Short thoughts on Doctor Who, disc by disc (originally published June 2012)
The Sontaran Experiment
Tonight’s soundtrack: Portishead, “Roads”
Everything about this story is a lie.
Start with the title: If this is an experiment, then someone’s going to get a “SEE ME” note from Mr. Zanni when they turn in their lab report. Speaking of, who uses a moor for a lab? You’re hardly controlling for variables there.
Behind the scenes: This is really parts 5-6 of The Ark in Space, but since they filmed it first, it might as well be parts 1-2. You could also say that it’s all the location shooting that would have been scattered throughout the longer story condensed into its own entity - an unusually coherent supercut of parts 1-6.
The Doctor: Meanwhile, Tom Baker broke his collarbone, so “the Doctor” suddenly decides to let his hair and scarf do the acting like “Bela Lugosi” in Plan Nine. He’s the shape of the man, but there’s no truth to him.
The Earth dudes: Come on. If these guys are a military expedition, then I’m King Conan. Nothing about their story rings true in light of the fact that they’re wearing spacesuits and carrying machetes on an Earthside “rescue mission.” They’re pirates or smugglers. End of story.
The Sontaran: He’s no scientist and he’s no soldier. His people are at war with the Rutans, not Humans. This guy is a rogue. He’s a psychopathic serial killer with a tape recorder and a video of himself that he interacts with like Norman Bates and family.
Here’s the bottom line: scruffy group of ne’er-do-wells gather in remote location and are picked off piecemeal by masked mutant killer freak. The Doctor didn’t transmat to future London; he landed in Camp Crystal Lake.