Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Invisible Enemy (Part Two)

Originally Broadcast 8th October 1977
Written by: Bob Baker and Dave Martin

In a nutshell: Leela has to take an infected Doctor to a space hospital to treat him, but more infectants arrive with them, wanting the Doctor’s helpless body.

Review: I pick up this episode with a rather obvious ‘get-out’ clause from the previous part but there’s a rather unusual voice-over by Tom Baker and a fantastically chilling “I’m fighting for my mind” line from the Doctor. I’m not sure what kind of virus this is, making you attack your friends and giving you temporary green fur for hands and around your eyes. Not exactly my worst nightmare for a nucleus attack but that’s neither here nor there.

I love how Lowe has to wear huge great disco glasses to cover hide the fact he’s infected, maybe this is the future version of wearing a scarf to hide a vampire bite? Back to the story and Leela has managed to follow the Doctor’s desperate coordinates, taking him to a huge ‘hospital in space’ where the receptionist wears strange green plastic for clothes and a shuttlecock for a hat.

Here’s K-9’s first appearance! He makes some fancy sci-fi noises I don’t think he ever makes beyond this story and John Leeson’s voice work isn’t quite as professional as it becomes once he’s a recurring character, which feels nice and somehow suits the part. I love Frederick Jaeger as Professor Marius, he puts on a fun voice, you can see he treats this as a children’s show but performs his role with a great respect for the material at the same time, not sending it up at all. Marius and K-9 provide a brilliant double-act, you can see how it wasn’t instantly planned for K-9 to become a companion and he works very well when he isn’t put into that category.

Back to Leela who’s wondering around Hospital department 4X with a laser gun, I’m not sure how she hasn’t had that confiscated by security. She finds the Doctor, but is stopped by K-9 where there’s some funny interaction between the two characters. Watching this episode in hindsight of what happens between K-9 and the Doctor, I find myself seeing a lot of the Doctor in Marius’ character, another nice touch added to this episode. A warning arrives as they’ve lost Lowe in the eye department, if that isn’t irony I don’t know what is.

K-9 makes his debut alongside the wonderful Frederick Jaeger
Some good direction is given to this episode; I like the camera placement in the scenes with Lowe and co. marching through the hospital, which is paired with some catchy ‘bad guys marching’ music. I’m only halfway into part two but this episode must’ve been a hard one to direct for Derrick Goodwin, as there’s already an insane amount of model work needed. And now there’s some Styrofoam bits of the wall spread everywhere.

K-9 and the Doctor seem to have gotten on instantly as one asks the other about cloning procedures. It’s up to Leela to protect the duo now as the infected team from Titan are trying to force their way to the Doctor’s hospital room. Leela’s great as a companion as she’s not afraid to kill, although for a savage warrior she surprisingly doesn’t manage to kill anybody, leaving it down to K-9 who uses his laser-nose for the first time!

The plots moving a lot here as the Professor clones the Doctor and Leela, it’s great how this doesn’t feel like the main point of the plot, being explained away very quickly. An entire story could’ve focused on the cloning part of the story but B. Baker and Martin avoid doing this, focusing instead on the already set-up plot strands.

Cleverly, the Doctor is out of action so we’re given another Doctor to follow, so our lead hasn’t dropped out of the show. Cliffhanger time strikes now as the cloned copies of the Doctor and Leela are shrunk down and implanted into the main Doctor’s diseased body!

Tomorrow: The Invisible Enemy, Part Three!

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