Doctor Who #478: The Invasion of Time Part 3

"Discussion is for the wise or the helpless, and I am neither."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.18 1978.

IN THIS ONE... The Vardans move in, the Doctor lets Borusa in on his plan, and Leela joins the Outsiders in the wilds of Gallifrey.

REVIEW: Things are looking up! Well, not for Gallifrey, obviously, but the Vardan invasion finally gives the serial some focus. The Doctor is playing a fascinating game, using his inherent madness to prevent the Vardans from reading his mind, and concocting a brilliant plan to insure Borusa is in on it, but out of the way where his rather clearer mind can't be read. After these two sparring viciously over the course of two episodes, it's really nice to see them acknowledge how much they respect one another. Borusa's reaction is mature, gracious... and brave too, risking a deadly Vardan zap to make the Doctor's plan work. That striking lead-lined room will serve as secret, impenetrable HQ for the two of them (and silent partner and sometime hat stand K9 as well). Though it looks nothing like the Earth style the Doctor ordered, the cogs and gears in the walls are pretty perfect in a story about complicated machinations.

Leela is brilliant as well. Though the Doctor's shocked and frustrated her, she still takes on faith that he has a plan and that he's working for the greater good. She doesn't need to be let in on it. And if reason indicates the Doctor is a traitor, then "reason is a liar". The script has really picked up in Part 3, and that's just one of its several quotables. She escapes the citadel in a nice red cloak, with Rodan in tow, a character that represents exactly what the Doctor must have been fleeing when he left originally. She's never been outside, nor eaten anything other than nutritious Smarties, completely limited in her existence. Maybe things were different when the Doctor was young, because he's told many stories that take place in Gallifrey's "outside", but I doubt it. He was probably always a wanderer, someone seeking to escape the Citadel. And he was evidently not alone. We meet a community of outcasts, Gallifreyans much closer to Leela than they are to Rodan - is young Ablif giving Leela the eye? That would have made a more sensible match than who she eventually ends up with - Time Lords who rejected their society but didn't have the benefit of a TARDIS to escape. In a surprising turn of continuity, the skies of Gallifrey are the burnt orange of Susan's early description (mostly), and the scenes are filtered through amber to give them a nice unearthly feel.

Obviously, Leela is well set to build a resistance movement to overthrow the Vardans. Meanwhile, the Doctor is manipulating smarmy Castellan Kelner so he exiles all the would-be rebels from the Time Lords' ranks (which will create an army), not realizing Andred is already building a resistance movement from within. It's all working out according to plan, except that Andred wants to assassinate the President to break his power. You were too convincing, Doctor! My only real complaint is that the Vardans' "shimmering" forms are so cheaply done (but see Variants).

VERSIONS: The CGI option makes the Vardans humanoid silhouettes crackling with energy, which is a much better and clearer look for them. I do think they look a bit thick and could have used more subtlety. Still, they're much more animated this way, their actions easier to understand, and the energy they fire from their hands has a cool effect. The only other addition is a staser beam, another nice, pleasant effect, this one in green. Clicking on the CG option is definitely the way to go.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Everything is better in Part 3. The dialog is cool and crisp. The Doctor and Leela are brilliant. Borusa is charming. And there aren't any shots of terrible locations trying to be the Time Lord Citadel.

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