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Doctor Who Monthly Series: Heroes Of Sontar by Alan Barnes

01/08/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who Monthly Series: Heroes Of Sontar in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who Monthly Series: Heroes Of Sontar in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-558-7. cast: Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson, Sarah Sutton, John Banks, Duncan Wisbey, Alex Lowe, Andrew Fettes and Derek Carlyle

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Once again, the Doctor (Peter Davison) has promised them a rose garden and the planet the newly reunited Turlough (Mark Strickson), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) land on is far from that. It does have a good line in moss, though, but I wouldn’t try and line the hanging baskets with it as it would rather grow on you.

Landing on a world that should have been a peaceful sanctuary run by shoeless monks, the group find a dead planet populated only by a strange plant growth. All is not well and when Nyssa finds the battered standard of the Sontaran Empire flying above the remnants of the civilisation, it becomes apparent that this is a conquered world. But surely the Sontarans have left a long time ago but who’s that coming over the hill? Is it a baked potato or is it the combined might of the Sontaran Empire?

Here come the tatty leftovers of what you might call a shower of soldiers. The worst seven soldiers from the Empire have been sent to this dead planet and they quickly encounter our plucky travellers. Turlough is shocked that, despite his own abilities at running away, he actually has to take charge of helping a young Sontaran soldier escape after they are trapped together. They are unexpected allies because there is another threat on the planet and the disparate groups must band together against the planet’s defence, the Witchguard.

It’s no secret that the unique selling point of this Sontaran story is the underlying ‘Dad’s Army’ vibe. Anyone who does not know about the WW2 comedy which still repeats on BBC2 to this day should check it out. You do not need to know about this as the comedy still works without it. But what has happened to the Sontarans? They were mean mothers when I was a girl and now they are turning into the comedy relief. In this story, that is all right because we have a big scary foe instead to focus all our ire on but think this downgrading of the Sontarans is a negative step in the BBC version.

In the event, the ending works satisfactorily and brings us back to our expectations of the warrior race. There is good interaction between the team and the Sontarans and enough dilemmas to make it interesting. I do like the return of Turlough and Tegan gets to be ballsy which is how it should be.

Sue Davies

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