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This is Tom Baker's third story that bridges the "Ark in Space" and "Genesis of the Daleks" and a bit of an oddity as it is a 2 parter (which explains the low cost).
It is also the first North American release of the standard edition releases - disks with pared down features though there is still a commentary, production subtitle track and a small extra feature. The usual full restoration process has also been performed.
Overall it works quite well as a story with solid performances from the regulars and guest cast.
Worth adding to your collection.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I Will Destroy You All....LaterJan. 20 2007
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"The Sontaran Experiment" is a breezy delight, which whips along at breakneck speed and contains some of the most delightfully absurd dialogue the series had seen, I think only "Pyramids of Mars" betters it. Field Marshall Styre wins the dialogue plaudits with his inspired "I will destroy you all later....But first I have more important tasks to perform". How can you not love a villain who refers to the Doctor as a "worm". Dialogue aside the 2 episode format really fits this story, which doesn't suffer from Doctor Who's perennial problem of over padding and repetition. Perhaps most important about this story though is the wonderfully cruel sadistic streak that runs through it. Some of Styre's experiments truly are abominable and I shan't spoil them here for those who haven't seen this story. This dark, horrific side of Doctor Who developed strongly under the production of Phillip Hinchcliffe and showed that Doctor Who was willing to push the boundaries of its time slot. However it must be remembered that "The Sontaran Experiment" does form part of a short story arc exploring the future of the human race that began with "Ark in Space", an awareness of this story will enhance the enjoyment of "The Sontaran Experiment"
The DVD itself may sound like a bit of a rip off, the main feature after all does only run for 50 minutes. But we are compensated by a very good 40 minute documentary entitled "Built for War" and a commentary track, which overall makes it a worthwhile purchase. This is not the deepest and thematically exciting Doctor Who story, but it very entertaining and good fun.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"I just love clocks: atomic clocks, quartz clocks, grandfather clocks...Cuckoo clocks."March 17 2007
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I can't help but get the impression that with "The Sontaran Experiment" the writers and producers are experimenting with the viewers just a bit. By that I don't mean the unusually short length of the storyline (two episodes instead of the standard four or the epic six) or the exclusively outdoors setting (which works well except for making the poor robot stick out like a sore thumb). Their experiment is this, I think: can we make the other factors of the show so very good that viewers will overlook the implausibility of the plot?
The answer in my case is in the affirmative, I'm afraid. I was enthralled by the brisk, tightly-scripted adventure with all of its tension. I was laughing uncontrollably at the Doctor's classic quirkiness masterfully rendered by Tom Baker--"Never throw anything away, Harry" he tells one of his traveling companions as he tosses an object aside. I was impressed with the acting by the cast, who are able to convey a range of extreme emotions without going over the top. I was appalled by the military experiments being performed by the eponymous Sontaran, Field-Major Styre--these are truly chilling, all the more so for being convincingly authentic, as anyone familiar with Nazi war crimes or the terrible stuff the Japanese Imperial Army's Unit 731 did in Northeast China can attest. Styre himself makes for a great villain, his dismissive arrogance almost as enjoyable as the Doctor's quirkiness; by the end of basically a half hour, you love to hate him so much that watching him get his just desserts is thoroughly satisfying. In short, the show's whole crew really had me going the whole time. It was only after the story was over that cool reflection set in and it struck me: why are the Sontarans trying to "invade" an abandoned planet?! The whole premise of the plot is bogus, but I was taken in by the hocus-pocus, so hats off to the folks responsible for this little gem.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
One of the year's least essential releasesAug. 12 2007
Jason A. Miller
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Well, I shouldn't say "least essential". The "Doctor Who" DVD production team made a herculean effort trying to salvage this rather awkward little story. There's not much you can do to give the hard sell to a 45-minute episode from 1975 when releasing it on a standalone DVD. However, the folks at "2 Entertain" gave it their all. The story has been visually restored so that it looks as if it had been videotaped yesterday, and the few special features are meticulous.
