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Doctor Who - The Hand of Fear

episode 87

UK 1976
produced by
Philip Hinchcliffe for BBC
directed by Lennie Mayne
starring Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Judith Paris, Rex Robinson, Glyn Houston, Stephen Thorne, Roy Skelton
written by Bob Baker, Dave Martin, script editor: Robert Holmes, music by Dudley Simpson

tv-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), Sarah Jane Smith

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In his time (& pace) machine the TARDIS, Doctor Who (Tom Baker) takes his companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) back to present day England ... right into the middle of a quarry that's about to be blown up ...

Somehow, both of them survive the explosion unscathed, but Sarah Jane is in shock afterwards - and she has found a stone hand, which is first thought to be a fossile but later found out to be part of a crystalline life form (!). And what's more, when the hand is x-rayed, the radiation brings it back to life, and soon enough, it calls for Sarah (obviously the hand is telepathic) to take it to the nearest nuclear power station for more energy.

The power station is soon on the verge of becoming a desaster area when the hand has itself transported (though no longer by Sarah Jane) right into the highly radioactive center of the reactor, and Professor Watson (Glyn Houston), head of the power station, decides to have it A-bombed in fear of a terrorist attack ... but somehow, the hand absorbs the nuclear missiles as well as the power from the center of the reactor - and comes out a full-grown crystalline being, Eldrad (Judith Paris), who has been betrayed and condemned from her planet some 150 million years ago, and now, out of fear and distrust, acts hostile towards everyone and everything - but somehow the Doctor can convince her to come with him and Sarah back to Eldrad's home planet - but not 150 million years ago but in the now.

Eldrad's planet is booby-trapped to the hilt, as if someone would want to keep her from coming, made all the worse by the fact that she is slowly dying, but somehow the Doctor manages to carry her through all the death traps on the way to the recreation chamber, where Eldrad is finally restored to her (or rather his, she turns out to be male now) actual form, that of a borderline mad galactic conquerer (played by Stephen Thorne). And this was the fact why he was exiled from the planet in the first place by its benevolent ruler King Rokon (Roy Skelton), why the whole planet was boobytrapped and why the whole database Eldrad would need to recreate his race was erased. Eldrad, by now the last of his race by a few million years, is the new king of his planet, a king over nothing.

Enraged, Eldrad wants to force the Doctor to take him back to earth, where he can turn humankind into his new army ... which is what the Doctor cannot allow, and thus he has him trip into a bottomless abyss ...

In an unrelated story, the Doctor receives a call from his home planet Gallifrey, and since he can't take Sarah Jane to his planet with him, he takes her back to earth and bids her adieu - at which point Sarah Jane leaves the series for good ... safe for a few guest appearances.

 

Somehow, this episode seriously lacks direction. In the course of events it seems to want to tell four different stories: That of an energy sucking being threatening the nuclear power stations of earth, that of a frightened alien marooned on earth, that of a mad conquererhaving been duped by all those who opposed him, and that of Sarah Jane leaving the series ... and somehow, the four stories just don't work too well together, since none of them is allowed to develop its full potential, and with each new story, the previous just seems to be dying. A pity, could have been better with a more stringent screenplay.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD