Doctor Who #418: The Android Invasion Part 3

"Resistance is inadvisable."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Dec.6 1975.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor escapes the destruction of the fake village and must stop Styggron's genocidal plans for Earth by stowing away aboard Grayford's ship.

REVIEW: "Nothing will go wrong!" says the arrogant Styggron, but something surely must as this is one VERY convoluted plan. You've got the astronaut whose life you saved (even money he's an android and doesn't know it) brainwashed into thinking it's going to be a nice, bloodless invasion. He will return to Earth in his craft with a story about drinking his own pee while stuck in orbit around Jupiter for two years. He brings with him android pods to help him take over the defense station at Devesham, which is apparently all that stands between Earth and alien threats. But really, Styggron will be using his androids to release a virus (of course, because Terry Nation really loves viruses) that will kill the human race in about three weeks, after which he'll come out of Crayford's ship and claim the planet and guide in the Kraal fleet. They have to do this because their planet's radiation levels are "the highest in the universe" and still increasing. So instead of using their impressive technology to colonize a world (they can create a perfect replica of one of our eco-systems, after all), they opt for a backdoor invasion with more steps than an Escher print. Up 'til now, the story's been predicated on the villains making foolish mistakes, so more are unavoidable. I'm not even getting into why Crayford's one-man ship has enough room to store the androids in. No wonder no one talks about the UK's space program.

And if you were wondering why a Barry Letts-directed adventure had so little bad CSO, wonder no more. We get plenty of that in Part 3's climax, as the Doctor and Sarah stand in front of grainy pictures of model shots. Still, it's better than the use of that damned Saturn V stock shot (same as in Revenge of the Cybermen) that doesn't match Crayford's rocket. At all. But not all the effects are bad. The sonic screwdriver's tricks are well done. The "evaporation" of the village, turning it into a wasteland, is an effective if simple image. And Sarah's electrocution of a UNIT android is exciting and memorable. The production is actually quite good at revealing the mechanisms inside the androids. The design work continues to be distinctive if not exactly functional (low doors for hunched aliens makes sense, but not if they're still taller than that the doors, for example).

Through it all, the Doctor and Sarah (and Tom and Lis) have good chemistry, a nice banter going, and the companion twice again saving the Doctor's life instead of the opposite. Letts keeps things moving so that you don't look too closely at the plot holes Crayford's ship is flying through, and that may be enough for some viewers.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Necessary to understand the "plot", since Styggron explains it all, and there are some nice images here and there, but you should check your brain at the door.

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