The Android Invasion
|Dates||Nov. 22, 1975 -
Dec. 13, 1975
With Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, John Levene, Ian Marter.
Written by Terry Nation. Script-edited by Robert Holmes.
Directed by Barry Letts. Produced by Philip Hinchcliffe.
|Synopsis: The Doctor and Sarah land on Earth to find dead men returning to life and inhabitants of a small village guarded by faceless androids. Even UNIT is seems to be controlled by an alien force aided by a missing astronaut.|
A Review by James Mansson 9/4/98
The Android Invasion is not a Doctor Who adventure that tends to attract much comment, and I was not really sure what to expect when I first watched it. I must say that I enjoyed it a great deal. One reason is that it is not at all like the other invasion stories of the UNIT era. Most of these had pretty simple plots and were not especially fast paced. In addition, there was no great mystery as to what was going on. In contrast, the plot of The Android Invasion contains plenty of twists and turns, and there is a greater sense of urgency as the Doctor and Sarah are pursued around the countryside. Also, the situation is a more mysterious and intriguing as events do not proceed quite in the pattern we have come to expect. Even the title, which might seem to give the game away, only helps to distract the viewer from what?s really going on.
Although the story doesn?t contain any especially original elements, there are a number of nice details. There is some nice banter between the Doctor and Sarah, which is helped considerably by the great rapport there was between Tom Baker and Liz Sladen. The clues the Doctor is able to pick up on to deduce what is happening are clever, and both he and Sarah are called upon to demonstrate considerable ingenuity to overcome their enemies.
The production team did a good job in realising the alien Kraals, which look rather good with their rhinoceros-like heads, stocky bodies and shambling gait. Their grumbling, ill-tempered personalities seem well-matched to their appearance. Their invasion plan is quite an interesting one, and their human agent, the astronaut Crayford, is a plausible and well-thought out character, even if the performance of the actor playing the part is a little overwrought.
Ultimately, The Android Invasion is not an especially profound story or innovative piece of science fiction. Then again, it was never intended to be. What we have is another enjoyable adventure from the Tom Baker-era, and one which I have no hesitation in recommending.
Insulting the Intelligence by Eddie Robson 18/5/98
Every time fans are asked to name their least favourite story, one usually hears them cite a Colin Baker story, or something from Season 24. However, I'd like to make my case for Phillip Hinchcliffe not being the infallible producer of legend. The Android Invasion is easily my least favourite Who story.
Let's face it, if you're a Doctor Who fan you'll be quite used to tacky sets, poor effects and the odd bit of bad acting. For this reason, I prize nothing so highly in a Doctor Who story as a good script, since I believe that this one aspect has the potential to save everything else. Unfortunately, it also has the power to drag the entire production into the mire with it. Terry Nation's script in this particular story demonstrates a total lack of respect for the audience, as though he doesn't expect them to be paying any attention.
The gaping holes in the plot are too numerous to mention, but I'll mention some anyway. Why do the Kraals bother building a fake village? How can they and the Doctor and Sarah survive on the surface with all that deadly radiation around? What happens to the invasion fleet? If they can take Earth by force, why do they mess about with the androids and the virus? It's just a hotchpotch of set-pieces, barely connected by a plot.
Of course, one has to consider how Doctor Who was intended to be viewed in those days. It was pretty much a case of making enough of an impact on the audience for twenty-five minutes that they would tune in again next week. The Android Invasion does this, creating a decent atmosphere and producing some successful scenes (including the cliff-hanger to Part Two which everyone always goes on about, even though in my opinion it looks a little silly). Stories which rely on this piecemeal consumption often suffer when re-viewed as a whole; just look at Earthshock.
However, there is one scene in Part Four which will always condemn this story, to my mind. It's the scene at the Space Centre, when the Doctor is confronted with two of the staff whom he suspects to be androids. He pulls a small box from his pocket, with a button and a red light on it, and declares that it's a "robot detector". I challenge anyone to find an example in Doctor Who of lazier scriptwritng, harking back to the incredibly convenient devices seen in the sixties TV Comic strips. And they were rubbish.
I haven't mentioned the acting or directing in this review; that's because they would have to be of an exceptional standard if they were to save The Android Invasion, and I don't think they are. All the best children's TV appeals to adults by not talking down to the kids. This is an unwelcome exception in the Doctor Who canon, and gives me an overwhelming impression that I'm being insulted.
