Friday, 30 August 2013

The Invisible Enemy

Tom Baker and Frederich Jaeger
If only it WAS invisible! Surely this should be renamed ‘The Killer Prawn’ or something? It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a poor story, but Bob Baker and Dave Martin’s ‘The Invisible Enemy’ has some pretty shockingly-bad moments. As with any bad-who though, it’s far from being ALL bad. The ideas behind the story were interesting, but perhaps it was simply asking too much of the production team to deliver everything that was in the script.
Worse than the prawn, the enemy looked like
this inside the Doctor's head!
Let’s remember that Doctor Who was and IS made for kids first, despite its huge adult following, the idea of cloning the Doctor and Leela, shrinking them down to microscopic size and then having them walk around in the Doctor’s head is rather interesting. Of course, it was always going to be very hard to portray convincingly on television, especially in a story which already appeared to have a lot more sets than your normal Doctor Who story. Various rooms, corridors, the hatchery on Titan, the hospital on the asteroid, the Titan space craft and the inside of the TARDIS. PLUS all the different parts of the Doctor’s brain. It was bound to stretch the budget too far. And it did. Parts of the brain interior are fine, others are very tatty.
Inside the Doctor!
And what do you find at the centre of the Doctor’s brain, hiding away? A giant prawn. Words do not exist to describe perfectly how unconvincing this prawn was. This was the nucleus of the swarm, who run around controlling people’s minds saying ‘contact has been made’. Then some grey scaly stuff appears on everyone’s faces.

The swarm leader infects the Doctor, who becomes the key to it all, but he tries to resist. Leela is rejected because she is not smart enough! They land on Titan where they meet Lowe, holding out against the rest of the crew who have been infected. When he become infected he puts on a giant mask to conceal his face. As if anyone would  be fooled by that! Then he takes the Doctor away from Titan when ordered to protect the Doctor at all costs.
Instead he directs the Doctor, via TARDIS, to the hospital in the asteroid belt. The Doctor tells Leela the co-ordinates – she can suddenly operate the TARDIS it appears. Turns out this is the perfect place to determine the infection and find an antidote! Not good thinking by Lowe – played by Michael Sheard, now in his fourth Doctor Who story.
In his third Doctor Who story is Frederick Jaeger playing... you guessed it, another scientist! Professor Marius is a little quirky, with a slightly German accent (naturally) and a robot-dog assistant called K-9, who ends up going off with the Doctor. As the story progresses the Doctor ends up blowing
Leela and K-9
everything up on Titan where the swarm is about to hatch, ably supported by Leela and K-9, who work well together, although Leela does kind of feed K-9 the questions in dutiful companion-like manner.
The fourth episode in particularly feels like it was a struggle to make and act in. ‘The Invisible Enemy’ was directed by Derrick Goodwin, his first Doctor Who story and he seems to have struggled. The effects shots are a mixed bag for instance, some work well, others of the shuttle for example appear to be bouncing around on a string. Shots are held a little too long in places, and especially in the final episode pauses between lines or reaction is very stilted. When the Doctor dematerialises without Leela Leela watches, and waits a number of seconds to stand up and call out after the TARDIS has disappeared. Needed a more honest, faster response.
It's the giant prawn!
Design-wise they did the best they can, and I’m sure we can say the same for Derek Goodwin. I imagine it was a nightmare to direct, one of the most technically demanding. Some of the dialogue is poor and not in keeping with what Tom and Louise Jameson were used to I think. The prawn is sadly laughable and spends far to much time on screen. The script could have done with a bit of refining too.

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