‘THE HAND OF FEAR’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Sarah Jane’s Last Adventure in the TARDIS with the Fourth Doctor
Eldrad must live! You must understand! Eldrad must live! He must! He must! HE MUST!!!!
Sorry I got carried away there. ‘The Hand of Fear’ is a great ‘Doctor Who’ story, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. It also features Sarah Jane’s last appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. It was moving how Sarah Jane’s adventures with the Doctor ended.
‘The Hand of Fear’ is a four-part tale by Bob Baker and Dave Martin. It features the Doctor and Sarah Jane returning to Earth and getting caught in an explosion in a quarry where a fossil stone hand is discovered. The menace of Eldrad takes over Sarah Jane before she leaves the TARDIS…
Sarah Jane Smith was (and still is) a very popular ‘Doctor Who’ companion of the 1970s. This was due to Elisabeth Sladen’s lovely performance and the chemistry in the relationship with Tom Baker’s Doctor. But with all good things, Sarah Jane’s trips in the TARDIS came to their end.
Lis Sladen first appeared as Sarah Jane in ‘The Time Warrior’ with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. Since then, Sarah Jane has travelled with two Doctors including Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. But mostly she’s travelled with Tom Baker, and became part of a sparkling TARDIS duo loved by fans.
I first encountered Lis Sladen in an episode of ‘Some Mother Do ‘Ave Them’ with Frank Spencer. I didn’t register who Lis was until I saw her return to ‘Doctor Who’ with David Tennant. I love seeing Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. I was so privileged to watch her on TV from 2006 to 2011.
I wish I could have met Lis Sladen at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions, since she was lovely to watch in the DVD interviews for the stories she was in. But sadly, lovely Lis passed away in April 2011. It is a great shame as I would have liked to have met and chatted to Lis at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions.
This story, ‘The Hand of Fear’, doesn’t necessarily focus on Sarah Jane’s departure from the TARDIS. Instead it focuses on the Doctor and Sarah Jane tackling an alien that comes to Earth. But Sarah Jane does drive the story forward with Lis Sladen delivering a wonderful performance.
The alien threat first comes in the form of a ‘dead hand’ which Sarah Jane touches under rubble and gets knocked out. She then gets taken over as “Eldrad must live!” Sarah Jane is mesmerising to watch and Lis Sladen does a great performance of being taken over and hypnotised by Eldrad.
It’s quite disturbing when Sarah Jane keeps on repeating and insists that “Eldrad must live!” She knocks out and stuns security guards with a blue beam of light. It was disturbing when the ‘dead hand’ comes to life and moves by itself. Even for 1976, this is impressive effects work of its time.
Tom Baker gives a superb performance as his Doctor. I liked it when he rescues Sarah Jane from under the rubble, but doesn’t seem worried about her until she leaves the hospital suddenly. I also liked it when he gets curious with Eldrad and helps her/him to find out what she/he’s up to.
The guest cast features Glyn Houston (who I’ve seen in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’) as Professor Watson. I liked Glyn’s performance as Watson, who gets easily frustrated when a crisis occurs. I liked his phone conversation with his wife and he asks her to ‘kiss the children’ for him.
There’s also Rex Robinson (who played Dr Tyler in ‘The Three Doctors’) as Dr Carter. Carter is a pathologist who examines the dead hand found by the Doctor and Sarah Jane. Carter gets knocked out by Sarah Jane and is under Eldrad’s control before he meets a sticky end in this tale.
The villain is Eldrad, who must live! Eldrad is a crystalline-like, silicon-based life-form called a Kastrian from Kastria. Eldrad manages to survive on Earth through Sarah Jane and depends on a massive amount of radiation that he absorbs and even stops a bombing missile raid in this story.
Eldrad is played by two actors. There’s Judith Paris as the female form of Eldrad. I liked Judith’s performance as the female Eldrad. She appears elegant when the Doctor and Sarah Jane meet her. She can also be dangerous and requests the Doctor and Sarah Jane take her back to Kastria.
There’s also Stephen Thorne who plays the true male form of Eldrad on Kastria after being put through the regeneration chamber. Stephen delivers a rich booming performance as Eldrad. I don’t think his costume is convincing as the female version of Eldrad was which is disappointing.
The final scene where the Doctor and Sarah Jane part company is touching. I liked how the scene builds with Sarah Jane being frustrated and unhappy aboard the TARDIS and threatening to go home. The Doctor doesn’t listen and Sarah Jane gets angry, going off to pack her ‘goodies’.
Once Sarah Jane’s gone, the Doctor receives a telepathic summons from Gallifrey. It seems serious and the Doctor says he can’t take Sarah Jane to Gallifrey as humans aren’t allowed. He sets the TARDIS for Sarah Jane’s home in South Croydon before she returns to the console room.
It was heart-breaking to watch when the Doctor reveals to Sarah Jane that he’s been summoned to Gallifrey and he can’t take her with him. Sarah Jane is apologetic about her recent harsh words to him. But the Doctor is serious that he can’t take her with him. This was very sad to see.
The goodbye between the Doctor and Sarah Jane was moving to watch too. She asks him not to forget her. But the Doctor will never forget her, as long as Sarah Jane never forgets him. It was very sad to watch Sarah Jane leave, but the Doctor knows that he’ll meet Sarah Jane again soon.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the making-of documentary, ‘Changing Times’, looking at the special relationship with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith and ‘The Hand of Fear’. This has interviews with Tom Baker; Elisabeth Sladen; producer Phillip Hinchcliffe; etc.
There are also ‘continuities’ of the story; a ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen by Noel Edmonds and also a photo gallery of the story. There is also a commentary with Tom Baker; Elisabeth Sladen; Judith Paris; producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and co-writer Bob Baker.
There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There are also PDF documents including a ‘Doctor Who Annual’ and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story. There’s an Easter Egg to look out for on this DVD which is a ‘Nationwide’ interview with Elisabeth Sladen.
‘The Hand of Fear’ is a moving departure story for Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith. I enjoyed seeing the Doctor and Sarah Jane in an adventure to defeat Eldrad. The farewell between the Doctor and Sarah Jane is one I’ll never forget as it is so beautifully played between the two stars.
This isn’t the end of Sarah Jane as she would return in ‘K-9 & Company’ with…K-9 and again in ‘The Five Doctors’ for the 20th anniversary. She would return to ‘Doctor Who’ again in the new series in ‘School Reunion’ and have her own spin-off series called ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’.
‘The Hand of Fear’ rating – 8/10
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