A neat little two-parter that marks the halfway point of Season 12. Sandwiched between ‘The Ark in Space’ and ‘Genesis of the Daleks’,’ The Sontaran Experiment’ is often unfairly overlooked. The first reappearance of the Sontarans and the first filmed entirely on location (in Devon, get in), twisted and malicious, this story is darker than you originally realise the more you analyse it…
By itself, I’d rate ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ a seven out of ten (as you can see above). However, when you watch it back-to-back alongside ‘The Ark in Space’, it forms the beginning of the loose story arc that acts as the premises of Season 12. If you put the two stories together, they would probably culminate into an eight or a nine. The arc also continues into the final two stories of Season 12 and so ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ acts as a sort of bridge between the two halves of the Nerva Beacon story.
On to the story itself; the experiments of Field Major Styre are gruesome, twisted and shocking. The experiment where he is measuring how much weight the humans can withstand is tense to watch as the shipwrecked astronauts struggle to save their friend from a crushing. The scene where Sarah is tied up and begins hallucinating is also uncomfortable, especially if you don’t like snakes.
While this story has the ingredients for a good Doctor Who story, for me, nothing really substantial happened to make this one of the greatest stories of all time. However, it’s still quite good and seeing the TARDIS team disbanded into their own individual dangers was nice because they all got to use their initiatives and show that the characters of Doctor Who were getting increasingly stronger and heroic through development.
Before you watch this, I’d strongly recommend watching ‘The Ark in Space’ first. This way, you’ll be able to understand everything completely, and half of it won’t seem like unexplained nonsense. If you ever have a rainy day, I’d also recommend watching the entirety of Season 12*; this way, the stories become one, and boy is it a good one.
*Doctor Who Marathon training may be required and is recommended