Anti-body pillow fights, a fantastic voyage and the universe-threatening ejaculate of a megalomaniac space shrimp
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The Fourth Doctor and his companion Leela are drawn into a fight for the future of mankind when a sentient space virus called The Swarm begins to infect human settlers on Titan and a nearby hospital asteroid. Led by the Nucleus, The Swarm is intent on taking over humanoid species and ultimately achieving galactic domination.
The Swarm even infects The Doctor, though, implanting inside his brain the Nucleus itself, and now Doc and Leela, while backed up by their new best friend, K-9, must clone themselves and Fantastic Voyage into his noggin.
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‘The Invisible Enemy’ featured great model work as a space virus traveled to a base on Saturn’s moon, Titan. The Nucleus was a fascinating antagonist for the Doctor. Drawn to intelligence, it selected him as its host and entered his brain to learn about Time Lords and how the Doctor would escape its microworld. The virus’ subsequent growth was the exception the Doctor cited to negate the Nucleus’ right to survive and thrive in humans’ macroworld.
Leela sensed a message countermanding a distress call from Titan was fake. Immune to the virus, she instinctively considered it evil. It marked her for death, long before she suggested blowing it up.
The infected Doctor battled the Nucleus mentally, hesitating to kill Leela and warning her of the irresistible impulse to fire his laser gun at her. Later, he implausibly came out of a self induced coma to help Leela pilot the TARDIS to a hospital in the asteroid belt. There, he proposed cloning himself and Leela to inject their shrunken doubles into his head to combat the virus.
Doctor Marius and his robot dog, K9, helped the Doctor while Leela protected them from infected staff armed with guns that should never have been in the hospital. Nevertheless, gun battles raged.
Models and sets depicting the interior of the Doctor’s head made ‘The Invisible Enemy’ look great. Shrunken clones inoculated the Doctor upon entering the microworld, where the virus had every right to survive, as, in the macroworld, the virus aspired to spread through time and space. The Nucleus’ growth and ambition, in the Doctor’s view, amounted to an invasion and invitation to destruction. This story’s most significant element, though, was both a prop and a character since K9 boarded the TARDIS.
Hi Who Back When Crew, short time listener, first time reviewer – I’ve caught up on EVERY episode so far.
Somehow Doctor Who vs the Giant Prawn lives up to it’s expectations, It sounds like it’ll be terrible, and it is! From the generic space ships slowly flying around intro to the fetish-wearing hospital, it’s a pile of ‘meh’ that is more a trudge that a joy. Several unrelated points/observations now follow:
• K9! The only bright spark in this whole thing
• How does NOBODY notice the high levels of sleep on the infected people’s faces? Surely you’d run away the second you see that instead of waiting for ‘contact to be made’
• The miniaturisation plot is bizarre and reminds me more than a little of the Magic Schoolbus. It should be really cool but somehow looks like a lot of generic alien planets
• For a future-tech robot dog K9 sure has incredibly noisy motors
• The suggestion that English spelling will get more literal in the future is a good one, well predicting the effects of technology has on language
• To my mind this story prefigures the move of Tom Baker from slightly scary and very-alien alien to silly Doctor – not a good move
Overall, a pretty bad episode (sadly), so I have to give it: 1.1
Twitter: NO ONE TWEETS THE GRAFF VYNDA K AND LIVES (a reference you’ll pick up in about a seasons time)
One of the Tom Baker serials I know least, I had to rewatch this to recall the details. This is a middling story, not amazing, but with some interesting parts, especially the Doc walking around in his own brain. What I thought was most interesting about this story is how Troughton-esque the story is. The base with a plague, the make-up for the infected people, and Professor Marius being the shouty scientist, all feel like a throwback to 60s Who. I give it a 3.0, interesting for historical value, rather than the story itself, although I do hope you refer to this as the story where the Doctor catches crabs, or at least some kind of giant shrimp.
The Invisible Enemy – Mini reactions
– Mess-hall massacre! I was so shocked I dropped my Doritos in the bathtub.
– K-9 just shot a guy in the testicles!
– So everyone’s okay with the morality of Operation Kamikaze Clone? If I was a clone and ordered to spend my 10 minutes of existence on a suicide mission in my own brain, I’d be seriously cheesed off.
– How/why are the Doctor & Leela’s clothes and accessories cloned too?
– Love the haphazard way the crazy German Doctor scoops cloned Doctor and Leela into his syringe. How are they not crushed and drowned?
– Antibodies made from balloons and cotton wool!
– Why did Leela’s disintegrated clone leave her hair, knife and bangles?
– Cliffhanger 3 – What in holy hell is that?
– It’s a giant prawn from outer space! This serial just gained a whole point.
– “Doctor, I’ve found the answer. Knife them in the neck!”. You need psychological help Leela.
– Barbecued Prawn! Yum.
Summary: unexpectedly insane.
Rating: 4/5 prawn-possessed astronauts suffering horrific internal injuries from a knife wielding maniac.
Trivia: the Seventh Doctor does battle with King Space Prawn in audio adventure ‘Revenge of the Swarm’!
Here’s another of my guilty pleasures. There’s really nothing great save the concept, yet I enjoy it tremendously every time. However it’s a contrast to most other guilty pleasure stories, in that I feel this one becomes slightly LESS interesting the more I watch it.
Good bits? The debate over the right to exist or be conquered, exploring instinct vs intellectual, and comparing humans to a plague. Unfortunately though, the story just misses inspiring the viewer to more deeply contemplate these issues.
K-9 is awesome of course, but he’s plagued with power problems, which unfortunately precedents THE major trope that lessens his usefulness in the future.
While the doctor and Marius’s interaction is delightful, the usual banter between he and Leela is plain and terse, lacking the usual witty banter. The interplay between characters is sorely lacking, thus the dialog fails to back up the insightfully intellectual themes. This earns this week’s retro rewrite. Yes you heard me, I’d rewrite almost all of the dialog, especially Leela’s.
All these troubles aside, I still enjoy this episode a boatload, which puts me in a sort of conundrum. Do I have the right to rate this story the way I feel about it, or should I rate the way I feel is realistic? Is doctor who a virus and am l infected? Is the mis-spelled writing on the wall? Should we just blow it all to pieces and steal the family dog? Mind, brain, mind, brain, mind, brain…ah hell. 3.3
This was fun.’ We begin with the ultimate anti social party guests turning up on a space missionary who proceed to blam the three other spacemen. ‘Contact has been made’…..The premise has been done before but I liked the idea of an entity which takes over the minds (plural) of another species. When the Doctor is taken over it really adds to peril factor of this enemy. But the best bit of this story: K9!This is good clean 70s Doctor who and an enjoyable watch each time I’ve seen it. The premise of going into Docs brain, that’s new – it’s repeated in new who with the Daleks. On the characters, lots of previous Who actors turn up as ancillary characters in this one (Scarmans brother, the guy from Inferno at least). Leela is good but there is a weird bit when she has a screaming fit when part of the doctors brain attacks her very weakly in ep 3. I do like the way that Leela and K9 save the day when everyone else has been taken over. I m not sure about the monster nucleus visually. It looks like something out of Fraggle Rock and provokes the question: How can a wobbling lobster who can’t walk without humans helping him rule the galaxy? Anyway loving the podcast, hope I got this in in time and 3.3 rating