Big Finish Productions
Heroes of Sontar
|Written by||Alan Barnes|
|Starring Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson|
|Synopsis: The Doctor takes his friends to the peaceful citadel planet, Samur. But they find it deserted. Suddenly, seven Sontarans arrive on a mission so secret, even they don't know it.|
A Review by Jason Wilson 18/5/11
Yay! This is a good time to be on board with Big Finish, with Janet Fielding back on board and Tom Baker up and coming. In order to write for the season 20 team without shoving loads of stories into the Black Guardian trilogy, BF Towers came up with the neat conceit of having Nyssa rejoin the crew later in life, her work on Terminus done, but with the space plague ticking away in the background like a time bomb. So Nyssa is now about 50, no longer Tegan's contemporary but much older and... well, she was always wiser. And after a mixed opening set, here we are again.
Oh yeah, and it's also BF's first Sontaran story. And it is rather good. One thing first though. Do the Sontarans always have to be written for laughs? Ever since I read Ian Marter's Sontaran Experiment with it's grim nightmarish demonic Sontaran, the TV ones have never matched up. I was pleased that in their new TV series appearance they got played a little more seriously, but here they are protocol-bound buffoons again to a large extent. So the Doctor gets to escape execution with an unconvincing Paradise Towers-style appeal to the rule book, and the first half of this tale wraps up in fun but unremarkable style. But then it becomes something else.
The setting is a city left by a vanished culture who have sworn, in vengeance for the Sontarans' intrusion, that their seven best warriors must die. Or is it? The Rutans trick the Sontarans; only in the Shakedown/Lords of the Storm novel pair have we seen them together before, and it needs to happen more often. Meanwhile, the Sontarans have double-crossed themselves by dumping their embarrassing rejects to fulfil the curse on the clever premise that they are from the same clone batches as their greatest warriors.
Meanwhile, Nyssa has gone down with a nasty dose of plague and the Doctor heroically flies off into the Rutan fleet to find a cure. Nyssa, meanwhile, is astonishingly fatalistic, giving Tegan instructions for after her death. Notes on a cure, the revelation that she's married to - and has a son by - a scientist who might be... surely not?
It is an interesting seed for the future and here's hoping the next two stories are good carriers of it. Overall, this starts out average and becomes a gem; here's hoping we get the plague resolution classic that Terminus promised to be before vanishing up that end of the universe guff. Much better than the daft Rutan story Castle of Fear, it leaves this listener wanting more. Potentially the most interesting arc since Colin Baker and Charley, here's hoping.