Doctor Who (1963)

Season 12 Episode 10

The Sontaran Experiment, Part Two

Aired Saturday 5:15 PM Mar 01, 1975 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
38 votes

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Episode Summary

The Sontaran Experiment, Part Two
Earth, the distant future. Beaming down from the Nerva Beacon, the Doctor and his friends discover Earth is habitable once more. Unfortunately a Sontaran officer is conducting tests on a group of human colonists to determine their ability to withstand a full-scale invasion...

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  • A well made, short outing for the Doctor and his companions.

    (This is a review of both part one and two of The Sontaran Experiment)

    A rare two part episode of Doctor Who, The Sontaran Experiment was originally written as part of a six part episode with its predecessor The Ark in Space. Because of it's scant 45 minute length (then short for a full Doctor Who adventure) it doesn't have the chance to engage the viewer in the kind of depth and tension that other storylines do, but its ideas are good and it is sufficiently well made to make for a memorable two episodes.

    I'll use this episode in my gradual review of all Tom Baker's adventures as The Doctor to discuss the character of Harry Sullivan. Harry was originally intended to be a younger, action orientated counterpart to what the producers thought would be an older, William Hartnell-esque incarnation of The Doctor. That they eventually chose 41 year old Tom Baker to play the lead made Harry's role in series slightly redundant. Nowhere is that clearer than this episode, where the Doctor actually engages in physical conflict with his enemy while Harry is given the less enthralling task of disabling an alien space ship.

    Nevertheless, despite having failed to gain a reputation as one of the Doctor's most memorable companions, The Sontaran Experiment is a good example of why there are things to like about Harry Sullivan. He displays an almost Doctor-like British aloofness that makes his participation in life or death space adventures endearingly amusing and this is at its most prominent here in The Sontaran Experiment.moreless
  • A quicky that pulls off as good as a longer story, perhaps the show's best 2 part story.

    Location shooting, a returning monster, torture, robots, single combat what's not to love? A brisk pace to get it all in in 2 parts with a very unconvincing ending with the Doctor preventing an invasion with a few words on a view screen. I think the Sontarran robot was effective for a DW robot, loved the arms that wrap around you. The torture scenes were quite intense for their day. I had no idea what Sarah was talking about at the cliffhanger. Who the heck is Linx? But I got it enough to understand. I was a bit disappointed to see The Time Warrior later as Styre beats Linx IMHO. Plus, Linx didn't seem to have the gravity problems Styre had. Not looking for it, I'd think Tom did do his stunt scenes. They did a good job hiding Tom's broken collar bone. My only problems are that the Sontarrans would only need to know the humans are weaker than them & they'd invade. Wait for all the test results? Give up on a bluff? Doubt it.moreless
  • Tom Baker - the greatest?

    Styre: “You are a mistake and should be eliminated. According to my data you should not exist.”

    Part Two of The Sontaran Experiment begins with the slightly strange cliff-hanger resolution of Sarah thinking the Sontaran is Linx – a weird piece of continuity that would make no sense to the casual viewer. However, this episode deals with the plot and action, keeping the viewer suitably hooked. Kevin Lindsay gives a good performance under the effective costume of Styre, and Tom Baker continues to remind of why so many people think of him as the best Doctor. Also, the water-deprived human test subject is a nice touch of uncomfortable horror, and the dramatic fight scene between the Doctor and Styre is well-directed.moreless
Donald Douglas

Donald Douglas


Guest Star

Glyn Jones

Glyn Jones


Guest Star

Peter Walshe

Peter Walshe


Guest Star

Ian Marter

Ian Marter

Harry Sullivan

Recurring Role

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Why is Harry walking around calling for Sarah right after seeing she's a prisoner of Styre?

    • Unfortunately the close-up shots of Styre don't do the make-up crew any favors. It's clear that Kevin Lindsay has some eye make-up on to (vaguely) blend in with the Sontaran mask's coloring but his eyes are nowhere close to the eyeholes in the mask.

    • Sarah Jane says that Styre is identical to Lynx. They're really not that similar in several different particulars, but most obvious is the fact that he has an obviously different number of fingers.

    • At one point in the fight Styre's Sontaran mask is knocked sideways at almost a 90 degrees angle.

    • Revealing Mistake: Unfortunately Terry Walsh's stand-in work for Tom Baker is painfully obvious during the fight sequence where you can tell he's wearing a brown wig and he stand upright during scenes where Baker is crouched.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Sontaran Marshall: Next time, Earthling, we shall utterly destroy you.
      The Doctor: Not today.

    • The Doctor: Ah, Sarah, feeling better? No, don't tell me. No time. We've got an invasion on our hands.

    • The Doctor:: You never know when these bits and pieces will come in handy. Never throw anything away, Harry. (He throws it away.) Now, where's my five-hundred year diary? I remember jotting some notes on the Sontarans… It's a mistake to clutter one's pockets, Harry.

    • Styre: Very touching.
      The Doctor: You unspeakable abomination...!
      Styre: Words, Earthling, will never prevail against Sontaran might.

    • The Doctor: Oh, it's you again. Can't say I'm delighted. No use pretending...

  • NOTES (1)

    • Tom Baker broke his collarbone while filming the climactic fight scene for this episode. In order to finish filming, they made a makeshift sling from the long scarf and used Terry Walsh for any scenes requiring the use of the Doctor's left arm. This is quite obvious in several scenes in which the Doctor only uses his right arm and holds the left close to his body, with the scarf wrapped around it.