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The Sontaran Stratagem

The Sontaran Stratagem

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Encyclopedia
"The Sontaran Stratagem" is the fourth episode of the fourth series
Doctor Who (series 4)
The fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who began on 25 December 2007 with the Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned". Following the special, a regular series of thirteen episodes aired, starting with "Partners in Crime" on 5 April 2008 and ending with "Journey's End"...

 of British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 science fiction television series Doctor Who
Doctor Who
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

. It was broadcast on BBC One
BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 on 26 April 2008. The episode and its following, "The Poison Sky
The Poison Sky
"The Poison Sky" is the fifth episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 3 May 2008. The episode features both former companion Martha Jones and the alien Sontarans...

" was written by Helen Raynor
Helen Raynor
Helen Raynor is a British television and theatre writer and script editor. From 2004 until 2007 she was one of the script editors of the revived version of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who, working on its first three series...

, who previously wrote "Daleks in Manhattan
Daleks in Manhattan
"Daleks in Manhattan" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 21 April 2007, and is the fourth episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series. It is part one of a two-part story, concluded in "Evolution of the Daleks"...

" / "Evolution of the Daleks
Evolution of the Daleks
"Evolution of the Daleks" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 28 April 2007, and is the fifth episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series. It is the conclusion of the two-part story begun in "Daleks in...

" in the third series
Doctor Who (series 3)
The third series of British science fiction series Doctor Who was preceded by the 2006 Christmas special "The Runaway Bride". Following the special, a regular series of thirteen episodes was broadcast, starting with "Smith and Jones" on 31 March 2007...

.

"The Sontaran Stratagem" features the first appearance of the alien Sontaran
Sontaran
The Sontarans are a fictional extraterrestrial race of humanoids from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, and also seen in spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. They were created by writer Robert Holmes.-Culture:...

s to the series since the 1985 Colin Baker
Colin Baker
Colin Baker is a British actor who is known for playing Paul Merroney in The Brothers from 1974 to 1976 and as the sixth incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who, from 1984 to 1986.- Background:Colin Baker was born in London, but moved north to...

 story The Two Doctors
The Two Doctors
The Two Doctors is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in three weekly parts from 16 February to 2 March 1985. It starred Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant as the Sixth Doctor and his companion Peri, respectively...

, as well as former companion Martha Jones
Martha Jones
Martha Jones is a fictional character played by Freema Agyeman in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its spin-off series, Torchwood. She is a companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, replacing Rose Tyler...

 (Freema Agyeman
Freema Agyeman
Freema Agyeman is a British actress who is best known for playing Martha Jones, former companion of the Tenth Doctor in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, and itsspin-off series Torchwood...

), last seen in "Last of the Time Lords
Last of the Time Lords
"Last of the Time Lords" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 30 June 2007, and is the thirteenth and final episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series...

". The episode takes place on present-day Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, where Martha and UNIT
UNIT
UNIT is a fictional military organisation from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures...

 summon the Doctor
Doctor (Doctor Who)
The Doctor is the central character in the long-running BBC television science-fiction series Doctor Who, and has also featured in two cinema feature films, a vast range of spin-off novels, audio dramas and comic strips connected to the series....

 (David Tennant
David Tennant
David Tennant is a Scottish actor. In addition to his work in theatre, including a widely praised Hamlet, Tennant is best known for his role as the tenth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, along with the title role in the 2005 TV serial Casanova and as Barty Crouch, Jr...

) for assistance concerning ATMOS (Atmospheric Omission System), a revolutionary piece of green technology that is available in around 400 million cars
CARS
Cars, or automobiles, motor cars, are wheeled motor vehicles used for transporting passengers.Cars or CARS may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Cars , a Disney/Pixar film series...

 worldwide, yet is later revealed to be part of a Sontaran plot to poison the atmosphere
Atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

. The episode was viewed by 7.06 million viewers after original broadcast on BBC One, with an Appreciation Index
Appreciation Index
The Audience Appreciation Index is a score out of 100 which is used as an indicator of the public's appreciation for a television or radio programme, or broadcast service, in the United Kingdom. Until 2002, the AI of a programme was calculated by BARB, the organisation that compiles television...

 of "87".

