The Time of the Daleks

We are the Masters of Time!

The Daleks

Synopsis

The Doctor has always admired the work of William Shakespeare. So he is a little surprised that Charley doesn’t hold the galaxy’s greatest playwright in the same esteem. In fact, she’s never heard of him.

Which the Doctor thinks is quite improbable.

General Mariah Learman, ruling Britain after the Eurowars, is one of Shakespeare’s greatest admirers, and is convinced her time machine will enable her to see the plays’ original performances.

Which the Doctor believes is extremely unlikely.

The Daleks just want to help. They want Learman to get her time machine working. They want Charley to appreciate the first-ever performance of Julius Caesar. They believe that Shakespeare is the greatest playwright ever to have existed and venerate his memory.

Which the Doctor knows is utterly impossible.

Review

The Time of the Daleks feels impeccably researched, or at the least like the writer showing off his knowledge about Shakespearean plays. Whilst the idea at the heart of this story is undoubtedly a good one, ultimately, the story is not the strongest. It is to the credit of Nicholas Briggs, the director, in making Paul McGann’s first meeting with the Daleks not be an unmitigated disaster, and the central premise is sound enough to see this through.

The idea at the core of this one is pretty solid – William Shakespeare has been removed from history, causing humans in New Britain and Charley to gradually forget him. It is a plot that would only work for a story set in this location, as the concept of remembering Shakespeare is almost weaponised. It is certainly powerful enough to convince the opposition to General Learman that the poet and playwright disappearing from history is a plot by the ‘benevolent’ dictator and a side effect of her attempts to develop a means to time travel. As bizarre as it sounds, hearing the Daleks, and in the opening moments, Rassilon, quoting Shakespeare as Skaro’s famous children prepare to detonate their temporal extinction device is really quite powerful and well done. This is probably the most verbose we ever hear the Daleks and I appreciate that this probably won’t be for everybody but I rather enjoyed this aspect of this story. I think that it’s good to see different things attempted with the Daleks, and although this does eventually and inevitably dissolve into traditional Dalek action, it is at least to this story’s credit that they try and do something a bit different. The idea of time travel through mirrors is a nice one, if a bit silly, and something that we would see on the television in Turn Left. My favourite moment was probably the transformation of Learman into the Dalek mutant and the suicide of a ‘failed’ Dalek to include her in their plans. It’s a lovely moment, almost like body horror in audio and is executed really well.

Nick Briggs’ direction of this story does help it slightly, especially with the sound design and background music. There is a nice bit of piano that teases the arrival of the Daleks, and of course we get the traditional Dalek heartbeat. One of my favourite things in this story was the effects used on the voices of Viola and Charley as they attempt to use the mirrors to time travel, distorting their voices, which is a really nice way of realising this on audio. His key role of course, is the Daleks, which it feels obvious to say that he does well here, but having a solid presence in a story like this is always useful, playing the usual Daleks and the Supreme. He also has a lot more work to do than normal, given the fact that the story gives the Daleks more to say than usual.

I feel that the first two parts are good, but starts to fall down in the concluding two parts. It almost feels as though there is enough material to be put into two stories here – one, with the Daleks invading Earth through its history, and the other with Shakespeare (and maybe other famous literary figures) disappearing from time and the impact on time and the present. I will never criticise a writer for doing their homework, as it were, but Justin Richards feels as though he throws every possible Shakespearean reference at this and not all of them work. Part of the problem might be that there are too many characters, and certainly the majority of the guest cast don’t make much of an impression. The exception to this is Mariah Learman, played by Dot Smith, who ultimately wants to be the only person who can remember Shakespeare as she descends into insanity, bemoaning the fact that his skill is taken for granted. Smith is really good in the role and makes the most of this part, but I don’t think the other guest characters are written as well, and so this causes them to feel quite similar.

Whilst Paul McGann and India Fisher do put in decent performances, this isn’t the greatest Eighth Doctor and Charley story ever. In fact, I think this story could work with any Doctor/Companion pairing, with nothing really to tie it to these two other than the final scene, which links into the ongoing arc surrounding Charley.

