Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment

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  • The Doctor (Tom Baker), Sarah Jane, and Harry return from the space station Nerva to Earth 10,000 years in the future. The desolate landscape that once was the site of Piccadilly Circus has become the testing ground for the human race.Running Time: 50 min. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: TELEVISION Rating: NR Age: 794051285928 UPC: 794051285928 Manufacturer No: E2859

The Doctor (Tom Baker), Sarah Jane, and Harry return from the space station Nerva to Earth 10,000 years in the future. The desolate landscape that once was the site of Piccadilly Circus has become the testing ground for the human race.DVD Features:
Audio Commentary:Audio Commentary by actress Elisabeth Sladen, co-writer Bob Baker and producer Philip Hinchcliffe.
Featurette:Built for War A 39-minute history of the Sontaran race
Other:Cla… More >>

Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment

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  1. This is not one of those odd reviews posted before the release of the product, based either on vague memory or representing sheer fabrication. Nor is this a nonsensical tirade such as the one posted below. These are just some thoughts for other Doctor Who fans to enjoy as they look up this upcoming release. First, I am very excited for this release. As an ardent life-long Who fan I am sincerely shocked by the enormous number of absolutely classic episodes that are still not available on DVD. Similarly I am absolutely shocked by the number of sheer crap episodes that ARE on DVD. Every once in a while I will look up forthcoming releases and will feel my heart sink when I learn of the selections: Earthshock? The Two Doctors? Mark of the Rani? Why not The Image of Fendahl, The Brain of Morbius, Logopolis, or, my all time favorite, The Seeds of Doom? When will they see the light of day? Some may now assume that I am just a Tom Baker fan and do not care about the other Doctors. This is untrue. I believe that the original run of Doctor Who represented one of the greatest television shows in history, presenting regularly some of the most fun, imaginative, and best science fiction plots ever captured on film. The new run of Doctor Who, in fact, when held up to the original, makes for a sad and silly comparison. I love the first Doctor, who has always reminded me a bit of Bertrand Russell. I also love the second Doctor. Troughton was a fabulous actor, and he easily conveyed the Doctor’s love for and excitement felt toward science and learning, as well as the Enlightment Ideal-inspired attitude that reason and sheer know-how, properly applied, can solve most problems and overcome most diversity. The third Doctor was a fascinating man of action, reminiscent of The Avengers. He portrayed the Doctor as a martial artist and perhaps even a Buddhist. The Fourth, admittedly my favorite, brought the character to the status of superstardom. Baker’s wit and humor were so integral to the fourth incarnation of the character that it was often difficult to tell where Tom Baker ended and the Doctor began. Many of his best lines were adlibbed on the spot. After Tom Baker the show started to crumble though, its quality slowly disintegrating. Why? Well, the cause actually began during the end of Baker’s tenure as the Doctor. The cause was John Nathan-Turner, that pompous, egotistical control freak who made it a personal crusade to steal the show back from Tom Baker, the producer who sought to “update” the show, bringing it “into the 80s,” and who made absurd changes for no better reason than to demonstrate his authority. Many of these changes had the effect of a disease, with the show slowly falling apart as a result. One thing is for sure: Nathan-Turner was producer of Doctor Who for FAR too long. He got rid of Dudley Simpson and hired a composer to “update” the sound of Doctor Who, with the result that the new music was cornier, kitschier, and ironically ended up sounding even more dated, for what decade ended up being less timeless than the 80s? After winning his battle against Tom Baker he hired Peter Davison, a 29-year old kid who was not only absolutely wrong for the part, but was way, WAY too young. He pompously stated that the show used to consist of absurd fantasy, whereas he wanted it to portray REAL science. Of course, under his reign, it never did. The stories became worse and worse, and Davison’s wooden, uninteresting, and uncharismatic portrayal of the Doctor didn’t help matters. Then Nathan-Turner had another “great” idea: he hired Nicola Bryant to play the Doctor’s new assistant, in a move to try and increase the adult male audience. The problem was simple: the girl could not act. Further, her character was whiny, helpless, and so absurdly ignorant, immature, childlike and annoying that it baffled viewers that the Doctor could even tolerate her. Patrick Troughton was Peter Davison’s favorite Doctor. Troughton had told Davison not to play the Doctor for more than two years, lest he be typecast. He oddly took Troughton’s advice and like Troughton before him abandoned the role in favor of professional obscurity. He made his last story: The Caves of Androzani, an epically overrated affair that is oddly almost tied in Outpost Gallifrey’s fan poll with The Talons of Weng Chiang for being the best of all time. In my opinion it was one of