Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear

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  • After a freak accident in the inevitable quarry, Sarah Jane emerges clutching a stone hand which holds a strange power over her.Running Time: 99 min. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: TELEVISION Rating: NR Age: 794051273123 UPC: 794051273123 Manufacturer No: E2731

After a freak accident in the inevitable quarry, Sarah Jane emerges clutching a stone hand which holds a strange power over
Doctor Who fans must take the bittersweet with the suspenseful in this four-part story arc from 1976, which pits the Doctor (Tom Baker) and companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) against the fossilized hand of an alien criminal which possesses a hideous will to live again. Discovered by the Doctor and Sarah during a trip… More >>

Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear

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  1. To my dismay this episode has been edited to fit on one DVD !!

    The moron at the BBC who butchered this episode so they could save a few bucks and so they didnt have the cost of 2 disks and get a double sized DVD box should be stoned at the next WHO convention and drawn and quartered !!!

    We are all for the most part adults purchasing all of your titles for the Doctor to replace our time melting VHS copies taped off of our public television stations. Loving the extras and comentary, the cleaned up video and sound BUT… I and for the most part all of us Whovians would have had no problem spending a little more for a title that has 2 disks whatever is on them as long as the programe isnt BUTCHERED !!! and we dont care if it is for 1 to 3 minutes of the Doctor walking out of the mine pit and whatever else you have cut from the story. I might as well go a burn my own complete episode before it melts if you dont want to do the complete job for me..

    You have done a diservice to Tom Baker, the Director, the Producer, the story writer and the fans you should be ashamed. This smells of the bottom line! and I thought the BBC ment quality…

    Take note BBC america & BBC your fans are here to buy our favorite show but not if your going to butcher them for the bottom line. You dont have to win us over like the young generation with the new Doctor which makes me pround to be a Doctor Who Fan!! USE some common sence and DONT EVER EDIT THE Programe!!!! We know them backwards and forewords and thanks to the exec. who made this decision you have just pissed alot of paying customers who might think twice before just grabing whatever you put out cause it is incomplete or edited for content. Thats alot of money lost for being cheep, just so investers get their divi’s…..

    Happy Holidays
    Rating: 4 / 5

  2. I don’t know whether it’s Amazon or all retailers that have this problem, right now, but HoF freezes at the 13:58 mark. Don’t purchase it for a year or so. Let retailers get in a fresh, undamaged shipment, and then try again.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  3. This story begins with a death sentence to be carried out on an alien found guilty of a most treacherous act which is not carried out exactly according to plan.

    Switch to the quarry, a bit of an in-joke after all of the Pertwee years where the quarry seemed to become an almost required set. It is ironic too that the alien story element is actually a silicon based lifeform!

    In the last Sarah Jane Smith story, I believe that she was the longest serving of the Doctor’s companions, the story involves regeneration of an alien life-form through the consumption of radiation from a nuclear power station despite military intervention which, as always, is ineffective. The story is reminiscent of the old horror movie of the hand which has a life of it’s own but in a different way. The alien life form when recreated has a strange beauty and a believable tale to tell convincing the Doctor to return it to it’s own planet.

    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the usual story of treachery and deceit is relived again with an interesting transformation of form once again and a twist in the tale.

    This story is not apparently as dark a tale as the others under Philip Hinchcliffe’s excellent production. On closer inspection however, this is a story of genocide, but it is not really explored sufficiently. It is also like the Egyptian theme of ‘Pyramids of Mars’ and the story of Horus and Osiris. A stunning contrast to the ‘Masque of Mandragora’ which precedded it and to the ‘Deadly Assassin’ which followed it, this is certainly an interesting story.

    Just one thing, it always irritated me about Elisabeth Sladen wearing those Andy Pandy overall things.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. The final two Doctor Who DVD releases for 2006 feature the fourth and sixth Doctors in stories first broadcast in Britain in 1976 and 1985 respectively, both starring rare examples of a female `baddie’ as the Time Lord’s adversary. The Hand of Fear is certainly an appropriate release for this year as it neatly ties in with the most recent series of new adventures aired on the BBC this past spring. The Mark of The Rani comes from the ill-fated twenty-second season of the long running show and is certainly one of the highlights of that year’s much maligned canon.

    The Hand of Fear was the second story of six from season fourteen, possibly the most lauded and certainly (in terms of ratings) the most consistently popular season from the show’s original twenty-six year run. It was the third to star Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor under the Production of Philip Hinchcliffe and Script Editor Robert Holmes. Joining the Doctor for the start of her fourth year in the role was Sarah-Jane Smith, the feminist journalist portrayed so brilliantly and convincingly by Elisabeth Sladen. However, Sladen only appeared in the first two stories in this season, this being her last. The script comes from Bob Baker and Dave Martin, two veteran writers on the show who generally contributed at least one script per season from 1971 to 1979. I’m not a great fan of their stories, possibly due to a personal prejudice arising from their horrendous Three Doctors script that marked the series’ tenth anniversary. But The Hand of Fear is certainly strong, but for me it’s one of the weaker efforts in such a stand-out season. What makes this story so memorable and perhaps so fondly remembered is that it features the departure of Sarah-Jane, at the time, the longest running consecutive companion.