Verdict: I actually managed to talk myself up in the course of writing this review. There are some interesting ideas in The Time of the Daleks, but a promising start leads to a bit of a convaluted ending. 6/10

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Dot Smith (General Mariah Learman), Julian Harries (Major Ferdinand), Nicola Boyce (Viola), Jem Bassett (Kitchen Boy), Mark McDonnell (Priestly), Lee Moone (Hart), Ian Brooker (Professor Osric), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Voice), Clayton Hickman (Dalek Voice/Yokel), Robert Curbishley (Marcus), Ian Potter (Mark Anthony/Army Officer/Tannoy) & Don Warrington (Rassilon).

Writer: Justin Richards

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Behind the Scenes

  • This story marks the first credited appearance of Rassilon in an audio story. He appeared at the end of Seasons of Fear, but was not credited.
  • The first Dalek story for Paul McGann – despite the Daleks briefly making an audio cameo at the start of the TV Movie, the Doctor and the Daleks did not share any scenes.
  • Whilst the Doctor has met Shakespeare on a number of occasions, this is chronologically the first meeting between the two.

Cast Notes

  • Dot Smith appeared in Dalek Empire as Milvas.
  • Julian Harries also appeared in Bloodtide.
  • Nicola Boyce appeared in Embrace the Darkness and would go on to appear in Neverland.
  • To hide the fact that Shakespeare was being portrayed by a woman, Jemma Bassett was credited as Jem.
  • Mark McDonald would go on to appear in Neverland, as well as featuring in the War Doctor audios and had previously appeared in Embrace the Darkness.
  • Following on from his appearance in Embrace the Darkness, Lee Moone would go on to appear in Neverland.
  • Ian Brooker had previously appeared in Embrace the Darkness.
  • Clayton Hickman designed a lot of DVD and Big Finish CD covers.
  • Robert Curbishley has appeared in numerous releases across the Main Range and UNIT releases.
  • Ian Potter has written a number of stories for both novels and Big Finish.

Best Quote

It’s a strange partnership where they do all the work and we get all the reward.

Major Ferdinand

Battlefield

My blood and thunder days are long past.

Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart

Synopsis

The Doctor and Ace arrive near Carbury, where the Doctor re-encounters UNIT, headed by Brigadier Winifred Bambera, who has a nuclear convoy nearby Lake Vortigern. At the bottom of that lake is a spaceship from another dimension, containing King Arthur held in suspended animation and his sword, Excalibur.

A knight, Ancelyn, arrives on Earth to help his King, but is followed by the villainous Morgaine and Mordred, all of whom recognise the Doctor as Merlin. The involvement of the Doctor ultimately brings Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart out of his cosy retirement to join the inevitable fight.

Mini Review

The Brigadier is in this. So clearly this is a 10/10.

What? You want a full review? Oh, go on then.

Review

Battlefield is probably the weakest story in the final season, but it is not as bad as that would suggest. The final season of the original show’s run is known for perhaps being one of the strongest in its history and Battlefield kicks things off with a nod to the show’s past in the shape of the Brigadier and a romp of a story concerning Arthurian mythology with knights from other dimensions. It’s reputation is probably not helped by the fact that it came from the pen of Ben Aaronovitch, who wrote the superb season opener for the previous season, Remembrance of the Daleks, which I think we’d all prefer to remember as the real 25th Anniversary story than Silver Nemesis. There are flaws, as with a lot of Doctor Who, but to me, Battlefield feels like a comfort blanket.

The problems with this story really circulate around the writing, direction and music. Keff McCulloch’s score feels really overblown and intrusive. Those who find Murray Gold’s early scores to be too over the top should watch this story and see how understated Gold’s music is in comparison. When it comes to the direction, it is interesting to compare this story to the early Jon Pertwee era where the HAVOC team performed a lot of the stunts. Meanwhile here, the action scenes feel rather flat and lifeless, in particular the battle between Mordred’s forces and UNIT, which does make it difficult to take them seriously. When it comes to the writing of the story, there are some really poorly written aspects, such as Ace and Ling Tai’s dialogue, which makes it feel like nobody on the production team had ever spoken to another teenager, and, like in previous review of The Ultimate Evil, Mordred has moments where all he seems to do is manically laugh for what feels like five minutes at a time. It does feel as though there are too many characters here, and perhaps this was realised by the production team as they remove characters like Warmsly and the owners of the hotel later on in the narrative. Additionally, there are some logical leaps, like why Morgaine’s army fight with a combination of laser guns and grenades, but on the other hand, just normal medieval swords. For all the writing problems, there are moments like where the Doctor explains to Ace that the reverse of Clarke’s Law is also true, which reminds me of when Thor explains how Asgard works to Jane Foster in his first movie.

