The Hand of Fear
The Doctor : Oh, Sarah. Don’t you forget me.
Story Code: C14.2.
Production Code: 4N.
Story Number: 87.
Countdown week: 17…
This story is, in DW fan lore, regarded as the “worst” of the “best” DW season, though I was pleasantly surprised when actually watching it. Sure the “science” really is startling nonsense (though perhaps reflective of some of the public nuclear guidance of that century) though this is a solid DW story, albeit with an atmosphere of the Pertwee era rather than the tone of the rest of the season.
The “crawling hand” is very much part of the Hinchcliffe era, with the reference to horror movies; Bob Baker and Dave Martin had written 3 Third Doctor stories (and a Fourth) prior to this one, including The Three Doctors, which may explain the feel of the story.
The omens are not good with this story with an incomprehensible start, though we’re back to something comprehensible with the next scene, a “Doctor Who Quarry”, the show metacomments on itself, (after the lush locationwork of the previous story The Masque of Mandragora). Sarah reaches out for the hand, that she believes to be the Doctor’s (a motif that would be expanded upon by Nu-Who from episode 1 onwards.)
The first two episodes end in a similar situation – the plant core has been breached by a ring-possessed character, though things perk up storywise with the next episode. Judith Paris brightens up the screen with her Eldrad, though the episode also features the nonsense of Sarah and others crouching behind a jeep to avoid the effects of nuclear missiles (bizarrely requested by the controller of the nuclear plant). However, this scene also has a very Doctorish speech about, well, speech (and diplomacy.) The Laws of Time get a reference too (refer to The Waters of Mars).
The last episode features a companion reacting with “eeyew” to a “dead planet”, a scene similar to Planet of the Dead. It also features the goodbye to Sarah, the scenes that are the best part of the episode, though as a story this isn’t as great as the exits for Victoria or Jo, Fury from the Deep, The Green Death – still, a good solid DW story nonetheless.