A Review by Keith Bennett 4/6/98
The Android Invasion is a story which is quite enjoyable if one doesn't bother thinking about it too much. The opening episode is quite intruiging with all sorts of strange things going on to offer the viewer genuine interest. But as the story unfolds, logic tends to take a back seat and familiarity becomes painfully obvious.
Several factors are blatantly copied from Terror of the Zygons, including the look of the Kraals' ship and the controls, their use of duplicates and even their hidden scanner in the dartboard, which echoes the bug the Zygons used in the stag's head. And the sliding doors at the research centre make the same sound as the Zygons' doors did, while the finger-shooting guards are rather reminiscent of the Autons. The Kraals themselves are... well, not bad enough to be dreadful, not interesting enough to be terribly memorable, although their masks don't seem to fit on the actors very well. Basically, The Kraals remain one of the most forgettable aliens Doctor Who has even had (even the Doctor doesn't seem terribly scared of them. The way he says "Hello" to Styggron when they first meet sounds like he's just found a lost puppy) which is quite ironic, considering the creator of them also created the Daleks... No, I mean Terry Nation, not Davros!
However, the setting at the fake village looks good and, as I said, taken on face value, the story remains entertaining and certainly never dull. 6/10
Terror of the Zygons II by Michael Hickerson 18/7/98
Every time I watch The Android Invasion, I'm impressed by how great the cloning process is. Unfortunately, I'm not talking about the process the Kraals use to produce an entire village of androids. No, I'm referring to the fact that virtually the entire story of Android Invasion is the same as the earlier season thirteen entry, Terror of the Zygons.
The Zygon's plan to invade Earth by replacing key figures. Same thing goes for the Kraals. Another similarity comes in that the Zygons and Kraals look a lot alike when in their natural form. About the only part of the Zygon plan the Kraals haven't taken is that aren't a monster like the Skaarasan to wreak havoc.
It's a shame they didn't as it might brighten up the overall story a bit.
The main problem with the story is the incredible leaps of logic (or illogic if you prefer) the Kraal plan has. One has to wonder just why they bothered to build the village for the clones to hang out in? Why go to such painstaking efforts only to destroy it in episode three? Another question I ask is just how Crayford knew that Benton had been promoted? Presumably he left Earth during the Pertwee era when Benton was a sergeant, long before his promotion in Robot. So, why is he RMS Benton here?
I am a person who can usually overlook major plot holes as long as they don't interfere with my overall enjoyment of the story. But in The Android Invasion, the plot holes are just too glaring to be overlooked or ignored. They simply add up to a less than enjoyable overall experience.
Which is a shame because in spots, Android Invasion is fun to watch. While I don't agree that the cliffhanger for episode two is one of the best of all time, I will agree that it's an effective one. I also like the little attention to detail used here with Sarah's scarf clueing in both the Doctor and the audience that something is amiss with her. Also, Tom Baker turns in a good performance, even though at times his voice sounds hoarse.
However, when you add it all up, The Android Invasion is the weakest entry in season thirteen. There are pieces of a good story struggling to get out here, but they just don't quite make it.
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 4/10/98
The Android Invasion is a story overshadowed by the stories surrounding it-- a pity, as it has a lot going for it. Terry Nation`s idea of a race living on a radiation soaked planet was first used in The Daleks, and the use of androids even resulted in an android companion, Kamelion.
The characters come across well here: Guy Crayford gets the sympathy vote here, and Elisabeth Sladen makes for a great villain as the android Sarah. The Kraals are also impressive, but there are only two--hardly enough for an invasion.
Other memorable moments include the unmasking of the android Sarah and the apparant death of the U.N.I.T soldier. Unfortunately, however, there is hardly a sufficient U.N.I.T team. Whilst it was nice to see Benton and Harry, Colonel Faraday is hardly a substitute Brigadier. Another gaping hole is why would the Kraals use androids when they have a virus to wipe out humanity.
Despite these shortcomings, The Android Invasion benefits from the location work, and Tom Baker`s intermitent short throat doesn`t affect his performance as the Doctor, making this highly enjoyable.