Can someone tell me what on earth is going on?

Well if my hunch is right, the Earth could be at the centre of a war that doesn’t even belong to this dimension!

Shou Yuing and the Seventh Doctor

I’ll move on to something that I think is more positive: the return of the Brigadier. This is a different Lethbridge-Stewart to the one that was last seen in The Five Doctors and Mawdryn Undead, as he is domesticated, only interested in getting involved when he knows that the Doctor is there. It’s a lovely moment between Sylvester McCoy and Nicholas Courtney when the Brigadier immediately recognises him as The Doctor. He is a bit more uncomfortable when it comes to dealing with Ace, addressing her as the latest one, but it is perhaps a poor bit of writing for her reaction. Ace came in immediately as her predecessor, Mel, left, so she doesn’t have the excuse of not knowing that the Doctor has travelled with others before her. Perhaps it is supposed to denote that Ace isn’t like the previous companions, but it is poorly written and makes Ace seem rude to someone she has just met. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart acts as a comparison to Brigadier Bambera, played by Angela Bruce. Bambera comes across as much more cold and clinical, perhaps understandably as she doesn’t have the same back catalogue of appearances as Lethbridge-Stewart. Her appointment is just one of the sweeping changes that seem to have occurred since we’ve last seen UNIT, which seems to have come on leaps and bounds as a military organisation since we last saw them briefly in The Five Doctors. They seem a lot more capable than they were in the Pertwee era and have made developments It is perhaps surprising, however, that Bambera has not been briefed as to the possibility of encountering the Doctor.

The villains of the piece are a bit of a mixed bag: on the positive side, there are Morgaine and the Destroyer, on the negative is Mordred. Jean Marsh does really well with Morgaine, who could become overblown in different hands, but she takes this part and makes it really good. Her scene with Courtney after his helicopter is blown up is great and she does certainly carry off her performance with a sense of majesty. The Destroyer is, from a technical point of view, spectacular especially in a story where the lack of budget is painfully obvious. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, Mordred is rather poor. It’s rare that I find a character so annoying that I was glad when Morgaine was willing to let him die at the hands of the Brigadier, then frustrated when he cropped back up. Having been slightly obsessed with Arthurian legend in my childhood, I liked the idea that they were from an alternate dimension where Arthurian legend was closer to reality.

The Seventh Doctor is central to this story, trapped in a situation orchestrated by his future self, known as Merlin and this is a good performance from McCoy. At times he is utterly bluffing his position but at others, he is utterly in control. He is in his element when he is dealing with the Brigadier and it is utterly believable that he is a future incarnation of Pertwee’s Doctor. Sophie Aldred doesn’t have a lot to do here, and isn’t terribly well written. This story does include her throwing a racial slur at Shou when Morgaine is trying to manipulate them to get her own hands on Excalibur, which is troubling. It also does go some way to explain that Ace is a bit of an outcast and doesn’t really have friends outside of her travels in the TARDIS, something which would be explored more in the season to come.

Verdict: This is no Remembrance of the Daleks, but frankly, few things are. Aaronovitch’s difficult second episode is good fun, if littered with issues around writing, direction and music, but ultimately is quite easy watching. 7/10

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Jean Marsh (Morgaine), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), James Ellis (Peter Warmsly), Angela Bruce (Brigadier Winifred Bambera), Christopher Bowen (Mordred), Marcus Gilbert (Ancelyn), Angela Douglas (Doris Lethbridge-Stewart), Noel Collins (Pat Rowlinson), June Bland (Elizabeth Rowlinson), Ling Tai (Shou Yuing), Robert Jezek (Sergeant Zbrigniev), Dorota Rae (Flight Lieutenant Lavel), Stefan Schwartz (Knight Commander), Paul Tomany (Major Husak) & Marek Anton (The Destroyer).

