Friday, 7 February 2014
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO - THE KING OF SONTAR (MILD-SPOILERS)
Very mild spoilers. It's time to fight! SON-TAR-HA!
But before I start, let me just apologize for getting these to you so late. Despite what some of you might think, I do get the audio dramas on time, it's just that I don't get the time to listen to them as frequently as I once did. I used to burn through two full-length audios per week when I was commuting to/from the university which was incidently 1.5 hours away. Nowadays, I don't spend so much time on the road and I find it hard lying on the bed just listening to something for so long. On the plus side, it does give you guys a lengthy amount of time to go out and listen to the story for yourselves first.
The King of Sontar stands as Tom Baker's first story in the third season of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. Louise Jameson is back as Leela and this story is quite the unusual blend. Get it? It was a Sontaran joke. Never mind. The Doctor and Leela are driven off-course by the Time Lords to deal with a rogue Sontaran named General Strang, who plans to create his own army and wipe out Sontar. Okay, so it sounds mundane. Just another Sontaran story. Well it isn't! Strang isn't your run-of-the-mill Sontaran. A glitch in the cloning machine resulted in a whole army of Sontarans being condensed into one warrior. One who holds the power and intelligence of a whole Sontaran legion. Hit him on the probic vent? Forget about it! He has no such weakness.
Doctor Who has few faults, but a pretty big one is the lack of good Sontaran stories. The Sontarans are the butt of Doctor Who, often portrayed as a bunch of idiots. This isn't because of Strax though. Sontarans have been failing long before he showed up. If it's not cameo appearances, it's foolhardy full length ones. Helen Rayor's Sontaran Two-Parter was the only Sontaran story that I really truly loved. We need more stories like that. Thankfully, John Dorney gives us one. There are a few strands running through this story: Honor, progress, morality and money. These are all terrific elements for a good story, but the one I found most enjoyable was the question of what is allowed to be sacrificed for the greater good. How many wrongs can you pour into the glass before it fills up and becomes just another excuse?
Dan Starkey has become the go-to guy for Sontarans and puts in a powerful performance as the ruthless Strang, who I wish had made his presence known onscreen. We need more Strangs in Doctor Who. He even had the Doctor begging for his life!
One of the more powerful moments occurs near the very end with the Doctor and Leela though. Truth be told, it made me dislike the Doctor somewhat as I believe he was wrong in this instance and his behavior and treatment towards Leela is nothing short of being a bully and an arrogant jackass. The very things he tries so hard to prevent while exploring the universe. This is interesting and shifts the dynamic somewhat, which I hope becomes something of a mini-arc during this season with the Fourth Doctor and Leela.
Rating this story: 8.5/10 - Very good start to Season 3!