THE HAND OF FEAR

Part One

The Hand of FearOn the frozen wastes of Kastria…

Sue: Is this planet of the anoraks?

A humanoid figure is tracking a spaceship on a computer screen.

Sue: He’s playing the slowest game of Pong ever.

This cold opening (sorry), which mainly features an asthmatic alien freezing its bollocks off, doesn’t do anything for Sue.

Sue: Neil?
Me: Yes, love?
Sue: What the **** is going on?

A spaceship explodes and the galaxy goes for a quick spin.

Sue: Okay, I think the acid just kicked in.

So, to sum up…

Sue: A terrible start. I didn’t understand a single word of that. What just happened?

The TARDIS lands in a quarry, which this week is doubling for a… wait for it… quarry. This throws Sue completely (she thinks we’re still on Kastria after the thaw).

Sue: Sarah Jane looks like Andy Pandy this week. I had a pair of dungarees like hers, but mine were blue denim with cream stripes, and they were less flared at the bottom. It’s a cute look, mind.

The Hand of FearThe Doctor, unperturbed by the sound of distant sirens, decides to hone his cricketing skills.

Sue: Well, that’s just bollocks, isn’t it? That rock wouldn’t have fallen over like that. It breaks the laws of physics. They must have used some fishing wire to pull that over.

The Doctor and Sarah are distracted by a man in a hard hat who’s waving at them from afar.

Sue: This reminds me of a 1970s Public Information Film.

But it’s too late – the quarry explodes.

Sue: (Sitting up in her chair) Now that was good.

When the Doctor digs his unconscious companion out of the rubble, she’s clinging to a petrified hand and won’t let go.

Sue: It’s a helping hand.
Me: Right, I’m banning the hand jokes. The next person who makes a joke about hands, arms, or appendages of any kind, has to empty the cats’ litter trays for the rest of the week.
Sue: What about fingers? Do they count?

Sarah is taken to hospital.

The Hand of FearSue: This could so easily have been a crossover with Casualty. Where’s Charlie when you need him?
Me: Ah, Derek Thompson, the only actor to rub the back of his neck more than Jon Pertwee.

The Doctor has his injuries seen to as well, but, thanks to NHS bureaucracy, he has to tell them where he comes from.

Sue: “Gallifree”? Where the hell is Gallifree?

Sarah wakes up, attacks a kindly doctor and runs away with the hand.

Me: I love this. I can remember playing Doctor Who in the school playground the Monday after this went out, and all the girls took it in turns to be Sarah, which meant it was their job to kill me. Evil Sarah was easy to mimic – the girl just had to walk around with a glazed look on her face, a sandwich box under her arm, and a gaudy ring on her finger. I was killed hundreds of times that week. One day, we found some white fossilised dog poo and pretended it was one of Eldrad’s missing fingers.

Carter regains consciousness.

Sue: I’m glad he isn’t dead. I wouldn’t have wanted Sarah Jane to have that on her conscience. I know it’s not her fault, but think of the guilt.

Sarah strides into a nearby nuclear power station.

The Hand of FearSue: This is eerie. I really like the direction – there are some really interesting camera angles. It’s completely different to what we usually get. The location is quite interesting, too. Jon Pertwee would have loved this place.

The cliffhanger, where the hand slowly returns to life, still looks impressive today.

Sue: It’s The Addams Family meets Torchwood.
Me: Torchwood?
Sue: Doesn’t this hand end up in Torchwood?

It takes me a while to work out what she’s talking about.

Me: No, that’s not the right hand.
Sue: It’s definitely a right hand, Neil. You can tell by the thumb.

I reach for a cushion.

Sue: That was a great cliffhanger. We’re off to a good start. Apart from that scene at the beginning. What the hell was that all about?

 

Part Two

The Hand of FearSarah communicates with Eldrad’s spirit.

Sue: She’s talking to the hand ‘cos the face ain’t listening.

Professor Watson (who’s played by Glyn “He’s been in loads of stuff” Houston) enters the story.

Sue: He’s worried about how this will look when they have the inevitable public inquiry. I bet he was a few days away from retirement, as well.

Despite the emergency, the Doctor is still allowed to waltz around like he owns the place.

Sue: So a complete stranger can fiddle with the controls to a nuclear reactor? The security in this place is a disgrace.

