You never know which Doctor Who stories will get the trimmed-down supercut treatment. This week's edition is the wonderful Elizabeth Sladen's swansong from the old show, "The Hand of Fear". This is the one where The Doctor and Sarah Jane spend the first half of the story running around a nuclear plant. They actually got to shoot in and around an actual nuclear plant, in the safe parts, naturally.
Doctor Who "The Hand of Fear": Well, Here We Go Again!
Sarah Jane gets mind-controlled again. Has that happened more to any other companion? It used to feel like she got hypnotized or mind-controlled every other story. It's actually kind of funny that she carries the cursed alien hand in a Tupperware container into a radiation chamber. Sladen still infuses her performance with tongue-in-cheek mischief to off-set the Hammer Horror seriousness.
There are some fun Science Fiction ideas here: Eldrad is an alien that regenerates her body through radiation. Then the character is played by a male actor after The Doctor and Sarah Jane take it back to its home planet of Krassnia. The writers could have done something with Eldrad switching genders depending on how much radiation they absorb to rebuild their body, but the idea was just left sitting on the table because television writing in the 1970s was plot-based and not very deep with emotions or theme. This is why fans often latch onto unfulfilled ideas in Doctor Who – the old series was full of them! They get revisited in more depth in Big Finish audios over 20 years later.
Goodbye, Sarah Jane… for Now
The story features one of Sladen's funniest and cheekiest performances. It was her last story, so she seemed lighter on her feet than usual like she was making the most out of it. The story went through a bunch of changes where big things that were planned didn't happen. It was originally a UNIT story and the Brigadier was going to sacrifice himself and die in the story, but Nicholas Courtney wasn't available, so they never got around to killing him off! Plot-based 1970s writing meant writers just killed off characters willy-nilly in genre shows. And you get generic 1970s suspense music! Old School video chromakey effects! By today's standards, it's charmingly kitsch.
Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen reputedly rewrote their farewell scene together into the slightly odd, subtle, low-key melancholy parting. I always wondered if Baker and Sladen were in love, considering Baker developed a reputation for being difficult after she left the show. She came back in a failed K-9 pilot in 1981 before finally coming back in Russell T. Davies' run and, at last, The Sarah Jane Adventures.
This supercut is a promotion for the remastered Blu-Ray and DVD boxset for Doctor Who Season 14. You can order the UK or US edition on Amazon.