Doctor Who #419: The Android Invasion Part 4

"Now, if you do see me again today, I want you to report it to me immediately."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Dec.13 1975.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Sarah prevent Styggron's invasion plans from succeeding.

REVIEW: Let's get it out right away, Benton and Harry were robbed of a proper farewell. ESPECIALLY considering the episode underruns by almost 5 minutes, it seems to me they should have at least featured in an epilogue. I'm glad they actually feature in addition to their android impostors - though feel free to ask how the Kraals knew these two would be assigned to the defense center at this time - but poor Benton never even wakes up from getting knocked upside the head. It even FEELS like there's material missing. The mention of Benton's kid sister - the new series is missing a trick if they never introduce her as a contemporary member of UNIT - sounds like a small bit of character development disguised as a plot point, as if his not picking up his sister for the dance later were a crucial clue that he'd been replaced. But no. Nothing like that. It's very possible no one knew neither character would appear again, but these are beloved characters, one of them a companion, and they deserved more. It's hard to believe Terry Nation didn't in fact write one of his never-ending goodbye scenes for this.

Plot-wise, the story doesn't quite go where I thought it would. Guy Crayford isn't an android after all, but was rather manipulated into thinking he was put back together again after a massive space accident, and so, the eye patch. This is quite convoluted, and means the guy never thought to remove his patch even once over the past two years. Why invent the missing eye element? Why not poke it out if it was key to making him believe the story? Again, it's like there's a missing piece of the story. He dies by Styggron's new guy, specifically designed to kill androids, and the only other character shot by it turns out to be the Doctor android, so... was he meant to be an android all along? I do like the Doctor's fake-out at the end. It uses the telegraphed reprogramming trick, but in a surprising way, and Sarah's reaction ("Don't even do that again") harks back to the start of the episode, where she says the same thing to the 'droid for startling her.

Styggron falls on his own virus, which scums up horrifically, though I do wonder how virulent it actually is to humans. After all, three of them are in the room and feel no ill effects. It's all very abrupt, isn't it? No one gets sick. Styggron is cleaned up. The Kraal fleet never mentioned. And Sarah easily accepts the Doctor's offer of a ride home, when she must know there's no way he'll actually get her there by now. It's a sweet ending, but underwritten. She should have insisted on going home more, or not at all. (Having started watching the DVD with the production note subtitles before starting this review, I note that a lot of the lines I ascribed to Holmes in the previous reviews are actually Tom and Lis' adlibs. So this seem to be the serial Holmes didn't give a lot of care to in the middle of re-writing Pyramids and Morbius.)

VERSIONS: The Target novelization gives Marshall Chedaki and Guy Crayford a bit more personality, but the story is essentially unchanged.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - While still exciting, with a clever Doctor fighting himself, the review above reads like an entry in a Nitpicker's Guide for a reason (here's another: Where the heck does the android detector come from?). The plot is frequently stupid, and as a UNIT story, it doesn't treat UNIT very well.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Starting with a terrific mystery and waxing nostalgic about the UNIT era, Who's take on "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" quickly turns into a dumb action spectacular, brain dead on arrival.

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