Aside from that, Sue really likes this episode. She’s impressed with the hand effect (“For its time”), the unusual camera angles are right up her street, and Carter’s death, which involves him plummeting from a very tall height, is praised, too. Although for Sue the best moment definitely occurs when Watson telephones his family to say goodbye.

Sue: That was really sad. I didn’t expect that. I actually give a shit about his character, now.

The Hand of FearThe Doctor concludes that the hand must feed on radiation, at which point Sarah suggests that it isn’t as ‘armless as it looks.

Sue: Hey! Sarah is doing hand jokes, now. That isn’t fair!

The Doctor probes Sarah’s mind for information about Eldrad.

Sue: It’s a great performance from Elisabeth Sladen. She looks like she’s really enjoying this story. And so am I.

Meanwhile a technician named Driscoll is possessed by Eldrad’s mighty ring of power.

Sue: Okay, forget Torchwood, this is The Addams Family meets Lord of the Rings.
Me: You’re mad, love.
Sue: The hand hasn’t grown very much. We’ll be here all day waiting for it to sprout a forearm.

Driscoll steps into the reactor core, which starts a chain reaction.

Sue: This is really good. I have no idea what that scene at the beginning has to do with anything, but that wasn’t bad at all. Oh, and Neil?
Me: What?
Sue: Eldrad must live.

 

Part Three

The Hand of FearSue: It’s all gone a bit Chernobyl. If the explosion doesn’t kill them, the radiation will. Unless they come up with a sci-fi explanation.

Of course they do.

Sue: Okay, fair enough, but Watson should phone his wife before she books a luxury cruise with his life insurance.

Eldrad is trapped in the reactor core.

Sue: The hand is going to turn into a crap monster, isn’t it?

Watson requests a nuclear strike on the reactor and the RAF are only too happy to oblige.

The Hand of FearMe: That must have been some phone call.
Sue: This can’t be a good idea. If Eldrad eats radiation, this attack will be a takeaway snack. Blimey, it really has turned into a 1970s Public Information Film. In the event of a nuclear blast, please hide behind your nearest car. No wonder the Doctor is taking the piss. This is ridiculous.

The reactor opens…

Sue: Please, don’t let the monster be shit…

And Eldrad emerges.

Sue: Oh, I wasn’t expecting that. Is it a lady alien? You don’t see many of those.

Sue checks her out.

Sue: Chipped mirrored tiles were all the rage in the 1970s. And don’t you think she looks like one of the X-Men? Don’t ask me which one. But yeah, it works for me.

The Doctor brings Eldrad up to speed: 150 million years have passed since her ship crashed on Earth.

Sue: I think they should help her out.
Me: Are you sure about that?
Sue: Yeah. She’s having a bad time, the poor thing.

The Hand of FearWatson has the opposite reaction and tries to kill her.

Sue: Two nukes didn’t kill her… I know! I’ll try these bullets instead! You idiot.

Eldrad retaliates and Watson writhes in pain.

Me: Do you still want to help her?
Sue: He just shot her six times. I’d be pissed off if I were her. And she didn’t kill him, so chill, Neil.

Watson is left to deal with the metaphorical fallout.

Sue: Somebody should take that gun off him before he shoots himself in the head. His wife could still get that luxury cruise, after all.

The TARDIS arrives on Kastria.

Sue: Finally. The scene at the beginning might make sense now.

When Eldrad sets off a booby trap, she’s speared through the chest. It’s one of those rare occasions where a cliffhanger actually made Sue gasp.

Sue: Bloody hell, I didn’t see that coming. I told you she was the goodie. You wouldn’t have a cliffhanger where the villain was in danger, would you? That would be silly.

 

Part Four

The Hand of FearSue: This is a bit stupid.

What’s annoying Sue is the way in which the Doctor and Sarah take time out to spout exposition at each other, or admire the Kastrian scenery (which Sue hates), even though they should be rushing to save Eldrad’s life. After all, Eldrad must live.

Sue: Stop blathering! Can’t you walk and talk at the same time?
Me: If they did that, they’d run out of set.
Sue: Well, the writers should know better. And there are two writers. One of them should have spotted that.

She doesn’t like the way they’ve written Sarah, either.

Sue: She’s screaming a lot this week. This isn’t like Sarah Jane at all.

The Doctor and Sarah stare into a yawning abyss. We know exactly how it feels.

Sue: Are you sure this isn’t a Terry Nation script? Did he hide behind two pseudonyms because one wasn’t enough?

Sarah crosses the chasm via a makeshift bridge, although she doesn’t half make a meal of it.