Is that finger loaded? by Ken Wrable 26/2/00
The Android Invasion is most famous for being the weakest story in the celebrated thirteenth season of Dr Who. This is certainly true. There's nothing here that can stand comparison with the well-realised and chilling concepts of the other stories of this period, and Styggron, the villain of the piece, would come woefully low on a list of the series' most effective baddies. The Kraals are terribly pedestrian and hackneyed aliens (although, unlike some other commentators, I actually quite like their "rhino" masks) who spend most of their on-air time ranting, bellowing and stomping about. Worst of all, their invasion plan is hopelessly convoluted and riddled with flaws. The plot just doesn't stand up at all, and it's doubly unfortunate to have a story which revolves around aliens duplicating humans coming so soon after Terror of the Zygons, which uses much the same idea.
But this story does have some redeeming factors which in my opinion save it from the Dr Who hall of infamy (hello Timelash, Monster of Peladon and Warriors of the Deep). Firstly, the situation in which the Doctor and Sarah inadvertently find themselves is truly intriguing: a seemingly normal English village in the countryside that's initially deserted and then suddenly filled with suspiciously preprogrammed locals. The atmosphere established in the first two episodes is impressively eerie and credit is due to the production team for the excellent location shooting. It's an achievement to make such an unremarkable piece of countryside seem so sinister. The scenario is somewhat reminiscent of Patrick Mcgoohan's brilliant The Prisoner, another instance of things definitely not being what they seem.
Then you've got the performances of the two regulars, both of which are well up to par. In fact, I'd single out Elisabeth Sladen as making the better contribution to this story, in particular the scenes where she's acting Sarah's android double. She's really convincing as a not-quite-human, somehow. These scenes lead up to the cliffhanger of episode two and one of the classic images of Dr Who: Sarah's face being seemingly dislodged to reveal electronic circuitry. It's as great as the shop window dummies coming alive in Spearhead From Space.
After this highlight the story takes something of a downward turn as we get into the scenes where the Kraals' ridiculous invasion plans are gradually made clear. Oh, and there's the bit with the bomb - did they really need to blow up their painstakingly contrived replica village? Happily, the climax to the story at the space centre on Earth is much better, with the fight between the Doctor and his android double being particularly well executed. Trick photography is largely avoided (a wise decision) and Terry Walsh makes a professional job of being the Doctor's stunt double. It's nice to see Harry Sullivan and Benton again, as well.
Despite all its flaws, I would recommend you to watch this one if you get the chance. It's a long way from being a classic but it's far above Dr Who's worst stories.
Gunfight with an okay Kraal by Andrew Wixon 22/1/02
This is a really frustrating story to watch. There are many not-very-good DW stories, but some of them were doomed from the moment they were commissioned - Seeds of Death, Planet of the Daleks, all those stories with intrinsically flawed/boring concepts. What's frustrating about Android Invasion is that it's a poor story based on absolutely rock-solid concepts - the 'training ground' copy of Earth on an alien world, and the Body Snatchers pastiche with evil doppelgangers on the loose. What lets it down is sloppy writing, pure and simple.
The first episode is brilliant, an Avengersesque trip around a slightly out-of-kilter English countryside. For once Terry Nation's gift for the blatant title works in the story's favour - I'm prepared to bet many viewers would fall into the trap of believing this is post-invasion Earth rather than pre-invasion Oseiden. But the seeds of the story's downfall are sown even here and come rapidly to fruition in episode two.
Crayford is a hugely implausible astronaut. He looks like a wimp (sorry, Milton) and is far too nervy. The Kraal masks are good but Chedaki is obviously the same bloke who plays Zippy off Rainbow. The list of stupid ideas and plot contrivances rapidly grows: the 'perfect replica' of Devesham has hedges with useful lengths of binding creeper in them and a pub landlord who acts like a zombie. The 'android detector' is ridiculously sloppy writing. The whole thing with the eyepatch is just insulting to your intelligence.
Production-wise it's the same sad decline. The direction early on is fine but by episode three we're into dodgy stock footage and photographic backdrop territory. Some of the CSO is very poor indeed. Unworthy of you, I'm afraid, Barry.
And it could all have been so much better; a tight, paranoid thriller, maybe even over six episodes. A worthy swansong for Harry and particularly Benton, who deserved at least one last chance to shine. Not to be, unfortunately. a story for the 'nice in theory...' file.
