Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Collarbone, 12 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Sontaran Experiment [1975] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
Not often you find a Dr Who all filmed on location, certainly not in the middle of Dartmoor, remote from civilisation, prone to foul weather, spectral hounds, and actors injuring themselves. Tom Baker fell, breaking his collarbone halfway through filming; that this does not show owes much to the long scarf and Terry Walsh. It is interesting to note that neither Mr Baker nor Mr Lindsay feature much in the climactic fight, Mr Lindsay being doubled by Stuart Fell.

It looks great; very well designed and filmed, and the setting on Hound Tor is perfect. This is Earth as orbited by Space Station Nerva - and the Seventh Colonists have arrived; and they all sound to be South African.

In fact at least three of them are South African, while Donald Douglas is Scottish, and Terry Walsh only has one line; the clipped South African twang works very well alongside the stilted serviceman's argot. I think Peter Walshe is turning in the best performance of the little gang, but all are very good.

As indeed is Kevin Lindsay in his last major screen role; Styre is distinctly different to Linx - I get the impression he's probably better-read and goes to rather smarter parties - he's also in a position to more widely express his sadism; while Linx was 'like a little boy stirring up the red ants and the black ants for fun', Styre is systematically torturing people, at least in part because he enjoys it. The gravity bar experiment is rather too finely considered to satisfy purely scientific interest; he's savoured that idea (apparently it was that which first aroused the interest of Mary Whitehouse).

What really draws my attention in this are the special effects, all of which had to be made to work on site - the snake (not bad) the quaking bog (really quite good), the robot (not at all bad for something that's just moving on Elamac Track), and the deflating Sontaran at the end? Well, OK, but it's a good job it's not on screen for any longer than it is. I think Ian Marter wrote a slightly better ending in the novel, with the Dr winning the fight by pouring his hip flask down Styre's probic vent.

Dramatically, the bit that doesn't really work is Styre's talk to the Marshall - in spite of having added roundels on his collar, the Marshall is quite obviously Kevin Lindsay as well - there is no change at all in the voice or manner, which is really rather a shame.

As to the invasion plan, wouldn't it make more sense to take the Earth now - while it's empty - and then shoot anything that tries to land, rather than engage in a protracted series of experiments, which seem far more calculated to serving the sadism of one field major than the strategic agendas of military intelligence?

Fortunately, it's only two episodes long, so by the time you really start to ask questions like that, it's finished.
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