Eruditorum Press

A magical ritual to pay my rent

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

12 Comments

  1. elvwood
    October 5, 2011 @ 1:40 am

    Well, now you've now made a connection in my mind between Pip 'n' Jane Baker and Malcolm Hulke, which isn't something I ever expected. But no mention of John Lucarotti?

    Nowadays I think of this story mostly as the last time Sontarans looked good in the classic series. It acts as a kind of entremet between the two heftier dishes either side, improving the balance of the season as a whole despite being very slight. For me it therefore works better in context than it does on its own (or as part of a Sontaran marathon by purchasers of the Bred for War boxset, which was how I first saw it as an adult).

    Reply

  2. Seeing_I
    October 5, 2011 @ 5:24 am

    This was the first Doctor Who I ever saw. It was 1984 or 85, I was flipping at random through channels (trying to avoid homework) and found some British girl being captured by a robot, which was then shadowed by some crazy looking guy in a giant scarf, and when the alien revealed itself there was a crash into the coolest music I'd ever heard.

    Two nights later, Davros & the Daleks trundled across the screen before my wondering eyes, and I was lost forever. 😀

    Reply

  3. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    October 5, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=1f-kfRREA8M#t=132s

    There's a Monty Python sketch that uses Interior Video and Exterior film as the whole of the joke. Pity the quality of the Youtube video isn't better, alas.

    Reply

  4. inkdestroyedmybrush
    October 5, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    as far as two parters go, this is far better than Black Orchid, and, I always thought, a great "little" adventure. it allowed us to take a breath between the involving space opera of Ark and the serious drama of Genesis. while the pacing isn't perfect, i really wish that they'd done more of this to open things up in the schedules over the next two years.

    not that we aren't heading into, in my opinion, the high water mark of Who over the next two seasons.

    Reply

  5. JJ
    October 5, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

    I think Black Orchid gives the same sort of breath in the season as Sontarran Experiment — a relaxed break after the intellectual Kinda and straightforward Visitation and a good rest before the violence and intensity of Earthshock.

    But both Sontarran Experiment and Black Orchid have the same basic flaws. To be honest, I don't think they're much different in quality. Sontarran Experiment is really only better because Sarah and Harry are such wonderful companions, and Davison's crew is… less successful on the whole.

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  6. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    October 5, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    Black Orchid? You're sure you don't mean the Blackhawk Kid?

    (Apologies to Neil Gaiman.)

    Reply

  7. William Whyte
    October 6, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    There are a couple of interesting things about The Sontaran Experiment.

    First, it is clearly the first Doctor Who story to follow the model of the slasher movie: a single, sadistic, superhuman baddie, punishing for no obvious reason a gang of people who've strayed onto his territory. Although it wasn't the first slasher movie of all (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slasher_film obviously) it comes very early in slasher history, predating Black Christmas and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, both of which it's very similar to.

    Second, (quoting myself from diggerdydum on Livejournal) I also love the fact that Styre's experiments are stupid. Would the Sontarans in war really adopt the tactics of depriving their enemies of water for a month rather than say shooting them? Clearly, what's going on is that Styre is a psycho, is known by the Sontarans to be a psycho, and so has been sent to a planet of no strategic value to twiddle his thumbs while something important goes on somewhere else. (He wasn't just killed because he was well-connected — all clones, of course, have family in high places). The reason why the Doctor is able to get the invasion called off so quickly is because it was never planned in the first place. YOU SEE IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

    Although Wood and Miles say the Sontaran Experiment is the story that took the Sontarans from villains to monsters, I think Styre is a unique creation, taking the slight lasciviousness of Linx and elevating him fully into a creepy sex gnome. It's the pinnacle of the Sontarans as slightly interesting, compellingly gross aliens, in a way that was thrown away by their subsequent classic series appearances and abandoned in their new series transformation from Rumpelstiltskin to rugger bugger. (Having said that, Strax in A Good Man Goes to War is a step back in the right direction of finding things you can do with the Sontarans that you can't do with the Cybermen or Daleks — an unhealthy fascination with the mechanics of being organic is key to making them interesting).

    Reply

  8. Jesse
    October 7, 2011 @ 3:59 am

    it comes very early in slasher history, predating Black Christmas and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre

    Black Christmas and Texas Chainsaw Massacre both came out in 1974. The Sontaran Experiment came out in 1975.

    Reply

  9. William Whyte
    October 7, 2011 @ 9:00 am

    But was written before the authors could have seen either of them.

    Reply

  10. headfirstonly
    October 14, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

    I've been reading your essays for a while now, and really enjoying them – keep at it!

    The Sontaran Experiment was one of my favourite stories from the Baker era, but if memory serves correctly the reason that it ended up as a distinctly non-typical two-parter was because Tom Baker tripped over his scarf during location filming and broke his collarbone…

    Reply

  11. Henry R. Kujawa
    March 31, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    William Whyte:
    "Clearly, what's going on is that Styre is a psycho, is known by the Sontarans to be a psycho, and so has been sent to a planet of no strategic value to twiddle his thumbs while something important goes on somewhere else. (He wasn't just killed because he was well-connected — all clones, of course, have family in high places). The reason why the Doctor is able to get the invasion called off so quickly is because it was never planned in the first place. YOU SEE IT ALL MAKES SENSE."

    I love it!!

    Philip Sandifer:
    "since it was filmed before The Ark in Space"

    Really? Hmm. It's funny… Philly's Channel 12 ran "ROBOT", then "THE SONTORAN EXPERIMENT", then "REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN"… could it be they somehow got ahold of the productions chedule instead of the broadcast schedule? This WAS the 2nd Tom Baker story I ever saw. (But no, that woudln't explain "TALONS" airing before "HAND OF FEAR".)

    So… ALL that technical obsession, and virtually no mention of the story. I'll pick up the slack. Sarah's spends less time non-stop complaining this time. Harry is CLEARLY an asset– and despite what The Doctor says, it wasn't his fault he fell down that pit. (Note The Doctor falls and he KNEW it was there!) Terry Walsh keeps turning up on-camera, have you noticed?

    And when The Doctor challenges Styre to single combat, it's Baker's first REALLY GREAT moment on the series!!! "Do you think these miserable specimens could have conquered half a galaxy?" NICE GUY!!!

    Reply

  12. Adalbert
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:09 am

    Miles and Wood make a stab at selling this as really being about debates over winter heating allowances, but it's stretched, and I say that as … holmesinfraredheater.blogspot.com

    Reply

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