Aug 10

Time Reconsidered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Who Eps: #2 THE SONTARAN EXPERIMENT

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or “the invasion of the stiperstones

… being a show-by-show TARDIS-esque (ie in effect random) exploration of Doctor Who Soup to Nuts, begun at LJ’s diggerdydum community and from now on also crossposted at FT.

in a strange symmetry, the second story i got was THE SONTARAN EXPERIMENT: last time the Ruton Earth invasion was foiled from a lonely and isolated spot, with only a handful of somewhat dispensible earth onlookers to “help” and be “helped” — well turn and turn about, bcz now it’s the eternal Ruton foe, the Sontarans (and it’s Earth in the far future rather than the recent past, when all London is become a be-heathered hilly outcrop) (also: THIS is apparently the ep that drew mary whitehouse’s fierce ire!)

i: hmph 4 again, doing a lot of his teeth-baring “i’m just funnin witya” shtick; plus sarah-jane, who whines and falls over despite her handsome orange wellies, and harry, who lurks gamely but achieves little off his own bat
ii: the day is won via the MAGICK OF THE STUPIDSONIC SCREWDRIVER, and the moral argt by the MAGICK OF STUPID IMPENDING GENOCIDE, which is not pleasing to me…
iii: … and also via the fact that the Sontarans are already enormously predictably set in their ways and quite easy to end-run (also here surprisingly easily collectively spooked): nice that the two we saw are played by the same actor, in the same costume, however iv: this was a two-parter, hence would have been a single ep in nu-who terms; and really a VERY MEAGRE one… the locale is pretty (if not the stiperstones, then somewhere very similar) but merely enforces a plot of hiding behind or jumping out of or clambering over or being chained to rocks; the bit parts look great (very thin, semi-feral stranded human spacemen, all with south african accents) but are slack-jawed and inept to the point of getting dreary quickly; and the only other unusual element is…
v: TORTURE HURRAH! Or rather, hmmmm. One spaceman is deprived of water; one is going to be crushed by a vari-weight bar that his companions must hold off his chest until it’s too heavy; and SJ is threatened by a vision of a snake, the Stiperstones falling on top of her, and a mass of cannibal porridge… Obviously this means the Sontaran is a baddy, and can be v.firmly dealt with…
vi: … though it does rather cause you to sigh for BETTER LAID PLANS from WHO FOES (this one goes as follows: land on deserted planet in case it will help in anti-Ruton war; discover crashlanded humans; perform rather ad hoc seeming experiments on them relating to pain and death; call up entire massive battle-fleet and give it the all-clear to land) (huge presumably very expensive plan called off on quite paltry grounds viz 4 saying “fly all is known!”; erm on the whole — POLITICAL SCIENCE ALERT — fully prepped real-life invasions go ahead ANYWAY by dint of unstoppable momentum, and small operational fvck-ups like this are ignored and buried in the paperwork)
vii: no TARDIS boo (tho also no K9 yay); this is apparently embedded in the arc of the ARK IN SPACE, tho how and why i could not say

It looked good courtesy its nice (and my childhood’s) countryside, but seemed a bit thin and desultory. And — as Mrs Whitehouse evidently also felt — the nastiness was a little gratuitous and playground-style. Plus the story dodges the actual interesting relevant-to-kid-interests moral complexity of dealing with a solitary schoolyard bully (who you wouldn’t get fatally to deflate without becoming the bully yrself) <— this is where the MAGICK OF IMPENDING GENOCIDE licks in :(

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