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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars


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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 November 2016
The planet Samur was the scene of an inglorious victory and the start of a long defeat for the Sontaran Empire. But Fleet Marshal Stabb has hand-picked seven ‘special’ Sontarans to finish the job. Heroes?! ‘Who do you think you are kidding...?’, it’s Stabb’s army! 5* (2 CDs, 4 episodes, 119 minutes + extras)

‘Dad’s Army’ meets “The Seven Samur-i” with a touch of ‘Blackadder’, in Alan Barnes’ comedy drama set among the moss-covered ruins of a world the Doctor remembers as a haven of peace and tranquil thought. Not things the Sontarans are big on, really. For them it was just an outpost in their interminable war against the Rutans, seemingly defenceless and there for the taking. But, as it turned out, only by the most drastic means. Because the people of Samur hired seven legendary protectors, cursed beings with a reputation sufficient to scare the helmets off a whole Sontaran division…

This is a great story if you don’t mind seeing Robert Holmes’ troll warriors sent up in every way imaginable! I wouldn’t agree that Linx in ‘The Time Warrior’ was a ‘buffoon’ (as the Writer’s notes describe him), but these Sontarans are definitely at the buffoon end of the clone spectrum. They’re also strangely familiar to fans of a certain classic British comedy series. In fact, you can play catchphrase bingo with ‘Sontaran-ised’ versions of the well-known sayings (I counted four), plus Tegan’s nickname of ‘Napoleon’ for Field Major Thurr! (Duncan Wisbey)

There’s a very good plot underlying the comedy, a mystery surrounding the Sontarans’ brutal victory at Samur and the resulting ‘curse’ that doomed them to defeat ever after. And the guest monsters (other than the Sontarans, who have never seemed so ‘human’) are genuinely quite scary when listened to in the right atmosphere, thanks to the great sound design by Jamie Robertson. And his ‘Sontaran Battle Chant’ is likely to linger for quite some time!

But it is principally a comedy, complete with comedy falls, what I can only describe as a ‘grunge tank’ moment and many, many quips and one-liners. The Doctor steps through it all with a mostly light and flippant air; his duel with Field Marshal Stabb (John Banks) is a classic brain versus brawn encounter and fully played for laughs. But his mission is urgent – there’s more than one weapon loose on this world and Nyssa is in its sights…

Sarah Sutton carries the main serious storyline as Nyssa suffers nobly to provide the background tension to the adventure, while Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson have many comic scenes and are great at playing them and shifting into the serious moments when the story demands it.

Two of those moments in particular are so well written that they may outlive the comedy in your memories of this story. There’s a terrific scene between Nyssa and Tegan when it looks as if it might *really* be the end, reminding us that this is the older Nyssa with fifty years of her own life outside the TARDIS, also brilliantly pulling in threads from an earlier (and much later) story in the Doctor’s life.

Turlough has an excellent sub-plot with Sontaran Trooper Vend (Derek Carlyle). It’s almost a friendship of a sort, certainly a meeting of similar personalities and underlines what unusual Sontarans these are. There are two outstanding scenes, one genuinely spooky in the deep dark below the ruins and a later sequence which builds superbly into the climax of the story. Unfortunately, this also contained what for me was the only misstep of the adventure and as discussing this involves a mild spoiler I’ve put it in the next paragraph.

** Spoiler: Turlough and Vend have been discussing human and Sontaran approaches to life and war, with reference to the quotation ‘Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori’. This culminates in a gripping and deadly serious sequence, which ends with the Doctor quoting Sassoon’s line that the idea is ‘the old lie’. In my opinion, inserting that line at that moment diminished the actions of a character who had just saved the lives of the Doctor and his friends. (Serious interlude over.) **

Alex Lowe (Sergeant Mezz) and Andrew Fettes (Corporal Clun) complete the excellent guest cast, all playing Sontarans – and some other characters that also fit the bill as ‘monsters’ (not the easiest to understand, but OK if you’re listening carefully.) So the TARDIS crew are the only ‘humans’ in the story, which is unusual but works well and allows the Sontarans to show their individuality – if they seem ‘different’, well, that’s why the Fleet Marshal chose them…

Maybe not ‘heroes of Sontar’, but certainly heroes of comedy with some deeper moments too, making for a great listen. Enjoy it ‘for the glory of Sontar!’ 5*

(Thanks for reading.)

(Disc 1 has a 9 minute suite of the incidental music after the episodes. The trailer for the next story and 13 minutes of interesting documentary tracks follow the episodes on disc 2. The CD booklet has cast photos and Writer’s and Director’s notes.)
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 12 September 2011
I had to laugh listening to this - the Sontarans sound like a cross between Blackadder's hapless cronies and Dad's Army. With that, and with genuinely funny lines, this starts off as a definitely humorous story. A Sontaran crew with a hapless Major are sent behind enemy Rutan lines to the Samur - funnily enough, where the Tardis has just landed. But why is Samur not as the Doctor remembers?

