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15 March 2018 @ 08:28 pm
The Randomiser: The Sontaran Experiment  
The Sontaran Experiment is an odd story in a lot of ways. It consists of only two episodes (a rarity in Doctor Who) and, perhaps as a result, feels oddly inconsequential.

It is part of Baker's first season. People rarely discuss this in terms of arc-plotting but it has clear threads joining each story to the next (except, perhaps, the first) even if there isn't an over-arching story, and it definitely has a kind of coherence that was unusual for Doctor Who at the time. Wikipedia tells me that The Ark in Space and The Sontaran Experiment were originally conceived as a six-parter that was then split into a 4-episode and a 2-episode tale. This was a construction that Hinchcliffe definitely favoured though he often left the two parts of six-parters joined together. This makes sense of the close linkage between the stories even though there is no shared cast nor setting - so you can see why the production team may have chosen to treat them as two stories.

I don't know. I find it hard to get particularly excited by this one. Dartmoor looks very pretty, and there are some nice moments for the Doctor, Sarah and Harry but the incidental characters feel fairly cookie-cutter even by Doctor Who standards (possibly because of the short story length). Tom Baker broke his collarbone during filming which may account for the somewhat muted feel of a lot of it, but it's one of the few stories in his run which fails to really come to life even though there's nothing particularly wrong with it.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/489785.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on March 15th, 2018 10:31 pm (UTC)
I wrote a post a few years ago where I pointed out that it's the first colour 50 minute story and feels somewhat like some new Who stories, unfortunately more like the lightweight filler stories rather than the weightier ones nearer the end of a season.

Wikipedia tells me that The Ark in Space and The Sontaran Experiment were originally conceived as a six-parter that was then split into a 4-episode and a 2-episode tale.

Maybe for accounting purposes (as were some other stories), but not in scripting, so far as I am aware. Wikipedia is suspect on this point by anachronistically talking of a "six-episode arc" (one of my pet peeves, new series fans who call stories "arcs" though I'm usually too polite to voice it).

Although if you are looking for an "arc" in the modern sense, not only do all the stories in this season flow into one another (in fact there seems to be no significant fictional time between any of the stories from Planet of the Spiders to Planet of Evil (at a pinch you might be able to throw Pyramids of Mars in too) which I think is a record), but every story in season twelve except The Ark in Space features evil scientists. Granted evil scientists aren't exactly a rarity in Doctor Who, particularly in this era, but four stories out of five must be some kind of record.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on March 15th, 2018 10:57 pm (UTC)
Yes - as I remember The Sontaran Experiment emerged when the reworking of John Lucarotti's The Ark in Space into Robert Holmes's version jettisoned all the location recording, which became a new story on its own but with the same director and I think other crew too. It tapes first (I'm careful not to say filmed here, for obvious reasons) because location recording was usually done before studio, which remained with The Ark in Space.

I agree with you about the use of 'arc' too...
louisedennis: Who:Fourlouisedennis on March 20th, 2018 08:54 am (UTC)
So Wikipedia manages to be both right and wrong!