"In Sarah Jane Smith's last adventure with the Doctor, she goes through a bit in the first two episodes. One, she is buried under a pile of rubble, when she and the Doctor accidentally stray near a quarry that is been dynamited. Two, she is possessed by a strange fossilized hand that is uncovered during said blasting that leads her to say "Eldrad must live." Three, she has lots of fun going around firing a blue light from a ring at anyone who tells her to stop. And four, are you ready for this... she locks herself and the hand in the outer chamber of the radioactive core at the Nunton Power Complex. I've heard of A Boy And His Dog, but A Girl And Her Hand? Hmm... But as Liz Sladen (Sarah) was with the series for three seasons, script-editor Robert Holmes thus made that part of the story central to Sarah.The Doctor hypothesizes that the hand, originating from a silicon-based lifeform, is alive and is using radiation to regenerate itself. That does explain why Sarah comes out of the radiation chamber alive and well despite being exposed to enough radiation to kill a school of whales. But who or what is Eldrad?There is a scene when the director of Nunton, Professor Watson, phones his wife and tells her in a calm voice that he may be delayed. He lies that there is nothing wrong and to kiss the children for him. This is when it looks like the facility might undergo meltdown. At the end of the call, his expression is one having resigned to the fact that he might well die before the day is over. This is Glyn Houston's best part in his role as Watson.The crystalline costume for Eldrad is quite a beaut, which is clearly a blue-gray body suit with crystals and metal pieces attached to resemble a clump of jewels at various points. Judith Paris's portrayal of Eldrad retains the alien nature of this being, down to the voice. As Eldrad has been an alien exiled from Kastria and sentenced to obliteration, something that didn't succeed, the obsession of paranoia, in not trusting people, is well-acted. And the sight of a hand moving by itself isn't something one sees everyday. As Sarah says, "Careful, that's not as 'armless as it looks." Harmless, armless,... right.The one thing that may throw fans is the farewell between the Doctor and one of his longest traveling companions. In contrast to the Third Doctor being shattered when Jo leaves him, here, the Fourth Doctor's not too emotional goodbye is a bit questionable. Then again, Tom Baker and Liz Sladen reworked that part of the dialogue themselves, so who knows?The scenes in the nuclear plant, mainly episodes 2 and 3, are the bright points of The Hand Of Fear, as it's fast-moving and tense. Indeed, location filming was done at the Oldbury Nuclear Power Station in Avon, where the people there were enthusiastic in helping out the production team. Things slow down in the last episode, but it's an all right story."
Goodbye Sarah Jane.
Kevin J. Loria | New Orleans, LA USA | 07/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the 10th Doctor's reunion with companion Sarah Jane Smith and K-9 in 2006's "SCHOOL REUNION" Releasing Sarah's final adventure with the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) as 1976's Hand of Fear ends with a touching and surprisingly warm departure as the Doctor and Sarah part company. It's no accident that the new series sought out her return, SJS, the plucky journalist portrayed by Elisabeth Sladen is one of the best-loved companions, leastwise before ROSE TYLER's appearance. First appearing as a women's libber in the 3rd Doctor's Time Warrior, in which she mistakes him for a malevolent traitor. SJS was introduced as a strong character that wasn't going to need the Doctor's rescuing, much like Rose, although invariably evolving into a character that needed the Doctor's rescuing anyway. Sarah's met the first 5 Doctor's in "The 5 Doctors," she's had a X-mas special with K-9 ( a Christmas present from the Doctor, K-9 & Company) and word is that a children's spin-off is now in the works for the pair.
After the Doctor and Sarah Jane mistakenly land in a present-day (70's) quarry (an amusing location considering all the quarry filled alien worlds presented over the years) and the pair are caught up in an explosion. Sarah is rushed to hospital, clutching a stone hand . But when the hand possesses Sarah's mind, a chain reaction begins, resulting in a confrontation on the frozen planet of Kastria.
This story arc is typical of Tom Baker's Doctor, the affection that the Doctor and Sarah have for one another really bring together the episode. Both over the top portrayals of the power-hungry and paranoid Eldrad are very memorable as are the mind-zapped catch-phrase "Eldrad must live!"
FOR more SARAH JANE SMITH action checkout BIG FINISH AUDIO's radio-style further adventures of Sarah Jane Smith, check the UK Amazon. "
Eldrad Must Live!