Tired and rehashed by Tim Roll-Pickering 28/8/02
At first it seems as though the TARDIS has arrived once more in contemporary Britain but it soon becomes clear that not everything is at it seems. Like the earlier Invasion of the Dinosaurs, The Android Invasion sees the Doctor and Sarah trying to come to terms with a world that is very different from the one that they left. And therein lies the first problem with the story - it's recycling elements from before.
In addition to the Earth not quite as normal environment, we are also treated to doubles of most of the characters (used endlessly throughout science fiction), a robotic Doctor (previously used in Terry Nation's own The Chase), an alien invasion of Earth that is likely to be resisted by one small defence installation in one tiny part of the world (probably the most implausible invasion scenario yet seen in the series), a rural British setting (seen how many times by now?) and UNIT. Although it is something of a novelty to see a story by Terry Nation that does not feature Daleks (this is only his second, the other being The Keys of Marinus), there are far too many reworked elements in this story to generate much enthusiasm. The Kraals are an attempt to produce a new race, but they are just another bunch of aliens whose own world has become uninhabitable and so are seeking to take over Earth to create a new home. This has been done many times before, most obviously and recently in Terror of the Zygons. The result is a story that's short on originality and suffers from weak characterisation as well.
The doubles should allow for a degree of uncertainty about who is real and who isn't, but for much of the story it's either unclear that there are fakes at all or the fakes are obvious. The revelation that 'Sarah' is in reality a robot at the end of Part Two is supposed to be a shocking cliffhanger, but it has never been anything but clear that she is a fake and it does not say much for the sturdiness of the androids that a mere fall can cause their faces to fall off. It is only at the story's climax when the Doctor reprograms his double and it is gunned down by Styggron that there is ever any real uncertainty about who is who.
The other elements of the story are poorly handled as well. It is exceptionally hard to accept that Crayford has not realised that his eye is perfectly intact beneath his eye patch. Nor is there much reason for him to have been deceived about this. The Kraals are not particularly memorable, with Chedaki coming across as comical. Styggron is a classic hunchback scientist and suffers for it. The performances of both Milton Johns (Crayford) and Martin Friend (Styggron) are entirely forgettable. This story also sees Ian Marter and John Levene making their final appearances as Harry and Benton respectively. Whilst it may not have been intended that this would be their final tale, it is a poor exit for both characters given that they make only small appearances as themselves. The absence of the Brigadier is felt, with Patrick Newall's Colonel Faraday never coming across as being anything more than a one-shot fill in character. Even Baker and Sladen seem tired by the story, with their performances as the android doubles giving away their identities, whilst as the real Doctor and Sarah they betray a tiredness with the tale.
Production wise The Android Invasion is difficult to fault. It shows the same dedication and co-ordination that is present in many other stories from this period and Barry Letts' final directing contribution to the series is an especially memorable one. But this isn't enough to raise the story to much since it is hampered by both a weak script and a disillusioned cast. 3/10
"Is that finger loaded?" by Joe Ford 10/4/04
I have decided there should be a law against 'evil double stories' from now on. It is one of the most frequent cliches in science fiction and manages to crop up for a million and one contrived reasons (alternative universes, android copies, twins...). I can fully understand why writers adopt the storytelling technique; it gives you a chance to have some fun playing tricks with the audience, duping them into thinking they are the genuine article when they are in fact the super-evil copy. Also it gives actors who play a regular character in said series a chance to stretch their wings and play at being evil for a change. When this is done especially well the audience can marvel in the ability of the actor convincing in this brand new persona (Troughton as Salamander in Enemy of the World, Nick Courtney as the Brigade Leader in Inferno) but more often than not the actors have a habit of overdoing their new roles (Sophie Aldred's embarrassing android Ace in The Genocide Machine) or staring glassy eyed and not trying at all (Mary Tamm's android Romana). Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are so unconvincing as their robot doubles in this story you have to question why they chose to play their roles in such an obvious and embarrassing manner. "Come we have much to do" he says with all the conviction of Matthew Waterhouse playing Hamlet. Even worse are John Levene and Ian Marter who play their evil doubles with no subtlety at all just so we KNOW they are evil rather than their regular lovable selves. Bizarre because when they are playing their normal roles they are fine. Thus my law, stamping out cardboard acting and cliched plots.
