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Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment (Story 77) (2007)

Tom Baker , Elisabeth Sladen , Rodney Bennett  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment (Story 77) + Doctor Who: The Ark In Space (Story 76) + Doctor Who: Robot (Story 75)
Price for all three: $29.27

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter
  • Directors: Rodney Bennett
  • Writers: Bob Baker, Dave Martin
  • Producers: Philip Hinchcliffe
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Restored, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment (Story 77)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Bult for War: a 39-minute documentary on the genesis and development of the Sontaran race through the history of the series
  • Subtitled production notes option
  • Photo gallery

Editorial Reviews

One of the more suspenseful stories of the Tom Baker-era Doctor Who, 1975's The Sontaran Experiment pits the Time Lord and his companions against a ruthless alien carrying out experiments on the survivors of a decimated Earth. The first Doctor Who serial to be shot entirely on location (in Dartmoor) and solely with video cameras, The Sontaran Experiment picks up where the previous serial, The Ark in Space, left off, with Baker's Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter, who also wrote the serial's novelization) visiting a future Earth abandoned by its inhabitants save for a small band of space colonists who are being hunted by an unseen force and its robot servant. The alien – a Sontaran warrior (the race was previously encountered in the Jon Pertwee serial The Time Warrior) – is capturing the colonists and subjecting them to horrifying medical and psychological experiments, and the Doctor and friends soon find themselves among its new test subjects. A short (only two episodes) but gripping and effective story, The Sontaran Experiment has received its share of positive and negative reviews from the fan community, but remains an entertaining entry from the Baker years. The single-disc DVD of The Sontaran Experiment offers surprisingly fewer extras than other recent Doctor Who releases; commentary is provided by Sladen, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, and co-writer Bob Baker, while a featurette, "Built for War," traces the history of the Sontarans via interviews with Sladen, Baker, sixth Doctor Colin Baker, writer Terrance Dicks, and others. A brief photo gallery and the by-now standard production notes subtitle option round out the extras. -- Paul Gaita

Product Description

The Doctor (Tom Baker), Sarah Jane, and Harry return from the space station Nerva to Earth 10,000 years in the future. The desolate landscape that once was the site of Piccadilly Circus has become the testing ground for the human race.

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary:Audio Commentary by actress Elisabeth Sladen, co-writer Bob Baker and producer Philip Hinchcliffe.
Featurette:Built for War A 39-minute history of the Sontaran race
Other:Classic Doctor Who DVDs are restored and loaded with exclusive extras
Photo gallery:Photo gallery (4 mins)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Will Destroy You All....Later January 20, 2007
"The Sontaran Experiment" is a breezy delight, which whips along at breakneck speed and contains some of the most delightfully absurd dialogue the series had seen, I think only "Pyramids of Mars" betters it. Field Marshall Styre wins the dialogue plaudits with his inspired "I will destroy you all later....But first I have more important tasks to perform". How can you not love a villain who refers to the Doctor as a "worm". Dialogue aside the 2 episode format really fits this story, which doesn't suffer from Doctor Who's perennial problem of over padding and repetition. Perhaps most important about this story though is the wonderfully cruel sadistic streak that runs through it. Some of Styre's experiments truly are abominable and I shan't spoil them here for those who haven't seen this story. This dark, horrific side of Doctor Who developed strongly under the production of Phillip Hinchcliffe and showed that Doctor Who was willing to push the boundaries of its time slot. However it must be remembered that "The Sontaran Experiment" does form part of a short story arc exploring the future of the human race that began with "Ark in Space", an awareness of this story will enhance the enjoyment of "The Sontaran Experiment"

The DVD itself may sound like a bit of a rip off, the main feature after all does only run for 50 minutes. But we are compensated by a very good 40 minute documentary entitled "Built for War" and a commentary track, which overall makes it a worthwhile purchase. This is not the deepest and thematically exciting Doctor Who story, but it very entertaining and good fun.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I can't help but get the impression that with "The Sontaran Experiment" the writers and producers are experimenting with the viewers just a bit. By that I don't mean the unusually short length of the storyline (two episodes instead of the standard four or the epic six) or the exclusively outdoors setting (which works well except for making the poor robot stick out like a sore thumb). Their experiment is this, I think: can we make the other factors of the show so very good that viewers will overlook the implausibility of the plot?