Writer: Ben Aaronovitch

Director: Michael Kerrigan

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • This story marks Nicholas Courtney’s final appearance in televised Doctor Who ahead of his passing in 2011, and the Brigadier was written out in The Wedding of River Song. Courtney did reprise the role in The Sarah Jane Adventures and in the independent production Downtime, as well as for Big Finish.
  • In the original outline for this story, the Brigadier was going to die, however, when the production team realised that this was going to be largely overshadowed by explosions, they reconsidered.
  • Graeme Harper was approached to direct, however, he was busy working on Boon.
  • The water tank sequence at the end of Part 2 almost caused catastrophy when the glass began to crack, sending water over the studio floor towards live wires. Sylvester McCoy alerted the crew by breaking character and swearing to get Sophie Aldred out of the tank. The majority of the cast and crew, including Aldred, believe that she would have died without McCoy’s intervention, however, Gary Downie disputed that Aldred was at any risk, but the floor crew were.
  • The last story to feature Bessie, the Third Doctor’s vintage car, in original footage. Bessie would appear in The Name of the Doctor, but only in archive footage.
  • The last serial of the original run to feature the TARDIS interior. The scene in Part One was shot on a hastily constructed set, covered up by shooting in semi-darkness. The regular scenery had been accidently disposed of after recording The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.
  • Working titles for this story included Knightfall, Storm over Avallion, Lakes Over Avallion, Pool of Avallion, Song of Avallion, Stormtroopers of Avallion and The Battlefield.
  • Part One had the lowest rating of an episode of Doctor Who at 3.1 million viewers.

Cast Notes

  • Jean Marsh had previously appeared in The Crusade and The Dalek’s Master Plan. Coincidentally, Nicholas Courtney was also in The Dalek’s Master Plan.
  • June Bland had previously appeared in Earthshock.
  • Angela Bruce would reprise her role as Brigadier Bambera in the Big Finish audio story, Animal.

Best Moment

As someone who is fond of the Brigadier, I do quite like his face-off with the Destroyer, followed by the revelation that he is not dead, but prepared to hand his responsibilities over to Ace.

Best Quote

Ahh…little man. What do you want of me?

Get off my world!

Pitiful. Can this world do no better than you as their champion?

Probably. I just do the best I can.

The Destroyer and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Previous Seventh Doctor Review: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Further Reading

Remembrance of the Daleks

Flatline

Could you not just let me enjoy this moment of not knowing something? I mean, it happens so rarely.

The Twelfth Doctor

Synopsis

With the Doctor trapped in a shrinking TARDIS, Clara is forced into the role of the Doctor, complete with a group of people to save as a force from another dimension threaten their existence.

Review

Flatline sees a return to the “Doctor-lite” stories that were commonplace in David Tennant’s era and feels like a story that wouldn’t have felt out of place in Russell T Davies’ era as showrunner, with contemporary Britain the setting for a takeover. However, by the mere fact that we haven’t had an abundance of this story in the intervening years, and with an original and creepy foe, Mathieson makes this feel quite fresh. Jamie Mathieson is a fantastic addition to the show for the late Moffat era and this story is a fantastic example of what he brought to the show.

Unlike some other Doctor-lite stories, Capaldi’s Doctor feels constantly present through being the voice in Clara’s ear. If we compare this to an episode like Love & Monsters or Turn Left, it is scarcely noticeable that Capaldi probably shot all of his scenes in a couple of days. Clara is forced into the lead role, and it is perhaps a chance to see how developed this character has become over the course of this series. From being ‘the Impossible Girl’ in her first half series, she has become a defined and flawed human being, seen to be lying to Danny and making the Doctor complicit in this. From his brief cameo, Danny seems to have made his peace with the idea of Clara continuing her travels in the TARDIS, but the fact that Clara still continues to deceive him is more of an issue in their relationship. Whilst I have problems with this, they become much more relevant to the series finale and so I will go into more detail when I get to review that episode. That said, Danny does encapsulate Ultimately, the story is designed to show the responsibility that the Doctor takes on when he enters situations like this and he is clearly alarmed at the ease with which Clara slips into the role. She takes the authority role over the group of community service outcasts and is ultimately accountable when only Rigsy and Fenton survive.

Why can’t you say it? I was the Doctor and I was good.

You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara.

Thank you.

Goodness had nothing to do with it.