Peter Vinton Jr. | Not near Washington, DC | 05/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bob Baker and Dave Martin seemed to have a knack for embedding catchphrases into the minds of their viewers: these are the same guys that gave us "Contact Has Been Made" (The Invisible Enemy), and "The Quest is The Quest" (Underworld). Here the catchphrase is the simple imperative: "Eldrad Must Live." By the end of chapter two, this mantra has been repeated at least once by every principal cast member, building up to the moment when we finally get a look at this Eldrad character -and SHE is not at all what we expected!The episode kicks off by making fun of the series itself: the TARDIS materializes in what looks like yet another rock quarry --Sarah immediately concludes that they have once again gone astray and landed on some remote alien planet. The joke is, of course, that they have in fact arrived in present-day England...in an actual rock quarry!The first half of the story plays out in the present day, with the Doctor interacting with ordinary everyday characters in a hospital, a pathology lab, and a nuclear reactor complex --certainly no clue is given as to the long-ago and far-distant goings-on of the planet Kastria and the fate of its people. Eldrad goes from being a fright element that possesses people (in two cases, to their deaths), to an actual multifaceted --even passionate-- character who elicits some audience sympathy, then finally into a stomping, shouting, villain who only dreams of conquest --the sort of shallow character with which Sarah and the Doctor are altogether too familiar, thank you. Perhaps the Kastrians knew something about themselves and their nature that Eldrad was never willing to accept?Of course this episode is critical to the overall Doctor Who story arc because it features Sarah Jane's departure; hands-down she is the most popular traveling companion in the series' history to date, and rumors of her exit actually make a few headlines and the evening news. Sarah certainly gets put through the ringer in her swansong: she is nearly crushed to death in a rockfall, she is possessed by an alien intelligence and nearly triggers a nuclear reactor meltdown; she is shot at, dodges alien traps and pitfalls with alarming regularity, and even must endure the indignity of being "re-hypnotized" by the Doctor all over again. It is little wonder that after departing Kastria, she snaps and launches into a long-overdue angry tirade. Actress Elizabeth Sladen improvises this "rant" with such petulance that the audience is clucking in total sympathy by the time she storms out. Not one of the greatest Dr. Who episodes of all time, but definitely one of the best of the Tom Baker era."
"We're in a quarry!"
Brian May | Australia | 11/02/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Hand of Fear" is a very unusual story. It is definitely not the best Doctor Who story made, and it is hardly what fandom calls a "classic". But there is something about it that makes it different from your run of the mill alien invasion story. Firstly it is very well written and acted, but the best thing about it is the way the story is played out. All through the first two episodes the viewer never expects where the story is going or what will happen next. This is especially poignant because in the last two episodes the story shifts dramatically. The first half focuses on the hand and its possession of Sarah and is more action oriented, while the second half centres on Eldrad (only hinted at in episodes one and two), with less action, more character development and further steps into the unknown (especially after arriving on Kastria). This factor of the unexpected is probably what makes "The Hand of Fear" so satisfying. Eldrad is a fascinating character - especially being one who changes sex! Judith Paris's performance is exceptional, portraying a guarded yet determined being. She can never be trusted, but her motives always remain unclear. Stephen Thorne's performance as the male Eldrad is probably less satisfying (like Brian Blessed, he is a shouting actor!), but his method is more appropriate to the new side the character shows, a revelation of his true colours now he is on home turf. The costumes for both the female and male Eldrads are brilliant as well. The usual "Earth in danger" storyline that prevailed through this era of Doctor Who is also presented with a different slant - for most of the story the Earth is not presented as being under threat of conquest or destruction - not until the last five minutes. This notion of no threat to the Earth until the end is a satisfying alternative to the sci-fi cliche. There are other small touches that make "The Hand of Fear" a worthwhile story - for once a quarry in England IS a quarry in England and not an alien landscape! The hand coming to life at the end of episode one is spine-tingling and amazing (another great cliffhanger); its spider-like movements are creepy. There is a touching moment when Professor Watson talks to his wife on the phone, believing he will soon be dead and wanting to say some last words - thought is given to the embodiment of the supporting characters. There is, however, a problem with Watson's character in episode three, when he calls in the RAF to bomb the nuclear reactor - an idiotic move, especially coming from a nuclear scientist! The story ends with the farewell of Sarah Jane, a favourite companion of many fans. Her sending off is touching, dignified and quite sad. "The Hand of Fear" should have three stars; however, the "something" that makes it better than it should be (which I have hopefully tried to explain and justify in this review), makes it a four star story."
My introduction to Doctor Who
epicactor | 03/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first episode of the series that I ever had the pleasure to see as a pre-teenager and some 15 years later I'm still a devoted fan - if that isn't a testimony to the greatness of this story, I don't know what is! Elisabeth Sladen is in top form and the chemistry between the Doctor and Sarah is the best in the series' history. It makes her final departure all the more powerful. The final scene with Sarah alone on the street is eerie, sad, and strangely hopeful. Ironically, you feel the dawning of a new era happening as the frame freezes Sarah Jane in time and space. It filled me with the desire to immediately see MORE MORE MORE!"