Saturday 17 December 2011

390 The Sontaran Experiment Part One

EPISODE: The Sontaran Experiment Part One
TRANSMITTED: 22 February 1975
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Rodney Bennett
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sontaran Experiment

The Doctor, Sarah & Harry materialise in a circle of silver spheres in the middle of moorland. The Doctor repairs the refractors on the transmat equipment while Sarah & Harry explore. The Doctor is observed by some humans while Harry gets trapped in a hole. One of the humans, Zake, is chased by a robot and falls to his death. The Doctor investigates and is stunned by Zake's friends and thus is missing when Sarah returns for help. Harry escapes through a tunnel and is nowhere to be seen when Sarah returns. Another human, Roth, saves Sarah from the robot and tells of the alien, who controls the robot, who is hiding in the rocks who is capturing and torturing them. Vural, Krans & Erak interrogate the Doctor. They don't believe he came from Nerva station. The Doctor spots an alien device embedded in the clothing of Vural. Roth is scared of returning to the camp because he knows Vural has been captured by the alien and released. He distracts the other enabling Sarah to release the Doctor. They return to the pit seeking Harry, which the Doctor falls into. Harry has escaped from the pit and finds a spherical silver space ship. He sees the robot return with the captured Sarah & Roth. The alien emerges from it's ship, which Sarah identifies as Linx.....

Not a bad episode, but I'm left wondering a few things: Why is everyone suddenly referring to the Ark as Nerva? I don't recall hearing it called that in the Ark in Space - did I miss something? And how did the Transmat station get to Earth? After how ever many thousand years you wouldn't expect them to be still functioning. Maybe they were launched from the Ark when the first human was revived...... It's a nice touch insinuating that they've materialised on the site of central London with Trafalgar Square and Picadilly both being mentioned, a conceit that script editor Robert Holmes would reuse some years later in the first four parts of Trial of a Time Lord.

Glyn Jones, playing Krans, is unique amongst the entire credited cast of the original series of Doctor Who: he's the only person to both act and write for the show, having previously penned The Space Museum. Vural you may recognise from elsewhere as the actor, Donald Douglas was in the 1980 Blake's 7 episode Rumours of Death as Major Grenleee. Both Peter Walshe, playing Erak, and Brian Ellis, playing the prisoner in the second episode, return in The Masque of Mandragora as a pikeman and brother respectively. Zake is regular stuntman Terry Walsh, who as we'll see ended up doing some extra work during this serial. Returning to the show for his third and final appearance is Kevin Lindsay as Styre and, in episode 2, The Marshal. He previously played the Sontaran Linx in the The Time Warrior as well as Cho Je in Planet of the Spiders. Here' the Sontaran mask is modified to removed the breathing difficulties Lindsay suffered during the Time Warrior. He died of his heart condition on 26th April 1975 9 days after his forty ninth birthday.

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