    Sladen is given the key role in the early episodes of this story and plays a wonderful, possessed villainess who creates havoc in a nuclear power plant. Alas though, and she admits this herself in the commentary, when not possessed, Sladen goes completely over the top and hams it up as Sarah-Jane in the rest of the story. Perhaps due to the pressure of the situation, her performance becomes quite irritating. This is redeemed almost completely in the closing moments of episode four, when having threatened to leave the Doctor, he in turn `evicts’ her from the TARDIS. Their final farewell (largely scripted by the two actors themselves) is touching and moving and well worth the price of the DVD alone. The real villain of the story, Eldrad of Kastria, is played for almost two episodes by Judith Paris, and it has to be said that she pretty much steals the entire show, both in her performance and the quite fabulous costume and make-up.

    Another female baddie show’s up almost nine years later in The Mark of The Rani, the third story from Colin Baker’s first full season as the Doctor, broadcast in the spring of 1985. Kate O’Mara takes on the role of the Rani, a villainous Time Lady, interfering with the Luddite period of Earth’s history in order to carry our scientific experiments. O’Mara had worked with Baker before on the hugely popular BBC drama series The Brothers, and the chemistry between the two actors is wonderful, although alas, they spend precious little time on screen together. The supporting cast is strong in general, but alas, the two leads (Baker and Nicola Bryant) are just not suited to their characterizations, and their on screen bickering is tiresome, as is Bryant’s phoney, whiney American accent and Baker’s bullying Doctor. Also here to spoil things is the desperately hammy Anthony Ainley as the Doctor’s other Time Lord enemy, The Master; a pantomime villain who was well past his sell-by date by this time, but was contracted to appear in all Doctor Who seasons in this era. It’s a shame that the three lead performances from the regulars are so weak, as the story is certainly strong and the wonderful location filming gives the show a very much needed senses of reality. O’Mara makes up for a lot and was so successful in the role that she was invited back two years later to help kick-start Sylvester McCoy’s ill-fated run as the seventh Doctor. She plays the part with conviction and humor, and is compelling enough to forgive the weaknesses of the scripting.

    Both of these stories have been wonderfully restored to their original broadcast quality (or possibly even better), which in the case of The Hand of Fear is possibly not such a great thing as it now becomes a little obvious how the some of the effects with the hand are done; nuances that were missed on the lower grade video tape. The extras included on both discs are fantastic – as the Doctor Who extras always are. There are behind the scenes documentaries, interviews with the cast and crew, out-takes, deleted scenes, continuity announcements, Easter Eggs, and features from other BBC shows related to these two stories. The only minor criticism would be that the “Changing Time” documentary included with The Hand of Fear covers a lot of ground that isn’t necessarily relevant to this story and might have been better used with other releases. But it’s a great little piece regardless. The commentary from Tom Baker on this disc is completely hysterical and the actor is at his comic best, even though he recalls precious little of the actual story. He is joined by writer Bob Baker and for some episodes by Sladen, Paris and Hinchcliffe. Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Kate O’Mara provide an entertaining commentary on The Mark of The Rani. Alas, in both cases, a lot of the on screen production notes and the behind-the scenes documentaries cover a lot of the same ground, so there is much repetition.

    With Elizabeth Sladen returning to play Sarah-Jane Smith soon on British screens in her own TV series, following her much lauded re-appearance with David Tennant’s tenth Doctor earlier this year, her final story from her original run is a great reminder of the bridge between the two. It’s wonderful to see her in the role again and hopefully her new adventures will be as popular as her original run.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. Although certainly not dealing with unusual subject matter, the structure of this story is a bit odd for Doctor Who. The better part of the first three episodes happen on Earth, where Sarah Jane is accidentally hypnotized and converted into the servant of Eldrad, a long-dead alien ruler, by the fossilized remains of Eldrad’s hand. Eldrad itself is reborn about halfway through the story, and becomes a “good guy” (well, sort of), enlisting the Doctor and Sarah to take it back to its home planet. From there, the last episode-and-then-some takes place on the alien planet of Kastria.

    Because of the major change in plot and location, the story feels somewhat disjointed or slow in places. One odd point is that although a lot of the Earth plot involves Eldrad sending a nuclear plant critical, UNIT is never called in to do anything (that seems like their usual cup of tea). Despite a bit of plodding, the adventure is overall pretty good, with some very fun bits. Tom Baker is a bit more subdued than usual, but Lis Sladen really shines in her final adventure as Sarah Jane – her “hypnotised” performance is really nicely done without being too over-the-top, and worth the price of admission alone. The costume design for Eldrad is quite nice, and the actress who plays Eldrad’s female form does quite well. Of particular note is a touching and very sad departure scene for Sarah, in which she is forced to leave the Doctor for her old life in England.

    Not the very best of the Whos, but quite serviceable, and definitely worth seeing if you like Sarah Jane.
    Rating: 3 / 5

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