Number : Season 14, episode 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 parts.

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 and makes her take it to a nearby nuclear reactor, as the radiation 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.

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

Review With Spoilers : The Hand Of Fear marked the departure from the series, of long serving assistant Sarah-Jane Smith; after 3 years – as the Doctor’s companion.

The Doctor was ordered back to Gallifrey, due to events to come – in The Deadly Assassin. Sarah-Jane is not permitted to go with the Doctor; being human. So she was casually dropped off in surburbia – somewhere.

It’s an odd cold ending, for a such a long serving Who-stalwart. Although Baker’s lack of emotion to SJ’S departure does perfectly fit the Fourth Doctor’s character-trait of “olympian detachment” (as coined by producer Philip Hinchcliffe). It does feel like SJ deserved a better send-off than this. Perhaps if Harry had been there to meet her, to inject a bit of humourous compassion.

It seems too cold and bolted onto the end of the story, as an after-thought. As if, it was written at short notice; with little thought as to how these two characters had grown together, since Robot.

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

“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 turns out to be a crystaline silicon based lifeform, a Kastrian; called Eldred. Who appears initially – in the form of a woman but later reconfigures itself into the form of a man.

This is a clever twist on a Who monster for two reasons. One; it’s something we haven’t seen before and changes the dynamic of the story and character positions.

Two; the more placid “female” Eldred – just wants to return to it’s home planet. Leading to Eldred reconfiguring itself – as the more evil and psychotic “male” version of Eldred. Who 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.

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

🔵🔵🔵🔵⚪ (4/5)

Old Doctor Who

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