|Originally Broadcast 12th January 1974|
Written by: Malcolm Hulke
In a nutshell: The Doctor and Sarah arrive back on Earth to find London completely deserted.
Review: If only there were more Part Ones of Doctor Who stories called Invasion because in this DVD age I feel we’d have more treats as Doctor Who fans. Long since missing in colour, the DVD of Invasion Of The Dinosaurs brought us newly restored colour to Invasion: Part One, whilst a number of years before the same DVD geniuses brought us an animated version of the missing The Invasion: Episode One. We’ve been lucky in the last ten years with our Invasions, so maybe we should have had some more episodes called this?
The colour for Invasion makes me love it so much. I remember really enjoying the atmospheric opening episode when I was a kid, but all I had was a horribly grainy UK Gold compilation recording which wasn’t the easiest of watches so to have it in colour is truly brilliant. To top it all, I think the opening five minutes of this episode provide one of the best Doctor Who openings we have. The middle of London completely deserted and we don’t know why. I love the idea of Great Britain being closed on Sundays, they were much better and simpler times. We did get to see London deserted in The Dalek Invasion Of Earth but it wasn’t the same. The level of atmosphere and reality wasn’t there, like it is here. I’m not as keen on us having to tail a looter although when he dies in a very gruesome manner it’s a nasty shot and one I’m surprised we got to see.
Even though she doesn’t sound like she had a lot of fun when listening to the commentaries or interviews, Paddy Russell is one of my favourite directors of Doctor Who. I think she’s one of those people who, whilst not understanding the show in terms of popularity or interest, she got on with her job like a pro and really understood how to make a television programme. She’s someone who was tremendously great at her job and it’s more than evident in her Doctor Who work, especially in this one episode.
Surprisingly, it’s only eleven minutes in when we get our first dinosaur. I love how it comes out of thin air, there weren’t any telling clues to dinosaurs being behind the ‘invasion’. We first get a Pterodactyl flying at Sarah and the Doctor. It was always going to be obvious that the dinosaurs, on a 1974 BBC television show, wasn’t going to be greatly effective but some of the shots here are very good. The best was the close up of Pertwee with wings flapping in the foreground of the shot. There’s a real sense of this thing being real and moving rather than the stilted shots of the dinosaur in full which don’t work for me. Lis Sladen and Jon Pertwee really do sell this well, doing their best to make it believable.
All the silliness when the Doctor and Sarah are detained and having photos taken is just magical Who. Pertwee is so comfortable in the role and really knows what he’s doing after being in the part for over four years now. He pulls some silly faces and cracks some jokes, it verges on slapstick but Pertwee really makes it feel right in the middle of this scary episode and that takes real talent.
I think the Brigadier, for me, has fallen into playing his part of straight man so well I’ve rather passed him over in this episode. Nicholas Courtney has been playing the role for a good few years at this point and there’s never anything out of place in his performance. He doesn’t stand out because he’s that good. It’s not until he puts Benton in his place and when he comments about the Doctor “absolutely typical” that you’re reminded of just how great he is with little material to get his teeth into.
I love the bit when the Doctor and Sarah attempt to escape detention. Pertwee with the line “so much for honour amongst thieves” before he despatches with said thief is brilliant. It’s little touches like this that Pertwee really strives on and make his Doctor so loved to this day. Sadly there isn’t time for anymore of these, though, as our duo have been captured again before being ambushed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex at the episode’s climax! This has been a stunning first episode and really is one of my favourites from the first part. Putting it simply, Part One is in my must see episodes if you want to get to know Doctor Who, it’s just fantastic from start to finish. If this carries on for another five episodes, this would easily rank up in people’s top ten serials. I can’t wait for the next part!