‘THE SONTARAN ORDEAL’
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New Series Sontarans with the Eighth Doctor
The fourth episode of the first ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ box set is ‘The Sontaran Ordeal’, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. In this tale, Paul’s Doctor faces the new series Sontarans.
This is an interesting episode from the first ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ box set. It deals with the Eighth Doctor getting involved in the Time War before the events of ‘The Night of the Doctor’ occur.
It was also great to hear the Sontarans going “Sontar-Ha!” in the episode. These are, of course, the new series Sontarans compared to the classic series ones, since they did not go saying “Sontar-Ha!”
You may be surprised the Sontarans are the monsters in this story, since they’re originated from the classic series. But the fact this tale takes place in the Time War in ‘new series’ territory makes sense.
‘The Sontaran Ordeal’ is by Andrew Smith. I’ve met Andrew in real-life. He’s well-known in ‘Doctor Who’ circles as the writer of…‘Full Circle’. He’s also the writer of the audio tale, ‘The First Sontarans’.
In this episode, the Doctor attempts to stop Time War from affecting the planet Drakkis. But his protests to the Time Lords get ignored, as an instant of the Time War soon affects that lovely world.
The Doctor sees the terrible results as centuries of conflict now occur on Drakkis. He then rescues and meets a woman named Sarana Teel, a former dressmaker, now Drakkan soldier in the Time War.
Very soon, the Doctor and Sarana are not alone. A Sontaran teleports down and it turns out to be former commander Jask, who has been dishonoured by his kind. Will Jask be trouble for our heroes?
This is probably where the Time War starts for the Doctor in this episode. He’s clearly against it ever happening and considers the war ‘cruel and senseless’. The Doctor wants to stop it once and for all.
I like how this episode sees the Sontarans trying to get into the Time War, as they seem not to be welcome into it. They are war-obsessed and the Sontarans see the Time War as a great opportunity.
Paul McGann excels as the Doctor in this audio story. Paul manages to slip in as the Doctor being in the Time War so easily. It’s great to hear how he gets involved in the Time War and how he views it.
Despite his disgust at the Time War happening, Paul’s Doctor manages to balance the humour and the drama of his character well. It was also good to hear Paul’s interaction with the Sontarans in this.
Josette Simon (from ‘Blake’s 7’) guest stars as Sarana Teel. Sarana is an interesting character in this episode. On the outside, she seems to be a fierce warrior. But on the inside, she’s so scared stiff by what is occurring.
Sarana also happens to be a mother of two children. She interacts well with the Doctor and knocks out Jask at times. But when she hears the truth of the Time War and of the Doctor, she is not happy.
The Sontarans in this episode are Dan Starkey, Christopher Ryan and Sean Connolly. This episode is a reunion for Dan Starkey and Chris Ryan, as they played Sontarans in the new series of ‘Doctor Who’.
Dan Starkey as Jask is great to hear. He turns out to be a complex individual, who loses his honour and want to have it back. He gets determined to bring General Stenk down for the dishonour he has.
It was tense when Jask revealed to Sarana about who the Doctor is and what his people have done by bringing Drakkis into the Time War. Jask keeps changing sides and betrays the Doctor and Sarana.
Christopher Ryan is equally great to hear as General Stenk. He sounds a lot like General Stall from ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’/’The Poison Sky’, but then Stenk could also come from Stall’s clone breed.
General Stenk is an equally complex character in this audio adventure. He’s determined to see Jask dishonoured forever and sends Ensign Stipe to assassinate him. But Stenk doesn’t get away with this.
It was great to hear Sean Connolly in this story, as I’ve heard him before in ‘Time Reef’. Sean plays the Sontaran called Ensign Stipe in the episode, as well as that rag and bone man called Tag Menkin.
I found it sad when Sarana Teel told the Doctor to leave Drakkis at the end. She’s bitterly disgusted by what the Time War did to her world, echoing Cass’ character from ‘The Night of the Doctor’ story.
‘The Sontaran Ordeal’ is a great ‘Doctor Who’ episode with Paul McGann’s Doctor facing the new series Sontarans. I enjoyed this account of the Eighth Doctor’s earliest involvement in the Time War.
There’s a bonus CD in the first ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ box set that features a behind-the-scenes documentary focusing on the making of all four episodes. I’m pleased that the writers of all four episodes of the CD box set had the classic Doctors know about the new series monsters already.
The documentary starts with an introduction by executive producer Nicholas Briggs, producer David Richardson, script editor Matt Fitton and director Barnaby Edwards on how they conceived the ‘Class Doctors, New Monsters’ audio adventures. It was interesting to hear this behind-the-scenes process.
There’s then a look into ‘Fallen Angels’, featuring interviews with Peter Davison, writer Phil Mulryne, Matthew Kelly, Sacha Dhawan, Diane Morgan, Joe Jameson, etc. It was interesting to hear that Peter Davison and Matthew Kelly had worked together before in the ITV sitcom series, ‘Holding the Fort’.
Then there’s a look into ‘Judoon in Chains’, featuring interviews with Colin Baker, co-writer Paul Morris; Nicholas Briggs, Kiruna Stamell, Tony Millan, Trevor Cooper, Sabina Franklin, Nicholas Pegg, etc. I like how Colin enthuses about the classic and new series of ‘Doctor Who’ being the same thing.
There’s then a look into ‘Harvest of the Sycorax’, featuring interviews with Sylvester McCoy, writer James Goss, Nisha Nayar, Jonathan Firth, Rebecca Callard, Giles Watling, etc. It was so nice to hear Nisha Nayar recall her experiences of working with Sylvester McCoy in the story ‘Paradise Towers’.
Finally, there’s a look into ‘The Sontaran Ordeal’, featuring interviews with Paul McGann, writer Andrew Smith, Josette Simon, Christopher Ryan, Sean Connolly, etc. I’m surprised Dan Starkey wasn’t interviewed, since he’d played a major role and it would have been nice to hear his thoughts.
The documentary ends with Nicholas Briggs, David Richardson, Barnaby Edwards and Matt Fitton talking about the future of the ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ audio range. There are hints about what’s to come in the second box set including one monster featuring with two of the Doctors each.
‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ – Volume 1 has been a great box set to enjoy for a ‘Doctor Who’ fan. It was interesting to hear the classic Doctors in confrontations with new series monsters from ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve now got the second box set to look forward to. I hope there will be more to come.
‘The Sontaran Ordeal’ rating – 9/10
‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ – Volume 1 rating – 10/10
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