Doc gets crowned president, Gallifrey gets invaded twice, and Leela and K-9 get no goodbye
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The Doctor signs an agreement with some aliens in their cosy, egg-themed base but Leela hasn’t been invited to the party. She was left in the TARDIS with K9, who has a handle on what’s going on but isn’t being at all cooperative. The Doc’s agreement appears to involve becoming the president of Gallifrey because before we know it that’s where we are and the Time Lords are soon ushering in the Age of the Doctor.
But it’s all an elaborate ploy to disable Gallifrey’s global defence shields and facilitate an invasion force of three to beam down to the surface and demand the immediate disabling of Gallifrey’s global defence shields. A different alien invasion force is masterminding this one, though, and this six-part season closer soon turns into an intra-relativistic Hanna Barbera game of cat and mouse.
And as promised, behold The Evolution of The Sontarans (mental note: good title for a future audiobook!):
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‘The Time Warrior’ foreshadowed ‘The Invasion of Time’ when the Doctor revealed he was from Gallifrey and warned the Sontarans against invading. This sequel to “The Deadly Assassin” reunited only the Doctor and Cardinal Borusa, revisiting their teacher student relationship. New Castellan Kelner, treated Gallifrey like a banana republic after a revolution, diminishing the TIme Lords.
Leela trusted the Doctor despite being banished to prevent her from instinctively knowing what was happening. Like the audience, she slowly came to understand his actions as she took space traffic cop Rodan from the Capitol and returned with the Shobogan.
As President, the Doctor lined his office with lead to block the insubstantial Vardans’ ability to monitor any wavelength, including thought. He needed to warn the Time Lords about these cunning, powerful enemies he constantly tried to persuade to fully materialize so he could defeat them. The Vardans, though, were merely unwitting shock troops.
The Sontarans’ arrival was their best moment, heralding an anticlimactic chase through the TARDIS. Its disappointing aftermath saw Leela and K9 stay so , she could marry Guard Captain Andred, whom the audience may have glimpsed her glimpse. The Doctor, though, didn’t leave alone.
The first four episodes of ‘The Invasion of Time’ feature excellent storytelling, introducing powerful, new enemies we, like Leela, trust the Doctor to defeat, despite being baffled. Vardans and Sontarans both threatened the Time Lords. Superior tacticians employing shock troops and a climactic chase through the TARDIS are both fascinating ideas. Their execution in the last two episodes sadly was not.
For me the first four episodes of this story are amongst the best Who ever. I’ve seen this story countless times, yet Baker’s portrayal is so cryptic that there are moments when I still think he might have indeed sold out. Leela, Borousa, and Kelner are likewise perfectly played, each stealing every scene, and at times even from one another.
The plot is intricate. The sets are beautiful. The Vardans are an interesting concept, It’s simply 4 episodes of being on the edge of your seat.
The last two parts wrap up the story well and it’s topped with a satisfactory and yet unexpected conclusion. Unfortunately the story is padded with too much walking down corridors and a penultimate scene that’s rushed and confusing. It’s not altogether horrible but it fails to live up to parts 1-4.
It’s obvious that Rodan and Romana were modeled off of one another, or indeed were at one time meant to be the same character. That’s okay though, Dr Who draws some of its best moments from itself, and while I’ll miss Leela, Romana is again such a unique character that I look forward to her arrival.
“There’s nothing more useless than a fan who’s a critic”, 4.6
The world building story that no one ever asked for. The Doctor as President of the Time Lords, while technically building on a prior serial, feels like the kind of lazy script writing that plagued a lot of late 70s sitcoms, especially when the Sontarans inexplicably arrive. They might as well send the Doctor on holiday to Spain, and get him mixed up in a detective caper involving a B-list celebrity. Maybe it’s me, but it all feels a bit shark-jumpy, and Leela doesn’t get a good departure. Fortunately things will soon take a turn for the better. Two point four.
Thing I Liked:
Trivia: if bloodthirsty Leela and sassy Clara suffered a transporter merger (as happened to Neelix and Tuvok in critically acclaimed Star Trek Voyager episode Tuvix) we would get Seventh Doctor companion Ace!
Summary: I was so excited to revisit Gallifrey after Assassin. I wish I had preserved that excitement and then died in my sleep.
Rating: 0.5/5. All involved in this story should be stripped naked and marched through the streets of London whilst pelted with rotten food and faeces, with someone behind them ringing a bell shouting “Shame!” over and over.
What a mixed bag of a story. From a disappointing last minute love story, to the baking foil (human) enemies, to the last minute sontaran appearance (and subsequent runaround the ‘Tardis’) it’s an odd one. On one level you have to appreciate the scope of this story, it’s quite big but manages that within the self-contained nature of a Dr. Who episode. Several unrelated points follow:
An… interesting tale, rounds off a very rocky season for me, I’ll give it a : 2.2
Twitter: “Even twitter won’t get me out of this one!”
The Invasion of Time was one of only two Doctor Who books in the library at school, and as a result I know this story well. I like the idea of the Vardans travelling along all wavelengths and the Doctor having to mentally block them, even if their realisation on screen looks like someone waving a piece of tin foil around. It’s interesting to see the Sontarans in force too, given that both previous appearances were solitary, and their willingness to sacrifice another race purely to establish a beachhead for their invasion feels very much in character.
Milton Johns excels as the sycophantic and toady Castellan, ingratiating himself before the Doctor, the Vardans, the Sontarans, and then back to the Doctor. The interplay between the Doctor and Borusa is entertaining, continuing the student/teacher interplay from The Deadly Assassin.
The major flaw in this story is Leela’s departure – once again a female companion is written out by deciding to stay with a bloke she’s only just met. This feels particularly lazy when it comes to Leela, who should have had a more heroic way of leaving the series. Oh and it’s nearly all men on Gallifrey again – the only female Time Lord is relegated to what is effectively a low-grade admin job.
Overall, an enjoyable story let down a bit by its treatment of female characters. 3.5/5
This story is a real Gallifreyan epic, which builds on the backstory developed in Deadly Assassin. There have been hints to Timelord history in Underworld and Fendahl recently. A lot of the future shaping of the Time Lords as a race stems from this period of Doctor Who.
The Sontarans reveal at the end of Ep 4 is an iconic moment in Classic Who. They do look rather weird and not particularly scary admittedly (better with helmets at this point). The whole hidden foe element before this is intriguing. Tom Baker excels at playing the role of being under duress to them but always being one step ahead.
Some other highlights: we see more of the TARDIS. A lot more. The chase around the Capitol and then the TARDIS was legendary, but was the TARDIS interior some sort of joke? They could have at least put up a few shiny panels, even on a budget. What we saw was clearly the back end of the BBC studio building. The interplay of Tutor/Student with Borusa was great. Another obligatory uprising with non-Timelord Gallifreyans who Leela seems quite at home with. The weedy backstabbing Castellan….
Quote highlights: 1) ‘Leela, try not to kill anyone’ 2) ‘Accept the rod of Rassillon’ 3) ‘I’ll miss you too savage’ – a nice way to end Leela’s tenure. A solid 4.0 from me.