Clara Oswald and the Twelfth Doctor

As mentioned above, this story does feel as though it wouldn’t have felt out of place during the Tenth Doctor’s era. Mathieson has set this on a council estate, which harks back to the Powell Estate, and there are numerous mentions that the authorities are hoping that the problem will solve itself. Officer Forrest tells Clara and Rigsy as much shortly before she is absorbed into the rug as the trio investigate the home of another victim. Clara’s band of companions feel like the forgotten of society, and Rigsy is an example of the potential that exists in these scenarios. A further reinforcement of this is Fenton, the community service supervisor, who regards his charges as scum. Fenton fills the role of the person who the audience want something unpleasant to happen to, almost guaranteeing their survival. This reminded me most strongly of Voyage of the Damned, where Rickston Slade survives the events aboard the Titanic. Mathieson does waver from some aspects of the Russell T Davies era and Doctor Who in general, however, when Clara stops Rigsy from making the heroic sacrifice, substituting him losing his life with her losing her hairband. The story also has some moments of lightness and humour, such as Fenton only seeing a blank piece of paper when presented with the psychic paper, due to his lack of imagination, a detail which is completely throwaway, but it’s always nice to see that the Doctor’s gadgets have flaws.

Ultimately, the strength of the story lies in the monster. A foe from another dimension, whose motivations aren’t really ever fleshed out, but seem to be hostile, the ‘Boneless’ are a great one-off antagonist and bring out the strongest elements on the production side. The direction by Douglas Mackinnon is fantastic, and he makes the story feel really unsettling at times, starting with the cold open where the camera moves slowly to allow the reveal of Roscoe’s stretched out body. This story utilises a combination of great direction and special effects, particularly when the Boneless take on a three-dimensional form in the tunnel towards the end of the story. Moments like the reveal of George being killed work really well, and the transition between him seeming three dimensional and then merging into the wall and eventually melting away is really well done. One moment, conversely, that doesn’t work so well is when the hand pulls Al back down the tunnel and the camera tracks with it. It would be much more effective to have Al just pulled out of shot, but I have come to terms with it as it introduces the human facsimiles who are really sinister in the way that they move and their appearance. The story also takes advantage of playing with the reduced size of the TARDIS, complete with funny moments like the Doctor passing Clara the sledgehammer through her handbag or the Addams Family reference as the Doctor gets the TARDIS off the train track, followed by his little celebratory dance.

Putting Jenna Coleman in the leading role works really well for this story, and brings great performances out of her and Capaldi. The Doctor wants to believe the best of the Boneless until he has definitive proof that they are out to harm humanity, and his speech at the end was the moment that sold me on this Doctor forever. Out of the guest cast, Rigsy really stands out and it is a good performance by Joivan Wade, who we’ll see again in Series 9. Rigsy is a character who falls into the mould of a directionless outcast but his experiences with Clara (and by extension, the Doctor) open his eyes. I really like the fact that the solution to the story involves his artistic skills to power up the TARDIS.

Your last painting was so good it saved the world. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

It’s not gonna be easy. I’ve got a hairband to live up to.

The Twelfth Doctor and Rigsy

Verdict: A story which is creepy and visually interesting and sees the companion take on the responsibilities of the Doctor, Flatline is a standout episode from Capaldi’s debut series. 10/10

Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Joivan Wade (Rigsy), Samuel Anderson (Danny), John Cummins (Roscoe), Jessica Hayles (PC Forrest), Christopher Fairbank (Fenton), Matt Bardock (Al), Raj Bajaj (George), James Quinn (Bill) & Michelle Gomez (Missy).

Writer: Jamie Mathieson

Director: Douglas Mackinnon

Behind the Scenes

  • This was the original idea that Jamie Mathieson pitched to Steven Moffat, after which, he was also asked to write Mummy on the Orient Express. After several drafts, he was asked to minimise the role of the Doctor to abide by the production schedule.
  • Mathieson wanted to maintain a sense of mystery around the Boneless, and so chose not to have them speak.

Best Moment

There are a lot here, but I think I’m going to have to go for the Doctor getting the TARDIS off the train tracks.

Best Quote

I tried to talk. I want you to remember that. I tried to reach out. I tried to understand you. But I think you understand us perfectly. I think that you just don’t care. And I don’t know if you’re here to invade, infilitrate, or just replace us. I don’t suppose it really matters now. You are monsters! That is the role you seem determined to play. So it seems I must play mine. The man who stops the monsters. I’m sending you back to your own dimension. Who knows? Some of you may even survive the trip. And if you do, remember this. You are not welcome here. This plane is defended. I am the Doctor. And I name you the Boneless!

