The Sontaran Experiment (1975)

The Sontaran Experiment is a story that was a rush job when an initial six part story fell apart and something was needed to come after the four part story ‘The Ark in Space’. The result is this story. It sees the return (oddly enough) of the Sontarans after their very good debut story in The Time Warrior. This entire story is set outside with no one second of studio recording on offer. It’s written by Bob Baker & Dave Martin (writers of the Wallace and Gromit stories and creators of K9) which means that we’re going to get a good story.

The story is set on an abandoned Earth from the Nerva Beacon. All they find is a single Sontaran who is performing tests on some colonists. The Experiment that the Sontaran is performing is to see the strategic point of the Earth. Considering the story is only two episodes long, the Doctor, Harry and Sarah spend a lot of time apart but the story still feels like its moving forward. The story is very dark and it fits in well with the Philip Hinchcliffe era which is pretty much dark and gothic in every story. At one point we come across someone who is close to death.

Unusually I found Sarah to be very annoying. I cant put my finger on it but there is something that doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s that stupid yellow outfit she’s got on. Practical it may be but visually, its not good. Tom Baker is good in this story throughout. It’s only his third story but he has nailed his Doctor down. This is the story where Tom Baker broke his collar bone which meant that the fight sequence between the Doctor and Styre had to be performed by Terry Walsh. It’s a shame that we only get close-up shots of Baker because I think that the fight might have been a bigger deal. But as it stands it’s a perfectly fine scene.

Baker and Martin have written a good story that is helped out a lot by the outdoor filming. Had it been set in a studio then it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good. Rodney Bennett has done a brilliant job as the director managing to make the drama and tension fit perfectly into 50 minutes. He uses the surroundings effectively and that is one of the reasons why I love this story. The fact that the story is set outside gives the story a different feel to it and it’s a shame that the story was only two episodes long. The Sontaran Experiment is a sharp story that has good characters and also some good direction. The scenery is just wonderful to look at and the fact it’s in the middle of nowhere (pretty much) means that the basic setting is solidified.


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