Friday, 27 January 2023

What's Wrong With: The Sontaran Experiment

I always feel a bit cheated these days when watching The Ark in Space, knowing the events of this following two-part story. We have been led to believe that the people on the Ark are the last surviving members of the human race - so the stakes have never been higher as the Doctor battles to protect them from the Wirrn.
In this story, however, we discover that the Ark contains just one group of survivors - a particularly stuck-up, elitist bunch - and there are loads of other humans all over the Galaxy, getting on perfectly well without them. One is reminded of the Golgafrincham 'B' Ark from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - and maybe this is where Adams got the idea from.

We pointed out last time that the Ark is plainly seen to be in close Earth orbit - yet the Galsec astronauts fail to spot it when they come in search of their missing spaceship.
What was the missing ship doing in this part of space anyway? It is stated that Earth and its neighbourhood have long been abandoned. The ship containing the astronauts we see here shouldn't have been anywhere close by either, to have responded to the distress call.
Was there ever a missing ship? We are only told that the astronauts responded to a distress call - but this could have been faked by Styre.

Sarah sees Styre and mistakes him for Linx - yet he looks quite different to the Sontaran she met in Medieval times. The skin is paler, the features cruder, and he has extra fingers. Even the uniform is different with a darker helmet.
You meet a human who clearly knows your species - but met them thousands of years ago. Wouldn't someone on a fact-finding mission want to investigate this further?
And if Sontarans have been coming into contact with human beings since Medieval times, wouldn't they already know all the things which Styre is testing for here?
Simple common sense should tell the Sontaran High Command what happens to people if you starve or drown or crush them.

The big one. Why is Styre conducting experiments on humans on a planet on which there are no humans, haven't been any humans for a very long time, and might not see any humans for a very long time to come (he can't know about the Ark either)?
Is Sontaran High Command so hidebound by rules that an entire galactic invasion would be put on hold until a few unnecessary tests have been completed - then abandoned purely on hearsay from an alien?
Might not the Sontarans send a fleet to investigate and confirm the Doctor's claims - arriving just as all those people come down from the Ark?

All Sontarans are supposed to look the same - so why does Styre need a communications device with a TV monitor attached?

We all know that Tom Baker slipped and broke his collar bone during the filming of this story - and unfortunately it shows. We can easily spot Terry Walsh doing all the action stuff - he moves differently to Baker and the wig isn't right. All the shots of Baker are in close-up, with his coat and scarf tight around the neck to hide the sling he's wearing.

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