Big Finish Doctor Who/Recap/146 Heroes of Sontar

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The first time that Big Finish has been able to use the Sontarans in an audio drama (and the first time the Fifth Doctor has tangled with the monsters). This drama is a comedy-horror story that takes the TARDIS crew to the monastery planet of Samur, not too long after the Sontarans have razed it. Soon, Nyssa contracts a mysterious infection, and the Sontarans land on the planet, their usual trigger-happy selves. And something else is on the planet, something eager to kill...


The Doctor: Fuel: Inadequate. Oxygen: Limited. Hull integrity: Compromised. Jolly good. Right then, Doctor, after three...

  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as it seems that Turlough, Tegan, Nyssa and the rest are going to become the Witch Guard’s latest victims, The Doctor comes out of the sky in his alleged gravity sphere and squashes the creature flat. It gets better.
  • Bothering by the Book: The Doctor uses this to talk his and Tegan’s way out of summary execution by the Sontarans.

The Doctor: Sontarans have two weaknesses, Tegan: one is the Probic Vent on the backs of their necks, see? And the other is their love of military protocol. I’m guessing the rules covering surrendered prisoners are rather more involved than those covering fugitive combatants.
Tegan: I got you!
The Doctor: I don’t doubt we won’t be executed, so let’s see if we if we can tie them in knots for a while first.

  • Chekhov’s Suicide Pill: Trooper Vend was encouraged to swallow a suicide capsule that is fatal to Sontaran clones early in Part 4 for uttering defeatist sentiments. He spat it out. He later does swallow it, just before allowing himself to be absorbed by the Witch Guard, knowing that it will affect their now part-Sontaran physiology.
  • Complete Monster: Fleet Marshal Stabb, who is more than willing to let seven of his men go to horrifying deaths, and then undeaths, just to undo the effects of a curse he brought upon himself.
    • The Witch Guard themselves seem to qualify, as they seem to be motivated by sheer evil and hatred. Their whole reason for being seems to be to kill, slaughter and absorb to become better warriors to kill, slaughter and absorb all the more effectively.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Turlough, of all people, gets one as he actually realizes that his school Cadet rank actually has him outranking the lowest of the Sontaran warriors – namely Trooper Vend --, and he successfully orders him not to waste his life in battle with the Witch Guard.
    • The Doctor as well, for his letting Fleet Marshal Stabb the Unvanquished wear himself out during a duel, all the while taunting him.
    • And Tegan for her "This is so crazy, it just might work" plan to right the Sontaran ship they were in by firing the buried weapons as retro rockets. Made all the more awesome because this meant they were essentially in a barely-controlled cannonball with no seat belts, and they did not end up dead.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Fleet Marshall Stabb is a large, evil, ham.
  • Enemy Mine: The Sontaran squad and the TARDIS crew end up having to work together to survive. Still, only the TARDIS crew does, though thanks to a Heroic Sacrifice by the Sontarans.
  • Flanderization: Actually averted. When we first see the Sontaran characters, it's easy (in fact, it's almost intended) that we're to think "So, Sontarans are this year's Ferengi now?" Instead, the Sontarans seen were deliberately assembled by Fleet Marshall Stabb because they were the most incompetent bunch of rejects in the Sontaran Empire.

Tegan: Are they always this stupid?
Doctor: Actually, no...

