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Thank you, Thing.
on 17 September 2013
Between the two operatic stories Masque and Assassin, Hand is apt to get a little overlooked; back on C20 Earth, practically prosaic, and the quarry just before they blast verges on the comic, the equivalent of the American fan in the 1980s that proposed along the lines of 'Huh huh, say he lands on a planet with like humungous gravity, so like he gets squished'. It's a good job they play it so straight.
But it's atypical of the Bristolians that the usual superfluity of ideas is absent - hand wants to live, hand takes over Sarah, Sarah puts hand in nuclear reactor, Eldrad lives, take Eldrad back to Kastria, drop Eldrad down hole - which is the only thing about this story that's particularly deep.
Admittedly, it takes a while for this to show; this is very much a horror movie (The Beast with Five Fingers to be specific) and as such it works very well indeed. The stuff with Sarah in her Andy Pandy outfit stalking through a nuclear power station zapping guards as she goes is particularly chilling, and then she sits down in the reactor and the hand starts moving.
And then, after more radiation, the hand grows itself a new body, and it's Judith Paris, nothing to complain about there, and off we go to Kastria, and here's the rub, up until now we've been on Earth, which is full of humans, and we care that they shouldn't get blown up by a nuclear reactor, but Kastria is full of nobody except Eldrad, who we frankly don't much care about, and after he's reverted to his true horrid self it's probably better that he gets tripped up with the Dr's scarf and dropped down a chasm. It's a bit Scooby Doo, and has no human interest whatsoever, certainly compared to Glyn Houston phoning home in the few minutes left to him before the power station blows up. Glyn Houston's very good in this, as are Rex Robinson and Roy Boyd, even though Mr Boyd only gets a cough and a spit. Renu Setna too - but if you'd seen him in I, Claudius, you'd not allow him in a hospital.
And Judith Paris looks stunning and delivers a lovely performance, but it only lasts one episode before she gets replaced by Stephen Thorne wearing (as he described it) 'a gorse bush' - and they weren't even able to meet to compare notes about how they were each playing the same person. It would have been far more sensible to keep Judith Paris; not only is she nicer to look at, she was giving the better performance.
Sarah's leaving scene? I'm sure I've seen more truthful things on television. I don't really believe that either of them would behave so craply both at the same time, and then not go, 'Oh, that was crap', I don't believe the Dr would allow the Time Lords to make him give Sarah up, and I don't believe Sarah would be going on about her 'goodies' - what is she talking about? It's not well done.
Thank goodness for School Reunion and the Sarah Jane Adventures.