Sue: You could drive a bloody truck over that bridge!

When the Doctor carries Eldrad into the regeneration room, Sue is impressed with Judith Paris’ ability to mimic a plank of wood.

Sue: You have to be really fit to stay as rigid as that. Or you could just watch this episode, I suppose; it will bore you rigid. It’s a shame because I enjoyed the first three. It was on for a seven or an eight yesterday.

The Doctor and Sarah accidentally flatten Eldrad.

Sue: Is that it? They’re just going to shrug their shoulders and leave?

The Hand of FearAnd then the real Eldrad turns up.

Sue: I like his purple hat.

Eldrad rants and raves. A lot. So Sue sighs. A lot.

Sue: Okay, this is officially rubbish now. It’s heading for a four.

Sarah exclaims they’ve all been taken for a ride.

Sue: Tell me about it, love!

When Eldrad discovers the Kastrian race banks are empty, he has what Sue calls a “dicky fit”.

Sue: He’s pathetic. This is what you were like the last time our internet went down, Neil.

The villain activates a video message that’s been left for him by the Last King of Kastria. Its condescending tone sends Eldrad over the edge.

Sue: Stop talking to it, then! You’re trying to have a conversation with an answer machine, you moron!

Eldrad turns his attention to Earth.

Sue: Eldrad definitely has a chip on his shoulder. Well, he’s got several chips, actually, but you know what I mean.

The Doctor and Sarah make a run for it. Eldrad gives chase, but he trips over the Doctor’s scarf and falls into the abyss.

Sue: This is embarrassing. It’s a bloody pantomime, now.

The Doctor believes Eldrad could have survived the fall.

Sue: So why throw his ****ing ring down after him, then? Which writer would be stupid enough to bring him back, anyway? What a load of rubbish. Worst. Monster. Ever.

The Hand of FearBut it isn’t over yet.

Sue: Oh, the Doctor’s been called to “Gallifree”. That’s almost as exciting as being called to Gallifrey.

And then the joking stops.

Sue: I’m genuinely shocked by this. I thought Sarah would be around a lot longer than that.

However, when Sarah is deposited on a suburban street, my wife is delighted.

The Hand of FearSue: Aww, what a gorgeous Labrador. She looks like Buffy when Buffy was young. That’s nice.

Once the credits have faded to black, and I’m satisfied that my voice won’t crack, I ask Sue to sum up.

Sue: That was a brilliant scene at the end, but I know she’s coming back, so it’s fine. If I didn’t know she’d get her own series, I think I’d be more upset. It’s only upsetting now because Elisabeth Sladen is no longer with us. There are different layers of poignancy to that scene now, especially for you, I expect. But look at her at the end, Neil. She’s happy.

 

The Score

Sue: It’s a difficult story to score. It was good, then very good, then good, then shit, then really shit, then excellent. I don’t know what to do… Oh sod it, it’s Sarah Jane’s last story so I’ll have to give it…

6/10

 

60

Comments

  1. Dave Sanders  May 20, 2012

    End of part three: not as silly as…. oh sod it, why am I bothering? It’s the first comment, and we ALL know what’s going to overshadow the referred-to cliffhanger in the very same story. Just one more Sue reaction to look forward to…

    The labrador isn’t the real foreshadowing of the story, it’s the rock Sue pointed out five minutes in that refuses to obey the laws of physics properly, perfectly setting up the tone for the following 85. At least the following story is *supposed* to be making the rules up as it goes along.

  2. kevin merchant  May 20, 2012

    I think Sue has turned into a conventional Doctor Who fan. You should have done the stories backwards. Or given her that forgetfulness drug from Torchwood

  3. Alex Wilcock  May 20, 2012

    I laughed a lot at this one. Particularly
    “Watson should probably phone his wife back before she books a luxury cruise with the insurance.”
    “Blimey, it really has turned into a 1970s Public Information Film. In the event of a nuclear blast, please hide behind your nearest car. No wonder the Doctor is taking the piss. This is ridiculous.”
    And
    “Stop talking to it! You are trying to have a conversation with an answering machine, you moron!”
    Even the closing “That’s handy.” Maybe I woke up giggly.

