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     "The Sontaran Experiment" on DVD    
     Author:  DarthSkeptical
     Dated:  Saturday, March 10 2007 @ 12:23 AM EST
     Viewed:  977 times  
    DW ReviewsSomewhat obscured by the release of the newly complete Pat Troughton serial, "The Invasion", the so-called "vanilla" release of "The Sontaran Experiment" has received little attention from fans wowed by "Invasion"'s black-and-white animation.

    Nevertheless, "Sontaran" is hardly an also-ran. It features not only a great story that's the same length as an RTD episode, but a cracking good commentary between co-writer Bob Baker, producer Phillip HInchcliffe and actress Elizabeth Sladen. As the commentary reminds us, "Sontaran", and not "Ark in Space" or "Robot", actually opened the Hinchcliffe era on Doctor Who. It also showcased the first "returning villain" in Tom Baker's era.

    On top of all that, it was, like Barry Letts' first story, a technical innovation. Where Letts' "Spearhead from Space" had been the first all-film serial, this was the first to be shot entirely on location.

    Consequently, the commentary bubbles over with all sorts of interesting tidbits, both technical and personal, which quite transformed the overall importance of the story for me. While I'd always liked the story, I'd never thought of it as a milestone of any sort until this DVD release.

    The DVD also includes a documentary on the Sontarans which runs longer than either of the two included episodes.

    Considering that "classic vanillas" now have a lower price point, "The Sontaran Experiment" delivers surprising value for money.




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  • "The Sontaran Experiment" on DVD | 5 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
    "The Sontaran Experiment" on DVD
    Authored by: MikeD on Saturday, March 10 2007 @ 10:35 AM EST
    "Spearhead from Space" was not just shot entirely on film but also entirely on location due strike action at the BBC. "The Sontaran Experiment" was the second story shot entirely on location.

    Mike

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    "There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought."
    "The Sontaran Experiment" on DVD
    Authored by: tarashnat on Sunday, March 11 2007 @ 08:26 PM EDT

    Don't expect the other vanillas to have the same amount of extra features as this release does. I think the Restoration Team was able to convince 2|entertain to include these on the release.

    Taras

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    "The Sontaran Experiment" on DVD
    Authored by: DarthSkeptical on Sunday, March 11 2007 @ 10:10 PM EDT
    The filmic look obscures the fact, but "Spearhead" did have a small amount of studio work in it, notably the Doctor's episode 4 battle against the Nestene Consciousness. It also contained model work, which was necessarily studio bound. And the question of who actually produced "Spearhead", as opposed to who got credit, is a somewhat open one. Sherwin and Bryant were yanked midway through filming, being immediately transferred to Paul Temple by the Beeb. Letts ascended to the job on the 20th of October; the story had begun filming on the 13th of September and concluded on the 22d of November (after the strike was over).

    Undoubtedly, Sherwin and Bryant had been heavily involved in pre-production for the story, and were in every way acting as co-producers through the beginning of the filming "season" (Bryant, indeed, was intended as the credited producer of "The Silurians") but they were both no longer even physically present with the Doctor Who production team after they were transferred to Temple.

    This was quite a different situation to that which obtained on, say, "Robot", where Letts was still around throughout filming, got full credit for producing the episode, and was "shadowed" by Hinchcliffe. Letts probably could have argued to have gotten co-producing credits on "Spearhead" had he really wanted to. Indeed, had "Spearhead" not also broken the hitherto-observed convention of filming one episode at a time, he would most likely have been given sole producing credit on at least Episode 4.

    As it was, the entire story was taken as one big production bloc, with scenes from across all four episodes being filmed out of order as necessitated by location. This naturally meant that finding the dividing line between what Sherwin and Letts had helmed was more difficult.

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    I've literally known savages with better manners.