drwho_invasionoftime_castellan

Doctor Who Review — The Invasion Of Time

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The Inva­sion of Time wants to be an epic story. And it sets out all the elements to be just that. Unfor­tu­nately that ambi­tion is repeat­edly undercut by budget and other factors.

I've been fairly crit­ical of the 6 part story format for classic Doctor Who, because more often than not it results in a lot of padding. In this case however, there's no shortage of plot to fill all six episodes. Unfor­tu­nately it seems they had money for no more than 4.

As a result we get wildly vari­able produc­tion values. The scenes that feature Gallifrey take their cues from The Deadly Assassin and there­fore look great. On the other hand, the scenes of the Doctor being chased around the TARDIS inte­rior look like they were shot in an empty hospital. And they look that way for a very good reason…

In similar fashion the acting quality is all over the map. On the one hand we have John Arnatt and Milton John as Borusa and Kelnar who are excel­lent and wonderful foil's for Tom Baker's Doctor. On the other hand… well just about everyone else.

drwho invasionoftime castellan Doctor Who Review   The Invasion Of Time

And Baker himself embodies this vari­ance. Some­times he is giving a subtle and powerful perfor­mance, and then he completely under­cuts it my hamming up directly to the camera. This is the story with the infa­mous "not even my sonic screw­driver can get me out of this" line. In many ways this is the point where Baker's Doctor starts to become a cari­ca­ture of himself.

Some­what unusu­ally the story actu­ally features two sets of villainous aliens. The first ones, the Vardans are inter­esting in concept, but once again the budget lets us down and they are visu­ally… people covered in aluminum foil. The second are the Sontarans. And here you can see the begin­ning of their descent into comedic char­ac­ters. They are at least still dangerous here, but they're also incred­ibly stupid and incom­pe­tent. I know I bang on about this, but they are a wasted opportunity.

I guess the other thing I need to mention is Leela's depar­ture. It is bizarrely tacked onto the end of this story and nothing we've seen feels like we've actu­ally lead up to it. It doesn't even seem like behavior that's remotely in char­acter for Leela.

All in all The Inva­sion of Time is a frus­trating story to watch. There is so much poten­tial here and some moments of pure magic. And then it promptly stuffs it up.

Sources: Hulu+ or  Amazon​.com: The Inva­sion Of Time

 

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