  • General Ripper: Fleet Marshal Stabb, and Field Major Thurr, both of whom have committed acts of genocide needlessly.
  • Heel Face Turn: Most of the seven Sontarans, once they figure out they've been had. Most obviously Trooper Vend who sacrifices his own life to save The Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, Turlogh and pretty much the galaxy.
  • High Octane Nightmare Fuel: A simple lichen that will latch onto a host's body, crawl up the arms to the face, and try to eat the brains of the victim. Sleep tight...
    • And the Witch Guard. They are shadow creatures who held off and massacred thousands of Sontaran warriors with nothing but swords. And who can survive a carpet bombing by a nasty bioweapon that is slowly destroying the planet. And who can absorb dead bodies becoming them.
  • Just Following Orders: Field Major Thurr is prepared to execute Tegan as a spy for opening a sealed canister. The canister is supposed to hold orders, but since Fleet Marshal Stabb just wanted Thurr to die, the canister was empty. No matter, since she broke the seal, she is considered a spy even though she found nothing more secret than air from a Sontaran Battlecruiser.
  • Kirk Summation: Subverted – Tegan starts out looking like she’s going to make one, but then stops herself and points out she was only asking a rhetorical question.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Doctor tries this, hoping he can call a Rutan fleet down to engage the Sontarans, and have him and the TARDIS crew escape in the confusion. It doesn't work, since the Rutans have enough reason to want the Doctor dead as well.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: The Sontarans are often quoting their regulations to justify everything.
  • Meaningful Name: Stabb. As in “back...”?
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Witch Guard/Sontaran hybrids have no remaining illusions as to why they were sent here, and point out the negative traits that led Fleet Marshal Stabb to assign them to this duty to their still-living brethren.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Trooper Vend, most assuredly.
  • Shout-Out: To Dads Army: The names of the Sontaran troopers were inspired by names of the main actors in the show. For instance, Field Major Thurr was named after Arthur Lowe, and Corporal Clunn from Clive Dunn.
  • Stealth Insult: Tegan lets loose with quite a few of these against the Sontarans, once it’s pointed out to her that insulting the Sontarans openly is considered an act of war against the Sontaran Empire.
    • Napoleon Bonaparte: Tegan calls Field Major Thurr “Napoleon” to insult his short stature and megalomania, but to keep her from being killed, The Doctor quickly twists it, without lying, so that Thurr thinks she’s complimenting him on his military prowess.
  • Stop Helping Me!: You can almost hear The Doctor wanting to scream that as Tegan volunteers info he doesn't want volunteered, because she thinks it'll impress the Sontarans enough to let them go. It only makes them want to kill the Doctor more.

Tegan: He’s saying we’re time and space travelers, Shorty.
The Doctor: Yes, thank you, Tegan.
Tegan: And if The Doctor says we’re exempt from your jurisdiction, we’re exempt from your jurisdiction!
The Doctor: I said, ”Thank you, Tegan!”
(The Sontarans decide very quickly their brief was to kill the Doctor, a branded enemy of the Empire...)
Tegan: Me and my big mouth.
The Doctor: (sounding almost like he wants to save the Sontarans the trouble): Quite.

  • The Uriah Gambit
  • What Could Have Been: The story, apparently, started out as a Rutan story that would have had the Rutans assimilating a squad of Home Guard troopers during World War Two. Winston Churchill would have appeared. However, when Big Finish sent the script idea to Cardiff for approval, BBC Wales vetoed the idea, as Churchill was going to be used in Series 5’s “Victory of the Daleks”. The “Home Guard” characters became the Sontaran Squad of misfits seen (heard?) in the drama as recorded.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Fleet Marshal Stabb’s plans in tricking the Witch Guard. He was hoping to pull a Literal Genie on the Guard, who demanded “seven of Sontar’s finest sons” as a sacrifice for the destruction of the Witch Guard. He assembled the most pathetic, error-prone or undistinguished clone from each of the lines of the seven greatest Sontaran warriors and sent them to be killed to lift the curse placed on the Empire’s war efforts.
    • The Witch Guard had an even better one. They didn’t care who was sent. They just wanted the clone DNA, which would have the prowess of the originals still within it. Then they were going to infiltrate the Sontaran fleet in the guise of the seven, and gain access to the cloning vats to replicate themselves a millionfold and conquer the known universe.
  • You Have Failed Me...: The real reason that the seven were assembled is that each was the greatest screwup among his particular clone line.