The Sontaran Experiment greatly benefits from sequential viewing. Over the years I've rarely had a desire to go out of my way to watch it, yet somehow, I was really looking forward to viewing it as part of this on-going narrative. Does that make sense? I mean, so far I've been watching one story per week. Either, Saturday or Sunday night, depending on my schedule. It makes Tom Baker Who special in the same way as watching current seasons of the show (minus the surprise factor). I guess The Sontaran Experiment is sort of like The Lazarus Experiment that way.
When I was 14 I enjoyed the story, but it left me wanting...er, for two more episodes. Because when you get one "movie-edit" story a week, you can't help feeling a bit cheated. Realistically, it wouldn't have stretched successfully to a four-parter, but story mechanics weren't foremost on my mind at that age--I just wanted as much Doctor Who as possible each week!
There isn't much story, and what there is of it doesn't make a lot of logical sense. But it's so completely different from last week's studio bound offering that I just can't help getting a jolt. It's so damned novel, a uniqueness that is lost when you just pop it into the DVD player at random. From the beginning, there's a strong sense of mystery. And as low tech as the robot is, it has a kind of creepy spider effect (okay, I'm probably alone in this view, but it wouldn't be the first time). Filming in Dartmoor really helps the sensation that the regulars are in the middle of a vast nowhere (and makes a nice change from a gravel pit).
Nobody does dirty spacemen like the Holmes/Hinchcliffe production team (reaching a zenith next season with Professor Sorenson in Planet of Evil). Barbara Kidd (costume designer) and Sylvia James (make-up artist) can be credited with giving the spaceman here a really gritty, filthy look . You can practically see the stink lines coming off them! Hey, if you have to have anonymous characters like these, might as well make them look authentic.
And my love affair with the fourth Doctor and Tom Baker continues. He's got so many wonderful lines like: "You never know when these bits and pieces will come in handy. Never throw anything away, Harry." [He throws it away] "Now, where's my five hundred year diary. I remember jotting some notes on the Sontarans... It's a mistake to clutter one's pockets, Harry."
Originally viewed: September 23, 1983
Wine: An extremely light and fruity "Beaujolais Superieur" that was incredibly smooth and made me feel young and happy, like I was having a picnic in L'avignon (or perhaps Dartmoor). It's grape kool-aid with a kick! And it compliments this light little two-parter perfectly.
Music: Okay, this is an odd one, but for some reason the story evokes "Mull of Kintyre" by Paul McCartney and Wings.