Archive for Troughton Era

Doctor Who: The Invasion

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

Doctor Who: The Web Of Fear

Format: DVD (w/ Episode 3 Recon)

Warts & All: Wooden Tunnels

Quote: Television? Never watch it. You an actor or something?

Review: Jon Pertwee was right about the Yeti in Tooting Bec and it’s great to see them tramping and roaring their way around the London Underground. It’s a brilliant setting, dark and claustrophobic, and – since London Transport wouldn’t give permission to film – fantastically realised by the production designer. All that’s missing is the work of a Foley artist to cover the clunky wooden footsteps that, just occasionally, intrude on the authenticity a bit. This is another base under siege story, with monsters plus a dirty great web closing the net on the last bastion of defence in a battle to save London. But there’s a deal more mobility than in other besieged bases as we get plenty of explorations and expeditions through the tunnels, making full use of the shadowy atmosphere and general creepiness. And there’s an excursion up to the surface that, with a touch of colour, could easily have been lifted from the Pertwee/UNIT years had they been a thing yet. Of course, this is the story that makes them a glint in the producers’ eyes.


Here, we’re introduced to Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart. (Albeit, as with Pat Troughton we’re missing his actual debut episode – thanks, BBC. Grr.) Obviously, I’m already familiar with the character but Nick Courtney gives him such great personality he must have surely made an outstanding first impression on viewers at the time. Captain Knight, by comparison, is a bland unknown soldier. He does all right, but Lethbridge-Stewart is clearly somebody. And it’s great how the suspicions over who is the traitor are cast around to include this chap that, with 20/20 hindsight, we know is one of the good guys. Staff Sergeant Arnold and the cowardly skiving Evans are the other stars among the military. Harold Chorley is a bit of a spineless sleezeball reporter and it’s interesting that he’s from London Television and not the BBC, as though BBC correspondents could never be shown in such a light. Anyway, he runs off and disappears for most of the story when I expected him to be a bit more significant – although his absence is intended to throw suspicion his way. Since I enjoyed the Abominable Snowmen on audio, it was good to see Jack Watling as Travers and Tina Packer is excellent as his daughter, Anne, who is pretty much a precursor to the Scientific Advisor post that opens up at UNIT. (The role that the lovely Liz Shaw takes up, to become Assistant To The Scientific Adviser, the Doctor.) She does get to do a bit of screaming and what not, but her strength of will is nicely played and a welcome contrast to poor, feeble Victoria who, aside from showing some pluck in venturing alone into the tunnels at one point, basically whimpers her way through the adventure.


Headstrong Jamie is right at home with the soldiers as regards taking action, not so much obeying orders, good for him. Troughton continues to be fabulous and it’s especially fun to see the Doctor get all childish and miffed at the end that his friends save him but spoil his plans to deal with the Great Intelligence once and for all. The Intelligence voice isn’t as chilling and pervasive as in the Det Sen Monastery – it only makes an ‘appearance’ towards the end – but it’s kind of a nice idea to have it talking out of the Picadilly Circus tannoy.


I think the story wastes a bit of time early on with the TARDIS suspended in the web in space, but when it cracks on it’s right on track. Nicely paced, with action and tension, a good selection of dramatic turns and great monsters in a tremendous setting, this is the stuff of classic Doctor Who. Highly enjoyable