Friday, January 10, 2014

Doctor Who-The Sontaran Experiment

                     First the doctor,than Harry Sullivan and (albeit on her back) Sarah Jane Smith materialize on the surface on Earth via Space Station Nerva's transmat unit. Due to their rough arrival,the doctor begins to repair the unit while Sarah and Harry explore the hilly wilderness region where they've materialized-seeking a little R&R and looking to confirm the doctor's insistence that they've materialized in the center of future Piccadilly Circus. Harry falls into a cavern thinking he was avoiding its edge. Sarah notices from a snapped twig that the ground directly below Harry had been filled-indicating a type pf deliberately placed snare.

                        Sarah returns to their materialization site to find the doctor to help Harry,but finds the doctor missing. When she returns to the cavern she finds Harry missing as well. Three astronauts named Vurul,Krans and Erac have discovered the doctor and taken him into captivity. They question him with little luck on their part to five members of their nine party expedition have gone missing-following them answering a distress call from Earth. In her travels Sarah has encountered another and the very distressed astronaut named Roth,who has been tortured by alien visitors of some type and dares not return to the camp site of his ship mates in fear they will locate him and resume the torture.

                           Along the way Roth and Sarah meet up with Vurul,Krans and Erac after they were each individually met upon by a robot that was giving all of them chase. And all three therefore follow Roth along with the now freed doctor. Sarah brings the doctor to the cavern where. The doctor then ends up falling into the same cavern as Harry had when looking for him. The robot than returns-using a lasso type restraint to drag Sarah and Roth to the alien spacecraft where Roth had apparently been tortured. The alien reveals itself to be a Sontaran,whom Sarah Jane believes to be Linx from her previous encounter with them in Earth's 13'th century.Its actually Field Major Styre of the Sontaran G-3 military assessment survey. 

                     He kills Roth right in front of Sarah when he attempts escape.  He then reports back to his marshal,whom is displeased that the progress of Styre's report needed for their invasion to begin. Harry,having walked out of the cavern from the opposite direction, overhears this and reunites manages to reunite with the doctor after an encounter with another of the astronauts hung on a rock and left for dead,and promising to help him. Sarah meanwhile is hung on a cave wall herself behind a force-field,where a Sontaran brain interface is allowing Styre to subject her to various fearful images,such as a snake and being absorbed by rock,to study her reactions as he's never encountered a female human.

                       While Vural,who apparently sold his companions out to Styre for the promise of protection,Krans and Erac are additionally being subjected to lifting an ever increasing weight crushing on of them, doctor manages to rescue her using his sonic screwdriver. Styre manages to knock out the doctor again after this-after which Sarah manages to locate it and Harry-after failing to help the dying astronaut Styre has been studying reunites with his two companions. 

                      The doctor wants to engage Styre in ritual combat since,in the change of gravity,this will allow Styre to be easily worn out and vulnerable. During this combat Harry enters Styre's vessel and disconnects a Tertullian diode device from which it's been drawing energy-which in turn drains the Styre of his energy and kills him. After warning the Sontaran marshal to steer clear,the doctor bids the surviving astronauts farewell as he,Harry and Sarah Jane attemp to use the transmat to return to Nerva.

                        This two part adventure serial is filled with a great deal of tension,uncertainty and often danger. The story is full of cruel and disturbing tests of the human astronauts as well as the doctor and his companions. Of course as done on the part of the extremely cold and callous Field Major Styre,these pleasure/pain experiments are very similar to that of some Nazi "physicians" such as Doctor Mengele. Harry's experience and compassion also comes vitally into play as he seeks to help one of the astronauts Styre is slowing killing for his own experiences.

                 Not only that but Tom Baker's split second wit as the doctor is on full display here,even (probably intentionally) revealing the credibility gap created by the non-appearance of the hibernating crew of Nerva-leaving a forming Galactic empire of humans that survived Earth's encounter with solar flairs believing Nerva itself to be a myth. This combined with the very real cruelty of Styre provides a superb and action packed morality play about how doubt of the truth can lead one to extreme peril. If such people are not terribly careful. 

*Being that this episode is a bridge between two other Doctor Who serials,I am taking this opportunity to alter the layout of my reviews by featuring my reviews for the two stories related to this. Note that the first of them was my very first review posting on this blog. And I have grown very significantly in my understanding of Doctor Who since. That being said,enjoy this review-as well as the follow two. Click on each photo to see the corresponding review. Thank you!

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