There is something very special about season thirteen of Doctor Who, a time of confidence for the show. Rarely was there such a good vibe from all corners, the press in the shows favour, the audience figures extremely high and the production team happy with their work and the actors producing some of their best ever work in their careers. The quality beams from the screen of all five stories. Five stories? I thought there was six... unfortunately one story fails to reach the heights of the others this year and that is The Android Invasion.
Why? Well a variety of reasons actually. This is one of two scripts that Terry Nation wrote without the Daleks and it qualifies the statement that without his creations his work lacks that sparkle that they bring. There are some gaping holes in the plot of this story and huge leaps of logic that remain unexplained and they ruin what might have been an intriguing idea. The thought of aliens creating a fake Earth as a testing ground for their invasion is quite clever and one I would suggest regularly conquering aliens like the Daleks should try to see where they are going wrong. Had the story remained on this fake Earth and taken a rather less predictable path of android rebellion (thanks to the Doctor) I think it would have worked better, it would have been cool if the Doctor defeated the Kraals and wiped left the androids free on this second version of the Earth.
But no instead the action moves back to our Earth and predictably the scientifically-minded Kraals who have planned their invasion to the letter are utterly defeated in the most contrived of ways. The budget has already been spent so this last episode (which truly deserves the majority of the budget) becomes an embarrassing comic strip of CSO.
The most annoying aspect of the story is the lost potential. It could have been great, I am certain of that but first Robert Holmes would have to rewrite the scripts, Barry Letts would need to be replaced by a more assured director and the set designer would have to be shot.
What I really enjoy about this story is the first episode which despite some flaws (Dudley Simpson having a heart attack with the music) manages to create a fine atmosphere of mystery and suspense. I love deserted town stories (Roswell the series managed the best version I have seen yet, much better than the much lauded 28 Days Later), all the eerie streets and feeling that something terrible has happened. It helps this is a different sort of location to what Doctor Who is used, this charming little village is creepily deserted with the exception of some spooky looking space suited people. There is a magical moment when a truck unloads a party of villagers who take their seats in the local pub and sit there staring into space for ages until a clock strikes and suddenly they are acting and socialising like normal people. At this point the show is wonderfully spooky, throwing up lots of possibilities. Are the villages under an influence? Are they the villagers? When the UNIT soldgier who had recently thrown himself off a cliff shows up drinking a pint, the Doctor and Sarah are truly disturbed.
I just wish the story had continued more in this vein. Weird occurrences like the Doctor being hounded by UNIT soldiers, chased across the building of the Space Centre and forced into hiding. Just what the fuck is going on? How big is this latest disaster?
It is when the answers start to spill out that the story takes a downward spiral. The Kraals were probably the least effective aliens during the Hinchcliffe era because they look so damn fake. And worse, for a conquering species they lack any kind of genuine threat. Chedaki (the warrior) and Styggron (the scientist) are the only two Kraals that we get close to and they spend much of the first three episodes bickering like old men, it's almost Last of the Summer Wine with rubber aliens. Fleeing from a destructive home planet is such an old idea now and it occurs to me that every alien race that has this problem chooses Earth (much like the Zygons two stories earlier) which ultimately turns out to be their downfall. If they chose say Planet X which the Doctor couldn't really give a toss about they would get on much better. Perhaps I should bulletin that in the next rocket to outer space. It is nice to see an alien race that is a little worse for the wear (they all seem to walk with a funny hump and limp) but their foamy faces and wiggly eyes never convince and they sound like old men too, not the most chilling of alien voices (compared to say Sutekh just one story ago). Plus their plan is so hackneyed, why use androids if you are going to poison the Earth? Just send back Crayford with the infection and then pop along when it has done its work.
It cannot be often that a set designer is asked to create a corner shop, a pub, a space centre and an alien base. The pub and the shop look authentic enough but these things are easy to imagine but what of that sparsely furnished space centre and cardboard cut out spaceship? Plus the walls genuinely wobble in this story, a favourite comment of the non-fans but I saw the Kraal cell have a wiggle and a super brainy computer in the space centre take a knock too! Cheapness and Doctor Who go together like salt and pepper but usually the designers manage to hide their limitations with some rich and interesting designs (look at that veiny, pulsing Zygon spaceship!) but The Android Invasion looks cheap and nasty. Especially the Kraal base.
