Browse the WBW Podcast
Browse the WBW Podcast
Browse Classic Who reviews
Browse Classic Who reviews

Thing T. Thing sports mind-bending bling, leading to the dramatic exit of companion Sarah Jane Smith

A spaceship on a string flies into view as we learn of the impending obliteration of silicon-based despot, Eldrad. Cut to 150 million years later on the other side of the universe. The time is nowish. The place is a quarry in England. But this time, it actually is a quarry, and The Fourth Doctor and companion Sarah Jane Smith have just materialised in the TARDIS as a pile of rock is about to be exploded on top of them.

The detonation somehow unearthed a disembodied hand, don’t you know, and it turns out to have once belonged to that Eldrad fellow. It’s missing a finger but sporting some powerful, mind-bending bling, and now takes over Sarah Jane, compelling her to feed it nuclear power in order to regenerate the megalomaniac from the wrist up.

Here's what we think of C087 The Hand of Fear

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what we think of C087 The Hand of Fear

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what you think 6 Responses to “C087 The Hand of Fear”
  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    ‘The Hand of Fear’ made the most of its Earthly locations. An explosion that buried Sarah Jane in a quarry unearthed Kastrian criminal Eldrad’s crystallized hand . At a hospital where it and she were examined, the Doctor determined radiation would regenerate the hand. A ring the Kastrians inexplicably left Eldrad enabled Sarah Jane to invade a nuclear power plant after he possessed her.

    Eldrad said he must live too frequently before a potential nuclear disaster and an ill advised missile strike completely regenerated him, modeling his body from Sarah Jane’s.

    To keep the Earth safe, the Doctor agreed to take Eldrad to present day Kastria. There, it’s tragically apparent the infinitesimal chance Eldrad’s punishment failed haunted his planet. Ironically and nonsensically, Kastrian leaders committed their race to suicide, to leave nothing for Eldrad if he returned.

    This drama was overshadowed by Sarah Jane’s departure, which enabled the Doctor to return to Gallifrey alone.

  2. Peter Zunitch

    This is the one that takes place in a quarry that’s actually supposed to be a quarry. There’s lots of boomie-screamies, and a hand job that ends well for nobody. It’s another take on a classic horror story, and while we say, “Here we go”, Sarah Jane can’t come with us.

    While interesting throughout, it starts off slow and really doesn’t gain any speed until episode 4. I think the script miffed it by spending too much time on Eldrad’s regeneration and not enough time on getting to know this obviously multi-faceted character. It’s also a Sarah-centric story where Sarah is often not Sarah. It’s a waste of such an iconic character’s last performance.

    The idea of switching Eldrad between female and male was a refreshing concept and bold move, however its personality changed as well to the point of them being two separate characters rather than different facets of the same. It comes off as a continuity error.

    Overall, it’s fine, I like it, but It’s a bit of a missed opportunity. I think I’d suggest a plot shift and more Dr/Sarah interplay throughout. Sara Jane’s glance backwards haunts my thoughts to this day. Like many I’ll miss her dearly, but it only makes it that much more amazing when she returns with David Tennant. I look forward to her return, far, far, far in both Who future and reality future, when for reasons both real and fictional, we will both cherish and miss her all over again. 2.6

  3. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    Okay, this serial was good enough for a companion exit. Let’s talk about that.

    We actually start the story in a quarry, a proper quarry instead of Skaro or Exxilon or some other quarry like planet. Then we suddenly see Sarah and the Doctor buried under rubble after a blast to the clifface nearby. Then we get that hand. That creepy hand. The Hand of Eldrad.

    Eldrad was very interesting. He could soak up radiation like a sponge to help him regenerate. Of course we can’t talk about the human version of Eldrad without mentioning the costume work. The outfit they made looked like it really was crystallized and it was incredibly detailed. But that lumbering thing Eldrad turned out to be was your usual Doctor Who monster. Not very original there.

    I have no idea how they achieved the effect for the hand. In some scenes it looks like crap but for the most part it looks pretty good. Great, even. So, bonus points there.

    Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen were wonderful as a duo. Probably the best pairing of Doctor and companion to date. They meshed so well and it was so sad to see Sarah Jane go. She was wonderful.

    Overall, what do I think? Well, I liked it. It was interesting and kept my attention throughout. But it only gets better from here. Farewell, Sarah Jane. We’ll never forget you. 3.7/5

    Oh, I almost forgot to say Eldrad must live! ELDRAD MUST LIVE!

  4. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Mini Mini Reactions:

    – Hmmm. What to use to contain a radioactive, malevolent mind-controlling living hand? That’s right, Tupperware.

    – Best line: “Just like Andy Pandy”.

    – Bravo to the location Scouts: the nuclear power-station shots look fantastic. But why the heck did the owners agree to this? This story doesn’t shed nuclear energy in a good light.

    – Missile attack on a nuclear power station. Is that a good idea, really? “Open your mouth and hold your nose” when you are barely a mile from impact isn’t going to cut it.

    – Best moment: realisation that Eldrad is a total git.

    – Holy shit, the Kastrians all committed suicide! This is uber dark.

    – Goodbye, Sarah. We love you (sniff). Second saddest companion ending. The first being the Seventh Doctor’s heartfelt speech to departing Mel in Dragonfire.

    – Trivia – this is the episode the BBC repeated in honour of the wonderful Elisabeth Sladen. There is a lovely Guardian article on the final scene here:

    Summary: what an unexpected gem.

    Rating: 4.5/5 chants of Enron must live, no, I mean Elrond must live, no, I mean L.Ron Hubbard must live, no, Eldrad must live!

  5. Paul Waring | @pwaring

    Goodbye Sarah Jane, the best companion in Classic Who, though Jamie comes a close second. Fortunately she gets a believable send-off, albeit rushed, as opposed to marrying a bloke she met the previous day (I’m looking at you, Jo Grant).

    Apart from Sarah’s departure, there’s lots to like about this story. A silicon-based life-form is interesting and unique to date, although we’ll meet others later. Eldrad is a powerful and cunning villain, fooling the Doctor and Sarah until near the end. There’s also a moving moment when the Director elects to stay behind and make what he thinks is his final phone call to his wife and children.

    The nuclear power plant however seems to have taken its security policy from UNIT HQ, with anyone able to walk in off the street and knock down a single guard. It’s also a bit harsh of the Doctor to leave the Director to explain everything, when he could have at least given him Bagel’s phone number so it could be hushed up. The poor man is probably going to lose his job over this!

    Overall, it’s sad to see Sarah go, and that she misses out on a trip to Gallifrey, but she had a cracking run. I wouldn’t rate any of her stories less than 3.5/5, and this is no exception. 4/5

  6. James Paul

    A shame in billions of ways that the UNIT team could not be around in this story as it is set on present day Earth, and if this story had had the UNIT team ie Lethbridge-Stewart, Benton and Harry dealing with the villain which was a silicon based lifeform a Kastrian called Eldrad it would have been more fun in my opinion .

Leave a Reply

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

If you haven't already... Subscribe now!

Subscribe to us on iTunes now! We're dropping a new episode every week (pretty much), reviewing Classic Who, New Who and all kinds of bonus stuff from spin-offs and conventions to Doctor Who comic books.

We last reviewed...

N183 73 Yards