Doctor Who #229: The Invasion Part 8

"Can't we keep her on, sir? She's much prettier than a computer."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Dec.21 1968.

IN THIS ONE... The Cybermen are taken down by Earth's missile defense shield.

REVIEW: The Invasion is really the set-up for an invasion over the course of 6 episodes, and it loses much of its quality once the invasion has begun. There's a rush to the finish here that just isn't as suspenseful, witty or powerful as what has gone before. And there's definitely a rush, with cuts as abrupt as those in Part 6. The action bits are fine, but soldiers running around shooting guns, grenades and bazookas at more-or-less impervious monsters isn't anything new. Destroying the fleet with missiles basically leads to destroying a second fleet with a different kind of missile. And the human villains are unsurprisingly done away with. Vaughn gets to team-up with his mirror, the Doctor, motivated by hate for the treacherous Cybermen and not a love of humanity, but Packer is summarily Cyber-killed early on.

Isobel's still hanging around, with Benton this time (it's good practice for when he needs to babysit Jo Grant later), and it's hard to believe the Brig would let her follow the platoon to take pictures. There's more of her inane romance with Captain Jimmy, and perhaps worst of all for those of us who dislike Isobel, she gets rewarded with a big magazine deal for her blurry Cyberman pictures. She basically replaces Jamie in the story, who only shows up at the end, with no limp or mention of his wound. The brash young lad shouldn't have missed all that action. Zoe is left to rest on her laurels and gets all sorts of sexist attention for being a computer nerd. It's like a scene right out of Mad Men.

But of course, there are things to like as well. Vaughn's character arc is perfect, insensate and filled with despair when his unshakable confidence is finally destroyed. Stoney remains the story's MVP for sure. Troughton is excellent as well, doing classic bits like jumping and running away from Cybermen and finding himself unable not to pose for Isobel's pictures. The fact that the Russians saved the day during the cold war may draw a smile. And there's a nice scene while everyone waits for the warhead to reach the Cyber-ships, building tension quickly and efficiently with only reaction shots. The spell is amusingly broken by Benton dropping a cup. And the special effect of the invisible TARDIS is well done, even if the plot point is highly gratuitous.

VERSIONS: Ian Marter's Target novelization of this story turns International Electromatics into International Electromatix. He compresses the story, but also makes it more gory, including such scenes as Rutlidge vomiting blood before keeling over, and Vaughn being immolated and dying a horrible death.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Part 8 falls a little flat, but it's still good Doctor Who.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: High - By keeping the Cybermen in the background, The Invasion can better focus on some engaging human villains and ther heroic counterparts. Sure, Isobel Watkins tends to grate on the nerves as some kind of silly version of Polly, but we've also got the introduction of UNIT, Benton, and Lethbridge-Stewart as the Brigadier. It's really the pilot for the 3rd Doctor's era, building its formula on such stories as The Web of Fear and The War Machines. Plus, iconic Cybermen in London sequences and the lost episodes have been turned into stylish cartoons. Some of the best (surviving) TV the Troughton era has produced.



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