Thursday, November 26, 2009

4Z1 - The Invasion of Time 1

The Invasion of Time starts off remarkably bold and assured. In response to the recently released Star Wars, Invasion starts off with Doctor Who's own answer to the first shot of Star Wars, with a poor man's Star Destroyer flying overhead, with an equally poor man's Tantive IV following closely behind. It may not have been as impressive as Star Wars, but for Doctor Who, it looks pretty not bad at all.

Where this episode really plants its foot, though, is how it picks up the story midstream, as The Doctor is signing a contract with mysterious, unseen aliens, about which he tells Leela nothing and acts very erratically afterwards. Only The Doctor knows the reason for his bizarre attitude - not even the audience is let in, other than the fact that, surely, their hero wouldn't turn to the dark side so readily. Would he?

However, the differences between how Gallifrey is portrayed here and how it is seen in The Deadly Assassin are quite obvious. Despite both serials using the same sets and costumes, Gallifrey looks like a cold and empty place nowadays as opposed to the grand splendour that was Gallifrey in The Deadly Assassin. In a little over year, it is evident how little money the Doctor Who production had to play with thanks to the crippling inflation that was ravaging Britain at the time. The complex video effects that quadrupled the ranks of the Time Lords in Assassin are sadly missed here, as a paltry number of Time Lords are around to attend The Doctor's induction as president.


hypocaust said...

This serial gets a lot of mostly justifiable criticism but I've always quite enjoyed it.

Yes, the Vardans are rubbish in both look and sound. Yes, Leela's departure is one of the weakest in series history. Yes, the production generally just a has a mostly tatty feel to it. And yes, the Sontarans seem to have ill advisedly added Panda (and cockney!) DNA to their cloning system.

And yet...

Beyond the invading aliens it actually features some good performances. Milton Johns and John Arnatt are two of my favourite Time Lords in the whole series.
Tom Baker is on excellent form, particularly in the first few episodes, when he gets to play out the Doctor's unusual behaviour and gets some decent, witty dialogue which he handles beautifully. The notorious Sonic Screwdriver line for example, is for me at least, a good line well handled. End of.

I actually like the "old hospital" version of the further reaches of the TARDS interior.
In fact, I would have loved the production team to have kept this idea and had all kinds of different architecture, or even what appear to be wide open outdoor spaces as parts of the TARDIS interior...
Er... just me then...?

Anyway, I find this eccentric version of the TARDIS far preferable to the uniform JNT era version, which seems to me like the bowels of some depressing intergalactic passenger ferry.

Also, the lead lined room set looks great.

On the DVD extra features Anthony Read mentions how after all the production difficulties for this serial, the general feeling was something like "We got away with it".
That's a fair appraisal in my view. There are certainly other six parters (and even four parters) which I find much more of a slog to get through.

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