The Hand of Fear

Doctor WhoThe TARDIS arrives in a desolate, rocky landscape – which the Doctor and Sarah realize, only too late, is actually a rock quarry. Sirens go off to signal imminent blasting, and the time travelers fail to get far enough away from the blast. The Doctor and Sarah survive, but Sarah finds something unusual and perhaps even alien: something which appears to be a petrified severed hand. Though she was only slightly injured by the blast at the quarry, Sarah soon begins to exhibit strange and dangerous behavior, even walking into the core of a nuclear reactor. As it turns out, she has been possessed by an entity known as Eldrad, whose quest for revenge upon her native world of Kastria is boundless – and who won’t hesitate to sacrifice the lives of everyone around her to achieve that aim.

Order the DVDDownload this episodewritten by Bob Baker & Dave Martin
directed by Lennie Mayne
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Roy Pattison (Zazzka), Roy Skelton (Rokon), David Purcell (Abbott), Renu Setna (Intern), Rex Robinson (Dr. Carter), Robin Hargreave (Guard), Glyn Houston (Professor Watson), Frances Pidgeon (Miss Jackson), Roy Boyd (Driscoll), John Cannon (Elgin), Judith Paris (Eldrad), Stephen Thorne (Eldrad), Libby Ritchie (Hospital Nurse)

Broadcast from October 2 through 23, 1976

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: So much has been written about cheap sets and cheap location work in Doctor Who, that I have to point this four-parter out as an example of a show which doesn’t need Industrial Light & Magic to pour on a thick atmosphere of doom and gloom. And for once, the rock quarry location was actually posing as a rock quarry, not an alien planet!

The Hand Of FearElisabeth Sladen’s swan song as a series regular gives her quite a bit to do, a fate which has befallen many an outgoing companion, from Adric to Romana to Jo Grant and beyond – their outgoing story tends to be their most involved. And for Ms. Sladen, that means a lot of creepy stuff, like single-handedly (ha!) taking over a nuclear power station and zapping anyone who stands in her way.

Special mention also needs to go to Judith Paris and Stephen Moore, who portrayed the two incarnations of Eldrad. Not a lot of the villain characters during this era of Doctor Who were very well rounded, and Eldrad is a fascinating exception, begging for further examination of the planet Kastria and its silicon-based life forms. The sets representing Kastria aren’t shabby at all, and lend the story a good deal of credibility. Production values for The Hand Of Fear were actually admirable.

Finally, the extended departure scene for Sarah – and the end of what I always considered to be the best Doctor-companion pairing of Tom Baker’s era, until his very brief solo journey with Adric – fits very well, and is played well by Baker and Sladen. The actress later returned for The Five Doctors and, before that, the K-9 & Company spinoff which was intended to launch the first-ever Doctor Who spinoff series.