / "World War Three" • "The Sound of Drums" / "Last of the Time Lords" • "The Stolen Earth" / "Journey's End" Torchwood "Fragments" • Children of Earth The Sarah Jane Adventures Enemy of the Bane • Death of the Doctor See also The Web of Fear • Mawdryn Undead • Dimensions in Time • Wartime • Downtime • Auton • Auton 2: Sentinel • Auton 3 • History of UNIT • List of UNIT personnel • UNIT dating controversy v · d · eDoctor Who: Sontaran stories Third Doctor The Time Warrior Fourth Doctor The Sontaran Experiment • The Invasion of Time Sixth Doctor The Two Doctors Tenth Doctor "The Sontaran Stratagem" / "The Poison Sky" Eleventh Doctor "A Good Man Goes to War" Minor appearances Logopolis • The End of Time • "The Pandorica Opens" The Sarah Jane Adventures The Last Sontaran • Enemy of the Bane Audio Heroes of Sontar Books Lords of the Storm • Shakedown • The Eight Doctors • The Sontaran Games • The Taking of Chelsea 426 Other A Fix with Sontarans • Destiny of the Doctors • Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans See also Rutan Host v · d · eDoctor Who series 4 episodes "Voyage of the Damned" • "Partners in Crime" • "The Fires of Pompeii" • "Planet of the Ood" • "The Sontaran Stratagem" • "The Poison Sky" • "The Doctor's Daughter" • "The Unicorn and the Wasp" • "Silence in the Library" • "Forest of the Dead" • "Midnight" • "Turn Left" • "The Stolen Earth" • "Journey's End" Mini episodes: "Time Crash" • "Music of the Spheres"