    I was really on tenterhooks with the marks here. You should have published it in different parts with cliffhangers: ‘Will this stay at a 7? Or will Sue’s marking fall off a cliff?’ Oh dear. I’m not usually bothered by Sue’s marks, but now I’m feeling distinctly nervous about the next one…

    Mind you, my own The Hand of Fear review isn’t very different to Sue’s opinions, for once. Just weighing the hand and the lady alien higher than the last episode’s poor carpentry, and with a lot more religion. No, no, hear me out; I reckon Season 14 is all about religion, and that might be why ex-monk Tom so visibly perks up. But I tend to go on about that pet theory, so I’ll shut up!

  4. Frankymole  May 20, 2012

    “Sue: Stop talking to it! You are trying to have a conversation with an answering machine, you moron!” Says she to a TV recording from 1976 😉

  5. encyclops  May 20, 2012

    Yes: I loved this story almost until the point where Eldrad goes butch, then I didn’t, then I REALLY didn’t at the very end (not because it’s not well done but because it breaks our hearts). So I’m with Sue here.

    And now we’re in such an interesting time. The next four episodes are going to have me on pins and needles.

    • DPC  May 20, 2012

      Deadly Assassin
      Face of Evil
      Robots of Death
      Talons

      It’s going to be a great series of entries indeed!

    • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

      The next 4 episodes, and for me the next 4 stories!

      • encyclops  May 22, 2012

        Sigh, yes, of course I meant “stories.” Until the DVDs, for me as an American episodes and stories were the same thing.

        • PolarityReversed  May 22, 2012

          You poor thing. Cruelly denied cliffhangers and weeks in between. Never to experience the bitter delight of delayed gratification, and having your own highly subjective memories of what the bloody hell’s going on.

          Rewatching these is a bit like the guilty pleasure of binging on my favourite childhood sweets. Then, in some cases, feeling a bit sick and going right off them. I could still eat a whole Talons in one shameful slump though!

          • encyclops  May 23, 2012

            I think that’s partly why I have so much trouble with the new series — it just feels weird to me to sit down and watch a story that’s over in 45 minutes. For me every Doctor Who story was a miniature movie.

  6. Noodles  May 20, 2012

    No mention of Tom groping Eldrad?

  7. BWT  May 20, 2012

    “Is this the planet of the anoraks?” and “OK, I think the acid just kicked in.” – disturbingly, both could be used to describe today’s audience…

    Speaking of disturbing, Judith Paris was responsible for some of the creepiest moments of the show for me. It was the hand, moving about by itself like that, that first started it all but seeing her being speared and then practically begging to be squished like that was a little… disconcerting for a young-un watching this now comfortless show…

    …Daddy wouldn’t buy me a bow-wow, eh?

    • John S. Hall  May 20, 2012

      This story has acquired so much more poignancy since last year… 🙁

      But I adore the Tom/Lis moments, such as the “mutual worry” and of course the wonderful ending, which is just heartbreaking.

      And like Sue, I was completely taken in by jittery, paranoid Lady Eldrad and was genuinely worried about her survival. As Sarah said, “I rather liked her, but couldn’t stand him!”

      BTW, I hope that the Doctor went back to Earth to help Glyn Houston sort everything out with UNIT and the authorities for letting the nuclear power plant get blown up! 😀

  8. Richard Lyth  May 20, 2012

    You’d think they’d have learned from Pyramids of Mars that going off Earth for a romp round an alien planet in the final episode is always a bad idea. At least they pulled it around with the awesome ending. I’m looking forward to Sue trying to guess who the next companion is in the next story…

    • Dave Sanders  May 20, 2012

      Not if it saved Robert Holmes from having to put together a new episode instead of wheeling out the Death To The Daleks tropes yet again.

    • DPC  May 20, 2012

      🙂

      And subsequent stories…

  9. Merast  May 20, 2012

    Poor Sarah, funny enough i actually used to live in a road called Hill View Road too, never saw Sarah-Jane prancing around in her dungarees though.

    • Jazza1971  May 20, 2012

      And there is a street in Aberdeen called “Hillview Road”!

      • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

        Funny that it looks more like Gloucestershire here…

  10. Dominic Francis  May 20, 2012

    Does Sue realise that uttering the phrase “…for its time” completes her descent into Doctor Who fandom? 😉

    *sulks that his badge wasn’t chosen*

  11. Simon Harries  May 20, 2012

    When I was at uni in the early 90s, I had a VHS copy of “The Hand of Fear” from its Superchannel repeat, a couple of generations down. I was watching it in our student house one Sunday morning, when one of the girls sharing with me (there were seven of us in there, nothing in common and we all avoided each other) came in for breakfast with the bloke she’d been entertaining after clubbing the previous night. Inevitably they started taking the piss out of my viewing choice. “Oh, is this Planet of the Duvet Monsters? Is Blanket Man waving at someone?” They shut up when episode one moved to present day earth and Tom appeared on the scene. They left the room once they’d run out of lame jokes to crack at the expense of episode one, though they managed a racial jibe about how the NHS was full of p*** doctors even in those days.

