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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

REVIEW - Doctor Who: Terror of the Sontarans



Doctor Who: Terror of the Sontarans (Big Finish Audio)
Reviewed By Jesse Kiefer

Written By: John Dorney and Dan Starkey

Director: Ken Bentley

Sound Design: Andy Hardwick

Music: Andy Hardwick

Cover Art: Tom Webster

Number of Discs: 2

Duration: 120' approx.

Available on BigFinish.com

Listen to the trailer.


"No-one's come to kill us yet, so we're doing alright for now."


Dan Starkey is to Sontarans as Nicholas Briggs is to Daleks. I really enjoy Starkey and his obvious dedication to Sontaran stories. He’s able to give them a range and depth that you wouldn’t immediately think they held. For a alien race that clones itself he does a nice job of making sure they don’t all sound identical and that takes real skill and real dedication. Now having said that... Sontaran’s aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. To come up with a really good Sontaran story it has to be pretty clever otherwise Sontarans have a habit of feeling rather tacked on to a story as flavor baddie of the week. Well this month’s first main range release doesn’t have that problem as it is pretty clever for sure!

The solicit from Big Finish:

“Once it was a mining facility. Then later its corridors rang with screams generated by grotesque military experiments. However when the Doctor and Mel arrive on a hostile alien world after detecting a distress signal, the base they find themselves in is almost deserted.

But not for long. Soon the Doctor's old enemies, the Sontarans, have landed, and are searching for the remnants of their previous research team. Before long they uncover evidence of strange occurrences on the planet. Of madness and death.

They are warriors bred for war, strong of spirit and unafraid of death. To fear the enemy is an act of betrayal. Nothing holds terror for the Sontarans.
Until now…”

Wait, that last line is the interesting bit “Nothing holds terror for the Sontarans. Until now…” we get to hear a Sontaran who is afraid? YES and it’s sooooo good!

Some of my favorite parts:
  • The Doctor: This recent batch of Big Finish Seventh Doctor Stories have been very strong. It could be very simple to just give us a generic Seventh Doctor and let everything else do the work of the storytelling but this script, although subtle in it’s use of the Doctor, manages to have some very fun Seventh Doctor moments. There’s a moment where Seven is very nearly “tetchy” and yet is seems to fit him and actually made me laugh outright. I wasn’t convinced that each of these stories could continue to deliver moments that would impress me, but this last block of 7th doctor stories have been very solid on the Doctor’s character and never seemed to phone it in or give us a flat portrayal.
  • The Sontarans: The ultimate threat doesn’t entirely come from the Sontarans, so much as the Sontaran ideal itself, but the portrayal of the Sontarans as written by John Dorney and Dan Starkey became a delightful blend of Starkey’s humor but with all the darker and menacing bits that were more present in the classic series. Classic Sontarans were not just comedic relief the way Strax from the modern series usually presents them. Starkey’s performance is fantastic as usual and these Sontarans though funny at times are not to be underestimated.
  • The Title/Driving Premise: This was a clever twist on a classic title! I thought oh gee it’s just a twist on the ole “Terror of the Zygons” title but when I got deeper into the actual story I realized it was actually giving us something that would GIVE the Sontaran’s terror, instead of the Sontaran’s invoking that terror, very clever indeed! What does a terrified Sontaran sound like? How about a Sontaran who is basically suffering from PTSD? Not only did this story dream that up it also dreamed up how would the Sontaran command deal with that kind of thing! If that doesn’t pique your interest well then you must not like Sontarans at ALL!
  • Stand-Alone Factor: Again another impeccable stand alone story. Knowing who the Sontarans are is the only bit of info that might be needed to truly enjoy this as the story doesn’t really stop to give you a bunch of exposition on the history of the Sontarans but this story isn’t particularly about that and there are other better stories for that if you need it. In spite of that lack in backstory you really don’t NEED to go back and listen to anything in particular to enjoy this story and that’s always refreshing. You could recommend this story to a friend who’s never tried a Big Finish and they wouldn’t need a big list of things that they needed to see or listen to first.

Okay so I’ve outed myself as a person who enjoys Sontarans. I enjoy new Sontarans and I enjoy old Sontarans. Lately I’ve found myself pining for Sontarans who were more of a threat, Sontarans ambitiously at war with the Rutans caring little for those foolish enough to get in their way. This story had a good mix of both the old and the new.

Now If you feel about the Sontarans the way my wife feels about the Daleks, then this story will likely get old pretty quick but the Sontarans are not the only threat in this story. Everyone including the Sontarans find themselves trapped with another much larger threat to contend with.

The resolution fell a little flat for me on this one, it seemed a little rushed, but in the end it’s not the destination but the journey that is the most fun on this one.

In Summary: Main Range 201-203 were some of my new favorite Seventh Doctor stories. Not only that they may be some of my favorite stories for Melanie Bush so far! I found a good reason to truly enjoy each of these stories and all three for different reasons. The Terror of the Sontarans was a fun way to close the three out with great character portrayals and a clever premise I’ve no doubt I’ll come back to this one for a relisten down the road. I’m happy to give this story 4 out of 5 stars.

Holy moley I am writing this review for this 203rd release only a day after it dropped and guess what released this morning! 204! September was an enormous month for Big Finish releases with the release of The Third Doctor Adventures, The new Torchwood Series, and 2 Doctor Who Main Range stories! Look for my review of the upcoming Sixth Doctor Story (and first chronological appearance of new companion Constance Clarke) Criss-Cross very soon!

Do you like the Sontarans? Or are they cringe inducing for you? I’m curious who are your cringe-worthy creatures from Doctor Who? Let me know what they are by listing them in the comments below or by shooting us a message to letters(at)grawlixpodcast.com.

4 Stars



Doctor Who: Terror of The Sontarans (Big Finish Audio Play)
Reviewed by Jesse Kiefer on Sep 15, 2015
Rating: 4Review of 'Doctor Who: Terror of the Sontarans' audio play from Big Finish Productions.

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