The Twelfth Doctor

Previous Twelfth Doctor review: Mummy on the Orient Express

The Android Invasion

Is that finger loaded?

The Fourth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor and Sarah arrive at Devesham on Earth, near the Space Defence Station. However, as they investigate the village, they discover that all is not as it seems: the village is deserted, the telephones don’t work, calendars are stuck on the same date and

Review

I’d love to be able to say that The Android Invasion is a lot of fun and feels in keeping with an otherwise superb run of episodes in Season 13. Instead, Terry Nation’s tenth Doctor Who story struggles with inconsistencies, pointless nods to continuity and poor plotting. It is not entirely terrible, however, and does probably suffer from being similar in certain ways to Terror of the Zygons, the season opener and perhaps the blame has to be split between Nation and the script editor, Robert Holmes, for not making these two stories feel more distinct. It isn’t all bad either; the first two parts of the story are genuinely unnerving and there is some solid direction from the ever-reliable Barry Letts.

Ultimately, the main problem with this is the plot, and it is rather frustrating but not surprising that this comes from the pen of Terry Nation who has been capable of great stories, but equally some pretty drab ones. This story features elements such as meteorites, duplicates and viruses which feels as though Nation is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. When the Devesham that the Doctor and Sarah arrive in at the start of the story is revealed to be a highly detailed duplicate to prepare for a Kraal invasion, it begs the question why they were making such a detailed duplicate only to destroy it. Then there comes the eye patch reveal for Crayford which is just plain stupid. I know that the Kraals have obviously manipulated the astronaut to believe that humanity has abandoned him, but it is never explained why he has never felt inclined to check under the patch before. Further issues include why Sarah’s duplicate’s face falls off when the android duplicates are supposed to be indestructible and why the threat of invasion disappears as soon as Styggron is killed. The most glaring involves the TARDIS pause control, which means that the TARDIS travels from the duplicate woods to the real ones when Sarah puts her key in the lock, which smacks of laziness. Whilst Nation’s basic concept is sound, it feels as though as soon as he put flesh onto the bones, it falls apart.

We then come to the use of UNIT in this story. I’m not sure why the tease of the Brigadier is included after it became clear that Nicholas Courtney was unavailable as it almost heightens the expectation that he will come in at some point to come to the rescue or get in the Doctor’s way. Colonel Faraday is also such a disappointment in comparison and ultimately isn’t good enough to lace the Brigadier’s bootlaces. Anyone who has read my reviews of the Third Doctor’s stories with UNIT knows that they are part of one of my favourite eras of the show, and knows that one of my biggest gripes with Chris Chibnall has been the scrapping of UNIT. Therefore, it is a bit of a disappointment to see Benton and Harry dealt with so shabbily, especially considering that Harry was a duplicate in his final outing with the Doctor, Terror of the Zygons. In Sladen’s autobiography she states that at the time it didn’t feel as though this would be the final appearance for Marter, but with hindsight, it feels like he never really got a proper goodbye. The character is being revised by Big Finish, played by Christopher Naylor and will return to travelling with the Fourth Doctor, so maybe the character will finally get a farewell.

Let’s try the pub!

The Fourth Doctor

Barry Letts does his best with the story and manages to create some striking visuals out of this story, starting from the opening moments when the UNIT soldier staggers through the forest. Other highlights include the Doctor and Sarah walking through the deserted Devesham and the sequence in the pub where the android doubles enter and start acting normally when the clock chimes, which are really eerie. The advantage of bringing Letts back to direct becomes clear in the final part in the Doctor vs. Android Doctor fight, which looks really convincing and an action-based finale reminiscent of the Pertwee era.

The relationship between the Doctor and Sarah is cemented here, and there are some nice moments between them in the first part, like the bit with the bramble, which makes their relationship seem believable. Despite my criticisms of Nation’s story, one part that works really well is the build-up to the cliff-hanger at the end of Episode 2 where it is revealed that Sarah is an android duplicate. It is a clever reveal, with a seemingly throwaway line of Sarah not liking ginger pop, and the fact that the real Sarah wasn’t wearing her scarf when he left her. Combined with the way that the Doctor disarms the android, it builds to one of the better cliff-hangers in Doctor Who history. Among the guest cast, Milton Johns does a decent job with Crayford, the missing British astronaut who is manipulated by the Kraals, but ultimately, better actors would struggle with the eye patch reveal. Martin Friend as Styggron stands out too, even though the Kraals and their plot doesn’t really make sense.

