Tuesday, 24 January 2012

46: The Invasion - Spearheading A Structure That Left A Legacy

Written by: Derrick Sherwin (from a story by Kit Pedler).
Companions: The Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot.
Monsters/Villains: Cybermen, Cyber Director, Tobias Vaughn.
Brief Synopsis: London is invaded by Cybermen.
Rating: 7/10.

The Invasion is the first big step in a new direction for Doctor Who as a programme. Originally planned as a 4 parter, it was doubled in length to 8 when the next story The Dreamspinner was abandoned. It was the very first story to feature the army organisation, the United Nations Intelligence Task-force or UNIT. Patrick Troughton had announced his plans to leave at the end of the season and this story was a drastic move in a new direction to ensure the future of the programme that would eventually, for a time at least, be almost entirely based on earth. The Invasion boasts the return of the incomparable Nicholas Courtney as Colonel, now Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, and the new design of the Cybermen which is considered by me, and indeed most, to be the best ever. Sadly two episodes are missing, but never fear the team at Cosgrove hall have rather brilliantly animated the lost episodes 1 and 4.

The missing episode 1 and 4 are animated
excellently by Cosgrove Hall.
The TARDIS reforms and all of the Mind Robber seems to have just been a bad dream or delusion. The ship orbits the dark side of the moon, narrowly escapes a missile and materialises on Earth in the 1970's in a field of cows. There is something wrong with the TARDIS visual stabiliser causing the the ship to become invisible. The trio set off in search of Professor Travers to help them repair the damaged circuit and catch a lift in a truck. The driver explains that he is escaping the compound of a company called United Electromatics (IE) who have a monopoly on everything electronic. He helps the travellers to escape but is shot dead when he is caught and refuses to go back to the compound. 

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe catch another lift to Travers' house but instead find photographer Isobel Watkins, who is staying there with her uncle who has been absent for a week. She explains that Travers (who we previously met in The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear) has gone to live in America with his daughter, Anne. The story was originally written to include Travers and Anne but their characters were replaced when Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln demanded royalties for the use of their creations.

The lovely Sally Faulkner as Sixties Chick Isobel Watkins.
Zoe stays with Isobel while the Doctor and Jamie go to IE headquarters in search of the missing Professor Watkins. Once inside they meet Tobias Vaughn, the Managing Director of IE, who explains that Watkins is working on an experiment and refuses to be disturbed. Vaughn offers help with the Doctors circuits and gives Jamie a disposable transistor radio. The duo depart but as they leave a panel opens up in Vaughn's office wall and we see some sort of alien device.

The Doctor and Jamie are chased by two men, who are later revealed to be Corporal Benton (played by John Levene) and Tracy who bring them to an air craft carrier where they are reunited with Colonel now Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. He explains that in the four years since the Yeti in the Underground, he has been put in charge of a new group formed to deal with alien threats, the United Nations Intelligence Task-force, UNIT.

The Brig's back and he's moved up in the world...
Meanwhile Zoe and Isobel go to the IE building in search of the Doctor and Jamie. Zoe uses ALGOL (a computer programming language) to assign the computerised receptionist an unsolvable equation causing it to overload. Vaughn interrogates them and tucks them away. The Brig shows the Doctor and Jamie pictures of the missing persons last seen entering IE and they recognise the man who helped them escape the IE compound who it turns out was an agent for UNIT. The Doctor takes a radio to contact the Brig and with Jamie departs to find Zoe and Isobel. In his office Vaughn demands more information on the Doctor, and the alien device tells him, "he has a machine." Meanwhile Vaughn's number one man Packer captures the Doctor and Jamie.

Peter Halliday as Packer.
Vaughn shows up and takes his captives to the IE Compound. Vaughn's Compound office is identical to his London one. He says this is uniformity, I think it's a clever way to reuse a set. At this point I have to just take a moment to say how wonderful Peter Stoney is as Tobias Vaughn. Stoney was last seen in Doctor Who playing futuristic-super-villain Mavic Chen, (Guardian of the Solar System) and gives another truly impressive star turn as present-day-super-villain Tobias Vaughn. He inverts the usual, malevolence evil approach and goes about his evil deeds by being so apparently pleasant with everyone; except Packer, at whom he relishes shouting.