The story also has a touch of amateur when it comes to the direction including some extremely dodgy special FX (that rocket ship on top of the space centre) and uninspiring camerawork. The show is workmanlike and solid certainly, nothing offensively bad (there is some decent location work for a start and the opening scene which leads to the UNIT soldier diving over the cliff in slow motion is worthy of praise) but when you start using words like that it proves you are desperate to say something positive. Barry let some awful material slip through the net, Sarah's flattened G-force face, the android strangling her panto-style, some hideous shots of the android faces with sticky out eyes...
I think we should all be grateful to The Android Invasion because usually in a Doctor Who season there are lots of stories which are above average but have lots of flaws. It is as if Hinchcliffe decided to toss all the flaws into one story in season thirteen and polished all the others. The Android Invasion is the second weakest Hinchcliffe production (nothing could approach Revenge of the Cybermen) of them all and the only blip in the otherwise pristine season.
A Review by Brian May 23/11/04
Oh dear, The Android Invasion is incredibly silly, isn't it? It's definitely the poorest offering from the wonderful season 13. On a fundamental level it's not out of place - the season is filled with tributes to particular sci-fi and/or horror films (this story tipping its hat to Invasion of the Bodysnatchers), but it has none of the class, mood or atmosphere of the surrounding tales, all of which contain elements of horror and suspense that do justice to their roots - and prove how great Doctor Who was under the guidance of Robert Holmes and Philip Hinchcliffe. But this is just so blas?
This is not to say it doesn't have its moments. The first episode is excellent (but then the same can be said for The Space Museum...) There's the usual mystery and series of unexplained occurrences that get most Doctor Who tales off the ground in an enjoyable way. The soldier leaping off a cliff only to turn up drinking in the pub; the strange behaviour of the villagers; the weird guards with pistols for fingers; Sarah spotting one's android face under its raised visor; the TARDIS taking off in front of her eyes. This is all great fun! The location photography around the village and surrounding countryside is magnificent; as a matter of fact it's some of the best in the entire programme. It sets up what could be a great story - but unfortunately this is not to be. Apart from one more memorable scene in episode two - the cliffhanger in which the face of the android Sarah drops off, there's not much else to rave about. Episode three is tedious all the way through - and we get the privilege of watching more painfully obvious NASA stock footage.
The script is daft. It's one of Terry Nation's worst. From the minute Chedaki mentions the Kraal invasion of Earth in part two, it's goodbye suspense. The plot vacuums have been elaborated many times before - why are just the village and space defence centre replicated and why are they destroyed if the Kraal planet is to be abandoned? Are the dogs androids? Chedaki's fleet is still waiting in space after Styggron is destroyed. How did the Doctor reprogram his android double if it's been neutralised by the radar jamming unit? And it's insulting to the intelligence to think that Crayford would never have looked under his eye-patch!
There are aspects of the story so horribly contrived they're embarrassing. This is the only ever occasion the Doctor exits the TARDIS drinking ginger beer - just so he can offer some to Sarah, just so she can say she hates it, just so he can offer some to the android Sarah who can give herself away by saying it's delicious! The same goes for her scarf - which the Doctor takes before she's captured, just so the android can turn up wearing a copied one, for another obvious giveaway. (And the real Sarah had no scarf while being replicated, so the android shouldn't really be wearing one!) And why does Sarah climb down from the tree she's hiding in? Just so she can get herself captured! The separation of Doctor and companion in part one is woefully done - and very unwise on the Doctor's part... but then we need Sarah to witness the TARDIS dematerialising and then forget to tell him about it. And if the Doctor's carrying a robot detector around in part four, why didn't he put it to use earlier? It would have saved so much hassle! (It could be suggested he nipped into the TARDIS after landing on Earth and produced it...nah, I don't buy that, either.)
The acting is uninspiring at best - Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen especially so. They seem to be resigned to the fact they're in the middle of a stinker. Milton Johns is terribly miscast; his blend of camp and creepiness suits his other roles (sadistic henchman in The Enemy of the World, schemer in The Invasion of Time), not a misguided victim, deceived into betraying his planet but honourably and tragically redeeming himself. Martin Friend is passable as Styggron, but the character is so boring and formulaic, making for a totally unmemorable villain, especially when surrounded by the likes of Sutekh, Solon and Harrison Chase. John Levene and Ian Marter are served the ultimate injustice for their final Doctor Who appearances. Both the android and real versions of Harry and Benton are dreadfully written. It's sad to see them bow out this way. Avengers fans forgive me, but you've got to admit Patrick Newell is below average here. The rest of the cast are all rather insipid. Barry Letts's work is great in the first episode but, like the story, descends into a boring direction by numbers. There are some bizarre touches that simply don't succeed - the extreme close-ups of faces in the pub for example. Dudley Simpson's music follows the same trend - memorable in part one, forgettable afterwards.
