Format: DVD (w/ animation)
Warts & All: Cyberdummy!
Quote: Honestly, Jamie. Cybermen underneath London and all you can think about is your sleep.
Review: At eight episodes long, you’d expect to feel like Jamie and think about getting some kip, but The Invasion hooks you in and keeps your attention very well for such a lengthy story. Gripping, suspenseful, all the intrigue and action of a technothriller, a masterful villain from Kevin Stoney as Tobias Vaughan (backed up by an excellent turn from Peter Halliday as Vaughan’s sadistic whimpering chief guard dog). And while the Cybermen don’t really make an entrance until quite late it’s one hell of an entrance. The moment of the titular Invasion is one of those all-time great sequences of imagery in Doctor Who, guaranteed to give chills. And earlier on, the scenes in the sewers are very creepy, with the Cybe plagued by fear, courtesy of the brilliantly named device, the Cerebreton Mentor, is something especially unnerving.
Lethbridge-Stewart is the Brigadier at last, as we know and love the chap, and he heads up a full UNIT task force, complete with operational HQ aboard a C130 Hercules. They strike as a really together, organised and efficient sort of outfit and this story has a great deal of nostalgic appeal even to those of us for whom it’s technically before our time. Even good old Sergeant Benton is on hand, knocking over cups at times of heightened tension. Really liked Sally Faulkner as Isobel Watkins, and if we didn’t already have such a superlative companion in Zoe I could’ve seen her hopping aboard the TARDIS at the end, maybe photographing everything in sight. As it is, there’s a lovely moment post Cyber-battle where she takes shots of the Doctor and Troughton (on tip top form here) makes great play on slowly warming to having his picture taken. Jamie is out of action for a couple of episodes, shot in the back by the bad guys, but for the most part he has plenty to do. Although he does get drawn into adopting the same sexist attitudes demonstrated by the UNIT soldiers, but gets told off for it. Rightly so.
The animated episodes by Cosgrove Hall are pretty good, and if only this tale featured Cybermats I could have shouted Dangermat! at the screen. There’s an overuse of the same stock footage, on a loop, for the missile strikes at the end, the sliding door concealing Cybercontrol in Vaughan’s office is occasionally a bit wonky. And a bold attempt at a shot of a Cyberman toppling off a building looks dead dodgy but all of these are budgetary issues and far be it from me to pick on a few trifling Cyberflaws in what is probably the best Cyberstory of the era. Or any other, come to that. Nuff said