Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Invasion of Time

The Doctor at his inauguration. 
Wow. That was a hard six episodes to get through. ‘The Invasion of Time’ is the last story for Louise Jameson and frankly, it’s very disappointing. We have two main enemies – the Vardans for the first four parts, and then the Sontarans appear at the end of episode four and a rather non-sensical two parts are added to get the story to six episodes.
This is mostly the work of writer Anthony Read, who begins with a good premise – presenting the Doctor to have turned bad. He arrives on Gallifrey, demands to be inaugurated President (as he is President elect following ‘The Deadly
Vardan = silver foil.
Assassin’), then blows up a whole lot of things and lets some invaders in called the Vardens. That’s as far as the story holds up, by the time we’ve hit episode four there appears to be no story left, no budget left and no control left over the actors who have little asides left right and centre, make silly jokes and clearly do not take the thing seriously.
It’s reduced to such a farcical state that by episode six they are running around the TARDIS, mostly getting lost for the bulk of the episode – which over runs yet provides little plausible cause for Leela to have fallen in love with Andred and want to stay on Gallifrey. The Doctor has found the great key of Rassilon, but it seems the main purpose of that is to power a big gun.
The TARDIS workshop. Convincing? No.

Milton Johns as Kelner.
The Vardens start the descent into lunacy. Not only do they look like SS officers who weren’t told the secret handshake, they are appalling acted and in no way threatening at all. They were a poor concept to start with, and there is no logical reason why the Doctor would pretend to have gone over to the side of evil to trap them on Gallifrey considering how he had to punch a hole in the transduction barrier, which required him basically to be President to have that opportunity. There’s no real explanation with what they wanted to do with Gallifrey.

Then they are defeated with almost no climax, and the only thing that is dramatic in episode four is the
end when the Sontarans turn up. They use Chancellor Kelner, played by Milton John who does a great job as the slimiest Time Lord ever, to try and shut down the barrier to allow their entire fleet access to Gallifrey. This barrier is controlled from an old engine room somewhere which doesn’t fit with any of the sets, because it’s location work.

But so is the interior of the TARDIS in part four, filmed in a disused mental hospital. It just doesn’t match the console room or the rest of the story. The direction is woeful. The whole final episode is made up of running a bit, commenting that they are lost, making a gag and the next scene. Which is the same as that scene. AND IT OVERUNS. No material, no plot, AND IT OVER RUNS.
Then the Doctor is about to leave after defeating the Sontarans with a big laser gun, and Leela declares she’s staying. Very strange indeed. Total mess, easily the worst Tom Baker story thus far.