The excellent Kevin Stoney as Tobias Vaughn.
The Doctor and Jamie are brought to meet Professor Watkins (Edward Burnham) who tells them about his teaching machine, the Cerebraton Mentor, which is capable of inducing emotional changes in a subject. They manage to escape and hide from Packer and his men.

Edward Burnham as Professor Watkins.
Vaughn explains that he plans to use Watkins machine against their allies if necessary and secure the TARDIS as a means of an escape. The Doctor and Jamie learn that Zoe and Isobel are also in the Compound and Vaughn makes an announcement that they will be harmed if he doesn't hand himself over. The Doctor radios the Brigadier who orders a helicopter to rescue Zoe and Isobel using a rope ladder and all four escape to safety.

Realising the threat from UNIT and the Doctor, Vaughn uses his influence on the Brigadier's superior Major General Rutlidge and orders him to put a stop to UNIT's investigation. Learning of UFO's over the London IE warehouse Jamie and the Doctor infiltrate it and witness the reawakening and emergence of a Cyberman.

The Doctor returns and warns the Brigadier of an imminent Cyberman invasion. Rutlidge orders the Brig to give up all investigations of IE but he makes plans to gain authority from Geneva. Vaughn learns of this and demands that the being in his office known as the Cyber Director bring the invasion forward. An army of Cybermen is being revived in the sewers of London. Vaughn experiments with Watkins machine on an awakened Cyberman. He evokes fear within the Cyberman and it goes mad and escapes into the sewer.

The Brigadier wants to procede but needs proof. Isobel offers to go and photograph a Cyberman but the Brig refuses her help. Offended by the Brigadier and Jamie's bigotry and sexism, Zoe and Isobel depart, with Jamie in tow to capture a photo of a Cyberman.

The crazed Cyberman.
The Cyber Director tells Vaughn that the whole human race will soon come under Cyber control and be converted. Meanwhile Jamie, Zoe and Isobel enter the sewers. A policeman who follows them is killed by two cybermen, they can't go back and on their other side they encounter the insane Cyberman.

The UNIT logo.
The maddened Cyberman passes right by them and Captain Jimmy Turner, Benton and two other UNIT soldiers come to their rescue and face the Cybermen. The Cybermen are destroyed by grenades when they are distracted by the dodgy Cyberman. Back at UNIT Isobel develops that pictures she took, but the Brig says the they look fake.

At IE, Watkins has perfected his machine and brings it to Vaughn. Watkins threatens him calling him a mad man and Vaughn actually gives Watkins a gun to kill him. Watkins fires but Vaughn appears totally unharmed by the bullets. 

Benton and some UNIT men manage to free Watkins. The Doctor has discovered some micro monolithic circuits in a radio Vaughn gave to Jamie and in all other pieces of IE equipment. When the Doctor deduces that Vaughn wanted Watkin's machine as a means of stopping the Cybermen with emotion, he realises that the micro monolithic circuits are emotional circuits. Once activated they will produce the Cyber hypnotic force that can control human beings.

That famous moment, where the Cybermen emerge in front
of St. Pauls animated for a test trailer.
The Doctor and Zoe use the same method they used when the last met the Cybermen on the Wheel in space, to block their hypnotic signals using depolarisers warn on the back of the neck. At dawn the Cyber signal is emitted causing people around the world to collapse, leaving the Cybermen free to  emerge from the sewers and begin their invasion of London. It strikes me now when compared to modern Who just how small scale this all seems. We see just a few people effected by the Cyber signal and seemingly only in London. In modern who we would see people all over the world effected.

UNIT make plans to use a Russian rocket to destroy the origin of the Cyber signal and missiles to destroy the oncoming Cyberfleet. The Doctor returns to see Vaughn to persuade him to help humanity, whilst Captain Jimmy goes to Russia and the Brigadier goes to a missile site.

The excellent Cyberman redesign.
At the missile site Zoe is given 30 seconds to achieve the necessary calculations to destroy the Cyberfleet. I laughed out loud when I noticed one of the missile techies clearly looks at her bum. Thanks to Zoe's ingenuity the majority of the Cyberships are destroyed by the missiles.