Verdict: Ultimately, The Android Invasion feels as though it has an interesting basic concept but falls apart under scrutiny. Sadly, ultimately it left me feeling cold. 4/10

Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan), Patrick Newell (Colonel Faraday), John Levene (RSM Benton), Milton Johns (Guy Crayford), Max Faulkner (Corporal Adams), Peter Welch (Morgan), Martin Friend (Styggron), Dave Carter (Grierson), Roy Skelton (Chedaki), Stuart Fell (Kraal), Hugh Lund (Matthews) & Heather Emmanuel (Tessa).

Writer: Terry Nation

Director: Barry Letts

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • Terry Nation was inspired by the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This would be Nation’s penultimate script for the show, returning for the last time for Destiny of the Daleks. This was his first story not to feature the Daleks since The Keys of Marinus.
  • The first UNIT story not to feature the Brigadier, although it was originally intended to. Nicholas Courtney had committed to a theatre tour believing that he would not be returning to the show. He also stated later to Doctor Who Magazine that he was “very annoyed” after being asked back for a previous story and had his part cancelled at the last moment, after he had already turned down other work.
  • Neither Ian Marter nor John Levene enjoyed returning for this story; Levene as none of the other UNIT regulars were present and Marter because he didn’t see any reason for Harry to be there. Sadly, this would be Marter’s final appearance on the show, as he passed away on 28 October 1986. Levene would reprise the role for Big Finish Productions.
  • Working titles for this story included The Kraals, The Kraal Invasion and The Enemy Within.
  • The comedian Kenneth Williams noted in his diary after watching Episode 2 that “Doctor Who gets more and more silly.”

Cast Notes

  • Milton Johns appeared in The Enemy of the World and would appear in the later Fourth Doctor serial, The Invasion of Time.

Best Moment

The cliffhanger at the end of Part 2, where the Sarah that the Doctor is revealed to be talking to is an android double, culminating in the famous shot where “her” face falls off. It is by far the best part of this story.

Best Quote

Once upon a time there were three sisters, and they lived in the bottom of a treacle well. Their names were Olga, Marsha and Irena…Are you listening, Tillie? I feel disorientated.

This is the disorientation centre!

That makes sense.

The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith

Previous Fourth Doctor story: Pyramids of Mars

Reviews Mentioned:

Terror of the Zygons

Cold Blood

Okay. Bringing things to order. The first meeting of representatives of the human race and homo reptilia. Ha! Never said that before. That’s fab!

The Eleventh Doctor

Synopsis

As the Silurians wake up under the Earth’s surface, the Doctor must attempt to broker a peace between the Silurians and the human race, whilst the humans on the surface attempt to keep their Silurian captive alive.

Review

Despite my praise (and surprise) at enjoying The Hungry Earth, the concluding part is where it largely falls apart. Whilst I could largely overlook the similarities to (Doctor Who and) The Silurians in the first part, the tribute tips over into derivation more here. There are some good things, with strong performances from the central trio and a decent ending, but this episode feels like instead of building on the previous episode’s cliffhanger, it flounders and drags, perhaps because nostalgia for the Jon Pertwee story can only carry you so far.

I do feel that this story suffers from the fact that it doesn’t feel like anything drastically important happens until the closing couple of minutes. This might be down to the fact that there’s not very much that can be done with the Silurians apart from negotiate about how best to share the planet. In fact, rather than having a looming sense of threat from the Silurians, this instead comes from the humans who are threatening to reactivate their drill to destroy the homo reptilia colony. Unlike some other great late series two-parters that we have had in the revived series so far, this neither escalates majorly nor goes off in a seemingly different direction. In this story, it takes around 28 minutes for Restac to do the inevitable and awaken the Silurian army. As a result, the conclusion of the main plot feels inconsequential as the Doctor and Eldane are forced to conclude that humanity are not ready to share the planet and the Silurians are put back to sleep for a further thousand years.

