Review: The King of Sontar (Doctor Who) / Author: John Dorney / Publisher: Big Finish / Starring: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Dan Starkey, David Collings / Release Date: Out Now
The King of Sontar is the first in what will be eight single disc (i.e. two-part story) releases for the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson). This story also features Dan Starkey (Strax the Sontaran on the current TV shows) as Strang the King of the title and David Collings as Rosato, a scientist.
The Doctor and Leela are manipulated by the Time Lords into visiting the obscure Dowcra base where a team of elite Sontaran assassins has just failed in its attempt to kill Strang, who is one of the most unusual Sontarans to ever leave the cloning vats. Strang is bigger, brighter and more ruthless than other Sontarans and intends to use a secret portal being developed by the naïve Rosato to conquer the galaxy. All well and good ,but of course the Doctor and Leela throw several spanners in the works and Leela in particular takes matters into her own hands, much to the Doctor’s disappointment.
In a change from his TV character, Dan Starkey gets to play a Sontaran’s Sontaran who is far removed from the likeable Strax. The plot, although somewhat formulaic in setting, works well by splitting the Doctor and Leela up to play to their strengths. The Doctor is always appealing to people's better nature and making them see the error of their ways; Leela for her part befriends a Sontaran and gains respect for her warrior nature in a way that builds through the story, showing that in attitude she is still far more of the savage than the Doctor would like. There is plenty of action, fighting, shooting and ambushing. The ending helps to bring the relationship between the Doctor and Leela into focus and establishes what may well be a minor theme to the series.
All the cast are on tip-top form and Tom Baker in particular has really found his groove now on these Big Finish recordings, while Nick Briggs’s direction moves the story along at a good pace. A solid start to the new series.