The answer in my case is in the affirmative, I'm afraid. I was enthralled by the brisk, tightly-scripted adventure with all of its tension. I was laughing uncontrollably at the Doctor's classic quirkiness masterfully rendered by Tom Baker--"Never throw anything away, Harry" he tells one of his traveling companions as he tosses an object aside. I was impressed with the acting by the cast, who are able to convey a range of extreme emotions without going over the top. I was appalled by the military experiments being performed by the eponymous Sontaran, Field-Major Styre--these are truly chilling, all the more so for being convincingly authentic, as anyone familiar with Nazi war crimes or the terrible stuff the Japanese Imperial Army's Unit 731 did in Northeast China can attest. Styre himself makes for a great villain, his dismissive arrogance almost as enjoyable as the Doctor's quirkiness; by the end of basically a half hour, you love to hate him so much that watching him get his just desserts is thoroughly satisfying. In short, the show's whole crew really had me going the whole time. It was only after the story was over that cool reflection set in and it struck me: why are the Sontarans trying to "invade" an abandoned planet?! The whole premise of the plot is bogus, but I was taken in by the hocus-pocus, so hats off to the folks responsible for this little gem.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the year's least essential releases August 12, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Well, I shouldn't say "least essential". The "Doctor Who" DVD production team made a herculean effort trying to salvage this rather awkward little story. There's not much you can do to give the hard sell to a 45-minute episode from 1975 when releasing it on a standalone DVD. However, the folks at "2 Entertain" gave it their all. The story has been visually restored so that it looks as if it had been videotaped yesterday, and the few special features are meticulous.

Unfortunately, the episode being supported is not deserving of such kind consideration. "The Sontaran Experiment" was the first production from the Phillip Hinchcliffe/Robert Holmes producer/script editor team, which gave us a dozen of "Doctor Who"'s finest hours in the mid 1970s. As an opening act, this is not one of those hours. Featuring the return of the Sontarans, created by then-writer Holmes one season previously, "Experiment" features a villain not nearly as resourceful, clever or memorable as "The Time Warrior". The actor is the same but the writer is not, and that's most of the difference.

Since Sontaran actor Kevin Lindsey was in the final stages of heart failure, his character only appears in the final episode and doesn't get much to do. The rest of the story features the small cast running around a pile of rocks on Dartmoor. The rocks are very pretty. Indeed, the digitially remastered outdoor-broadcast video from 1975 looks fabulous -- this story could have been produced yesterday. Compare that with the feeble non-remastered look of the 1977 baseball World Series, recently released to DVD in the U.S., and you appreciate that this is a terrific restoration job.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sontaran HA!
The Sontarans are one of my favorite aliens in the series. They've brought them in more in the newer Doctor Who, but it's refreshing to see them from their origins.
Published 6 days ago by Siobhan
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctor, 1 Sontaran, 0
It takes a while for the Doctor to find his footing (gotta have some suspense in the story) but he does his usual by making it look easy to stomp a strong enemy, a mighty Sontaran... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jiggy
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweat
This movie was very great but ther was one problem it was really short and it also says some stuff from past episode so watch out
Published 3 months ago by Brian Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the best
My son in law loved this DVD since it starred Tom Baker and gave a really good background on Dr. Who
Published 3 months ago by mrsjmd3
5.0 out of 5 stars Given as a Christmas gift. The Sontaran Experiment
This was a gift for my son who watched this about thirty years ago. We are very pleased with the quality of the dvd and will buy more in the future.
Published 3 months ago by Lois Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Baker is still my Favorite Doctor!
I still love to sit down to watch Tom Baker's Dr Who episodes, and this is one of my favorites. The new Doctors are good, but I will always see Tom Baker as "The Doctor"!
Published 3 months ago by Linda
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Story
Great to see the Sontarns back again for another outing. It's a good story, if like the rest of the Dr. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gaff
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Classic Dr Who. Like the old story lines inspite of the effects. Son likes watching. Now that he is over the effects.
Published 5 months ago by yarro
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good but not too good 2 part Doctor Who story.
It seems Doctor Who has always had trouble telling 2 part stories, be they 2 half hour episodes or 2 hour long episodes. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Patrick Correa
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun, short Dr. Who episode
One of the shorter Dr. Who stories, The Sontaran Experiment was filmed outdoors, and it is nice to have real scenery! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nells250
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