There’s also some pretty poor characterisation going on here. Malohkeh is revealed to be a human loving scientist, which seems at odds to his behaviour in The Hungry Earth, where he is seen to have already dissected Mo and seems perfectly happy to dissect Amy in the set-up for the cliffhanger. Equally, the whole family dynamic seems a little bit suspect and it is difficult to feel too much for Ambrose considering her actions in this story. She is absolutely right to be concerned for her son and her father when she discovers that Alaya’s sting has poisoned him, and Alaya plays on those concerns in the confrontation scene which results in her death. However, she is not a terribly likeable person and it doesn’t really follow that she would potentially put her son and husband Mo into more danger when she tasers the Silurian. We also don’t really get to know the family terribly well, despite spending an hour and a half in their company, so it is difficult to be too concerned about their ultimate fate. The only bright sparks here are Meera Syal’s Nasreen and Neve McIntosh as Restac, who is essentially a continuation of Alaya. Nasreen though feels sadly underused, although she does provide some grounding to Amy’s more outlandish suggestions about how the planet could be shared in the negotiations with Eldane, pointing out how impossible it would be to sell this to the human race. Meanwhile McIntosh is great when she is seething with anger, and the scene where she discovers Alaya’s dead body is superbly acted and directed by Ashley Way.

The core cast here are good, and it is another strong performance from Arthur Darvill as Rory. Especially in his scenes on the surface, it is difficult not to feel a bit sorry for Rory being stuck with people like Ambrose and Tony and it is interesting to note that he tells them that he trusts the Doctor. It feels as though there are some missing adventures here (hi Big Finish!) where the Doctor and Rory start to warm to each other here. Matt Smith is good here too, and his reaction when he realises that Alaya is dead and that any hope of a deal between the Silurians and humans is pretty much doomed is well played. It is interesting watching this story relatively closely with Kill the Moon to compare the way the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors deal with these malleable points of time. Ultimately Smith’s Doctor is doing the same kind of thing as Capaldi’s in trying to ensure that humans make the decisions for the future. The Twelfth Doctor, however, is much gruffer and hands-off than his immediate predecessor, with Smith’s Doctor feeling as though he is gently guiding them, rather than the seeming abandonment in Series 8. Rory’s death in this story wasn’t completely unexpected when I was watching in 2010 but the ending scenes still pack an outstanding emotional punch thanks to some great acting by Smith and Karen Gillan, and the ultimate heartbreak when we realise that Amy has forgotten Rory is a fantastic gutpunch. It just feels as though this comes from a much stronger episode, and clearly has Moffat’s fingerprints all over it, rather than coming from Chris Chibnall.

I promise you, Ambrose, I trust the Doctor with my life. We stick to his plan.

Rory Williams

Verdict: Sadly, Cold Blood doesn’t really build to anything and feels like a bit of a damp squib. There are some good performances in here and a powerful ending does redeem it a bit, though. 4/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Neve McIntosh (Alaya/Restac), Meera Syal (Nasreen Chaudry), Robert Pugh (Tony Mack), Nia Roberts (Ambrose), Richard Hope (Malohkeh), Stephen Moore (Eldane), Alun Raglan (Mo) & Samuel Davies (Elliot).

Writer: Chris Chibnall

Director: Ashley Way

Behind the Scenes

  • Chris Chibnall wanted the second part to focus on people making mistakes whilst under massive pressure and the accidental conflict coming from attempts to protect family. Steven Moffat believed the theme of mistakes to be appropriate for the death and subsequent erasure of Rory as the Doctor ultimately causes it when he stops to look at the Crack.
  • The story was filmed in the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, which had previously been used in The End of the World, Gridlock and Fires of Pompeii and would go on to be used again in Let’s Kill Hitler and Nightmare in Silver.

Best Moment

It has to be the final moments, where Rory is killed and erased from history completely.

Best Quote

Amy Pond and Nasreen Chaudhry, speaking for the planet. Humanity couldn’t have better ambassadors. C’mon! Who has more fun than us?

Is this what happens in the future, the planet gets shared? Is that what we need to do?

Uh, what are you talking about?

Oh, Nasreen, sorry. Probably worth mentioning at this stage, Amy and I travel in time.

Anything else?

There are fixed points in time where things must always stay the way they are. This is not one of them. This is an opportunity. A temporal tipping point. Whatever happens today will change future events – create its own timeline, its own reality. The future pivots around you. Here. Now. So do good. For humanity. And for Earth.

The Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond and Nasreen Chaudhry

Previous Eleventh Doctor review: The Hungry Earth

Further reading

Doctor Who and the Silurians

Kill the Moon