Robert Holmes’ worst. It was surprisingly flat, uninteresting, and overly melodramatic. Nathan-Turner then made another not-so brilliant move: he hired Colin Baker to play the Doctor. Colin wanted to make the Doctor “his own.” He wanted to show a darker side to the character. What ended up happening was that Colin gave us the fussiest, most pompous, and egotistical Doctor yet. The sixth Doctor spent his time squabbling and arguing with Peri, his half-naked assistant, and viewers were not amused. The back-and-forth between them was not witty, clever, or even entertaining. Viewers longed for the exchanges that were once had between the second Doctor and Jamie, or the fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane or Romana II. Colin’s attempt to reveal the “dark side” of the Doctor also made him seem more violent than any other incarnation, which many fans severely disliked. In Vengeance on Varos as well as in The Two Doctors fans actually witnessed the Doctor physically murdering people, and not even in self-defense. Though the murder in The Two Doctors was likely old Robert Holmes voicing his opinion of the absolute worthlessness of hedonists, the violence portrayed would have been entirely uncharacteristic coming from any previous incarnation of the Doctor. The fourth Doctor never corrected people when mistaken for a human. The sixth Doctor would fly into a pompous tirade, throwing fits and tantrums. Audiences quickly tired of such things. Something happened that had never happened before: the Doctor’s character, as a person, had actually become unlikable. The ratings plummeted, and another first occurred: an actor, Colin Baker, was actually fired from the role of the Doctor (though actually recent evidence suggests William Hartnell did not voluntarily abandon the role, as is usually stated). The show went on an eighteen-month hiatus, and then returned with Sylvester McCoy and then the new script supervisor’s master plan: to make the Doctor seem intelligent again, as well as more powerful. He had been reduced to a violent clown that hopped out of a phone booth and attacked people. McCoy made him a master strategist, who never resorted to physical violence but again used his wit and intellect to resolve the situation at hand. This was fitting, as all along, whether lost on the fans or not, what the character of the Doctor was SUPPOSED to be was the personification of the Enlightenment Ideal. As I have written elsewhere, Doctor Who has always been about overcoming adversity, not with might or force, but with cleverness and sheer intellect and the know how that results from being scientifically educated. Everything has a natural explanation. In Doctor Who, Gods are usually ancient aliens, or time travelers, the supernatural always turns out to be some hitherto unexplained but perfectly natural phenomenon, and reason can, when properly applied, overcome just about any obstacle. No wonder so many teachers (“educationalists”) in England thought that having your children watch Doctor Who was a great thing! Louise Jamison’s character, Leela, summed it up when she said, in Horror of Fang Rock, “I used to believe in magic, but the Doctor has taught me about science. It is better to believe in science.” But then, something tragic happened. Just when Doctor Who was getting good again, churning out interesting classics such as Ghost Light, Remembrance of the Daleks, and The Curse of Fenric, just when it was beginning to portray the glimmerings of its former glory, it was canceled, never to return. Some say the show was brought back in the 21st century. I disagree. The new show bears zero resemblance to the old, and scarcely deserves to share the same name. It’s like comparing modern Hollywood teenage startle flicks or “torture porn” to actual horror films, which really aren’t made anymore. They are not the same at all.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. The utilitarian voice over/animator for all sontaurans was Kevin Lindsday(except for Clinton Greyn in The Two Doctors) but I assume, as with all great voice/mask actors(jinxed to ill fate) like Michal Wisher, he is no longer with us. Or “has more important things to do” than “distroying all of us” with DVD comentary as Tom Baker punned in T. Baker Years and joked seriously in warning, whispy tones to Liz Sladen with Peter Miles’ own DVD commentary as “Nydar”. This is a two parter. I do not know how well it will sell on it’s own, why not put it in with “Genisis.” or better yet “Ark in Space”. “King’s Deamons” and 5 Dr.s go well also as does “Black Orcid with Visitation”. Liz was kind enough to do the comentary with all of her episodes with Tom Baker and as always with the directors and this time Bob Baker(no relation to Tom) who wrote many Dr. Whos including Armageddon Factor, my first DW to watch at age 9. Ian Marter, of course is not with us. I understand it was diabetes that took him but he was also a good writer as well as actor. He wrote RIBOS and others like it. This one is sort of a “part” of a “quintilogy” as some would put it with others(though not officially) and included continuity with Ark in Space, Genisis(to some degree) and Revenge of the Cybermen(as retrieving the TARDIS required the transmat back via “time ring”) I do not see Keeper of Traken, Logopolis, and Castravalva as part of a trilogy either, but some “claim” an imaginary trilogy(not official mind) called the “regeneration trilogy”.

