Wednesday, 16 September 2015
REVIEW - TERROR OF THE SONTARANS
Does Dan Starkey know the Sontarans well enough to pen a story for them?
Short answer: Yes! Yes he does ladies and gentlemen. It’s not without hiccups, but let’s be honest, even the Blink-esque stories have hiccups, whether you notice them or not.
The 2015 Seventh Doctor trilogy comes to a close with Terror of the Sontarans, a story that is a rather unusual beast and nothing at all what you’d expect from a traditional Sontaran story. If you were hoping for a very in-your-face military war-like tale akin to The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky, this story will disappoint you. Instead, John Dorney and Dan Starkey, notable for being the go-to guy for the Sontarans, pens a tale that takes the potato-head aliens in a different direction, but not without tapping into what it means to be a Sontaran; namely their militaristic views and analysis, their arrogance and complete devotion and enjoyment of war.
And yet, this story features very little fighting. It is no secret that my dream Sontaran story involves the Sontarans actually fighting Rutons (holding out for Series 19), but the way Terror of the Sontarans unfolds is a great in its own right. Anytime someone steps outside the usual box, I can’t help but become invested.
Once again, the Doctor and Mel are integrated and used fantastically within the plot. The Doctor is almost his usual dark self, but there are a few more adventures left before a clear distinction can be drawn between bumbler and chessmaster. Similarly, Mel is used quite nicely here, though this story is her weakest of the trilogy.
I loved the Sontarans in this. Don’t ask me any of their names, but I love how comical they come across, but for those who aren’t fans of Strax, the Sontaran humor doesn’t derive from their bumbling antics, but through dialogue concerning the Ruton war that THEY ARE NOT FIGHTING. There’s nothing worse than a Sontaran who is investigating instead of killing the Ruton scum! That and being surrounded by incompetent fools.
The story itself is original, but you get Midnight vibes here. Not in the sense of plot similarities, but the atmosphere and the events create that same claustrophobic sense which is a welcome feeling to take away after listening to a Sontaran story.
One of the story’s weak points is its first episode, which at times feels as a series of uninteresting events. I have no complaints about the guest cast though. For once, I could be bothered to remember all their names and actual have an emotion, be it annoyance or hatred or even sympathy. There is a good variety of characters, some of them relying on stereotypical archetypes, but then again…that’s fiction in a nutshell. As long as we don’t harken back to the 90s nerd model, I’m happy.
Rating this story: 8/10. As a fan of the Sontarans, I really enjoyed John Dorney and Dan Starkey’s script and highly recommend it to any fan. It is a classic Doctor romp that manages to tick offal the correct boxes whilst still bringing something unique to the table.