Unfortunately, the episode being supported is not deserving of such kind consideration. "The Sontaran Experiment" was the first production from the Phillip Hinchcliffe/Robert Holmes producer/script editor team, which gave us a dozen of "Doctor Who"'s finest hours in the mid 1970s. As an opening act, this is not one of those hours. Featuring the return of the Sontarans, created by then-writer Holmes one season previously, "Experiment" features a villain not nearly as resourceful, clever or memorable as "The Time Warrior". The actor is the same but the writer is not, and that's most of the difference.
Since Sontaran actor Kevin Lindsey was in the final stages of heart failure, his character only appears in the final episode and doesn't get much to do. The rest of the story features the small cast running around a pile of rocks on Dartmoor. The rocks are very pretty. Indeed, the digitially remastered outdoor-broadcast video from 1975 looks fabulous -- this story could have been produced yesterday. Compare that with the feeble non-remastered look of the 1977 baseball World Series, recently released to DVD in the U.S., and you appreciate that this is a terrific restoration job.
The text commentary, as usual, is a lively affair written by Martin Wiggins, sharing with us some gruesome on-location anecdotes (mostly about Tom Baker's broken collarbone) and interesting discarded ideas from the story's first drafts (the mating habits of the Sontarans, and the British relics the authors intended should protrude from the Earth's surface thousands of years into the future where the story's set). The three-man audio commentary team -- Hinchcliffe, writer Bob Baker, and actress Lis Sladen -- share their crystal-clear memories from 30+ years ago. Compared to the commentary track from the sister DVD release (1969's classic "The Invasion") one begins to appreciate an inverse ratio between the quality of the story and the quality of the commentary.
The lone featurette produced for the disc is a comprehensive 39-minute history of the Sontarans. Called "Built For War", the documentary covers all of the Sontarans' "Doctor Who" appearances between 1974 and 1985, and thus features interviews with many people who had nothing to do with "Experiment" at all. Script editor Terrance Dicks (who did not script-edit this episode) reminisces about his relationship with writer Bob Holmes (who did not write it). Future Doctor Colin Baker (who did not appear in this episode) and future script editor Eric Saward (who did not script-edit it) take turns harshing on the 1985 Sontaran entry "The Two Doctors". The two men also take turns seeing who can reach 400 pounds first. Colin wins, although Saward grows an impressive mop of hair to finish in second place by a single ounce. Good heavens, Colin! The normally zaftig Dicks looks like Nicole Richie next to those two.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Love SontaransDec 16 2007
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Sarah Jane's neon yellow jacket, the Doctor's broken collarbone and some great scenery make this memorable. The Extra history of the Sontarans in Doctor Who is interesting although having a Sontaran watching and commenting on the history was distracting. Still, the scenery is fantastic and the entire episode is shot out of doors. Good commentary track from the actors. Good episode.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Short, but excellent.Nov. 6 2010
P A Colloraffi
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This story is dark. The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane beam down from the Ark in Space to Earth to see if it's habitable again centuries after a nuclear holocaust and to fix the transmat machinery so that the preserved humans on the ship may come down to the planet. While there they get seperated and discover a group of paranoid astronauts who have been taken, one by one, by the 'creature in the rocks' (the Sontaran mentioned in the title) and been the subject of inhuman tortures devised as experiments to determine the abilities of humanity in preparation for a possible invasion. Like I said: dark stuff (though it's from the Philip Hinchcliffe era, so that's to be expected). It's also a very well-paced, acted, and produced story. On the other hand, it's only two episodes, so it's quite short as well. This was also one of the earlier DVD releases, so there's not much in the way of special features. Those last two points are the main reason I docked a star from my rating. The story itself is worthy of five stars, but the overall value of the package isn't that great due to how little you actually get. I wish they'd released it as a box set coupled with another Sontaran story or two ("The Time Warrior" perhaps?) like they did with the "Beneath the Surface" package which contains three stories (two classics, one not so much) involving humanoid reptiles who want to retake the Earth since they were once the dominant species. Or, perhaps they could've issued two consecutive stories in a single package much like they did with the First Doctor serials "The Rescue" and "The Romans". Oh well. It's still a great story, so I highly recommend picking it up on the cheap if you get the chance!