    • Simon Harries  May 20, 2012

      By the way – sorry to go off topic, but you must be used to that by now! A superb review and it had me on the edge of my seat too. I’m so pleased that Sue liked Dr Watson too, I think he’s a great character.

    • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

      “Entertaining”? Not with her line in badinage, evidently…

      • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

        Was she a student in the University of Stating the Bleedin’ Obvious? > 😉

  12. Emma Kennedy  May 20, 2012

    Ordered my new Mug, hoping to collect a complete range of ‘Is it the Master?’ 🙂

  13. Lewis Christian  May 20, 2012

    Please tell me you’ll throw “K9 and Company” in between Logopolis and Castrovalva… Sue will be delighted that SJ has even more screentime, and with K9!

    • Andrew Bowman  May 20, 2012

      I think that they are going to watch K-9 and Co. I believe it’s mentioned in the Start Here bit on the front page (but I may be wrong). My one hope is that they are going to do Dimensions in Time. I actually have it on good authority that they will, but time will tell.

      As to the Hand of Fear, Sue is absolutely spot on in saying that part four undoes all the hard work done by parts 1 – 3 and, the final leaving scene notwithstanding, the story would be a lot better without it, or at the very least a shorter scene set on Kastria. Still, I do think 6 is a bit harsh (7, I’d have gone with 7), but I understand her thinking behind it. Another good call, all told.

      • Noodles  May 20, 2012

        I rather like “Dimensions In Time” for a few reasons:

        1. It’s the only time 6 shares screen time with the Brig.
        2. The Mitchell brothers walk in on Romana having a piss in their garage.
        3. It really, really annoys a certain type of fan if you say that you count it as having “really happened” (AKA “it’s in my personal canon”).

        • PolarityReversed  May 20, 2012

          “Oi time tart! Whatcha fink you’re doin’ in our lockup, eh?”
          “Goodness and hockey sticks! Sontarans! You do know that Cortina only needs a minor molecular adjustment to genuinely pass MOT…”
          “Ooo’s that poof in the clown clobber then?”
          “Oh Doctor! Thank goodness you’re here! Gosh (and chaps)!”
          “It’s more serious than Sontaran mechanics – I’ve just been down the caff and Adam Woodyatt seems to be caught in an anti-talent loop…”
          “What are we to do, Doctor?”
          “It’s more serious than I thought. I played a foul objectionable pyschopath back in the 70s, but these people are out of control. Let’s head to the pub and see if Tom’s around to help us.”
          “Spritzer please.”
          “Giiiitahhhhahmypuuuub!!!!”

          Canon indeed.

          • Andrew Bowman  May 21, 2012

            Weirdly, DiT was my first instance of watching Doctor Who without having to, if you know what I mean. Obviously, when it was on Saturday evening’s, I’d watch it then, and enjoy it, but once it was moved to Wednesday, I couldn’t watch it, as my mum would watch Corrie instead (oh woe, the days of single TV households). This is reason that Colin Baker will always be my Doctor: he was the one I watched when he was on. I wasn’t a bona fide fan at the time, but I had a friend who was, so I always enjoyed going round to his house and watching stuff on video.

            Anyway, I digress. Dimensions in Time is fun, above all else, and it was great seeing the surviving Doctors wandering around Albert Square. At the time, I didn’t give two hoots that EastEnders wasn’t real, it just made me smile to see Pat, Frank, Pauline, Kathy et al. having fun with the Doctor and friends, of whom I recognised few. I knew who Susan was, having watched The Five Doctors ten years previously, and also my mate Ben’s encyclopedic knowledge. Peri I recognised, as I also did Mel, but I was bit shaky on who Victoria was, as well as Liz, Nyssa and Leela. Perhaps more importantly, it made me see what all the fuss was about. Yes, it isn’t to be taken seriously, but then again few things are, but I was certainly interested enough to explore my own interests in the show, so much so that when the movie came out three years later, I was suitably thrilled at the prospect, and I still think it’s a decent stab at trying to bring the show into the 90’s, while Dimensions isn’t, but that doesn’t matter. I still watch it occaisionally on YouTube, and I still get a great sense of fun and a slight tingle down the back of my neck every time. After all, it was the start of an ongoing love affair, and that’s all that matters in the long run. 🙂

        • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

          There’s a lot more of the Brig and 6 that was filmed but never made it to screen thanks to Noel Edmonds. Ian Levine has reinstated these “rushes” into his ‘completed’ version.

