Ahhh! I was wrong. In my last post I said that one of us would be using the word ‘comeuppance’ to describe a scene featuring Rattigan in The Poison Sky. Doctor Who is not that simple. It’s a multi-facetted, thought provoking, cleverly constructed series that avoids the easy and predictable and opts to go the extra mile to answer the tricky question, ‘How can we solve this deadly threat without using force against a war-obsessed race who don’t fear death?’. Love that. 24 take note. Actually don’t. It wouldn’t be 24 then, which would be a shame, as I love that too but for entirely different reasons. Sometimes you need telly that is the viewing equivalent of way too much caffeine and a format that needs a plot to fit 24 hours exactly no matter how many times a character needs to be kidnapped to make it work. Yeh, Doctor Who can be implausible too; they’re both great because they both have their own logic but Doctor Who is better. …. there is no easy answer to the question above, and that’s good.
I can’t help thinking about morality this week. Forgive me if I get all deep and meaningful but this series is doing a lot of that. The Doctor is adamant about doing things in a moral and non-violent way, having that little twinkle in his eye when he faces evil, even giving a race of fearless warmongering aliens who are poised to destroy the Earth a choice to leave or die instead of just blowing them up. And he doesn’t just do it in a ‘be nice to each other, kids’ way but in a full on you might get hurt doing good but do it anyway way. (I remember being utterly stumped and really shocked at how the Doctor treated the Family of Blood last year. Those punishments were sick, and seemed wholly out character. But he had no choice, either they were free to pursue him in a never ending game of hide and seek at the expense of thousands of lives or he dealt with them once and for all. Why did he place them in their individual eternal prisons? Should he have killed them? The morality of Who is sometimes very challenging.)
Who’s insistence on having characters so central to its format and the Doctor encouraging them to respond to the extraordinary challenges around them and to grow in only positive ways is utterly laudable. I crave the chance to be in it myself. To have scripts so good and to rub shoulders with that team. To work on something that is made with such blooming skill and love that shines from the screen and seems to make your living room a better place.
So, The Poison Sky. Good solid stuff. Superb monsters, plenty of action, plenty of character. A big shout out for Donna tentatively saving the world on her mobile and for Martha’s scene with the clone. And there’s enough Bernard Cribbens to make everyone very happy. Just one thing though. If someone can confirm that the gas could be burned off like that then I will get on a campaign bus with a mega-phone to tell everyone how GOOD this story is. Well, you know what I mean. Oh, and isn’t it intriguing that the Sontarans use the same interstellar alarm providers as the Sanctuary Bases.