‘THE KING OF SONTAR’
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The Greatest Sontaran Who Ever Lived
Leela meets the Sontarans for the first time!
Wait a minute! How can that be? How come Leela meets the Sontarans in ‘The King of Sontar’ before she meets them in ‘The Invasion of Time’? It doesn’t make sense! Or does it? That’s the beauty of Big Finish. They can do anything with our favourite ‘Doctor Who’ characters. Accept it! It works somehow!
‘The King of Sontar’ has been a great ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure to listen to with Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. This is the opening story to the Doctor and Leela’s second season of Big Finish audios. Technically this is Series 3 of ‘The Fourth Doctor Adventures’ by Big Finish.
I subscribed Series 3 of ‘The Fourth Doctor Adventures’ by Big Finish sometime in 2014. It took me a while to get around to listening to this season of Big Finish audios with the Fourth Doctor and Leela. But I’m happy I’ve listened to this season sometime during 2015 and I started with ‘The King of Sontar’.
‘The King of Sontar’ has been a great action-packed opening adventure with an ‘enormous explosion’ to start it off and leading to moral debates at the end. It was especially interesting to hear how Leela meets the Sontarans for the first time and during the time when the Fourth Doctor is still teaching her.
This is a two-part adventure by John Dorney. It is directed by Nicholas Briggs. John Dorney writes well for the Fourth Doctor and Leela in this adventure. He also writes an interesting tale about a unique Sontaran warrior. Nick Briggs directs this story superbly, keeping the action flowing at a constant rate.
The Doctor and Leela visit a base on the planet Dowcra in the 26th century. A Sontaran assassination squad has tried to close in and execute a Sontaran called Strang. But Strang has overthrown them since he is the strongest Sontaran ever. Will the Doctor and Leela get to defeat this unique Sontaran?!
The Sontarans are one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ monsters after watching them in ‘The Time Warrior’; ‘The Two Doctors’ and ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’/’The Poison Sky’. I’ve also enjoyed hearing them in other Big Finish stories like ‘Heroes of Sontar’; ‘The Five Companions’ and ‘The First Sontarans’.
‘The King of Sontar’ has been an interesting Sontaran story to listen to. It’s about a Sontaran who is seven feet tall and is more powerful and stronger than any other Sontaran. Strang is made up of an entire Sontaran batch. His skin is impregnable and he can’t be killed easily by being hit on the probic vent.
But Strang is a Sontaran who isn’t like the typical Sontarans who seek glory and honour in battle with the Rutans. Strang considers the current Sontarans weak and he wants to destroy Sontar with an army of his own. He creates batches of clones on Dowcra and has a scientist assisting him to create a portal.
Dan Starkey guest stars as Strang the Sontaran. As Nick Briggs says in the CD sleeve notes, Dan is the King of Sontar. Dan does Sontarans all the time in ‘Doctor Who’ both on TV and in the Big Finish audios. He’s played Strax in the new ‘Doctor Who’ series. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him at conventions.
I found Dan’s performance as Strang mesmerising to listen to. He provides the gruff and militaristic tones to Strang that have a mixture of sounding both new series and classic series Sontaran. But he also does well adding in the tone of menace to Strang when he’s threatening and throttling the Doctor.
Tom Baker excels as the Fourth Doctor in this audio adventure. I liked it when he’s frustrated about the Time Lords manipulating him (again) as he and Leela come to Dowcra. It’s a matter of principle according to him and I liked some of Tom’s amusing remarks when he’s mocking Strang and the others.
I also found some of the Doctor’s moralistic stances in this adventure very interesting. Not only does he have moral debates with Leela; but he also has moral debates with Strang and Rosato the scientist. The Doctor is appalled that Strang wants to destroy Sontar and with Rosato helping him to achieve it.
Louise Jameson is superb as Leela. I’ve met Louise at conventions and she’s lovely. I’ve enjoyed listening to Leela’s audio adventures in ‘Doctor Who’ and I think they fare better compared to the TV series. She certainly gets on well with Tom’s Doctor and they both share a good camaraderie together.
I liked the relationship that Leela forms with John Banks as Vilhol the Sontaran. They start off by being antagonistic towards each other, but they soon have a growing respect for each other. They’re both warriors and that scene where Vilhol dies with honour and Leela’s upset is really touching and moving.
David Collings guest stars as Rosato the scientist in this audio adventure. David’s been in ‘Doctor Who’ three times before in the TV series. He was in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ and ‘The Robots of Death’ with Tom Baker and ‘Mawdryn Undead’ with Peter Davison. It was great to hear him in this audio tale.
Rosato is a scientist working for Strang at the Dowcra base. He has been working on creating a portal to send an army of clones to destroy Sontar. Rosato is under the delusion that Strang is doing this for the human race. I did like Rosato’s scenes with the Doctor, who wonders about him working for Strang.
Dan Starkey also plays Hutchins in this story as well as Strang. John Banks also plays Mercenary #1 as well as Vilhol. The cast also includes David Seddon as Irving, Gran, Tashan and Mercenary #2 and Jenny Funnell as Reaver. Jenny Funnell has also starred in the ‘Doctor Who’ tale called ‘Wirrn Isle’ with Colin Baker.
The last scenes between the Doctor and Leela in this adventure are very tense and thought-provoking to listen to. After defeating Strang and foiling his plans, Leela does something that displeases the Doctor. Leela destroys the batch of clone warriors bred by Strang which detonates a bomb to explode.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor is angry and thinks that Leela has learnt nothing in their travels together and that he’s a bad teacher to her. Leela believes what she did was right, but the Doctor doesn’t think so. He threatens to take her home, which shocks Leela. She now has to think about what she’s done.
‘The King of Sontar’ has been a great action-packed adventure to start off the second season of audio stories with the Fourth Doctor and Leela. It features some great performances from Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as the Doctor and Leela and features the great Dan Starkey who is ‘the King of Sontar’!
So…was Leela right in what she did? Did she have the right to kill so many clone Sontaran warriors in order to save the universe? Or was she completely wrong in the decision that she had made? You decide!
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of this disc, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Tom Baker; Louise Jameson; David Collings; Dan Starkey; etc. There is a trailer for the next story with the Doctor and Leela called ‘White Ghosts’.
‘The King of Sontar’ rating – 9/10
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