Coming hot on the heels of the first volume from Season 4, this collection of episodes really did test the staying power of loyal fans. Why? Well it’s because it marked the return of a classic foe, but in a watered down version.
The Sontaran Stratagem and its partner episode, The Poison Sky, sees the return of companion Martha Jones (Agyeman) who summons the Doctor (Tennant) back to modern-day Earth, but an old enemy known as the Sontarans are waiting. Their plan is to choke the Earth with poison via Tom Tom-like devices known here as ATMOS ... and that’s its downfall. Similar to the Dalek two-parter from Season 3, this is a rather bland use of one of the finest monsters from the classic series. The Sontarans are “bred for war” so why they have such a convoluted and complicated plan for world domination I don’t know. It does reintroduce UNIT in all its glory, so that does earn it a star. Martha is given some extra depth of character, she’s her own person fully and all the better for it.
Things pick right up for the next episode, The Doctor's Daughter where our heroes land on the planet Messaline in the middle of an endless war. Here the Doctor meets the most important woman of his life, his daughter! OK, the idea of the Doctor having a descendant dates back to the wonderful book Father Time, but here the Doctor becomes a parent by accident. The story has something to say about human cloning and is a deep and emotional piece of writing. Georgia Moffet is stunning and for all you fact fans out there she is the real life daughter of the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison (Moffet is his real name!)
The Unicorn and The Wasp, the last episode on the disc, is set in 1926 at the time when famed author Agatha Christie disappeared for 10 days. Was it amnesia? A nervous breakdown? Or a giant alien wasp? This is a romp of an episode and contains everything we love about the series. It’s slightly historical, has a sublime cast and the script oozes with invention and style. Fenella Woolgar as Christie is wonderfully witty and Felicity Kendal reminds us why she’s one of Britain's top actresses. So not a bad collection of episodes but the very best was yet to come.
EXTRAS None as usual for these vanilla releases but when a disc contains some classic moments like a giant alien wasp do we really care?