Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: Alan Bromly
Producer: Barry Letts
No of Episodes: 4
Season: 11, ep 1 (1-4)
Companions: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen)
Summary: A Sontaran named Linx crash lands in medieval England, catching the attention of the bloodthirsty robber baron Irongron. Irongron and his men have been attempting to take over King Edward’s castle. Irongron agrees to let Linx stay in his castle because Linx has told him he can give him an advantage against Edward.
In present day, scientists and their equipment have been disappearing and the Brigadier confines them to a top secret location. A reporter named Sarah Jane Smith has sneaked in, using her aunt as an alias. The Doctor crates a machine that can track delta particles, which he uses to track the missing scientists. When another scientist disappears. The Doctor investigates and takes his TARDIS to medieval England, unaware that Sarah Jane has sneaked inside.
Sarah Jane mistakes the Doctor as the one behind the disappearances. With Edward’s help, she captures the Doctor. When the Doctor tells her what’s really happening, she’s skeptical at first, but changes her mind eventually. Together, the two and Edward join forces to defeat Irongron and Linx.
Review: This is one of my favorite Pertwee stories, and not just because it’s Sarah Jane’s debut. Irongron and Linx are great villains. Linx is played well by Kevin Lindsay. He is a great overbearing warrior who wishes to stir up trouble and does not care as long as there is bloodshed. Really, the only bad thing about Linx is the prosthetics. The modern series has done a much better job making the Sontarans’ prosthetics better than the Classic days.
Sladen is almost instantly likeable as Sarah Jane. I’ve always loved her feisty personality, especially in her earliest stories. She has her work cut out for her, since Jo Grant, her predecessor, was also a pretty good companion at times. This is a great introduction to her character.
Overall Review: 10/10
Continuity: This is the first story with a Sontaran. It’s also the first episode to mention Gallifrey. Sarah Jane’s final episode in Classic Who is “The Hand of Fear”, with the Fourth Doctor. The Second Doctor was probably the first to meet a Sontaran, if you go by “The Two Doctors”, even though that occurs in the Sixth Doctor’s era.
Trivia: This is the first episode to feature the “tunnel opening”, which carries over to the Tom Baker era.