In Vaughn's office the Cyber Director takes control of the invasion and announces their intention to use a Cyber megatron bomb to destroy all life on earth. Vaughn angers and destroys the Cyber Director using the cerebration mentor machine. The Cybermen take over IE and kill Packer. The Doctor persuades Vaughn to help him and gives the Brigadier their two options: They must either, cut off the transmitter of the radio beam at the compound or destroy the remaining Cyber spaceship. The Doctor and Vaughn head straight for the transmitter and the Brig sends them some back up. Again I like the way how the Brig explains that they only have one platoon as the rest of their men are still under the influence of the Cybermen's signal. The real reason is lack of budget and therefore extras, but they cover this well.

The famous St Paul's moment recreated with the re-imagined
Cybermen to publicise The Doctor Who Experience.
The russian rocket is fitted with a warhead and launched at the remain cybership The Doctor, Vaughn and the UNIT platoon infiltrate the old IE factory in the Compound. Vaughn is killed, but they manage to destroy the homing signal, apparently disabling the use of the megatron bomb. However the Cybership moves in closer to launch their bomb. A plan is formed but we then get this wonderful moment where everyone just has to wait, for 12 minutes to see what happens, even the Doctor can't do anything. It's such a nice little moment.

Fortunately the bomb is destroyed by a missile and the the Russian rocket destroys the Cybership which had come in to range. Isobel gets offered a job as a photographer with a publishing group and along with Captain Jimmy escorts the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe back to the field where they arrived. The Doctor finishes repairing the TARDIS visual circuits and the craft dematerialises.

The Invasion is quite certainly too long, but it has a charm to it. The story's writer Derrick Sherwin acted as script editor and producer on Doctor Who but this is the only story he actually wrote entirely. This format would be returned to for Jon Pertwee's first story and many to come after that. The Invasion pioneered a format that would stick around for a long time afterward. Although the impressive location shoots, new/best ever Cybermen design, return of the Brig, introduction of UNIT, amazing performance by Kevin Stoney and now excellent animation of it's two missing episodes may not make this "whole" greater than the sum of it's parts, those parts are still certainly outstanding none the less!

Join me (and my good friend Ed) next time for The Krotons.


Dream Lord said...

 “The TARDIS reforms and all of the Mind Robber seems to have just been a
bad dream or delusion.”

Interesting idea, but I'd go further.

"The Invasion" takes place in 1979, however, there is no mention of Mondas in this story and, according to Vaughn, the Cybermen are after the Earth'sminerals. Also, when the Cybermen turn up in 1986 the Earth seemscompletely unprepared, and equally, the “Tenth Planet” Cybermenmake no reference to their other invasion that took place seven yearsearlier.

Furthermore, the Cybermen in “The Invasion” say theyrecognise the Troughton Doctor from Planet Fourteen, but as there areonly, including Planet 5, Mondas and Cassius, twelve planets in theEarth's solar system, this must refer to another planet in adifferent solar system. But if “The Moonbase” Cybermen were thefirst space travellers from Mondas, who left just before the planet blewup, then there is no way that the Cybermen could have been on PlanetFourteen prior to “The Invasion.” Therefore, neither “TheInvasion” or the previous adventure on Planet Fourteen reallyhappened, and must have taken place in the Land of Fiction.

Equally, there is no reference in “The Moonbase” (2070) and “The Tomb of theCybermen” (2570) to “Silver Nemesis” (1988) and “The Wheelin Space” (2019 aprox.) having happened, so these stories also mustbe fiction. However, “The Wheel in Space” took place before “TheMind Robber” which must mean that “The Mind Robber” also didn't happen, or rather was a fiction within another fiction. But howfar does this stretch back?

The most likely answer is that the Doctor and co. did not escape the domain of the Celestial Toymaker (explaining why the details concerning the gunfight at the OK Corral were so terribly inaccurate.) However, if historicalinaccuracy is a product of “fictionalisation,” there must be someevent that pre-dates even "The Celestial Toymaker," as the historicalaccuracy of “The Reign of Terror” is very poor indeed.

In fact, throughout “Marco Polo” the anachronistic “Peking” ismentioned several times, which could mean that the Doctor Ian,Barbara and Susan never left the Tardis at the end of “The Brink ofDisaster,” and are instead living out some kind of electronicfantasy induced by the Tardis' telepathic circuits.

Well, it's a thought.

Romi said...

In the novelisation, the Russian air base was named 'Nykortny' (think about it!) :-)