          • Noodles  May 24, 2012

            Really? Is there anywhere where this can be watched? Or is it for Levene’s eyes only?

      • encyclops  May 21, 2012

        I think of Dimensions in Time as the Doctor Who equivalent of the Star Wars Christmas Special.

        • Dave Sanders  May 22, 2012

          Read Tat Wood’s About Time 6 for his hilarious deconstruction of why it actually isn’t. 🙂

        • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

          And I used to think “The Holiday Special” was about Thanksgiving! Always preferred “Seaside Special” myself – real holidays, sandcastles and sea and all. No idea what a “vacation” was, presumably some sort of leaving of a flat?

  14. Dan  May 20, 2012

    I think the plot ideas are good, part 4 mainly let down by execution and the blustery performances by the male Kastrians.

    Neil’s comment about the childhood memory of the hand in the sandwich box chimes with me. Very scarey I think. The only other thing I remembered from this was Sarah leaving.

    Has anyone noticed the newfound obsession with setting up sequels?

    • Longtime Listener  May 20, 2012

      Not entirely newfound – don’t forget the promised return of Mr 0/10 himself.

      Funny how the villains that got those sequel set-ups tended to vanish without trace, whereas ones that were supposedly firmly killed off kept on coming back, with or without creaky attempts to explain away their survival.

      • John G  May 21, 2012

        Indeed – we’re still waiting for Count Grendel of Gracht’s return as well. If he ever does come back though, he would have to regenerate or undergo plastic surgery…

  15. DPC  May 20, 2012

    Sarah exclaims that they have been taken for a ride.

    Sue: Tell me about it, love!
    ———–

    Agreed!

    The first three episodes are an interesting buildup, very cool stuff, and Judith Paris simply steals the show in every scene she’s in.

    The fourth episode was always the downer, especially the loud overacting…

  16. jsd  May 20, 2012

    Pretty sure when they showed this on PBS in my childhood they cut out the Kastria prelude bit from Ep 1. Strange how it doesn’t really matter. I’d give this a 7, maybe an 8 on a good day. I’m more forgiving of Part 4’s flaws. I like Sue’s description of it as “good, very good, good, shit, really shit, then excellent.” That sums it up nicely. I want that on a mug.

  17. Tim Cook  May 20, 2012

    The cliffhanger to part 3 is my first memory not only of Who, but of television. I was 4 when I happened to watch this episode, I am 40 next month, and I’m still as hooked on Who as I was back then. Eldrad must live!

  18. Paul Gibbs  May 20, 2012

    Tim, my earliest memory is the stones parting to reveal Eldrad’s ‘remains’, and I to turn 40 this year!

  19. Dan  May 21, 2012

    I turned 40 last year and my earliest sure memory is from exactly twelve months earlier. (The time tunnel in Pyramids. Though I think I remember the Doctor appearing out of the fog in Genesis.)

    I just noticed the Recons counter has changed to a stories counter. Makes sense. But we haven’t forgotten Marco Polo!

  20. Piers Johnson  May 21, 2012

    Always loved the quarry scenes, and scary Sarah Jane. Sue is quite right, three cracking episodes destroyed effortlessly by a Bran Blessed impersonator.
    I remember Judith Paris making me rigid as a teenager, but in a different way. (Feel free to censor or tell me off for that remark).

    • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

      Tom said much the same, to her face, on the blissful commentary!

    • Professor Thascales  May 24, 2012

      “three cracking episodes destroyed effortlessly by a Bran Blessed impersonator.” I was going to say something to the same effect, but you put it better.
      I like the concept of Eldrad being recreated as a male. If only they’d cast someone else–like Michael Spice (voice of Morbius, Magnus Greel), or Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh), or Christopher Gable (Sharaz Jek)–actors who can give a good, nuanced performance as a megalomaniac, even when you can’t see any of their face.

  21. Josiah Rowe  May 21, 2012

    We’re all on tenterhooks waiting to see whether Sue uses her catchphrase in the next story. (I’m guessing that she won’t.)

