Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Big Finish #146: Heroes Of Sontar

Written by Alan Barnes

Seven of the bravest Sontaran warriors lurk on the planet Samur, ready to sacrifice themselves for a ‘curse’ placed upon their race. The Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough arrive on the planet, in the middle of great war on the planet between the Sontarans and a mystical presence.

Excluding the first series of Companion Chronicles and the four-year Eighth Doctor series, this is my first trek into Big Finish Doctor Who and it’s certainly an odd starting point. It’s surprisingly taken over ten years for the Sontarans to make their debut on audio, mainly because they are more visual monsters than audible, but they do work.

I didn’t have an instant love with the Sontarans, the voices took some time to get used to in comparison to either the classic or new series but half an hour in and I’d forgotten this point. I think the Sontarans did have a ‘new series’ view, carrying the irritating ‘Sontar’ chant/catchphrase that drives me up the wall. This paired with a looped piece of ‘military’ styled music and the whole thing gets very repetitive and dragged out.

The main cast perform well, but writer Alan Barnes writes them quite poorly, relying on the characters stereotypes (Turlough being a coward, Tegan being bulshy) and pushes them all to breaking point. It’s quite lazy writing at times with this, as I ended up hating Turlough more than I should hate a companion and even Tegan was getting too argumentative for her own good. Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa really shone above the other companions, being more experienced from her pre-Terminus days, carrying her own secrets which create a new level of intrigue into the TARDIS.

Despite all the negative factors I’ve laid out here, there is something strangely charming about ‘Heroes Of Sontar’, the plotline twists and turns a few times and the Sontarans are fantastic, being given character elements you’d never expect from the monsters. These elements all don’t make sense to begin with, but definitely lead up to a fun payoff.

To sum up this audio, the TARDIS crew aren’t written too well, but everything else with Alan Barnes’ script really pulls you in, creating a fun, humorous fifth Doctor adventure set between ‘Terminus’ and ‘The King’s Demons’.

Cover art for "Heroes Of Sontar"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The main cast perform well, but writer Alan Barnes writes them quite poorly, relying on the characters stereotypes (Turlough being a coward, Tegan being bulshy) and pushes them all to breaking point. It’s quite lazy writing at times with this, as I ended up hating Turlough more than I should hate a companion and even Tegan was getting too argumentative for her own good."

Exactly! Turlough isn't really that cowardly and he shouldn't be written as such, especially at this stage in his develpment! He's already done so much to try and prove himself. Even in "Freakshow", when he was not long after "Enlightenement", he pushed Tegan behind himself to protect her from one of the big, venomous snake aliens about to attack them.
Why did he not do the same to try to protect Nyssa from the Sontarans when she had fallen ill from the fungus? It's out of character for him to have left her there while calling it "thinking of [her] safety".
The only things that were awesome he did here was pulling rank with that Sontaran he wisely convinced to help him get out of that hole they'd fallen into and helping with Sontaran tech.

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