The First Sontarans

Posted in Audio by - July 23, 2017
The First Sontarans

Released July 2012

Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor is undoubtedly the classic series incarnation who has benefitted most from Big Finish’s endeavours, creating a much more amiable and less brusque version than often showed up on screen. However, for exactly that reason, The Lost Stories range has rightfully focused more heavily on the Sixth Doctor than any other, offering a fascinating insight into what could have been and allowing direct comparison between the character that once was and now is. As the Doctor and Peri travel to 1872 England to trace the source of strange transmissions, they quickly find that alien beings have already arrived as battle lines are being drawn and the mystery of the Sontarans’ creation comes into focus.

Despite the title of ‘The First Sontarans’ clearly indicating that the Sontarans will feature, writer and adapter Andrew Smith of ‘Full Circle’ fame follows in the grand tradition of classic Doctor Who tales by withholding their revelation until the first cliffhanger. This allows the more intimate setting of the English village to breathe and develop naturally once the Doctor and Peri trace the origin of the signals found on the Moon. In so doing, Smith sets the precedent for a story that continues to increase in tension and scope as it progresses, expertly introducing and weaving together several plot threads that culminate in a fulfilling finale. Not content with simply being the first story to feature both the Sontarans and the Rutans together, a fact that in and of itself is a rather shocking prospect given the eternal battle between the two species, Smith also reveals the truth behind the origins of the dreaded clone race. Although the impact may have been more satisfyingly profound and unexpected had the story come with any other title, the Kaveetch and their long history with the planet of Sontar proves to be another understated highlight of this release that avoids the clichés and tropes of many origin tales.

The title ‘The First Sontarans’ naturally carries many expectations with it, and while it does truly discuss and delve into the past of the first denizens of Sontar, the Sontarans themselves receive little expanded characterization beyond what would normally feature in a Sontaran story. The usual honour and glory in their continuing battles is, of course, apparent, but this origin story of sorts seems like the perfect opportunity to better flesh out what can often be seen as a rather static- though thoroughly enjoyable- foe. Still, the described importance of the clone vats to the Sontarans is a surprisingly poignant moment and adds a degree of emotion to the race that is rarely seen. Fortunately, the Kaveetch past and the harrowing tale of Roath’s life is strong enough to counter any potential lack of depth elsewhere.

At this point in The Lost Stories it goes without saying that both Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are on top form as they anchor a strong production that also writes Peri in a more proactive role. Still, it is quite satisfying to realize that the Doctor is not always the impetus for the actions around him, and it’s quite apparent that events would have ultimately played out the same with or without his involvement. For such a long battle that has spanned across the history of Sontar, this makes perfect sense, and using the Doctor and Peri as a means of revealing the plot rather than necessarily driving events forward works to great effect. Indeed, with excellent pacing that ratchets up the tension throughout and superb sound design that incorporates the classic era seamlessly, ‘The First Sontarans’ brings to life another story that in retrospect seems like an obvious one to have been brought to production, even if ‘The Two Doctors’ was ultimately the story it lost out to originally.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.