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Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment

"Words, Earthling, will never prevail against Sontaran might."

You can skip right past this one.

I've made no secret of that fact that I am no fan of the work of writers Dave Martin and Bob Barker. 'The Sontaran Experiment' is no exception. It is not that I think it is an absolutely terrible story. It isn't. It isn't even the worst story of this season. It's just an utterly pointless one. Disposable is the best way to describe this story. A forgettable bit of filler sandwiched between two stone cold classics. Honestly, even though every story in this story is linked, each leading directly into the next, you can easily go straight from 'The Ark in Space' to 'Genesis of the Daleks' and bypass this story altogether.

While the regular cast do their best with the material they're given, the guest actors playing the GalSec astronauts aren't that good. In fact, they are all pretty terrible. I understand that the writers wanted them to have South African accents to show that in the future not everyone would be English (and yet still white). A nice idea. Shame the casting department couldn't find any decent South African actors for them to use.

Notes and Quotes

--Sarah mistakes Styre for Linx ('The Time Warrior'), saying they are identical. I think Sarah needs to get her eyes checked.

--This story was shot entirely on location at Hound Tor on Dartmoor.

--The GalSec crew describe Nerva as 'the lost colony'. It's been orbiting around Earth for thousands of years, you muppets. It's not lost, you're clearly just not looking hard enough.

--One of the GalSec astronauts is played by Glyn Jones, who wrote the season two story 'The Space Museum'.

--Because Tom Baker broke his collar bone making this story, stuntman Terry Walsh donned a Tom wig and doubled for him in scenes where the Doctor is required to move or engage in physical action.

Harry: "Doctor! I thought you were dead."
The Doctor: "Not me. Piece of the synestic locking mechanism from Nerva's rocket - popped it in my pocket."
Harry: “Fortuitous."
The Doctor: "Foresight. You never know when these bits and pieces will come in handy. Never throw anything away, Harry (throws it away). Now, where's my five hundred year diary. I remember jotting some notes on the Sontarans. It's a mistake to clutter one's pockets, Harry."

Vural: "Clock expert?"
The Doctor: "Horologist, actually, and chronometrist. I just love clocks: atomic clocks, quartz clocks, grandfather clocks."
Erak: "He's still lying."
Vural: "Shut up, Erak!"
The Doctor: "Cuckoo clocks."

Sarah Jane: "What you're trying to say is that you're busy and you'd like us to push off."
The Doctor: "I'd phrase it more elegantly myself, of course, but yes."

One and a quarter out of four something, something.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. I have to say I disagree - with respect - on skipping this one. It has grown on me, and the crystal clarity of outdoor video "filming" makes it feel like this was just taped yesterday.
    I love Liz Sladen's performance, and the brevity leaves me wanting more - a rarity in Doctor Who as the long plot arcs leave me thinking Episode Three hallway running gags could always be slahed.
    With Ian Marter and Liz Sladen no longer with us, it is a treat to see Harry and Sarah Jane go at each other.
    Even the probe looks somewhat realistic, given what NASA has put on Mars - compare it to pictures of their latest rover (Curiosity in 2013) and you see the array of solar power cells and arms are not much of a stretch from the stainless steel Sontaran probe.
    I just like this one.

  2. It's a rare 2 parter for Tom (in fact, it's his only one) as he has lots of 4 parters (which I feel is a great length in general), and some 6 parters. My biggest complaint about this one is that the Doctor tires Styre out so easily which seems very odd for a warrior race.

    You could skip it, but it's a fairly tight package and while not great, it never feels that bad either, so I'd watch it at least once, even if just for continuity.


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