Plot


Martha Jones
Martha Jones
Martha Jones is a fictional character played by Freema Agyeman in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its spin-off series, Torchwood. She is a companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, replacing Rose Tyler...

 calls the Doctor
Doctor (Doctor Who)
The Doctor is the central character in the long-running BBC television science-fiction series Doctor Who, and has also featured in two cinema feature films, a vast range of spin-off novels, audio dramas and comic strips connected to the series....

 to ask for assistance during an investigation by UNIT
UNIT
UNIT is a fictional military organisation from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures...

. Minutes after the TARDIS materialises in contemporary Britain, Martha authorises the raid of an ATMOS factory. The Doctor introduces his companion
Companion (Doctor Who)
In the long-running BBC television science fiction programme Doctor Who and related works, the term "companion" refers to a character who travels with, and shares the adventures of the Doctor. In most Doctor Who stories, the primary companion acts as both deuteragonist and audience surrogate...

 Donna Noble
Donna Noble
Donna Noble is a fictional character played by Catherine Tate in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. A secretary from Chiswick, London, she is a companion of the Tenth Doctor, appearing in one scene at the end of the final episode of the 2006 series,...

 (Catherine Tate
Catherine Tate
Catherine Tate is an English actress, writer, and comedian. She has won numerous awards for her work on the sketch comedy series The Catherine Tate Show as well as being nominated for an International Emmy Award and four BAFTA Awards...

) 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 "70s or 80s."
UNIT dating controversy
The UNIT dating controversy is an ongoing debate in Doctor Who fandom, concerning exactly when the stories featuring the fictional military organisation known as United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, or more recently as the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, take place in the timeline of the...



ATMOS is marketing a satellite navigation system developed by child prodigy
Child prodigy
A child prodigy is someone who, at an early age, masters one or more skills far beyond his or her level of maturity. One criterion for classifying prodigies is: a prodigy is a child, typically younger than 18 years old, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding...

 Luke Rattigan (Ryan Sampson
Ryan Sampson
Ryan Oliver Sampson is an English actor best known for playing Alex Venables in the British sitcom After You've Gone, where he played the son of Jimmy Venables, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst....

). The system also reduces carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 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 Sontaran
Sontaran
The Sontarans are a fictional extraterrestrial race of humanoids from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, and also seen in spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. They were created by writer Robert Holmes.-Culture:...

s.

The Sontarans depicted in the episode are part of a battlegroup led by General Staal, "the undefeated" (Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is an English actor. Ryan is perhaps best known for his role as Mike "The Cool Person" in the BBC comedy series The Young Ones.-Early life:...

). 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
Jacqueline King
-Career:King trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. After training she worked as an actor in Africa, Canada, America, Sri Lanka and UAE.On returning to the UK, she appeared in several Alan Ayckbourn productions, including the original runs of Comic Potential and the Damsels in Distress...

) and grandfather Wilfred Mott
Wilfred Mott
Wilfred "Wilf" Mott is a recurring fictional character in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, played by Bernard Cribbins. He is the maternal grandfather of the Tenth Doctor's companion Donna Noble, and father of character Sylvia Noble...

 (Bernard Cribbins
Bernard Cribbins
Bernard Cribbins, OBE is an English character actor, voice-over artist and musical comedian with a career spanning over half a century who came to prominence in films in the 1960s, has been in work consistently since his professional debut in the mid 1950s, and as of 2010 is still an active...

) about the Doctor, having been advised to do so by Martha. Concerned about the implications of telling the truth, Donna decides against 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
Cliffhanger
A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction...

 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



Conception


The episode features the return of the Sontaran
Sontaran
The Sontarans are a fictional extraterrestrial race of humanoids from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, and also seen in spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. They were created by writer Robert Holmes.-Culture:...

s, who last appeared in the 1985 serial The Two Doctors
The Two Doctors
The Two Doctors is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in three weekly parts from 16 February to 2 March 1985. It starred Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant as the Sixth Doctor and his companion Peri, respectively...

; a central appearance by UNIT
UNIT
UNIT is a fictional military organisation from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures...