    Ian did a lot of running around in this one and was good at bringing Harry Sullivan’s his altrusitic character forth, as did Tom with his ridiculous stunt antecs in breaking half his ribs in a Judo move done by Linsday as “Feild Commander Styre”. Liz is always good at playing the tramatised victim and is great at acting with her eyes. Short story, long reveiw as there is not much to say but a recap on Doctor Who’s of this caliper and needing it combined with a four or six parter. Oh, Space Pirates with War Games, a good frugal buy!
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. I’m surprised anyone would rate this episode above a 2 or 3.

    First) The episode is extremely short. The shortest episode of all of the Fourth Doctor episodes. I think the total episode is only 2 parts long and take up only 40 minutes show time.

    Second) It is really a continuation of the Ark in Space episode, with the

    Doctor going down to the planet to prepare for the colonists to embark on

    the planet. So it is not exactly a stand alone episode. It really should of been included on a DVD with the Ark and Space episodes. Should not be included on a DVD as a stand alone episode, because it is not a stand alone episode.

    Third) There are a few good scenes in it, and I would say that it is worth watching. But I wouldn’t go out and spend as much money as they are asking on Amazon to buy it, especially since this is not one of the best of the Fourth Doctor episodes.

    Fourth) My suggestion is to wait until this episode is sold as part of a set before buying it.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  4. Tom Baker is back as Doctor Who. Watch as his hat and scarf solve yet another space story. See the Tardis disapear and reapear somewhere in space and time.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. …Oh, I am not talking about the Sontaran Experiment, the 1975 Doctor Who story, I am talking about Terrance Dicks soap-boxing on the corpse of Robert Holmes at the end of the special featurette ‘Built For War’. Somehow, DICKs, I doubt Robert Holmes was a cop, an honored war hero, and an irrational, flaming liberal. Your tasteless, obtuse political comments were just crap, as were the editors and people who screened that item and decided to end a DVD on such a note. Absolutely disgusting. A pumpkin head who merely script edited one story wraps it all up in nonsensical hysteria as he puts words and intentions into the mouth of a dead man.

    Aside from that being said, the DVD was rather nice, and I am glad the restro team doesn’t take out or fix the natural quirks of the video (or film in most cases aside from this show). A nice crisp story with excellent melodrama, scripting and acting. The commentary by Hinchcliffe is always fascinating as he talks about many aspects of the production, but sadly is interrupted a little too much by Sladen who focuses on mere ostensible qualities of what she sees 90 percent of the time. But, you can hear how well they and the whole crew of that era got along as they tell stories of what was emotionally important to them behind the scenes; Hinchcliffe’s 30th birthday on the shoot, Sladen’s admiration for Hinchcliffe’s enthusiasm and support, a lunching Sontaran scaring a woman and her dog on a casual walk, Tom Baker nearly putting his eye out in a local darts competition between days shooting, etc.

    Any DVD with commentary from the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era is wonderful to own since the writing is superb, the acting excellent, production detail and effort admirable, and the commentary on the DVDs is superb. Pity Holmes isn’t alive to add commentary, because the tales of his motives and antics sound incredible – “Just give us something to scare the little beggars to death.”
    Rating: 5 / 5

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