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Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear (Story 87) (1975)

1 rating: 5.0
Television movie directed by Lennie Mayne

Doctor Whofans must take the bittersweet with the suspenseful in this four-part story arc from 1976, which pits the Doctor (Tom Baker) and companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) against the fossilized hand of an alien criminal which possesses … see full wiki

Tags: Movie
Director: Lennie Mayne
1 review about Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear (Story 87)...

Sladen's Swan Song....Sort Of

  • Apr 30, 2008
Despite being a solid serial, "The Hand of Fear" is probably best remembered for being Elisabeth Sladen's exit from "Doctor Who." The story begins with the early obliteration of a criminal and then hurls the viewer into a modern day quarry where we find the Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane (Sladen) in the middle of a blast at the quarry. Once they are rescued, a hand that Sarah Jane has discovered overtakes her and leads her to a nearby nuclear plant in order to, as the Doctor later explains, regenerate itself. After a failed attempt with the Doctor's companion, the hand takes successfully takes control of a plant employee and takes on a female form of the being known as Eldrad. The being, played by Judith Paris in a costume that resembles Rebecca Romjin's Mystique from the "X-men" films, has plans to return to its home planet of Kastria in order to reclaim its rightful power. The Doctor agrees to help Eldrad return home, but what is Eldrad really up to?

The cast is very solid. Paris works wonders as the female form of Eldrad. She captivates the audience in each scene. Glyn Houston portrays Watson, who heads up the nuclear plant and he does a fine job. Rex Robinson portrays Dr. Carter, an unfortunate acquaintance of Sarah Jane while she's under the control of Eldrad's hand. Tom Baker, arguably the most popular Doctor, is in top form, trading quips with Elisabeth Sladen and bumbling his way through all of the chaotic events that are going on. Sladen does very well also.

When the story is resolved, Sladen makes a somewhat anti-climactic exit. It works even though it lacks much of the chemistry that she and Baker possessed. She would return in later serials as a guest star including reprising her role in the new series alongside David Tennant as Doctor #10, as well as appear in "K9 & Company" and a brand new series aptly titled "The Sarah Jane Adventures." Few companions throughout Who history grabbed the attention and the hearts as Sarah Jane did. In fact, I'd say that only Rose from the revived series comes close.

The DVD is excellent. It comes with all of the regulars established by the Doctor Who DVD releases from the BBC, as well as an engaging "Changing Time" documentary about the serial and the development of Sarah Jane and Doctor #4. Perhaps the best feature that I found was the "Swap Shop" segment wherein we get to see Sladen and Baker interact with youngsters via telephone. It proves just how much of the fourth Doctor really is Tom Baker in real life.

An excellent serial, a decent send-off for Sarah Jane and some very good special features make this a good investment for any Who fan. I highly recommend it.

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