; and Martha Jones
Martha Jones
Martha Jones is a fictional character played by Freema Agyeman in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its spin-off series, Torchwood. She is a companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, replacing Rose Tyler...

, who had last appeared in "Last of the Time Lords
Last of the Time Lords
"Last of the Time Lords" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 30 June 2007, and is the thirteenth and final episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series...

" and made special guest appearances in the Torchwood
Torchwood
Torchwood is a British science fiction television programme created by Russell T Davies. The series is a spin-off from Davies's 2005 revival of the long-running science fiction programme Doctor Who. The show has shifted its broadcast channel each series to reflect its growing audience, moving from...

episodes "Reset
Reset (Torchwood)
"Reset" is the sixth episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood, which was first broadcast by BBC Three on 13 February 2008, immediately after the broadcast of "Adam" on BBC Two...

", "Dead Man Walking
Dead Man Walking (Torchwood)
"Dead Man Walking" is the seventh episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood. It was broadcast by BBC Three and BBC HD on 20 February 2008; it made its terrestrial debut on BBC Two on 27 February.-Synopsis:...

", and "A Day in the Death
A Day in the Death
"A Day in the Death" is the eighth episode of the second series of British science fiction television series Torchwood, which was broadcast by BBC Three on 27 February 2008...

." The brief that executive producer Russell T Davies gave to writer Helen Raynor
Helen Raynor
Helen Raynor is a British television and theatre writer and script editor. From 2004 until 2007 she was one of the script editors of the revived version of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who, working on its first three series...

 included the terms "Sontarans", "military", and "Martha's back".

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. The time and location of the episode was deliberately chosen because every Sontaran story except for The Invasion of Time
The Invasion of Time
The Invasion of Time is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 4 February to 11 March 1978...

was set on Earth.

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 with him in the third series
Doctor Who (series 3)
The third series of British science fiction series Doctor Who was preceded by the 2006 Christmas special "The Runaway Bride". Following the special, a regular series of thirteen episodes was broadcast, starting with "Smith and Jones" on 31 March 2007...

. 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
Catfight
Catfight is a term for an altercation between two women, typically involving scratching, slapping, hair-pulling, and shirt-shredding as opposed to punching or wrestling . However, the term is not exclusively used to indicate a fight between women, and many formal definitions do not invoke gender...

" scenario because she felt it would rehash Rose Tyler
Rose Tyler
Rose Marion Tyler is a fictional character portrayed by Billie Piper in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, and was created by series producer Russell T Davies...

's (Billie Piper
Billie Piper
Billie Paul Piper is an English singer and actress.She began her career in the late 1990s as a pop singer and then switched to acting. She started in acting and dancing and was talent spotted at the Sylvia Young stage school by Smash Hits magazine who wanted a "face" for their magazine...

) initial opinion of Sarah Jane Smith
Sarah Jane Smith
Sarah Jane Smith is a fictional character played by Elisabeth Sladen in the long-running British BBC Television science-fiction series Doctor Who and its spin-offs K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures....

 (Elisabeth Sladen
Elisabeth Sladen
Elisabeth Clara Heath-Sladen was an English actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in the British television series Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, and reprised the role many times in subsequent decades, both on...

) from the second series episode "School Reunion
School Reunion (Doctor Who)
"School Reunion" is the third episode in the second series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It first aired on 29 April 2006. The episode's narrative takes place some time after the events of "The Christmas Invasion"...

".

The episode is the first centric appearance of UNIT
UNIT
UNIT is a fictional military organisation from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures...

 since the show's revival. Their name has changed from United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 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
Redshirt (character)
A "redshirt" is a stock character in fiction who dies soon after being introduced. The term originates with fans of Star Trek , from the red shirts worn by Starfleet security officers who frequently die during episodes.-Star Trek:...

". The episode refers to inconsistencies in dating UNIT stories
UNIT dating controversy
The UNIT dating controversy is an ongoing debate in Doctor Who fandom, concerning exactly when the stories featuring the fictional military organisation known as United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, or more recently as the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, take place in the timeline of the...

 when the Doctor is unsure whether he worked for UNIT in the 70s or 80s.

