Doctor Who #225: The Invasion Part 4

"You don't think we're going up that, do you?!"TECHNICAL SPECS: This is the second and last missing episode of The Invasion animated for the DVD. First aired Nov.23 1968.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Jamie rescue Zoe and Isobel with the help of a UNIT helicopter. And the Cybermen revealed!

REVIEW: And we're back to animat-o-vision. Probably a good thing too, since there are some high-flying action pieces here that probably look a lot better in animation than they do in live action. I'm only guessing, of course, but the control animation gives you means the sequence has better compositions at the very least. And they make a meal of it - the copter pilot's gestures, the swaying rope ladder, the furious wind. It's pretty exciting even without contemplating whether the girls got a look under Jamie's kilt or not. In true UNIT era style, the episode also features a train and a canoe (in addition to Part 1's lorry-motorcycle chase), presaging Dicks' apparent penchant for vehicular action.

What the animation does less well is nuance the characters' performances. The figures are expressive, but stiff, and when you've got big players like Troughton and Stoney involved, you can only guess at how much more they brought to their performances. Vaughn and Packer continue to be a strong double act, actually aware that the Cybermen's end game is to "convert" them as well. Stealing the TARDIS, then, becomes a contingency plan of utmost importance, an escape craft in case things go wrong. Vaughn's Plan A is to use Watkins' Cerebraton, developed as a teaching machine for Cyber-forces, to fire emotional pulses that will destroy them instead. Vaughn truly is the Doctor's opposite number. He's found a way to defeat the Cybermen already. The two are mirrored further in the way Vaughn plans to use the girls as a lure to flush the Doctor out, and the way the Doctor actually flushes the girls out and rescues them. They are both planners, as indicated by the Doctor thinking of how the helicopter can get tactical cover. And Packer is nothing if not a reflection of Jamie, the slightly stupid sidekick prone to making mistakes. And with all that going on, you still miss the actors' actual expressions. Even on the Cyberman that explodes out of a tube in the cliffhanger, while accompanied by some great and creepy animation (the light flickering in the scientists' glasses, etc.), just doesn't have the raw power of the actual footage.

Meanwhile, Nick Courtney continues to give an affable performance, even if he's just talking on the radio. Isobel Watkins is still kind of annoying in the way she refuses to go up the ladder initially. You never get the sense that she reacts to what's happening in a believable way. Professor Watkins keeps wanting to rebel, but can never go through with it with the sword hanging over Isobel's head. The new member of the cast is government functionary Rutlidge, much more interesting than he ought to be, I must say. He used to be an ally of UNIT, but lately has been Vaughn's stooge. At first, I thought he would be mind-controlled in some way, but no, he seems to be working under threat. To his family, like everybody else? Maybe. But his asking his receptionist if the call is "male or female?", I get the sense he's trying to hide an indiscretion. Subtle, because that's not a plot point for the kids to think about, but it's still there. The sequence also has Vaughn notice the physical charms of Rutlidge's secretary, which means he's not too far gone on the emotional spectrum. A nice little bit from Stoney there. As for the vid-phones, they're an indication that either we're in the near-future (or from our perspective, a much farther future), or technology is more advanced on Who-Earth (thanks to the likes of International Electromatics, no doubt, as well as UNIT and Torchwood recoveries). I prefer the latter theory.

VERSIONS: As with Part 1, the animation changes some of the staging from the original broadcast, at least, according to the telesnaps we have.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Enjoyable animated action sequences and character work that manages to shine through then stiff caricatures just from the voices. In many ways, it's the Tobias Vaughn show, but there's nothing wrong with that.


LiamKav said...

The thing with video phones is that they aren't commonly used on "our" Earth not because the technology isn't there, but because the will isn't. Even discounting Facetime and Skype, people have been able to do video calling for many, many years. Like voice recognition technology, it seems to be be something people just aren't interested in.

Siskoid said...

Which all points to a more technologically savvy universe, IMO. It's 1968 and people are already walking on the moon as well.


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