“ Genre: Television - Doctor Who / Theatrical Release: 1968 / Parental Guidance / Actors: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, Nicholas Courtney, Kevin Stoney ... / DVD released 2006-11-06 at 2 Entertain Video / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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**FILM ONLY REVIEW**
As part of my mission to rewatch all the Doctor Who serials starting from the very first episode in 1963 and concluding with whatever episode is out when I finish, I have discovered many hidden gems, both from the official DVD releases by the BBC and the youtube reconstructions that I've been able to find for some of the lost episodes, missing from the BBC vaults.
The Invasion is one of the few BBC releases featuring the 2nd Doctor, Patrick Troughton, as most of his serials were sadly wiped from their tapes, with only audio versions remaining. Every year new episodes are being discovered in private VHS collections, but there are over 100 half hour episodes that remain missing. The Invasion is an 8-part serial, with two episodes missing and reconstructed using animation from Cosgrove Hall (the guys who did Danger Mouse!)
The animated sequences are amazing, with each actors likeness captured perfectly. Whilst there isn't much dynamic movement and the heads wobble too much, it manages to work well with the existing audio and paints a perfect picture of what the episode would have been like. I wish the BBC would fund Cosgrove Hall to animate the remaining lost episodes in exactly the same manner, allowing us to have a complete collection of DVDs, albeit it some fully-animated.
The plot of the serial involves the Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Zoe, who arrive in present-day London, after a near fatal attack by a mysterious spacecraft near the moon. Once the TARDIS lands on Earth, it becomes clear that there are issues with the circuits, rendering the machine invisible. The Doctor remembers his old friend, Professor Travers and sets forth to find him in order to repair the circuits, however he ends up becoming embroiled in a plot by the Cybermen to take over Earth with the co-operation of the sinister, Tobias Vaughn, played to perfection by veteran Who-actor, Kevin Stoney.
Stoney returns to Doctor Who, playing Tobias Vaughn, after his previous turn as Mavic Chen in The Dalek's Master Plan. He plays a similar role to his earlier appearance with an over-confident human turncoat, who enables the alien threat to get a foothold to take over Earth, only to get betrayed at the last minute. Stoney plays Vaughn as more restrained than Chen, with a smattering of charm, but he is still very watchable and remains the strongest human villain to date.
Troughton continues to portray his incarnation of the Doctor with the same earnest glee and mischievousness that populated his entire run - His chemistry with companions, Jamie & Zoe, works really well, equalling the current generation's chemistry with Doc 11, Amy Pond & Rory Williams. Seeing these classic episodes with the hindsight that a vague awareness of the future series gives makes for an interesting perspective on how writers built upon the legend of the Doctor and his TARDIS to reach our current, almost fairytale treatment of the last Time Lord.
Whilst the serial was eight parts long, it never seemed to drag at any part. In fact, it felt more like two separate four part storylines, with the first half concentrating on Vaughn and his sinister company, without revealing the Cybermen behind his plans. Then the second half brings the Cybermen to the fore and becomes a more action-packed storyline. I really enjoyed the two halves to the story and it made what could have been an over-long serial into a nicely paced and epic feeling tale. This is not the best Cybermen storyline, but is a nice parallel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
The Invasion features the second doctor - Patrick Troughton, and his companions, Zoe and Jamie, as they come up against their old foes - the Cybermen. This 8 part story is spread over two discs and for the most part is a very engaging adventure. I've always found the 6 and 8 part Doctor Who stories tend to stretch the plot out a bit too much, making the middle episodes drag a little. The Invasion doesn't suffer from this too much, although it does take a while for the cybermen to make an appearance.
So what is the story about? Without giving too much away, the Tardis lands on Earth in the 1970's and discovers that a shady electronics company known as International Electromatics has dominated the international market. Further investigations leads the Doctor to Tobias Vaughn, the president of International Electromatics who has made a deal with the devil (or in this case, the Cybermen).
Doctor who has developed a reputation over the years for being full of dodgy acting and hokey special effects. However, it's stories like the Invasion that show just how unfair that reputation is. Yes, most of the effects look dated by today's standards but at the time they were pretty effective (especially the Cybermen outfits.) But the main joy of this story is the acting. Everyone seems to be giving it their best, especially Kevin Stoney, who gives a very sinister performance as Tobias Vaughn - creepy and deranged, but without the melodrama which plagued some of the later Doctor Who villains.
