C083 The Android Invasion



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Doc and Sarah match wits with finger-blasting androids and two walnuts from space planning to invade Earth



The Fourth Doctor and companion Sarah Jane Smith arrive in what purports to be rural Devesham, a picturesque hamlet in Oxfordshire with Space Defence Station adjacent, whose inhabitants have seemingly nearly all vanished without a trace.

Sarah Jane recognises the place as she once visited the Space Defence Station to enquire about the lost astronaut Crayford. What few people remain in the town, however, are android facsimiles, including Benton and Harry Sullivan who happen to be on site, and our intrepid duo doesn’t know quite whom to trust.

Eventually they discover that two curmudgeon alien chaps are preparing an invasion of Earth, and have created a replica of Devesham as their training ground. Enter stage right, monocular astronaut and narrative coincidence Crayford who may be in cahoots with the aliens. Hilarity ensues.

6 Responses to “C083 The Android Invasion”

  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    Terry Nation went to the action adventure well when asked to write a DOCTOR WHO story without Daleks and delivered a tale reminiscent of ‘The Avengers’, one of the many shows for which he wrote. Patrick Newell, who played Steed and Mrs. Peel’s boss, Mother, appeared in the last episode as UNIT’s commanding officer, Colonel Faraday, to reinforce this impression.

    The Doctor and Sarah Jane investigated a deserted village and discovered freshly minted money, calendars representing a single day, and a new dart board at the popular pub. The strange situation changed when the townspeople returned on transport trucks driven by figures clad in the protective gear reminiscent of ‘The Ambassadors of Death’.

    These figures were, in fact, just as deadly, attacking the Doctor and Sarah Jane with finger guns prompting the Doctor to ask one, “Is that finger loaded?” A previous attack had occurred as he pondered a vaguely familiar pod and said, “300 years ago I’d have recognized that like a shot.” In fact, throughout the story the Doctor spouted comical dialogue like, “Nobody knows who’s Who around here”.

    A familiar face that did not appear was Nicholas Courtney’s Brigadier, who personified UNIT and and was away in Geneva. Neither Benton nor Harry Sullivan represented UNIT when the Doctor arrived at the nearby space installation. He found it deserted except for astronaut, Guy Crayford, whose death in deep space journalist Sarah Jane had written about two years earlier in the village.

    Crayford’s rocket would bring androids from the alien Kraal planet Oseidon to Earth, where key positions would be taken over while a plague wiped out humanity. This invasion plan was as convoluted as giving Crayford a superfluous eye patch and convincing him his covered eye was damaged beyond repair. The Doctor uncovered and defeated androids of Sarah Jane and himself after escaping multiple deathtraps and implausibly following the TARDIS to Earth. Predictably, the story’s climax involved a fight between the Doctor and his android double.

    “The Android Invasion” departed from the season’s prevailing gothic horror themes, presenting an absurd but entertaining, action-packed mystery adventure that remained DOCTOR WHO. Its lighthearted touch recalled the Earthbound Doctor’s adventures with UNIT, where his ingenuity would defeat a mad scientist or alien invasion. Here, the Doctor and Sarah Jane unraveled a mystery to find an alien mad scientist planning an invasion.

    Reply
  2. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    The Android Invasion is merely a limp salad of old ingredients familiar from previous exterminatory escapades: a dying world, a doomsday plan, a specially engineered plague, and so on. We’ve seen all of these in many of Terry Nation’s past Dalek stories done 10x better. Here they are just incredibly basic.

    In the early 70s, UNIT was an integral part of the show’s success but here, led by pompous ass Colonel Faraday, standing in for the absent Brigadier, the troops function only as runners and shooters. Even with the last appearances of Benton and Harry Sullivan, they’re just there to be doppelgangers and then when the real versions show up, they are not important whatsoever!

    The Kraals themselves look good, but that’s all they had going for them. They look alien, but they were written like bad versions of the Daleks. Heck, I could see this kind of thing being a Dalek plot! But no, we got the most basic of aliens enacting the age old invasion angle. When done good, the invasion angle is great. But this is just too basic.

    Overall, I think this is a watered down Dalek story. It’s Terry Nation at his worst. Even though I thought it was okay, it’s only gonna get a 2.40/5 from me. Stick to the Dalek stories, Terry.

    Honestly, this might have been better if it was a Dalek story! Maybe might’ve shot my rating up by a few decimal points.

