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Doctor Who: The Invasion Of Time

1/04/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Doctor Who: The Invasion Of Time in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Invasion Of Time in the UK

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region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBCDVD 2586. 2 DVDs 6 episodes 150 minutes with extras. Price: about GBP 4.00 (UK) if you know where to look) cast: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, John Leeson, John Arnatt, Milton Jones and Chris Tranchell.

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If you’ve ever thought the Doctor was treacherous and could turn against his own people, the Time Lords, then this story, ‘The Invasion Of Time’, will affirm all you’ve ever thought about this renegade.

Of course, you could be from an alternative reality, however this is the case presented at the start when the Doctor (actor Tom Baker) leaves Leela (actress Louise Jameson) in the TARDIS as he negotiates with some vague-looking aliens to hand over Gallifrey to them providing he stays in command of his own kind. He then goes to Gallifrey and takes over the vacant post of President and sets up some protocols with Chancellor Borusa (actor John Arnatt) like having his quarters lined in lead and getting Leela out of the capitol. He later explains to Borusa that the aliens are telepathic and this is the only way he can explain what is going on and what is needed was in this room. In the meantime, the Doctor needs to discover who the aliens are so they can be defeated so opens the Gallifrey force field a little to let them in. It’s a simple matter to put their planet into a time loop and remove them from reality when K-9 has tracked down where they’ve come from. A similar thing was done to the alien race in ‘The War Games’. However, there were aliens behind the Vardans, the Sontarans have arrived and things have suddenly gotten worse.

I’ve glossing over a lot of this plot in the synopsis, simply because so much could be construed as spoiler land. I should point out that you see a lot more of Gallifrey this time, including some who have walked away from being Time Lords for a simpler life and also a look around some of the TARDIS’ interior. We also finally see a female Time Lord or rather Time Lady in the form of Rodan (actress Hilary Ryan) who has a rather menial job and an indication of how male-dominated Gallifryan society is and from the audio commentary being considered as a prototype Romana.

There is an entire DVD devoted to the extras this time. ‘The Invasion Of Time’ was used to fill in a gap in the schedule when another writer didn’t get what made ‘Doctor Who’ tick. If anything, it goes to show how desperation often makes the best stories. It also builds on the Time Lords from ‘The Deadly Assassin’. There is also a series of deleted scenes although you would be hard pressed over their significance had they been included but it does give some insight that not everything that is acted ends up on the screen even when the performance is OK.

The audio commentary by actress Louise Jameson, voice artist John Leeson with K-9 in tow, writer Anthony Reed (being one half of David Agnew to avoid union problems) and special effects designer Mat Irving were there for all six episodes with none taking half an hour out for a tea break. This made for a good balance of information and asking questions, even in none of them could remember how many regenerations Time Lords have. Then again, no one asked why the Sontarans keep the back of their neck Achilles heel exposed and vulnerable to expert knife-throwers. I do suspect that this might be in case the Sontarans turn against themselves. As a clone species, they are all replaceable.

Something else that isn’t explained in the audio commentary is why the chief guard couldn’t blast the Doctor in the TARDIS exclusion zone, how could K-9 zap him instead, even from that angle. I think the definition is the power of the blaster. K-9 used a low power zap allowing the guard to recover quickly so wasn’t likely to be inhibited.

Considering that this was another rushed through story to fill in a gap in the schedule, ‘The Invasion Of Time’ holds to well remarkably well with some sterling performances and it was great seeing Milton Johns pulling off his unique talent of double-dealing characters again as one of the highlights. It also ends Leela’s companionship with the Doctor with an end of season with K-9 Mk II in the works. Don’t miss it.

GF Willmetts

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