  22. John G  May 21, 2012

    “What a load of rubbish. Worst. Monster. Ever.”

    Wait till Sue sees the Nucleus of the Swarm, or the Myrka… I think Eldrad (in his Judith Paris form, at least) is a decent enough foe for the Doctor, but the story does become very pedestrian in the final episode – until that lovely underplayed leaving scene, anyway. At least on this occasion Baker and Martin’s imaginative flights of fancy are largely kept in check, and the production values don’t suffer too much as a result. The use of a real power station also helps the story to feel more authentic.

    Sad as Sarah’s departure is, I think Lis Sladen was right to leave when she did, as by this time the scriptwriters had largely lost interest in Sarah as a character in her own right and were just content to treat her as a plucky sidekick. I also think her exit has something of a liberating effect on Hinchcliffe and Holmes for the remainder of this season, as with Sarah gone all links to the Pertwee/UNIT era are finally broken, and the production team really do spread their creative wings, as evidenced by the next story. It will certainly be fascinating to see Sue’s views on that one…

    • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

      Sarah always worked best with Harry anyway. At least Moffat gets that with Amy plus Rory.

      I’m glad that Baker and Martin didn’t get to kill off the Brig as they originally wrote. That didn’t happen until that McCoy “Death Comes To Time”, n’est ce pas?

  23. tom_harries  May 21, 2012

    Sue’s comments are as funny as ever, but I think it’s Neil that nails the problem with this story: great idea, some great scenes, some great direction but the writers really, REALLY struggle with exposition, and how to fit that exposition into the action. Admittedly, a common flaw in SF on screen.

    Also Eldrad in part 4 is no worse than a lot of other DW monsters and villains; it’s just that following Judith Paris was mission impossible.

  24. fromEssex  May 21, 2012

    I can’t remember seeing this story as a kid, which considering I remember Mandragora and the Deadly Assassin, I’m sure that I would have watched it. So have I just blanked out the memory? Not sure…
    Having seen this years later, I don’t really rate the story at all and a 6/10 from Sue is pretty generous really. Judith Paris is good as was Glyn (in everything) Houston, but I think overall it was a disappointing story for Sarah to finish on.

    • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

      If split-screen technology and studio time had allowed… imagine Lis Sladen playing Eldrad (after all, Eldrad based his new body on Sarah’s pattern). That would’ve been something to see, and a nice swansong (Troughton got his wish of playing a “monster”, albeit not an unrecognisable one – it’d have been nice if Lis had got play a villain, not just a possessed/hypnotised/brainwashed Sarah for once).

      All that said, the self-scripted two-hander farewell scene is so good that I can forgive the rest of this story. You can really see that the actors have a better handle on their characters – and their characters’ pasts – than even the script editor.

      • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

        Oh yeah, and in 1976, at the age of 8, this story gave me my first taste of “loss” in drama, after my dad in real life. So, go Lis.

        But please come back…

      • DPC  May 22, 2012

        Frankymole,

        That’s a fab point – if Eldrad, taking on human form, imprinted on Sarah completely… (though given how many people touched Eldrad’s rocky hand, the end result was still effective, but your idea rocks…)

        I forgot the farewell scene stuff was self-scripted. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    • DPC  May 22, 2012

      Agreed.

      I rewatched it, and Sarah – especially in later episodes – does become a needless screamer, and it was annoying.

      • John G  May 22, 2012

        I remember reading that Douglas Camfield wrote an ultimately abandoned story called The Lost Legion, which would have seen Sarah get killed off. Imagine the impact that would have had! I’m glad they didn’t do it though…

  25. DamonD  May 23, 2012

    I like Stephen Thorne as Azel. I like him as Omega. Then it all goes seriously wrong with the booming ranty Eldrad, thrown into even sharper focus after Judith Paris playing it all detached calm and icy rage.

    • Dan  May 23, 2012

      Male Eldrad isn’t very much in touch with his female side. Which is ironic.

  26. Chris Too-old-to-watch  May 28, 2012

    Wake up and smell the coffee people – this story is sheer and utter b****cks. Only Lis Sladen’s departure raises it above the sub-normal.

    Bye Sarah Jane, we’ll miss you for some time……

  27. Tom Wake  June 8, 2012

    “You wouldn’t have a cliffhanger where the villain was in danger, would you? That would be silly.”

    Am I right in thinking that one of the cliffhangers in “The Daemons” threatens the Master?