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Doctor Who: The Hand Of Fear

01/03/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Doctor Who: The Hand Of Fear in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Hand Of Fear in the UK

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region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBSDVD 1833. Price: about GBP 4.00 (UK) if you know where to look. 1 DVD 4 episodes 99 minutes with extras) stars: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Glyn Houston, Rex Robinson, Stephen Thorne and Judith Paris.

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The TARDIS arrives back on Earth and the Doctor (actor Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (actress Elisabeth Sladen) unwittingly walk out onto a quarry about to be blasted and caught in the rubble. Sarah Jane gets concussed but not before she holds a stone hand and takes the ring that was on it. At the hospital, she is possessed and rescuing the hand using the ring’s weapon qualities to get into a local nuclear station to get at the nuclear pile to regenerate the hand while the Doctor’s attempts to convince the station boss, Professor Watson (actor Glyn Houston), to evacuate the area with only partial success.

The hand ultimately regenerates into a silicon-based female called Eldrad (actress Judith Paris) who insists that the Doctor returns her to her home planet. The Doctor will but only to the current time as he doesn’t wish to affect the past. Eldrad’s home planet, Kastria, is extremely cold and in the underground caverns she returns to her original more, shall we say, male form (actor Stephen Thorne) and finds the Kestrians sacrifice themselves to ensure Eldrad’s plans for world and eventual galaxy domination would never succeed.

There is one very obvious flaw in the story and I came across it when I wrote the synopsis. The TARDIS is a wonderful machine and although the Doctor is given the co-ordinates for Eldrad’s home planet, how does one define the present time when relative distance has to be taken into account from Earth. However, as the Doctor knows when Eldrad was seemingly destroyed originally, all he needed to do was ensure the TARDIS arrived that many years into the present.

As to how Eldrad stopped the two nukes bombed on the power station isn’t revealed neither but then neither is Prime Minister authorisation to use them on the homeland. Considering Eldrad absorbs radiation, sending two nukes needs to be an odd thing to do that the Doctor should have known what was going to happen.

It is also conceivable that the Time Lords had something to do their arrival point. Had Eldrad connected to any of the quarrymen, it is possible that the entire Earth would have been dominated in short order.

This is also Sarah Jane Smith’s last adventure with the Doctor until the present day which makes it significant. She was considering leaving already but then ended up with a near bum’s rush when the Doctor receives a telepathic message that he has to return to Gallifrey.

The audio commentary is mostly by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Judith Paris – shame they didn’t have a picture of her sans make-up – with co-writer Bob Baker and the odd note by then producer Philip Hinchcliffe. The first three treat it as a party with the odd bit of innuendo as well as giving a lot of useful information forgotten and then unforgotten as to what happened.

The first extra, ‘Changing Time’, is a fifty minute examination of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen’s indoctrination into the series and the latter’s departure as well as a discussion with producer Philip Hitchcliffe and actors Glyn Houston and Rex Robinson about the story itself which was very insightful. Baker also gives the original talk of how he used to wind-up Jon Pertwee in later life doing voice-overs and how much he charged and what it missed out in recent newspaper reports about the wind-up aspect.

Who would have thought years later that Sarah Jane would once again meet the Doctor...but that’s a different story.

GF Willmetts

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