    Reply
  3. Peter Zunitch

    While super interesting, this story goes out of it’s way to miss the mark more than once. Yet although they are big marks, it doesn’t necessarily ruin an enjoyable product.

    First let’s talk plot holes. Are we really to believe that this guy’s been with the aliens that long and he never bothered to look under his eye patch? Second, that deadly virus that can wipe out every living thing is mishandled ad-nauseam. Contamination would have splooged long before they left their own planet. Third, are they really going to plague everything on the planet they want to move their race to and hope that it just happens to have burned out by the time the moving van arrives? It can kill humans and Kraals, but not trees or antelope?

    I also feel the writing miffed a big one. Not that what’s there is bad, but the really awesome bits are when the androids actually start to integrate into the humans, but that only happens in episode four. The practice run was cool, but the invasion is sooo much better.

    Despite all this, I actually enjoy the story immensely. There’s an original premise.. There’s people in white jumpers waving loaded fingers at each other. There’s the re-using of the weird-looking escape pods from Blake’s 7. There’s even Doctor on Doctor action. It’s not a thrill a minute, but it is a lot of fun. For these reasons I give it a, “cooler robot interior than the original Westworld”, 3.3

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  4. Paul Waring | @pwaring

    What is going on? This story is credited to Terry Nation but there are no Daleks? I suppose there is a planet devastated by radiation though…

    Baker and Sladen are still on top form, and this story shows again how well they work together. Although Sarah does the stereotypical ‘companion twists ankle whilst running’, she also rescues the Doctor three times and breaks out of a prison cell unaided, demonstrating once again how she is the most proactive companion to date. I also like the initial impression that the story is on Earth, when in fact everything is an illusion. There are a few hints, but it’s neither disappointing nor obvious when the secret is revealed (I didn’t see it coming on my first viewing).

    There are a few niggles of course. A race of aliens who are helpless without their androids, fight scenes using a double with a completely different height and build to Tom Baker, and a cheap imitation of Bagels. That the Doctor could survive re-entry without air is just about plausible, but not for Sarah. Android Benton also addresses Android Doctor as ‘sir’, as if the Doctor is in his chain of command, which seems a bit odd. But Classic Who wouldn’t be fun without holes to pick.

    Overall, another cracking story with by far and away the best combination of Doctor and single companion. 4.5/5

    Reply
  5. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Things I liked:

    – Creepy white androids & fake plastic world had shades of 1970s movie Westworld.

    – The Doctor and Sarah encounter their doppelgängers in *That* Episode 2 cliffhanger & the deeply unsettling Bodysnatchers moment in Episode 4.

    Things that brought unintentional hilarity:

    – *That* twist, aka ‘Eyeballgate’! HOW WOULD YOU NOT NOTICE???

    Beefs:

    – The grumpy Kraals were a bit naff, whilst Crayford, Eyeballgate hilarity aside, is a whiny little bitch.

    – The Bagels shaped hole and wannabe Brigadier. That’s not my Brigadier!

    – Final story with Sgt. Benton & Harry Sullivan :(

    – This story would have been edgier had the Doctor and/or Sarah had to urinate to create the conductor to electrocute the Android guard.

    – What happened to the three sisters that lived at the bottom of a treacle well!? We’ll never know :(

    Summary – 15% creepfest overwhelmed (or undermined?) by 75% daft fun.

    2.8/5 components of reconstructed Crayford minus eyeball – or not, as the case may inexplicably be. HOW WOULD YOU NOT NOTICE???

    Reply
  6. Keil | @MASSFLPanthers

    Hi guys,

    For the last 3 weeks, every time Leon said, I can’t wait for The Android Invasion. I yelled at my computer that Leon is drinking way too much. I did not have fond memories of this one.

    All I could remember about this Serial was the town and the truck carrying the town population. It was one of the few serials I had no real memory of.

    First, the bad things:

    -Unit story and no Bagels, I’m sure you covered this.
    -So Crayford, who was brainwash, but never remove his eye patch.
    -So, the missing rocket comes back, and the base has like no one on it. No -media, No medics, No extra soldiers.
    -Also, this was the same season as Zygons. Did they need 2 cloning series. There were more Harry than serials that he was in.

    Now the good things:

    -Kraals were fine
    -Barry Letts and Terry Nation team up for this Serials. Enough said.
    -AND DAM IT LEON WAS RIGHT It just works.
    -It’s what Doctor Who was meant to be. Just fun Score 4.1

    So, guys may the booze be flowing and the Who be glowing.

    Keil

    Reply

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