12.3 – “The Sontaran Experiment”
The Doctor, Harry & Sarah beam down to the solar storm battered Earth for some reason or another. Some human colonists have returned home to be picked on by a Sontaran. Boredom ensues.
Ah, the last-minute, “Shit! A-6-parter-has-fallen-through! What are we going to do?” filler story.
The first time Doctor Who did a two part filler story, it was “The Edge Of Destruction”/Inside The Spaceship/whatever you want to call it. And it was awesome. A hysterical blast of uber-tense psychological drama, it ramped up the tension following two adventures where The Doctor had behaved like a selfish child, kidnapped some schoolteachers and generally behaved like an untrustworthy dick. An arsehole in a box, if you will. Then “The Rescue”, a putting-the-fun-into-the-functional-run-around story that introduced the hip new companion and had a great little bit of pseudo-monster design. This time round…where do I start? Seriously, where do I start?
It’s really hard to find anything to write about “The Sontaran Experiment”. It exists. It isn’t going to make your life better watching it. It’s not going to bore you either. It’s just…well, there. Which is nice and all, but, well. It gives one very little to work with. I’m probably going to eat up my word count trying to think of something interesting to say about something that isn’t really that interesting.
It looks great, mind. Filmed entirely on location in sunny (*sniggers*) Dartmoor and consequently nicely grainy. The Sontaran design is still ace, loving the golf ball spaceship still, REALLY love the anorexic sibling of the Smash robots rocking up, but, well, stuff is missing. Anything to stick in the mind, specifically. Styre isn’t as funny as Lynx and the script isn’t as funny or as clever as “The Time Warrior”. I could pick holes in some of the logic and wonder why the Sontarans feel the need to experiment on a species that not only has colonised the galaxy, but they’ve encountered as far back as the middle ages, or wonder why – when Trafalgar Square has found itself buried under a reformed Earth – the Nerva Beacon transmat thingie is still in place. But, well, life is too short.
Oh sod it, while I’m here: the structure doesn’t really work either. In a two parter called “The Sontaran Experiment’, with much less time to tell a story than normal, the usual end of episode one monster reveal seems a bit silly. “Oh noes! It’s a Sontaran! Who’d have guessed from the FUCKING TITLE?”
Still, Harry is awesome. He’s still my favourite slightly pompous, terribly well-spoken military twat and the chemistry between the leads is still fun. I wasn’t bored while watching it. It’s just terribly hard to get excited by and terribly hard to bash out a couple of hundred words about.
So yeah. “The Sontaran Experiment”: at least it’s not ‘The Twin Dilemma”.
A story that doesn’t even inspire me enough to write a ‘hilarious’ sign off. Wonder if the next story is any good? A snoozy 4/10.
Written and edited by Steve Horry