Number : Season 14, serial 2 of 6.

Which One : Sarah-Jane is possessed, by an alien stone hand.

Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Sarah-Jane : Liz Sladen
Eldrad : Judith Paris/Stephen Thorne
Zazzka : Roy Pattison
King Rokon : Roy Skelton
Dr Carter : Rex Robinson
Professor Watson : Glyn Houston
Miss Jackson : Frances Pidgeon
Elgin : John Cannon
Driscoll : Roy Boyd
Abbott : David Purcell
Intern : Renu Setna
Guard : Robin Hargrave

Written By : Bob Barker & Dave Martin

Produced By : Philip Hinchcliffe

First UK Broadcast : 2 – 23 October 1976.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : The Doctor lands the Tardis in a quarry, right in the middle of a rock blast. Sarah-Jane discovers a mysterious stone alien-hand; which possesses her. The hand makes Sarah-Jane travel to a nearby nuclear reactor, as the radiation there;  will rebuild the hand’s owner.

Whats good : The hand in the quarry. A story set around Sarah-Jane. The idea of a monster, which changes gender – and character motivations.

Whats bad : Sarah-Jane’s actual departure seems a bit of an after-thought tagged onto this and she deserved a better send off by the Fourth Doctor.

Anyway, before we get to Sarah-Jane’s departure, we have to get round the matter of an alien stone-hand in a quarry; which wants to be transported to a nearby nuclear reactor. So that the radiation can rebuild it’s body.

“Er, someone held out a hand to me. I thought it was you. And when I touched it, it was cold. It was cold. I thought you’d been crushed too, and must have passed out. What was it?” Sarah-Jane

The owner of the hand, turns out to be a crystal silicon-based lifeform – a Kastrian; called Eldred. Eldred appears initially – in the form of a female but later reconfigures itself into the form of a man.

This is a clever twist – on a Doctor Who monster for two reasons. One; it’s something we haven’t seen before (gender-changing alien) and changes the dynamic of the story.  Two; the more placid and protagonist “female” Eldred – who just wants to return home to it’s planet. Leading to Eldred reconfiguring itself, as the more evil and psychotic – “male” version of Eldred. This Eldred destroyed it’s own race and wants to start a new tyrannical empire. It’s a unique hook in this story and helps make proceedings memorable and punchy.

Coupled, with the last appearance of Sarah-Jane. The Hand Of Fear ticks all of the boxes; as a solidly memorable concept episode of Who.

????⚪ (4/5)

Old Doctor Who

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