1975's 2 parter, the Sontaran Experiment is one of those brilliant early Tom Baker serials that I adore. Set entirely on location on Dart Moor, the story wreaks of atmosphere. The murky and damp conditions on Dart Moor are the perfect place to set such a grim story. At this point in his reign, Tom Baker is just about finished finalizing his interpretation of the Doctor. He begins to show the trademark mannerisms that defined his portrayal. One thing that I absolutely love about Tom's early years compared to his later ones is the brief moments of severe seriousness that come across as almost scary. Evidently, producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes had a much better working relationship with Tom as opposed to his later producers. This really adds a gravitas to Tom's performances and is no doubt the reason why he is the most successful incarnation of Doctor Who.
Styre, the cruel experimenting Sontaran of this tale is portrayed beautifully by actor Kevin Lyndsay. He invests so much into Styre that you just can't fault his performance. As in The Time Warrior the season before, the costume for Styre is outstanding. I don't know what happened with the later Sontaran's seen in The Invasion of Time and The Two Doctors but they looked very poor in comparison to these first two adventures for the potato headed goons. The Sontaran ship is also an inspired piece of design work, especially considering the budgetary limitations that the series was forced to maneuver around. It comes across, in my humble opinion, as one of the best alien ships seen in the classic series, barring the TARDIS of course.
Companions Harry Sullivan and Sarah Jane Smith also shine in this story, more so Harry it has to be said but that's no problem. The supporting cast are all great too with some amusing accents being thrown around. The Robot is less than perfect but does the job with some small amount of menace. Well, what do you want, money spent on it, you'd be lucky!!!
The BBC's DVD release of this story is another great addition to the wealth of Doctor Who DVD's being produced these days. The Doctor Who Restoration Team have done a wonderful clean-up on this tale, especially compared to it's original VHS release. Although this DVD is one of the short lived budget releases, it comes packed with a hefty 40-minute documentary on the creation of the Sontaran's and their 4 appearances in classic Doctor Who. Beautifully produced, this doco is the perfect compliment to this tale and is in my opinion worth the purchase price alone.
All in all then, this story rates very highly in my calculations and is one of those perfect rainy Sunday afternoon watches. The doco will entertain anyone regardless of fan status or casual viewer. 10/10.
Thank you for reading my review of The Sontaran Experiment, it's greatly appreciated.
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