I was surprised at first that the Sontarans were so far from what they always seemed to have been in the tv series - but this is explained in the course of the story; and why they are so different,and what is so special about the 7 who are sent to Samur on a `special mission' is also explained. I enjoyed the fact that these Sontarans were so distinct in their behaviours and mannerisms and had back-stories - they seemed to be more `real' than perhaps in earlier stories. But while the humour may seem gratuitous at first, it becomes part of a story that is definitely not humorous, and is tinged with horror and a little sadness.

The only grumble I have, and one of the reasons I listened to this story twice through, is that (and I'm writing somewhat cryptically here so as not to introduce a spoiler) the voice of a character in the latter part of the story is somewhat indistinct and therefore it's hard to hear exactly what is said - a little disappointing there.

The Doctor and his companions are in fine form - particularly Tegan, who hasn't learned that sometimes it's better to say nothing at all - and the interaction between them all is great. Turlough even gets to be a little more than his usual self in this story. And at the end, as the Tardis fades into the space-time continuum, Samur is changed - and the listener is left feeling a little sad about the poignancy of the story.

Fantastic story - wonderful characters, brilliantly played - highly recommended.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 18 September 2015
I had to laugh listening to this - the Sontarans sound like a cross between Blackadder's hapless cronies and Dad's Army. With that, and with genuinely funny lines, this starts off as a definitely humorous story. A Sontaran crew with a hapless Major are sent behind enemy Rutan lines to the Samur - funnily enough, where the Tardis has just landed. But why is Samur not as the Doctor remembers?

I was surprised at first that the Sontarans were so far from what they always seemed to have been in the tv series - but this is explained in the course of the story; and why they are so different,and what is so special about the 7 who are sent to Samur on a `special mission' is also explained. I enjoyed the fact that these Sontarans were so distinct in their behaviours and mannerisms and had back-stories - they seemed to be more `real' than perhaps in earlier stories. But while the humour may seem gratuitous at first, it becomes part of a story that is definitely not humorous, and is tinged with horror and a little sadness.

The only grumble I have, and one of the reasons I listened to this story twice through, is that (and I'm writing somewhat cryptically here so as not to introduce a spoiler) the voice of a character in the latter part of the story is somewhat indistinct and therefore it's hard to hear exactly what is said - a little disappointing there.

The Doctor and his companions are in fine form - particularly Tegan, who hasn't learned that sometimes it's better to say nothing at all - and the interaction between them all is great. Turlough even gets to be a little more than his usual self in this story. And at the end, as the Tardis fades into the space-time continuum, Samur is changed - and the listener is left feeling a little sad about the poignancy of the story.

Fantastic story - wonderful characters, brilliantly played - highly recommended.
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This is the hundred and forty sixth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as the Sixth Doctor, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, Mark Strickson as Turlough and Janet Fielding as Tegan. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with cliffhangers and original theme music between each. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are some interviews with cast and crew at the end of the second disc and a few minutes of the soundtrack at the end of disc 1.

This is the first in a trilogy of adventures for the Fifth Doctor and this particular TARDIS crew of an older Nyssa teamed with Turlough and Tegan set somewhere after Enlightenment. I have to say that I thoroughly disliked their first trilogy (Cobwebs, The Whispering Forest and Cradle of the Snake), mainly due to the presence of the ever annoying Tegan. I ummed and aahhed quite a bit before buying this trilogy, the first time that I have seriously considered not getting a BF main range release.

And again this is a story that I did not get on with, though this time it was not due to the endlessly whinging Tegan. This is an attempt at humour in Who, which can work very well (as Davison has shown in Kingmaker and Castle of Fear), however here it falls flat. A team of bumbling Sontarans (the first time this classic monster has appeared in the BF range, a pity after BF have done interesting things with the well worn Daleks, Cybermen and other adversaries that the Sontarans get treated so badly here) who are essentially the Dad's Army cast in Sontaran form, are sent with sealed orders to a far flung outpost with sealed orders. There they encounter the Doctor and his friends who have gone there for a holiday. Chaos soon ensues.

And chaos is the right word. There are a few good set pieces here that work effectively, but mostly the script is chaotic. The ending is badly produced, and a lot of the dialogue is hard to hear, not that it made a lot of sense anyway. The jokes were largely unfunny, and the main villain poorly explained or described. It was, in the end, tedious. Remarkably the whole thing made me feel a little more kindly towards Tegan, as her character is quite good in this adventure. I never thought I would write those words! Turlough is even more cowardly than usual and Nyssa is largely sidelined. The ongoing plot strand of the older Nyssa trying to find a cure for a space plague is now totally forgotten.

