Review: Doctor Who – 4×5 – The Poison Sky

The clouds are lifting

Ah. Now that’s better. Finally, a decent two-parter and – miraculous though it might seem – one written by Helen Raynor at that.

After last week’s poorly paced but still reasonably good first part, I was expecting a lump of old rubbish for the second part, since that’s how it usually pans out. But hurroo, hurray, bar the occasional bit of dodgy dialogue, direction and acting, it was good.

The things to like were plentiful. The pacing was just about right, with only a few lulls. UNIT finally got its game on, turned out not to be a complete bunch of sillies and there was a decent battle scene. The Sontarans remained relatively bright all the way through. The Doctor had semi-cunning to cunning plans and build himself a little gizmo to save the day. Bernard Cribbins was great. And that’s really all that mattered.

Sure, sweet FA had all the acting skill of one of her action figures; some of the dialogue was so cringe-worthy, we’ll probably all wake up after having nightmares about it this week; Donna got marooned for no apparent reason and got reglegated to a Stargate SG-1 sub-plot; there were continuity references that no doubt confused all the nu-Whoers but had all the old guard orgasming; nerd academy was just horrifying and tedious; and the less said about the science the better. Oh yes. And "Sontar Ha". Really? Would you like to point out where your probic vent is for me, please…? This won’t hurt too much.

But all in all, very enjoyable, I thought. And there was, of course, the blink-and-you-missed cameo by Pipes, which was fun. Unless you missed it, that is.

Sweet Jesus. A consistently pretty good season. What’s wrong with the world? The quietness from the nu-Whoers of late makes me suspect that all this old school-style is not to their liking, though, which is a touch worrying.

Next week: it’s a Steven Moffat episode in which the Doctor turns out to have sired Buffy the vampire slayer. That’s got to be good, hasn’t it?

Continuity references
As well as references to the Brigadier, there was a reference to the Ecclescake episode The Empty Child, to the Valiant from last season, as well as the 50,000 year-old war with the Rutans (Horror of Fang Rock).

Other reviews
Rutan spies have published reviews of the episode elsewhere. Your mission: read and enjoy – Stuart’s, Stuart’s, and Kev’s. If anymore are intercepted, leave them below for interrogation later.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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