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". Because the series was produced out of order, the "ATMOS" subplot was seeded in the episode "Partners in Crime
Partners in Crime (Doctor Who)
"Partners in Crime" is the first episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 5 April 2008. The episode reintroduced comedienne Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, who previously appeared in "The Runaway Bride"...

". The "fifteenth broken moon" of the Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

 Cascade is also mentioned. The Medusa Cascade was previously mentioned in "Last of the Time Lords
Last of the Time Lords
"Last of the Time Lords" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 30 June 2007, and is the thirteenth and final episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series...

", "Partners in Crime
Partners in Crime (Doctor Who)
"Partners in Crime" is the first episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 5 April 2008. The episode reintroduced comedienne Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, who previously appeared in "The Runaway Bride"...

", and in "The Fires of Pompeii
The Fires of Pompeii
"The Fires of Pompeii" is the second episode of the fourth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 12 April 2008....

". 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.

The episode, like "Aliens of London
Aliens of London
"Aliens of London" is the fourth episode of the first series of the British science fiction television show Doctor Who that was first broadcast on 16 April 2005. The Doctor takes Rose back to 21st century London, just in time to witness a spaceship crashing into the River Thames, triggering a...

" and "The Lazarus Experiment
The Lazarus Experiment
"The Lazarus Experiment" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 5 May 2007 and is the sixth episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series. It stars David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones as his companion, played...

", 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
The Runaway Bride (Doctor Who)
"The Runaway Bride" is a special episode of the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor...

" and "Voyage of the Damned
Voyage of the Damned (Doctor Who)
"Voyage of the Damned" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. First broadcast on 25 December 2007, it is 72 minutes long and the third Christmas special since the show's revival in 2005...

", respectively), providing Raynor with an additional subplot. Expository dialogue explains Mott's absence from "The Runaway Bride" as the character having Spanish flu
Spanish flu
The 1918 flu pandemic was an influenza pandemic, and the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus . It was an unusually severe and deadly pandemic that spread across the world. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin...

. 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.

Filming


When interviewed on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross was a British comedy chat show presented by Jonathan Ross. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 2 November 2001. The programme featured Ross's take on current topics of conversation, guest interviews and live music from both a guest music group and the house band...

, Catherine Tate
Catherine Tate
Catherine Tate is an English actress, writer, and comedian. She has won numerous awards for her work on the sketch comedy series The Catherine Tate Show as well as being nominated for an International Emmy Award and four BAFTA Awards...

 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".

The opening scene, which depicts the system driving reporter Jo Nakashima into the canal, was filmed at Cardiff
Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

'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.

Scenes at the Rattigan Academy were filmed at Margam Country Park, Port Talbot.

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. The scenes involving the cloning tank were filmed in a Welsh shampoo factory and reused a prop from "The Fires of Pompeii
The Fires of Pompeii
"The Fires of Pompeii" is the second episode of the fourth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 12 April 2008....

" 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".

Cast notes


Eleanor Matsuura
Eleanor Matsuura
- Biography :Eleanor Matsuura was born in the Japanese capital Tokyo, but raised in London. She is half English and half Japanese. In 2004, Eleanor Matsuura graduated at Central School of Speech and Drama. She worked on stage at Royal Court Theatre, Old Vic Theatre and several West End theatres...

 later voiced Dana Tanaka in "Shadows of the Vashta Nerada". Ryan Sampson
Ryan Sampson
Ryan Oliver Sampson is an English actor best known for playing Alex Venables in the British sitcom After You've Gone, where he played the son of Jimmy Venables, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst....

 later played Brother Patrick in the audio play The Book of Kells and Thane in The Elite
The Elite (Doctor Who audio)
The Elite is a Big Finish Productions audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. -Plot:...

. Rupert Holliday-Evans
Rupert Holliday-Evans
Rupert Holliday Evans is an English actor. He is well known for his roles in programmes such as the ITV police drama The Bill and CBBC children's programmes The Giblet Boys and Powers. In episodes of comedy sketch show Harry Enfield's Television Programme he played one of the Double-Take Brothers...

 later appeared in the Fourth Doctor
Fourth Doctor
The Fourth Doctor is the fourth incarnation of the protagonist of the long-running BBC British television science-fiction series Doctor Who....

 audio drama Demon Quest
Demon Quest
Demon Quest is an audio play in five episodes based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It is written by Paul Magrs, and stars Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Richard Franklin as Captain Mike Yates...