In all a disappointing effort, but not for the reasons I expected. It has been a long time since Davison has had a good release, mainly because he has been saddled with this particular TARDIS team. It didn't work on TV in the eighties, and having an older Nyssa doesn't make it work now. BF have shown that Nyssa or Turlough are great companions, but all three or the inclusion of the dreadful Tegan does not. And I now hear that they are planning to bring back Adric. It may be some time before I buy more 5th Doctor adventures, which is a pity as Davison was, and is, one of the great Doctors. 2 stars in all for this very lacklustre tale.
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A new Doctor Who audio play, and the start of a run of three stories that feature Peter Davison as the Doctor. Along with Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson as companions Tegan and Turlough. Plus Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.

This one follows on The Cradle of the Snake (Doctor Who) but a story arc from there about Nyssa looking for a cure to a disease is only briefly mentioned. And although there is one reference to events in a much earlier fifth doctor story that might confuse casual listeners, this one does rather stand on it's own and thus those who haven't heard every other big finish story shouldn't have too much trouble getting into it.

The story runs for four episodes of thirty minutes approx each in duration, and is spread over two cd's.

It's the first audio to feature an appearance from the Sontarans. The potato headed war mongering clone race. Here a group of seven Sontarans are sent to a desolate world with sealed orders from a field marshal. Only trouble is, they're not the best warriors in the Sontaran empire.

When the TARDIS arrives there as well, the Doctor and his companions need to keep their wits about them in order to deal with the Sontarans. But with Nyssa having fallen prey to an infection, they face a race against time to cure her. And the secrets of the planet are about to come to light.

Although the Sontarans are clones, every one we've ever seen in the tv show has had a distinct personality of their own. This story builds on that approach in order to give them character. The ones in the group the Doctor and friends encounter are either stupid or vain or both, and not the best soldiers the Sontaran empire has ever seen. This plus their habit of taking things literally results in a lot of character comedy earlier on, with funny lines flying this way and that. More of that comes in the exchanges the TARDIS crew have with the Sontarans as they deal with them.

This approach may seem a bit too comedic to some at first and thus this may quickly alienate some listeners. But if you can go with that it does result in some genuinely funny lines and some very good character interaction. All the laughs do come out that rather than being thrown in for effect.

Beyond that, the plot does take a while to get going as the mystery of this planet is slowly revealed. But episodes three and four do offer some decent developments and surprises. And there are some memorably emotional moments to be had as well.

Although with seven Sontarans with different personalities it can be a bit difficult to keep them all straight in your head.

This is a story the style of which may not appeal to all, but if the approach of the writing does work for you, then it should turn out to be quite enjoyable.

This trilogy of fifth doctor stories continues in Kiss of Death (Doctor Who) a trailer for which can be found on the penultimate track of disc two.

There's roughly thirteen minutes worth of interviews with cast and crew after that.

And nine minutes or so of music from the story on the last track of disc one.
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on 14 December 2011
An audio adventure of the 5th Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa.

The story follows the Doctor and companions stuck on a planet with a group of Sontarian warriors.

However rather than the usual ultimate warriors this bunch are distinctly second rate, and the title of this review will give you some idea of who the warriors are based on.

A more comedic adventure than usual for Doctor Who which has always had an element of humour and therefore depends on how funny you find it.

This is one of my favorite adventures of this year, moving on at a good pace, with a twist in the plot and each of the companions playing up to their traditional images as much as possible.
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Unfortunately the previous reviewer's scathing comments aren't too far from the truth. I thought the idea of 'humanising' the Sontarans was potentially a dodgy one anyway - they are so much better as sadistic glory-obsessed warriors.
Peter Davison and co. provide their usual reliable performances, however the storyline is uninspired and the dialogue occasionally jars. The Witch Guards are pretty stock Big Finish monsters too, although the drama unfolds pacily and the incidental music and sound-effects are accomplished and effective.
Overall not a complete fail but I am hoping that the recent run of mediocre BF plays will end soon.
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on 21 April 2011
Created by Robert Holmes for his Jon Pertwee adventure, The Time Warrior, this is the first time that the Sontarans have featured in a Big Finish audio adventure. On the basis of this poor offering, it may also be the last. Big Finish have opted to play the Sontarans for endless cheap laughs, with a long series of 'height' jokes, and self indulgent 'witty' comments that the writer is keen for the listener to view as 'satire' as he gives Tegan a line of dialogue to make this point loud and clear. With the Sontarans played and written as bumbling comic fools this dire offering limps along with the regular cast, in particular Sarah Sutton, doing their best to give a good performance. Not even their efforts come close to making this anything other than feeble, one can almost see the writer and director sitting in their control room during recording, laughing behind their hands as they try to come to terms with their own incredible cleverness. Gone it seems are the days when Big Finish made top quality Doctor Who time and time again; thankfully many top quality releases are still available from Amazon. Sadly, Heroes of Sontar is best avoided. Past releases such as Night Thoughts, Davros and Dust Breeding show just what Doctor Who audio fiction can, and should, be.
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