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The Hand of Fear

Reviewed by Michael Mayo

Nothing could have been more suitable as Sarah Jane Smith's grand finale. This is by far one of the best from the pens of Bob Baker and Dave Martin, outranking the likes of Underworld and The Mutants, although not quite up to the standard of The Three Doctors.

The story opens with the Doctor and Sarah arriving in a quarry and a rock blast goes off which buries Sarah. Under the tonnes of rubble, Miss Smith finds a fossilized hand, the hand of Eldrad. Taken over by Eldrad's influence, she proceeds to seek out a power source, which will allow him to regenerate.

Mast of the story takes place on Earth, at a nuclear power complex. There, the Doctor rescues Sarah, but the hand soon finds another servant. The chief director of the complex, Dr Carter, was fairly close-mind-ed considering he was a scientist. Because of this, he thinks he can destroy Eldrad, when in fact, he regenerates him by calling a missile strike.

Eldrad becomes Sarah' s basic form, so as not to 'alarm' the primitives, and makes himself seem reasonable to the Doctor. At the alien's request the Doctor agrees to return to Eldrad's home, Kastria.

Here the action really gets going, and Eldrad believes his race is still surviving, after 150 million years. As soon as Eldrad's real form is adopted, he shows his true colours. He wants to overthrow the king of his race, and lead his people to conquer the Galaxy.

But the Kastrians so longer exist. When Eldrad finds that they are forever destroyed he goes mad. Now he wants to rule the Earth, as their 'god'. Of course the good Doctor sees that Eldrad does not succeed in this by causing the single surviving Kastrian to plummet down a huge abyss. The Time Lord then jokes about the alien: "The gravity of the law finally caught up with him!" A bit heartless considering Eldrad never actually threatened or harmed the Doctor and Sarah, and was grateful to the Time Lord.

The sets and props ware excellent except for the chairs in the complex control room, they were one-piece non-swivel plastic ones. The shot of the Kastrian dome was one of the best model scenes I have ever watched, with the icy wind rushing all around it and over the dusty planet surface. Beneath the dome, in Part 4, the glowing caves didn't look real, and the abyss of Eldrad's fate looked as if it was filled with water about one metre down.

Eldrad' s female form was well acted, and a good costume, but the real Eldrad and King Rokon were let down by the silly six-sided pyramids on their heads.

The story ended with Sarah moaning about wanting to go home, and the Doctor receiving a summons from Gallifrey. Sarah was a little reluctant when she found she really was going home, but as with every other Doctor and companion alike, her time had come.

The Hand of Fear is a worthy tribute to both a great actress and a wonderful era of Doctor Who.

This item appeared in TSV 2 (September 1987).

Index nodes: The Hand of Fear