Welcome to Day 21 of my 47-day series about the revival version of Doctor Who (2005-present). I’ve come up with 47 topics / questions to answer, all of them basically positive and upbeat about the program. Each day (or as often as I can actually write these–so far so good!) I’ll pick one of them at random (using this convenient random number generator) and then write up an answer.
Why 47? It’s my favorite number.
Why Doctor Who? It’s my favorite show.
Why the modern day Doctor Who only? Simply because I remember it better.
Why only positive stuff? Because really, I write enough snark.
So we spin the Random Number Generator again, and eventually it lands on 15, which means the topic of the day is this:
“Best Reused Element of the Classic Series”
Now, by this I guess I’m not talking about the Doctor, the TARDIS, time travel or regeneration. Rather, I’m talking about other things that may be important but are not foundational to the very concept of the show. I guess, really, we’re talking about monsters and villains that have featured in the new series but originated in the old. So, Cybermen, the Master, Silurians, Ice Warriors and so on.
The obvious space-elephant in the room are the Daleks, which are so important and ubiquitous that some may consider them to actually be foundational the series. But though the new series has certainly been successful at making them a fearsome galactic threat, they are not my choice today. Instead, I select
The Sontarans were one of the best additions to Doctor Who of the 1970’s, when they debuted in the same story as Sarah Jane Smith, The Time Warrior. In the modern series, they showed up for the first time in Season Four’s The Sontaran Strategem (and it’s follow-up, The Poison Sky). I was impressed by their treatment because the show took what we knew about them–their love of war–and developed it to give us a strong sense of their culture as a people. It makes them a more engaging threat and ultimately more interesting as characters. Christopher Ryan (from The Young Ones) is particularly good as General Staal.
Since then, the Sontarans have mostly been used for humor, particularly in the form of Dan Starkey’s Strax, who debuted (and died) in A Good Man Goes to War, but turned out to still be alive to assist (and occasionally hinder) the Doctor in his efforts. He’s definitely the most fun of the “Paternoster Gang”, and the only one I really like.
I think it’s time, though, that we got back to the scariness of the Sontarans, and had a story that highlighted their fierce military machine (preferably in a tale that showed their eons-old war with the Rutans). That’s on my wishlist for Season Ten.
Click here for a master list for this series.