.

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
Britain's Got Talent
Britain's Got Talent is a British television talent show competition which started in June 2007 and originated from the Got Talent series. The show is produced by FremantleMedia's TalkbackThames and Simon Cowell's production company SYCOtv. The show is broadcast on ITV in Britain and TV3 in Ireland...

, and was the seventeenth most watched programme of the week. The episode's Appreciation Index
Appreciation Index
The Audience Appreciation Index is a score out of 100 which is used as an indicator of the public's appreciation for a television or radio programme, or broadcast service, in the United Kingdom. Until 2002, the AI of a programme was calculated by BARB, the organisation that compiles television...

 was 87 (considered "Excellent"), the highest figure recorded on its airdate.

Critical reception



Mark Wright of The Stage
The Stage
The Stage is a weekly British newspaper founded in 1880, available nationally and published on Thursdays. Covering all areas of the entertainment industry but focused primarily on theatre, it contains news, reviews, opinion, features and other items of interest, mainly to those who work within the...

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
The Runaway Bride (Doctor Who)
"The Runaway Bride" is a special episode of the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor...

". 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. Ben Rawson-Jones of Digital Spy
Digital Spy
Digital Spy is a British entertainment and media news website. According to Alexa Internet traffic statistics, as of February 2011, Digital Spy is the 93rd most popular website in the United Kingdom, with an overall Alexa ranking of 2,088....

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
Daleks in Manhattan
"Daleks in Manhattan" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 21 April 2007, and is the fourth episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series. It is part one of a two-part story, concluded in "Evolution of the Daleks"...

". Rawson-Jones also praised the reintroductions of UNIT, Martha, Donna's family and Sontarans, the interaction between Donna and Martha, and Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is an English actor. Ryan is perhaps best known for his role as Mike "The Cool Person" in the BBC comedy series The Young Ones.-Early life:...

's portrayal as Staal, but felt Skorr's voice was "distinctly lacklustre." The episode's direction by Douglas Mackinnon
Douglas Mackinnon
Douglas Mackinnon is a British film and television director. He made his feature film directorial debut with The Flying Scotsman , which was the gala premiere at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006 and was consequently picked up for worldwide distribution by MGM.He directed the first three episodes of...

 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
The Poison Sky
"The Poison Sky" is the fifth episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 3 May 2008. The episode features both former companion Martha Jones and the alien Sontarans...

".

Matt Wales of IGN
IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

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." Alan Stanley Bear of Airlock Alpha
Airlock Alpha
Airlock Alpha, formerly SyFy Portal, is an entertainment news website focusing on science-fiction, fantasy and comic book television series and films.-History:...

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
Čar
Čar is a village in the municipality of Bujanovac, Serbia. According to the 2002 census, the town has a population of 296 people.-References:...

, to a "global killer." Bear praised the episode for Donna and Martha's introduction being opposite to Rose Tyler
Rose Tyler
Rose Marion Tyler is a fictional character portrayed by Billie Piper in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, and was created by series producer Russell T Davies...

 and Sarah Jane Smith
Sarah Jane Smith
Sarah Jane Smith is a fictional character played by Elisabeth Sladen in the long-running British BBC Television science-fiction series Doctor Who and its spin-offs K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures....

's in "School Reunion
School Reunion (Doctor Who)
"School Reunion" is the third episode in the second series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It first aired on 29 April 2006. The episode's narrative takes place some time after the events of "The Christmas Invasion"...

", for providing a human element in the subplot where Donna visits her grandfather
Wilfred Mott
Wilfred "Wilf" Mott is a recurring fictional character in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, played by Bernard Cribbins. He is the maternal grandfather of the Tenth Doctor's companion Donna Noble, and father of character Sylvia Noble...

, and for the episode's cliffhanger
Cliffhanger
A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction...

. 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
Cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

 material."

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
UNIT
UNIT is a fictional military organisation from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures...

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."

Reviews