Monday, 4 July 2011

The Android Invasion (Part 1)

Originally Broadcast 22nd November 1975
Written by: Terry Nation

In a nutshell: The Doctor and Sarah arrive on what they think is the planet Earth, but investigating into their surroundings, nothing is quite as it seems.

Review: Having not seen this serial for a long, long time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially as it bares Terry Nation’s name who isn’t favoured for his non-Dalek stories (this and 1964’s ‘The Keys Of Marinus’) but I absolutely loved it! The one (very) poor aspect is the title of the serial, as it gives far too much away before we know anything about the story itself.

The opening feels very fresh, shot like it’s the recap from the previous episode and this is part two, it makes you think you’ve walked in on the middle of an adventure, which is great and works very effectively here. But speaking of cliffhangers, it draws me to the close of this episode, which felt rushed, poor and plastic (in the appearance of this serials monster). I think Nation thought “Bugger, I’m approaching twenty-five minutes, what can I do?” and decided to chuck a monster spying on Sarah.

I didn’t like certain aspects of the characterisation for Lis Sladen’s Sarah Jane either, such as leaving the TARDIS key in the lock and acting like the android pod was a bit of unimportant junk-surely she knows better by now, being in her third series as companion. However, this was countered with brilliant writing for her such as when she’s falling off the cliff and Sladen’s acting is, as ever, spot on.

Tom Baker’s Doctor is, obviously, the biggest part of this serial and was written perfectly, being giving jokes aplenty, although the best part for me was how he instantly turned serious for moments such as Sarah’s cliff dive and the UNIT Soldier committing apparent suicide.

Now onto the plot itself (there’s nothing more you can say about Baker that isn’t summed up by ‘brilliant’), which is also just as good. The mystery Nation sets up is really good and gripping, I think it’s one of the most interestingly mysterious plots in the show, as it (supposedly) doesn’t involve working out what’s going on on an alien planet and has such familiar surroundings. Nation brings in nice clues such as the money all being from the same year as well as creating some mysterious yet powerful creations with the white astronaut-looking androids with their loaded fingers. I don’t really think I have anything else to say about this episode, it contains everything you want; humour, mystery, atmosphere, cheap monster, emotion and amazing performances. Just brilliant!

Trivia: The Doctor has a craving for gingerpop!

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