No review of The Invasion is complete without a mention of the special animated episodes. As you may know, the BBC of yesteryear, in their infinite wisdom, developed a policy of wiping the video reels of televised episodes, meaning many early Doctor Who episodes no longer exist. This is the case for two of The Invasion's episodes. To compensate for this, the audio from these missing episodes has been pieced together from a variety of different sources and the video has been recreated in animated form by Cosgrove Hall (who also animated Danger Mouse). The result is that you have 6 normal episode of Doctor Who, and two animated episodes. When I first heard about this, I wasn't too sure how successfully these animated episodes would be. However, the animation is superb. The characters look almost life-like and the use of the original dialogue that was recorded way back in the 60's means that when watching all 8 episodes back to back, the transition from a "normal" episode to an animated episode isn't as jarring as I had feared.
Overall, if you like old-school Doctor Who, then you should love The Invasion. It is Doctor Who at it's finest.
Now that we are about to see the eleventh 'doctor' I've been watching another old Doctor Who just to see how they fared against the older ones. This one stars Patrick Troughton in the leading role as the second Doctor. It is in black and white and the special effects are not very good by today's standards but most of the acting is better than the most recent series. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against David Tennant in the role I just feel that he over does it at times.
This story has 8 20 min episodes and is over 2 DVDs. It is a bit unusual as two of the episodes were 'lost' when the BBC had a purge of their old tapes. They have, however, been able to show the full story by making animated versions of the missing episodes and using taped voice recordings which fans made when the series was first shown on TV. How this was done is included as an extra on DVD 1
Anyway back to the DVD - brief plot.
The Doctor and his to companions arrive on earth after the TADIS suffers some damage and does not work properly (so what's new?) and they need to get some replacement circuits made for the repairs. They find that now one company is making the majority of all the world components (no, not Intel or windows). As they arrive at the factory the Doctor and Frazer meet the manager but something makes the Doctor uneasy, something is not quite right about him and the factory its self and it's not just the Doctors hatred of computers. Just what the manager hiding? Why just give away transistor radios? More importantly why will the manager not let them see the professor they had originally come to visit?
They shortly discover that there are invasion plans afoot and an old enemy of the Doctor is preparing to take over the earth. With little to go on can the Doctor save not only the lives of his companions but the earth its self?
Opinion of the Story
In general the story is quite good but at times I found it to be far too slow paced. My feeling is that some of it could have been cut without doing any real harm to the overall series of episodes. This could have helped reduce the number of episodes to perhaps 6. The 'surprise' of which of the arch enemies of the Doctor is trying to invade the earth is sort of kept under wraps until episode 4 but the picture on the cover of the DVD and the disc its self does sort of spoil this. Whilst there are some good acting performances from the main cast and a couple of the 'guest stars' there are one or two weak performances from some of the others. The part of 'Packer' seemed to go from being way over the top to being acted as if the actor was thinking 'I don't want to do this' in the same episode.
The Acting performances (main cast):
Patrick Troughton: This is one of my favourite Doctors after William Hartnel's rather cantankerous performance Patrick played the doctor as more of a 'childish Imp'. He is one of the few Doctors to be seen methodically thinking about how to solve a problem. This is in sharp contrast to David Tennent's Doctor who just seems to have a sudden 'light bulb' moment.
Frazer Hines (Jamie): Jamie is portrayed as someone who at times acts first and thinks later. He also takes people at face value and can't understand why the Doctor does not. Whilst he isn't familiar with modern technology (being from 18th century Scotland) he is far from being an idiot and can quickly make an analogy with things from his own time to understand what the Doctor is talking about. Frazer does well in the part and it is a pity the character wasn't kept on through the third Doctor's tenure.
Wendy Padbury (Zoe): Zoe is shown as someone who has an intellect almost as good of that of the Doctor's own. Making her a valuable member of the crew. Zoe is at times shown as being a bit like a petulant child and is far too impulsive for her own good - often getting her into trouble.
Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart): The Brigadier is a classic 1960s army man. That is that he believes that almost everything is no job for a woman. He implicitly trusts the Doctor and is always trying to make the Doctor a permanent member of 'UNIT'. Nicholas does appear to be in his element in this part which continued throughout all the stories he is in.
Kevin Stoney (Tobias Vaughn): Tobias is seen as being rather ruthless and without a conscience. He is power mad and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Kevin Stoney is brilliant in this part and it is possibly one of the best characters in this story.
Taking everything into account from the rather poor special effects (probably good for the time) and the performances of the cast the story does in a way work very well. It is a pity that the original recordings of two of the episodes were lost but the animated versions of these are actually very well done but it just lacks Patrick Troughton's facial expressions which made his version of the Doctor very different from any other.
Whilst I doubt the younger fans of the new series of Doctor Who will enjoy this as it is in black and white and there aren't explosions every 5 minutes older fans who can remember the days of wobbling sets and bubble wrap painted green to make the aliens will probably enjoy this piece of Doctor Who nostalgia.
I'm afraid I don't have the price as I watched this via a DVD rental by post system.