Monday, 10 June 2013

The Invasion

We go from a very strange, otherworldly story in ‘The Mind Robber’ to an Earth-bound, invasion story featuring a lot of soldiers and the Cybermen, called simply ‘The Invasion’. For the first time we have an eight-part adventure, with two missing episodes thankfully animated for the DVD release. It is an interesting story.

It differs from previous monster stories of Season Five in that it is a proper invasion, it’s not a base-under siege story, rather a world under siege! Nicholas Courtney returns as Lethbridge Stewart, recently promoted to Brigadier in charge of the newly formed UNIT. We are told some time has passed since ‘The Web of Fear’, where we met the character. The inference is that the story is slightly in the future of when it was first shown (1968-9) so it is presumably early to mid 1970s.
Troughton and Stoney, Episode 8. 
Derrick Sherwin wrote the script. He found himself script editor one week and producer the next, swapping roles as Peter Bryant was slowly moving on from his producership. It’s a mostly functional script with some great characters. The two most interesting and presumably fun characters to play are the chief villains of the piece (bar the Cybermen) Packer, played by Peter Halliday, and Tobias Vaughn, played by Kevin Stoney.
Stoney appeared in Doctor Who as Mavic Chen, the evil dictator of Earth in ‘The Daleks’ Masterplan’, a role not dissimilar to Vaughn. At least we could see his face properly in this one. Vaughn is truly mad in this story, and Stoney approaches the role with relish. He has fits of anger and madness, and at one point allows Professor Watkins (Edward Burnham) to shoot him revealing he has been part Cyber-ised. Packer is in charge of Vaughn’s security and spends most of his seven and a bit episodes desperately wanting to hurt someone, and yet never gets around to it much to his frustration.
Sally Faulkner as Isobel.
Sally Faulkner and Wendy Padbury.
Sally Faulkner appears as Isobel Watkins, a real sixties ‘it’ girl, and could have made a decent companion. Jamie disappears around episode seven and isn’t seen in episode eight until the farewell scene, which is captured on film so I presume he had a week or two holiday during the making of this story. Again though, Hines and Troughton work magnificently well together in parts of this story. There is a wonderful scene in a lift shaft where they scurry to the top. Jamie asks the Doctor what will happen if they don’t get out in time, the Doctor replies that’s simple – they will get squashed!
Wendy Padbury instantly made a good companion, but in this story she really shines. Zoe is given a lot to do, calculating missile trajectories and confusing computers, and this story shows how well a smart companion can be used. Troughton himself has some great moments, especially when he poses for photos mid the big battle in episode eight!
The story is long yet light weight in fairness. It’s perhaps predictable, and not very fast moving, and not filled with a lot of plot twists. However it is very solid and features chases, battles, scary moments in the sewers and helicopters and planes. The Cybermen don’t appear until episode four, although there are a few giveaways before then that they are coming. The Cyber-suits are disappointing. It is clear they are painted wet suits. I don’t mind the wider heads featured but the zip in the middle of the suit only partly obscured by the chest unit is very poor in my opinion. I think the costumes of the previous couple of stories were better.
The Brigadier leads the way.

Despite these minor quibbles, ‘The Invasion’ is a lot of fun. A highly enjoyable 8 parts of fun, with some quality acting.


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