However, on the positive side, the Kraal masks are simply but effectively designed. They could have been a great adversary had the story been not so atrocious. The dialogue is nothing special - there are only two lines worth mentioning, but they're wonderful. Tom Baker gets the honours for both:
"Is that finger loaded?"and
"Don't worry Sarah. Who'd notice me?The Android Invasion is the runt of season 13. After a great first episode, everything goes downhill. There are a few saving graces, but not enough to lift it out of the pit of mediocrity.
And what a boring title! Why not call it The Oseidon Adventure? 3.5/10
A Review by Harry O'Driscoll 19/4/08
The Android Invasion has a bit of a murky past and is thought to be the worst Of the Holmes-Hinchcliffe era. But I feel that, despite some significant plot holes, it is a very interesting story.
Ok, let's address some of its shortcomings first. The title instantly gives away what would otherwise be a gothic and tense opening two episodes. There are some major plot holes, such as what happens to the Kraals after stygyron is killed. The purpose of the mock village on oseiden is a mystery, but this can probably be explained by giving the androids ideas of the village and space centre and/or letting the androids practise acting like humans so as to blend in back on Earth.
Otherwise, I quite enjoy The Android Invasion. The Kraals and their ship look realistic (although the door with the spiky bottom was a daft idea). The opening episode delivers the gothic atmosphere of the Holmes-Hincliffe era. It is not the typical invasion story like Spearhead From Space or Terror of the Zygons, as it is showing the Kraals prepare for the invasion. The scenes at the space centre in episode four have an interesting doppelganger theme. Trying to tell who's an android and who's not adds a bit of comedy towards the end. The effects used for when the Doctor fights his android replica are also impressive.
At the end of the day, The Android Invasion makes a nice change from another dull invasion story, but with its gaping plot holes I'm forced to give it a 3/5. An all right episode, but not great.
Doomsday in Devesham by Joe Briggs-Ritchie 1/9/08
This is by far the most unpopular story of Season Thirteen and it's not that difficult to see why. I mean, for a start it's imbued with a staggering paucity of logic. Favourite examples include Crayford's eye patch. Terry Nation expects us to believe that Crayford would never have noticed that he really has got an eye after all? Then there's the little matter of the Kraal invasion fleet. Styggron does an athletic backflip into a puddle of chicken korma and that's it? They just turn around and go home? It's also remarkably similar to Terror of the Zygons, a story so good that it definitely did not need remaking. So similar in fact that one can almost hear the words "rip-off" floating on the breeze. The real strength of The Android Invasion is that none of the above shortcomings spoil what is actually a rather enjoyable story. This is one that definitely needs to be watched with the more critical areas of your brained turned off. I have to confess, I've always had something of a soft spot for it. The fact that something so unoriginal can be so utterly entertaining is testiment to the strength of Season Thirteen.
The location filming is absolutely gorgeous. The English countryside in the summertime is simply wonderful and this story really captures that. If it had been set somewhere else then I really don't think it would have worked so well. I mean, the idea of a British Space Defence Centre is quaint enough in itself, but the fact that it's located in a sleepy English village is the icing on the cake. It's that very same quality that makes stories like The Daemons, Image of the Fendahl and The Stones of Blood work so well. This story certainly has one of the most unusual openings; Max Faulkner acting funny and twitching. Before throwing himself off a cliff. Nice. Seriously, it is quite a good stunt. Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen have got a lot to do with why this story succeeds when by all accounts it shouldn't. They can make more or less anything watchable and their chemistry puts them head and shoulders above any other Doctor/Companion team. But then, you already knew that. I have to say though that I don't care very much for Sarah's cliff routine. Pathetic and completely unnecessary. Ditto for that equally pathetic ankle business. Tom does sound rather hoarse thought doesn't he? Can that much ginger beer really be healthy? Who can say? The guest cast are serviceable but unremarkable, apart from Milton Johns who is endlessly watchable. He'll eventually move to Gallifrey and get promoted to Castellan, you mark my words.
