❉ The Doctor, Steven and Sara find themselves caught between the Space Security Service and the Sontarans. Verdict? “It doesn’t get better than this!”
It’s stories like ‘The Sontarans’ that really justify Big Finish’s existence in the world. I don’t say this lightly (mainly because of their really high standard), but this is one of the most exciting, well characterised and downright entertaining stories I’ve heard in years.
The success of this audio drama has to be attributed to Simon Guerrier. He knows this era (and the characters who inhabit it) like the back of his hand. He’s taken advantage of the narrative gap between episode 7 & 8 of ‘The Dalek’s Masterplan’ that was created by John Peel in his novelisation and gives this TARDIS team a whole set of unseen adventures. Indeed, out of the 7 stories set in this gap, Simon has written 5 of them, and a splendid job he has done with them.
The Doctor and his crew are still on the run from the Daleks, having stolen the Tarranium Core. They land on this beautifully described asteroid that’s covered in flowers. Soon the beauty is spoilt as they end up getting caught between the Space Security Service and the Sontarans. It’s quite a treat to see the crew end up having to rely on their wits to survive this fight with the universe’s fiercest fighters!
The Sontarans are crafty, tough, and itching for a fight, rather than the comedic aliens of more recent times. Robert Holmes would be proud.
All the characters are wonderfully realised. Peter Purves and Jean Marsh effortlessly slip back into roles they originated over 50 years ago. Special mention also has to go to Purves for doing a great job at providing the First Doctor with a voice again, between the excellent dialogue and Purves nailing down William Hartnell’s cadence, we are convinced of there being another person in the room which helps the audio sail along smoothly. Dan Starkey at this point is the go-to man for Sontarans. Here he’s suitably more Linx and Strax. He puts in the time, and kudos to him for that.
Indeed the Sontarans make quite an impressive (chronological) debut in this story, being the near invincible warmongers of the past, rather than the comedic aliens of more recent times. Here they are crafty, tough, and itching for a fight. Robert Holmes would be proud.
Throughout the story’s two hours we take a look at Sara softening from a cold hearted soldier to a caring companion, Steven’s past as a pilot and his time with the Mechanoids, and the Doctor actually getting to do some doctoring! Add on top of that the Sontarans showing off at every turn. I was on the edge of my seat during the scene where the Sontaran emerges from the lava. Oh, to have seen that on the telly! Or perhaps the ruthlessness in their torturing of Steven that reintroduces their experimental side? What about their body-shaping technology? Tell more about that, huh?
It doesn’t get better than this. Beautifully acted, written and produced. Lovingly made, ‘The Sontarans’ adds character development and fills in gaps in the show’s history. You’re guaranteed to leave this one with a new appreciation of the era and the Sontarans!
❉ ‘Doctor Who – The Early Adventures: The Sontarans’ was released in December 2016. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until January 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.