The Kraals are serviceable villains but they don't really leave much of an impression. They are quite well designed but the masks are somewhat immobile. Continuing the Terror of the Zygons theme, they appear to have some kind of organic-based technology. It's a nice touch and I do like it but Terror of the Zygons does it infinitely better. Much more effective are the android mechanics. Faceless monsters are somehow more scary and the mechanics evoke a strong sense of creepiness. Their finger guns are a nice touch, reminiscent of the Autons and prompting a classic Tom Baker line "Is that finger loaded?" However, I'm afraid that they can't shoot straight. Do they actually manage to hit anyone? Four episodes and they can't even notch up a body count.
I was left with a lingering question: why Devesham? Of all the places the Kraals could choose as the starting point for their invasion, why Devesham? Even if it does have the Space Defence Centre. Surely somewhere a little less backwater would have been strategically more sensible. Oh well, this is a Terry Nation script, you can't expect miracles.
Perfectly enjoyable. It doesn't compare to the rest of Season Thirteen in terms of quality but it is just as entertaining.
A Review by Stephen Maslin 14/4/10
Ah, Season Thirteen.
No robot dogs, no Mary Whitehouse's Revenge, no Star Wars on the horizon, bliss. Just think...
Hang on. That's only five stories. There should be six. Wait a minute. Zygons, Evil, Pyramids... Oh yes. The Android Invasion. The runt of the Season Thirteen litter. The single shrug in a season of enthusiastic waving. What makes it the ghost at the wedding? One answer and one answer only: the title.
Fair enough, as a story it makes no sense but (notoriously) the plot of Pyramids of Mars doesn't either, which didn't stop it being top ten material. Okay, the principal enemy sound like (indeed are) the cast of "Rainbow" but the most scary thing about Terror of the Zygons turns out to be a glove puppet. Yes, Faraday is no worthy replacement for Lethbridge-Stewart but nor is Beresford in The Seeds of Doom. Fine, there was the absence of any really challenging alien presence but the same could be said of Planet of Evil (which, even by Who standards, is a piss-poor title for anything). And, what's more, the Sisterhood of Karn are far more tedious than anything the supporting cast of The Android Invasion can boast.
So it's not that bad then? No, I don't think it is. Its entire problem is just that you know what's going on before anything even happens. There it is in big letters:
The Android Invasion
By Terry Nation.
So it is that wonderfully bizarre events are rendered predictable from the very start. All that new-Doctor, old-style, all that Tom Baker wit, all that strange England, wasted. Without the title, it is my contention that Android Invasion's episode one would now be considered a classic opener, dragging the rest of the story with it to glory.
You don't believe me? Watch it again and make a list of all the things you can't explain if you hadn't already been told it's all about androids and an invasion. I've tried it. The list is huge. Odd, twisty UNIT soldier; "Stop man, stop!"; identical coinage; something seems to have annoyed them again; the silent pub...
"Who sent you?"If you hadn't been aware of the "A" word, The Android Invasion would have stayed in the mind as a baffling, wetting-the-pants-in-expectation moment, somewhere in that misty changing from Autumn to Winter, 1975.
"Detention? Not detention..."
"...and you're not the real Sarah."
"We have much to do."
And it is in good company: calling "The Storm Mine Murders" The Robots of Death is a similar faux pas. Of all the things I would do to revise the programme's entire past if I had the power, I would change the name of The Android Invasion to "Devesham", the utterance of which is the story's first point of recognition, even though it is a false one. A great and an unusual title. (So much better than "Terror of Evil Doom" don't you think?)
Okay, perhaps there is one other thing that The Android Invasion needs to redeem itself: no, not CGI (though that might help) but a gigantic pair of scissors. There are so many lazy little fillers that have no dramatic function whatsoever: the too-early introduction of the Kraals in part one or the demonstration of the special android to attack Kraals to name but two. Get rid of 'em. Sod reverence; the whole thing trimmed down to three parts (or even two) by expert hands would do the world of good.
It's not too late. Future generations looking back on this awesome era in the show's time on Earth, need the thrill that this programme could have given. No one but us would know. Or care. All together now.
"Is that finger loaded?"P.S. Does anyone else think that the only things that make the Kraals in any way shocking are their decadence and profligacy? Make a world in order to analyse another world which one wants to invade, then destroy previously made world? Kraalf-indulgent or what?